30 Hours in America’s Coolest Small Town, Asbury Park, New Jersey: The Lowdown!

Budget Travel Magazine this month named New Jersey’s Asbury Park, as the “coolest, small town in the United States.” So, I decided to revisit the coastal town, roughly 60 miles from New York City. I reserved at The Asbury, a hotel located at 210 5th Avenue, that opened about a year ago.

The Asbury Hotel facade

The 110-room beachside lodging, converted from an old Salvation Army Building, was the first hotel built in Asbury Park in 50 years.

A wall of shelves houses a turntable, LPS and cassettes


At the hotel, a music theme prevails. In the lobby, an 18-foot wide wall of shelves houses LPs, cassettes and a turntable. Music-themed books dot shelves. Song titles decorate walls. And live bands play music.

Song lyrics and titles decorate the walls.


While the music was entertaining, the check-in process hit a sour note. I had a 3pm reservation but didn’t get into my final room until nearly 5PM. Once I unlocked the door to the first room I was shown, I found other guests’ suitcases in the room. I was quickly escorted back downstairs to the lobby for another half-hour wait before being show to my final room. (There appeared to be only two hotel employees checking-in guests–including a blonde male and a woman with a cheap red wig. They are woefully understaffed.)


Bedrooms are open and airy featuring minimalist, blonde wood furniture


Upstairs, the light gray hallways match grey carpeting with a multicolored abstract design. Yellow-framed doorways open up to generously-sized light-filled rooms with industrial, blonde wood furniture.



Black-and-white photographs pay homage to Asbury Park’s history.

Vintage black-and-white images from Asbury Park beach scenes decorate the walls.  In room 427, my windows provided  an oceanside view.


Malin+ Goetz product dispenses hang in the shower.

Once settled into the room, I tried to shower. Malin + Goetz shampoo, conditioner and shower gel dipsensers hang from the walls. There was just one problem: No shower gel came out of the dispenser. (Note to cleaning staff: Check all dispensers when cleaning to make sure dispensers are full. The good news: There was plenty of toilet paper!)


The Salvation rooftop bar offers a chance to sip cocktails and take in a beach view.

Later, I went up to the Salvation rooftop bar where a local band was playing live music, mostly covers.  Hotel guests  lounged on outdoor furniture sipping a variety of cocktails including the hotel’s signature drink, The Asbury, made from Tequila, fresh watermelon, lime and club soda.

Take a stroll down the Asbury Park boardwalk and pick up frozen drinks, pretzels, t-shirts, funnel cake and ice cream from mom-and-pop shops.


If you want to get a feel of the town, the boardwalk and beach are just a short three-block from the hotel. The boardwalk seems like the town’s emotional center where you see a variety of people: heterosexual and homosexual couples, millennials, Generation Xers, Baby Boomers, retirees, African-Americans, Caucasians, Latinos, Orthodox Jewish families and Asians strolling and enjoying ocean air. Along the boardwalk, you can get waffles and cream, ice cream, coffee, funnel cake, pretzels from local mom-and-pop shops.



Stella Marina Restaurant serves some of the best Italian cuisine in town.

At the end of the boardwalk, you will find Stella Marina, an upscale restaurant. try the Eggplant Parmesan ($16), the Scottish Salmon ($29) and the Margherita Pizzetta ($17).



The Stone Pony, where Bruce Springstein, got his start, features live music acts.

Just off the boardwalk on my way back to the hotel, I checked out an iconic Asbury Park spot: The Stone Pony, a music venue where Bruce Springstein got his start performing.  The venue still boasts a robust lineup of live music acts. On another visit, I plan to actually go in and check out the music!



The next morning, I wanted to kick back and unwind so I headed down to the pool.  Yellow lounge chairs and a few cabanas surround the pool. Blue hydrangeas in mutlicolored barrels provide a touch of foliage. A sophisticated sound system streams an eclectic mix of tunes infusing the pool area with lounge-like feel.


The pool at The Asbury Hotel.

The hotel is family-friendly. Children splashed away in the pool playing Tag.  So, if you are kid-averse, the pool may not be the most relaxing place for you. But, if you don’t mind hearing kids take turns being “it” in games of tag,  you will enjoy chillaxin’ by the pool.


Before I knew it, my visit to Asbury Park was wrapping up. Checking out was easier than checking in and the hotel staff made amends for the clumsy check-in.

So, if you want to check out a new town with a laid-back vibe, live music scene, great food and a beach and boardwalk, head to Asbury Park.

That’s the Lowdown!

For more on a great eatery in Asbury Park, check out this link:

Talula’s Asbury Park, NJ: The Lowdown
For more on the hotel, check out their website: www.theasburyhotel.com

Or, for more info on how you can travel the world on a budget, click on this link:


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3 thoughts on “30 Hours in America’s Coolest Small Town, Asbury Park, New Jersey: The Lowdown!

  1. I know the hotel employee with ‘the cheap red wig’. She can be very rude, but upon check in…we noticed that she appears to wear dentures because she adjusted them in front us. The blonde male employee was a little more helpful, but very aloof -acting as if he was ‘too important’ to be accommodating guests. Our room also had no soap, which was easily remedied. And parts of the lobby smelled like ‘feet’ so the hotel needs to maybe use some Febreeze.


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