Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 6/14/16
Asbury Park, which frequently has made news for robberies, murder and more, has had a bad rap with summer tourists over the years.
However, on a reinvented side of the tracks in the city, streets are buzzing with niche bars, cutting-edge restaurants and cool activities that can be found just waiting for visitors — all without the purchase of a beach tag.
Asbury Park is much more than a city with crime or a city with a beach. Check out our roundup below to find out what you can do in one of the closest shore towns to Central Jersey, all without ever changing into your swimsuit.
1. Investigate ghosts with Paranormal Books and Curiosities
In a city more than 100 years old such as Asbury Park, there’s bound to be some lingering ghosts, and Paranormal Books and Curiosities, a paranormal books and gifts boutique huddled at 627 Cookman Ave., is right there to share the history with visitors.
The bookstore, which sells local and regional titles, historical guides, ghost hunting primers, parapsychology and paranormal fiction, also has a ton going on outside of its pages such as ghost hunting classes, seances, paranormal investigations and lectures.
To book a paranormal experience or get more information, visitparanormalbooksnj.com or call 732-455-3188.
2. Chug a stein at the Asbury Festhalle
Asbury Park may be a ways from Germany, but the Asbury Festhalle, a European biergarten in a 6,000-square-foot indoor space at 527 Lake Ave. with a 9,000-square-foot rooftop bar, has brought the authenticity with it to the city.
With 41 draft beers and ocean views, the beer-hungry and just hungry come from all over to listen to live music, drink genuine German beers and munch on German specialties such as schnitzels, strudels, huge Bavarian pretzels, sausages and bratwursts.
For more information on how you can spend an hour (or four) bringing out your inner German, visit asburybiergarten.com or call 732-997-8767.
3. Listen to legendary tunes from the Stone Pony Summer Stage
Once the beach chill fades away in May, the Stone Pony Summer Stage opens up right outside of the Pony at 913 Ocean Ave.
The legendary venue that overlooks the ocean will be hosting Slightly Stoopid, O.A.R., the Lumineers, the Bouncing Souls and more this year on the Summer Stage, which is open until September. Even if you can’t afford a ticket, the sounds of the bands inside can be heard throughout the boardwalk.
To purchase a ticket or find out more information, visit stoneponyonline.com or call 732-502-0600.
4. Pick up a free pizza at Johnny Mac House of Spirits
Asbury Park is chock-full of eclectic bars, but for a cheap meal in a very tailored atmosphere, then head to Johnny Mac House of Spirits, where you can get a free personal pizza with every beverage purchase — as long as you remember to bring your ticket to the back of the bar and leave a good tip for the pizza cook.
The bar, stuffed full of over 500 sayings, trivia and quotes adorning the walls — and everything else — at 208 Main St., also has free candy, skeeball and free omelets with a beverage on Sundays.
For further information on the rather generous bar, visit johnnymac.com or call 732-776-6666.
5. Meander through the Antique Emporium
Those who live in Asbury Park have a penchant for the curious, and some of those items can be found at the Antique Emporium at 646 Cookman Ave.
The 20,000-square-foot space is full of American furniture, art, bronzes, porcelain, glass, china, silver, books and newspapers, jewelry, clocks, decorative items, linens and collectibles.
To grab some new housewares or just check out what Asbury Park residents have been keeping in their historic homes, call 732-774-8230 or head toantiqueemporiumofasburypark.com for more information.
6. See an independent film at the ShowRoom cinema
Everyone knows about the AMC at the Monmouth Mall, but if you’re a film buff looking for something a little less mainstream, then head to the ShowRoom cinema at 707 Cookman Ave., which screens independent, documentary and international films.
Currently playing is “The Lobster,” where singles must find a matching mate in 45 days or be transformed into an animal as well as Weiner, a behind-the-scenes and human look at the Anthony Weiner scandal.
To find out what’s playing, check out the ShowRoom at theshowroomap.com or call 732-502-0472.
7. Play some pinball at the Silverball Museum Arcade
Everyone in Asbury Park has an inner child just waiting run amok, and the Silverball Museum Arcade, a museum with about 200 games including pinball, skeeball, air hockey and classic video and arcade games at 1000 Ocean Ave., provides for just that.
No coins are required at the one-of-a-kind museum, which costs $10 for an hour pass or $25 for an all-day pass.
To get more information on this venue housing all of your favorite childhood games, visit silverballmuseum.com or call 732-774-4994.