Down the Rabbit Hole: Asbury Park

Stepping onto the Asbury Park Boardwalk is like tumbling down the rabbit hole into Wonderland; you will be immediately transported to a different era and accosted by whimsical surroundings.  Long-abandoned structures, offbeat colors, iconic buildings, and quirky murals pervade the wooden path that serves as the divider between the urban jungle and the sandy shore of Asbury Park beach.  Traversing the mile-long boardwalk is proof that there is more to the Jersey Shore than just beaches.

What to Expect

After spending the day in Point Pleasant, Kyle and I decided that we wanted to do a bit of driving and ended up stumbling upon Asbury Park.  We drove through relatively uniform surroundings with  plenty of old brown buildings and urban areas, but eventually we saw something strikingly different from the rest of the town.  My eyes landed on a run-down building that was covered in murals, and upon further inspection there was more than just one interesting building to be found.

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Asbury Park Convention Hall from the outside

The building turned out to be the Asbury Park Casino, and stepping onto the boardwalk, we saw from its run-down structure that it was abandoned.  The iconic Asbury Park Convention Hall was a little further down to our left, and we walked toward it.  Walking in this direction took us onto the main section of the boardwalk.  Upon entering the Convention Hall, we were in a different decade; there was a distinct 80s feel to the place.

 

 

 

 

 

Continuing through the theater led us to a stretch of murals (featured image), painted onto the side of the Sunset Avenue Pavilion, that persuaded us to stop and take some pictures.  Among the artwork was a pair of otherworldly eyes, an electrifying bird, and a slew of other unique works of art.

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We found this pair of eyes staring back at us

Even though the boardwalk is the main attraction, there are plenty of other things to do nearby.  Of course, the beach is always an option, but one can also exit the boardwalk and explore some of the other intriguing sights.  We encountered the famous Wonder Bar and the Springsteen-launching Stone Pony, just to name a few.  By taking a short walk into the town, one is all but guaranteed to find something of interest.

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The birthplace of Bruce Springsteen, the Stone Pony

In Short

Because we divided our day between Asbury Park and Point Pleasant, Kyle and I did not spend too long on the boardwalk, but you could certainly plan a day trip to explore Asbury Park in its entirety.  The boardwalk itself is what you make of it; you could spend anywhere between 30 minutes and 3 hours there, depending on how entertained you are by its charm and its range of activities, including highly-rated restaurants, mini golf, a splash park, and plenty more.  If you feel that it falls flat, you can spend plenty of time traipsing through the town, but if you are (like us) spellbound by an eccentric and unusual atmosphere, then we fully recommend alloting plenty of time to wander as far down the rabbit hole as you can.

Getting There

Take exit 105 off of the Garden State Parkway for NJ-36 toward NJ-35/Eatontown Long Branch 10A, then turn right onto Hope Rd and merge onto NJ-18 S.  Take exit 10A and merge onto NJ-66 toward Asbury Park.  Continue onto NJ-35 S.  Begin taking the U-turn onto NJ-35 N, but turn right at the fork.  This will bring you to Asbury Ave, which extends all the way to the boardwalk and runs parallel to it.

Parking

If you are looking to see the boardwalk, there are a few places to park.  These include Asbury Avenue (where Kyle and I parked), Third Avenue, and Fourth Avenue.  For more information on parking, visit the Asbury Park Chamber’s website, http://www.asburyparkchamber.com/parking.asp.

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