15 Best Things to Do in Asbury Park, NJ

Asbury Park, NJ
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The seaside city of Asbury Park has so many fascinating stories to tell.

If you mention Asbury Park to Jerseyans, they’ll surely recommend visiting this place and enjoying its pristine white sand beaches.

Asbury Park of Monmouth County in New Jersey is a popular weekend getaway destination and a cultural hub in the state.

Historically, the city was established in the 1870s mainly as a popular family vacation destination.

However, in the 20th century, violence erupted on its streets during the infamous ‘race riots.’

However, the city recovered from that ordeal and became a favorite location for shooting music venues for various artists like Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen.

Despite all the ups and downs, Asbury Park remains an incredible destination for old and young travelers.

To give you an idea of how to enjoy every second of your travel experience in this seaside Jersey town, here are the 15 best things to do in Asbury Park,  New Jersey:

Pay a Visit to Asbury Park Boardwalk

Bright sunny day at Asbury Park Boardwalk
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For many reasons, the Asbury Park Boardwalk is considered the focal point of the entire city.

For one, it’s where you can access Asbury Park’s famous beach; second, it’s where you’ll find the best food, local shops, and the vibrant nightlife of the city.

Another reason is, the Asbury Park Boardwalk is filled with fun activities where people can go skating, eating, shopping, biking, or jogging.

A hot air balloon over Asbury Park Boardwalk
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To put it simply, the Asbury Park Boardwalk is where all the fun things happen while being tucked nicely along the beautiful beachfront.

After arriving, it is highly recommended to stroll through the boardwalk, breathe fresh air, or perhaps dip in the crystal-clear waters.

If you want some relaxation, take a seat at one of the beachfront restaurants or bars to have an afternoon of serenity.

To get acquainted with the city's vibes, you should definitely head to the Asbury Park Boardwalk.

Bikes parked along Asbury Park Boardwalk
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Have a Nostalgic Experience at the Silverball Museum Arcade

The Silverball Museum Arcade along Ocean Avenue is one of the most iconic places along Asbury Park Boardwalk.

It is home to more than 600 pinball machines, from vintage to modern-day units.

Some of the pinball machines you can see and even play at this museum are from the 1930s.

Although there’s an hourly rate for those who want to visit this unique museum, it's surefire that you'll be having a great time browsing through various pinball machines.

Don’t miss the opportunity to try your hand at these astounding pinball machines.

Swim at the Asbury Park Beach

Aerial view of the people at Asbury Park Beach
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It’s a no-brainer that swimming is one of the best things to do in Asbury Park.

Of course, its white-sand beach and crystal-clear waters are simply irresistible not to swim with.

Aerial view of the sunny Asbury Park Beach
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So, bring your best swimwear, get a tan under the sun and enjoy its waters while you're there.

In addition, you can also engage in various waterborne activities such as surfing, fishing, and boating.

There are dozens of exciting activities that await you at Asbury Park Beach aside from swimming, but it's up to you to discover.

Calm water waves of Asbury Park Beach
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The Parlor Gallery along Cookman Avenue is where most aspiring athletes in Asbury Park and from various parts of New Jersey converge.

The gallery serves as their outlet to display their talent in arts, making this place a must-visit attraction for everyone.

You’ll be amazed by the unique artworks displayed in its rotating and permanent exhibits.

In addition, the Parlor Gallery not just displays but also sell many of the artworks from the artists it collaborated with.

If you fancy a painting or another piece of art as your souvenir, you can buy one at Parlor Gallery.

Or perhaps enjoy browsing through the gallery's beautiful artworks.

Visit Ocean Grove Beach

A hot air balloon over Ocean Grove Beach
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A few minutes away from Asbury Park takes you to Fodor’s Top 15 Beaches in World, Ocean Grove.

It’s the nearest beach destination next to Asbury Park, which is less than a mile from each other.

Compared to Asbury Park’s crowded beach, Ocean Grove offers you a more tranquil environment.

The waters of Ocean Grove Beach
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In addition, Ocean Grove has a scenic boardwalk where you can enjoy a relaxing afternoon stroll with your friends or loved ones.

Ocean Grove is as beautiful as Asbury Park, making it a perfect alternative destination to the latter.

Gorgeous sunset at Ocean Grove Beach
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Cast Your Line at the Deal Lake

A house near Deal Lake
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Monmouth County’s Deal Lake is the most extensive artificial lake you can visit while roaming around Asbury Park.

The lake encompasses 158-acres, and its water drains into the Atlantic Ocean.

With the lake’s vastness, many people flock there for various reasons, and one of them is fishing.

Deal Lake is known for its abundance of largemouth bass, some even weighing roughly ten pounds which is very enticing for anglers.

Clouds reflecting on Deal Lake
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If you’re too impatient, don’t worry because Deal Lake has enough largemouth bass that will surely take your bait.

In addition, carp are also seen in the lake, making it an excellent addition to your catch.

Aside from fishing, you can also enjoy kayaking, canoeing, and wildlife viewing in Deal Lake.

Its surrounding vegetation is teeming with local wildlife such as chipmunks, raccoons, mallards, egrets, herons, ospreys, painted turtles, loons, and snapping turtles.

Exterior of a house near Deal Lake
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Wander through the Abandoned Asbury Park Casino

Exterior of the unfinished Asbury Park Casino
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Aside from the famous boardwalk and beach, Asbury Park is also known for the famous abandoned Asbury Park Casino.

The abandoned casino, which was already stripped of its insides, is still standing today along the city's famous boardwalk.

The structure is reminiscent of what Asbury Park looked like back in the day.

View from inside the empty Asbury Park Casino
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The casino, which has Beaux-Arts architecture, is nestled on the south end of the famous boardwalk, near the edge of Asbury Park’s city limits and the neighboring town of Ocean Grove.

The casino’s interior has high ceilings, while its walls are filled with huge colorful murals and graffiti.

The abandoned casino is a perfect location to take stunning photos, so don't miss visiting this attraction while strolling through Asbury Park Boardwalk.

People walking inside the Asbury Park Casino
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Step Inside the Stephen Crane House

If you want a bit of history to your tour in Asbury Park, you should step inside the Stephen Crane House or the Arbutus Cottage.

This historical attraction in Asbury Park’s 4th Avenue was constructed in 1878, where famous author Stephen Crane resided.

Throughout its history, the house served numerous purposes and had different owners.

It became a summer guest house for Asbury Park vacationers at some point.

The house almost got demolished in 1995, but fortunately, local Samaritans prevented it from happening and immediately listed it on the National Register of Historic Places.

Today, the house hosts meaningful literary events, while guided tours are also available.

In addition, there are also spooky stories about the house, making your visit there extra exciting.

Be in Awe at the Great Auditorium

Front exterior of the Great Auditorium
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The Great Auditorium along Pilgrim Pathway in Ocean Grove is a sight to behold.

This wooden architectural marvel in Ocean Grove that can accommodate as many as 6,000 people is one of the biggest theaters you’ll ever see.

The Great Auditorium also houses top-notch acoustics making it a great place to watch orchestral performances, theater acts, and concerts.

Despite its age, the auditorium has maintained its original construction and beauty since it first opened in the 1800s.

Closer details of the Great Auditorium building
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Aside from being a top-notch venue, the Great Auditorium is a place of worship and religious retreat for many in Orange Grove.

If you’re curious to see what’s inside this massive facility, you should try joining its morning services on Sunday.

You’ll get to listen and be amazed by the choir and the music from its huge pipe organs during the service.

Statue of the founder of Ocean Grove in front of the Great Auditorium
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Experience the Life of Tenting at the Ocean Grove Tent City

Lined up tent houses at Tent City
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The Ocean Grove Tent City has existed since 1870 as a temporary residence for people who wished to spend more time on their vacation back in the day.

However, the remaining 114 of the 200 tents built became permanent residential houses and a mini colony in Ocean Grove.

Closer exterior of a tent at Tent City
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Today, it is a popular historical attraction in Ocean Grove that you need to visit after checking out the adjacent Great Auditorium.

People visiting Ocean Grove can rent these canvas tents during their stay there, and it’s usually packed during summertime.

