Asbury Park: A Lively, LGBTQ Beach Town in the heart of New Jersey

By @ 05/29/18 in Asbury Park, Gay travel, NJ, Travel

Asbury Park, NJ in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazineAlthough New Jersey towns such as Point Pleasant and Wildwood are well-known for their summertime beaches and boardwalks, Asbury Park is a shore town that has appeal all year round. Not only does it offer unique restaurants, trendy events, and a lively nightlife, but the LGBTQ community’s involvement in bringing business back to the town has made it a welcoming environment for all. Story by Christi Peace.

Typical Summer Day in Asbury Park

Obviously, Asbury Park’s clean and relatively inexpensive beach is one of the places to visit during the summer. But whenever you get tired of the surf and sand, you can always stroll along the mile-long boardwalk to do some shopping and sample the beach-side cuisine. From Korean fusion tacos and Cuban tostones to crepes and seafood, the small stretch of boardwalk has a variety of foods for beach-goers to try.

If you’d like to cool off from the summer heat and don’t mind walking a few blocks away from the beach, head to Cookman Creamery for an assortment of both regular and (surprisingly creamy) dairy-free ice cream. There are some seats outside the parlor next to an unorthodox garden that is open to the public, filled with old items that were repurposed in an artistic manner. The little garden is a reminder that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.

Throughout the summer, small festivals and pop-ups also tend to take place on the weekends in spots like Kennedy Park, Bradley Park and Convention Hall. While some are centered around a theme (such as vegan food) others simply offer the chance to purchase original, handcrafted wares from vendors.

And if you happen to be around on the first weekend of June, don’t forget to attend the Pride Parade that Asbury Park has hosted for over 25 years. In addition to the parade of local LGBTQ groups, the event features musicians, food vendors, informational booths, LGBTQ-themed merchandise and more. It’s a celebratory and inclusive event for you and your partner to attend.

Asbury Park, NJ in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine

Off-Season Activities

Just because the beach is no longer an attraction when the summer ends, doesn’t mean this shore town goes dormant. Asbury Park’s real appeal comes from the popular businesses that reside along Cookman Ave. and Lake Ave. where there’s an array of restaurants, bars and quirky spots to fill your time.

If you’re into mysticism, you may get a kick out of Paranormal Books & Curiosities – a small book shop that exclusively sells supernatural-themed publications and other items. They even hold occasional paranormal events, such as a Krampus Festival in December which celebrates the nightmarish, inverted version of Santa Claus. Or if you’re feeling more inclined to watch a movie than read a book, The ShowRoom is a small theater that screens indie films for movie buffs to enjoy. Animal lovers can even visit Catsbury Park, the recently opened and aptly named cat cafe where patrons sip their drinks while awaiting their turn to enter an adjacent room filled with furry felines.

There are quite a few unique spots to enjoy local food as well. One such place is The Speakeatery, a sandwich shop with a 1920’s theme. Not only is the name itself a play on the old speakeasies of the Prohibition Era, but each specialty sandwich is named after famous figures, terms and events of the roaring 20’s. Some of their delectable options include ‘The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre,’ which is loaded with every single deli meat they offer, and the vegetarian ‘Dizzy Dame’ sandwich. It may take a while to get seating, so you can always place an order and visit the nearby Rock & Roll-themed bakery, Confections of a Rockstar, while you wait.

Nightlife in Asbury Park

There are plenty of bars for adults to visit during their stay in Asbury Park. The popular Johnny Mac House of Spirits is known for its energetic atmosphere, eclectic décor and free mini pizzas that come with each drink purchase. Meanwhile, Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten has a more rustic, spacious interior where you can sit with your friends at a communal table while drinking craft beers.

If you’re in a dancing mood, head over to Paradise. This popular gay nightclub is located on the ground floor of the Empress Hotel. You and your partner can dance alongside other LGBTQ clubbers, grab a drink, sit and relax poolside, or participate in events such as drag shows and karaoke night.

Music-lovers should definitely consider visiting the Stone Pony while they’re in Asbury Park to see who is playing at this acclaimed venue. Artists such as Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi performed here when they were just starting off, so you never know what next big hit you may get the chance to see on this small stage. Make sure to get your tickets in advance!

Where to Stay

You could always check Airbnb to see if any locals are opening their doors to visitors. In a town where quite a few beach houses proudly fly the rainbow flag, it shouldn’t be too hard to find LGBTQ-friendly hosts (if you book far enough in advance). If you’d prefer the more traditional route, the Asbury Hotel offers highly-rated lodgings. Guests have their pick of several types of rooms, from a ‘standard queen’ to a ‘park suite’ with ample space and a deluxe king bed. Hotel features include a pool, rooftop bars, and interior lounge/food areas with book-lined walls, board games, coffee, open mic nights and more.

Tips

While visiting this small yet lively LGBTQ haven, you’ll generally want to stick to the two aforementioned streets and the beach region, since those are the safer areas geared towards tourists. Unlike some NJ beach towns, there is quite a bit of parking all along the beach, but you’ll most likely have to pay at a nearby meter. If you or your partner are driving in the evening, make sure to drive carefully so as not to risk being pulled over for suspected drunk driving. And keep in mind that Asbury Park has plenty of other unique, fun, and even historical places/events to offer – so look into all your options before booking your trip!

 

 

Please share
facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedintumblrmail


0 comments


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *