You never fully appreciate a place until you leave. That’s how I feel about my hometown, Point Pleasant, New Jersey. Growing up on the Jersey Shore, just 90 minutes south of New York City, I took for granted simple summer pleasures like weekly fireworks displays, sunset surfing, messy crab dinners at waterfront seafood shacks, and mini golf and boardwalk arcade games. After years in Manhattan, I viewed the Shore as the ugly stepsister to the Hamptons. We had great beaches but lacked an infusion of New York City cool and creativity. After Hurricane Sandy walloped the Jersey coast, in 2012, something changed. Shore towns didn’t just recover, they reinvented themselves. Five years later, coastal communities stretching from Asbury Park (Bruce Springsteen’s favorite haunt) down to the artsy town of Bay Head have come into their own with the opening of art galleries, indie boutiques, craft breweries, and farm-to-table restaurants. Just a train ride away from the city, or a drive down the Garden State Parkway, these Shore towns make me proud to be a Jersey Girl.
Of all the Shore towns, Asbury Park has been the biggest comeback kid post–Hurricane Sandy. Made famous by Springsteen and his 1973 debut album, Greetings From Asbury Park, this funky seaside town has ebbed and flowed through periods of revival but finally hit its renaissance moment thanks to an infusion of creativity (and cash). The beautiful old convention hall where Springsteen used to practice has been renovated, the boardwalk is lined with artsy boutiques and cool bars, and the town’s music scene is more vibrant than ever.
Where to Stay
The 2016 opening of The Asbury, a boutique property from David Bowd of Salt Hotels, has been a game changer for the Shore. Just two blocks from the beach, the 110-room hotel has a mix of king, queen, and bunk rooms, and a boardwalk-inspired lobby features pinball machines and ping-pong…