Instead of the run-of-the-mill tents for camping, you can enjoy a cozier and more convenient tent from one of these.

Empty tents at Tent City
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Learn the Tragic Story of the SS Morro Castle

Old photograph of the burning SS Morro Castle in the middle of the sea
Unknown authorUnknown author, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Behind the lights and sounds of Asbury Park, there’s a tragic story of the ill-fated SS Morro Castle, a cruise ship that burned in the middle of the sea and claimed 137 lives in the 1930s.

Before Asbury Park became a popular beach destination, one of its unusual attractions people frequently visited was the charred wreckage of the SS Morro Castle.

People flock to Asbury Park to see the beached ship that was later on demolished for scrap metal.

In 2009, a memorial was built to commemorate the victims, survivors, and rescuers of the disaster.

You can visit the memorial in front of the Convention Hall in Asbury Park, while the ship’s bell is housed at the SUNY Maritime’s Fort Schuyler.

Try Boating at Wesley Lake

Swan-shaped pedal boats on Wesley Lake
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If you’re looking for a different way to enjoy the waters in Asbury Park away from its famous beach, then head to Wesley Lake.

This lake is a popular destination for pedal boating and regular boating, a perfect activity for everyone.

At Wesley Lake, you can rent a pedal boat and other boat types at various shops that line the lake’s shores.

Sunny day at Wesley Lake
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If you want to spend your day with fun and excitement, Wesley Lake is the place to go in Asbury Park.

Aside from the fun-filled waterborne activities, you can enjoy the lake’s scenic backdrop.

In addition, fishing is also a popular activity in Wesley Lake since it is abundant in Striped Bass, bluefish, and flounder.

An empty swan-shaped boat docked at Wesley Lake
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Get Spooked Out at the Paranormal Museum

The Paranormal Museum along Cookman Avenue is a unique and spooky attraction that you shouldn’t miss visiting in Asbury Park.

The museum, which houses a massive collection of oddities and allegedly haunted artifacts and items, is a great place to visit, especially if you’re a fan of the supernatural.

The museum, which opened in 2008, has various scary items you should check out, such as the alleged skull of the infamous “Jersey Devil."

In addition, there are dozens of paranormal books and magazines you can read in the museum, while a guided tour is available for those who dare to walk through its spooky exhibit.

Listen to Great Music at The Stone Pony

Exterior and entrance of The Stone Pony
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The Stone Pony along Ocean Avenue is the top event venue in Asbury Park.

It’s where most of the highly-entertaining concerts and performances ranging from pop, jazz, rock, and other music genres happen.

The Stone Pony band during a festival
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This venue holds a historical value to Asbury Park since this is where rock band icon Bon Jovi had one of their first performances and Bruce Springsteen as well.

Today, Stone Pony continues to host various concerts and musical performances, serenading everyone in Asbury Park.

If you’re looking for an entertaining spot in Asbury Park, you know where to go.

Name sign of The Stone Pony
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Pose at the Asbury Park Steam Plant

Exterior of the Asbury Park Steam Plant
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Asbury Park’s architectural icon, the Steam Plant is a place you should not forget to visit before going home.

This towering Beaux-Arts monolith was constructed in the 1930s to provide heat to the tourist attractions along Ocean Avenue.

The steam plant designed by New York-based architecture firm, Warren and Wetmore, still towers over Asbury Park to this day.

Closer view of the Asbury Park Steam Plant
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However, it’s been long abandoned but remains a popular place for tourists who stroll along Ocean Avenue to snap a photo.

Many say that your visit to Asbury Park won’t be complete without posing for a photo in this iconic building.

So, when you pass by the Asbury Park Steam Plant, don't forget to pose your best selfie.

Top drone shot of the Asbury Park Steam Plant
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Final Thoughts

Asbury Park is one of the best weekend getaway destinations in New Jersey that offers more than its beautiful beach.

You should consider this beautiful seaside city on your list if you're looking for an incredible beach destination that won't fly out of the United States.

It's surefire that there are more exciting things that you’ll discover once you arrive there.

However, if you’re looking for a reliable reference, you can always revisit this trusty post anytime.