Jersey Shore’s Asbury Park Is The East Coast’s Unexpected Music Mecca

Made infamous by Springsteen and The Sopranos, Asbury Park is riding the recent indie music boom and revamping itself as a down-from-NYC destination with a serious music heritage


Asbury Park, New Jersey, US.

Why now?

Before pulling its (knee) socks up and reshaping into the east
coast’s modern-day indie-music mecca, Asbury Park’s reputation had
sunk below the waters lapping Jersey Shore’s Ocean Avenue. Things
weren’t going well in 1973, when its bleak streets were the
inspiration behind Bruce Springsteen’s Greetings from Asbury Park,
NJ, a debut album rife with steel-grey songs eulogising small-town
America. Two decades later, and pinky-ringed,
Prozac-and-prosciutto-ed-out mobster Tony Soprano experienced food
poisoning-induced hallucinations of talking fishes and FBI
informants on Asbury’s boardwalk. By the time 2013 swung around,
that same boardwalk had been wiped out by Hurricane Sandy.

Talula’s, Asbury Park, NJ
Carousel House, Asbury Park, NJ

Talula’s, left, and Carousel House. | Photo credit: Joe
Benning / Shutterstock

But just as Springsteen and his E Street Band set off on their
2023 tour (stopping in their native state in April), the tides are
rolling back in Asbury’s favour, with a new wave of indie
appreciation setting the city in motion. Around an hour’s train
ride from Manhattan, Asbury Park is becoming a sanctuary from New
York City for mulleted Bushwick hipsters, who happily rub shoulders
with Asbury’s other unexpected community: the Jersey Shore’s LGBTQ+
crowd. With local haunts repainted and restored to honour the
area’s history, and the new kids tuning in to watch a parade of
billed artists reviving the east coast indie scene, this Jersey
Shore destination is proving there’s much more to it than just
Snooki and Springsteen.

Don’t miss

Some music. Asbury Park’s iconic The Stone
holds a summer-long beachside party each year. Acts lined
up for the 2023 summer stage include The B-52s and the Pixies.
You’ll want to get down to Asbury Lanes, too. The bowling alley and
concert hall is known for hosting up-and-coming musicians and
underground artists. Wondering where the crowd found their kicks?
Cookman Avenue is known for its vintage stores: try Rebel Supply Co,
and Nostalgia Factory.

Outside Asbury Hotel, Asbury Park, New Jersey

Asbury Park buildings. | Photo credit: Georgie Wirt /

Where to stay?

The renovated red-brick landmark The Asbury Hotel, where light-filled,
minimalist rooms have black-and-white images of Asbury’s
rock’n’roll history on the walls. Book a shorefront one for
Atlantic views.

Where to go for dinner?

Get a taste of Jersey Shore’s rich Italian-American history at
pizzerias such as Talula’s, Porta and The Galley,
or head to Stella Marina for an upscale Italian menu served up
right atop the boardwalk.

And for a drink…

Get your indie fix at Wonder Bar, a 1950s-inspired live-music hangout
with candy-striped red-and-white awnings. Note the town’s
unofficial mascot, Tillie, painted as a mural outside. In 2015,
Springsteen played a secret show here, and stopped by last summer
to celebrate the venue’s 20th anniversary.

Bedroom, Asbury Hotel, New Jersey, USA
Lounge at Asbury Hotel, Asbury Park, NJ

The Asbury Hotel

Who to take with you?

A friend who wears an unironic Tony Soprano T-shirt and listens
to Elliott Smith. Bonus points if they own a pair of Dr

Essentials to pack

This plush cotton Cosmic Rainbow towel from Bathing Culture. Despite the
negative stigma evoked by Snooki and Seaside Heights on MTV’s
Jersey Shore, the local beaches are clean, serene and perfect for
extended stints on the sands.

How to get there

Fly with British Airways to Newark Airport. From there, it’s a
50-minute drive down to the Shore. The NJ Transit train also runs
hourly from “the City” (New York City in Shore local talk).

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