Even short city escapes have worthy benefits—like returning with wider eyes and perhaps a souvenir in tow, or at least a little beach in your hair. Asbury Park, one of the closest shore points to Jersey City (clocking in at an hour away and skipping most shore Parkway traffic), has become an ideal destination for such a spell.
Founded in 1871 by James A. Bradley, a New York City broom manufacturer, Asbury Park saw upwards of 600,000 vacationers annually from the Victorian era to the 1960s. By 1929, the city had become a shopping destination, and home to a bustling music scene thanks to clubs boasting Arthur Pryor, Billie Holiday, and other greats of the blues era, to the rock n’ roll scene at The Stone Pony (est. 1974), attracting Springsteen, Blondie, and The Ramones.
From the 1970s on, however, the city saw hard times, even if the Stone Pony, an institution, remained alive amidst the grit. Cue The Boss: “My city of ruins…The boarded up windows The empty streets…Come on, rise up,” written for a year 2000 benefit for city revitalization.