With music, culture, art, and the boardwalk all converging into one place, there are plenty of things to do in Asbury Park for a day trip and then some. Sure, it’s known for being the place where Bruce Springsteen perfected his sound, but it’s more than a blast of music history—from walking through the historic convention hall to seeing art in an open-air gallery to peddling a swan boat on the lake, spending time at this landmark shore town is a must. And it’s especially fun with kids, who will be entertained by the sights, sounds, and imaginative play spaces. Before heading to the iconic spot, read on for what to do below, and check out other family-friendly places on our list of the best downtowns in NJ. (featured photo taken in Asbury Park)
9 Things to do in Asbury Park
Stop by iconic sites where music reigns
With the Paramount Theater and Grand Arcade featuring oceanfront dining and boutiques, Convention Hall is the heart of the town and boardwalk. Over the years, this historic entertainment venue has hosted performances by Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Frank Sinatra, and the Rolling Stones. The magnificent Convention Hall extends over the beach and has a state-of-the-art stage with room for over 3,500 people in the arena. Besides the live music (this is, after all, where Bruce became an icon), there are lots of kid-friendly events too. Pose for insta photo ops inside and out, and if you want to get close to the Boss’ rock and roll roots, stop by to snap a selfie at the nearby Stone Pony.
Go pedal on a lake
For 50 years, the swan pedal boats at Asbury Park Pedal Boats have graced the waters of Wesley Lake, with the iconic Casino carousel and historic Ocean Grove in the background. It’s one of the top things to do in Asbury Park, and with boat options of a swan, blue heron, and pink flamingo, a photo-worthy activity too. The half-hour ride comfortably fits two adults and one child or one adult and two children, and you can book groups. Make a reservation during sunset for a memorable ride.
Peruse pops of art and make your own
Stroll along the boardwalk and downtown, and you’ll notice colorful art—the Wooden Walls Mural Project is a collaborative effort that thoughtfully brings art to Asbury Park with local, national, and international artists. The en plein air gallery is a great way to introduce your kids to art and emerging artists and makes a stunning background for photo ops. If you’re ready to try your hand at your own masterpiece, Hot Sand is the original glass-blowing studio open to the public in New Jersey, where you can blow a glass creation or purchase one-of-a-kind items. There are classes for kiddos as young as 4, and you can sign up the whole family for a day of creating glass art.
See the sights on two (or four) wheels
There’s no better way to explore Asbury Park than on a bike. Stop by the Asbury Park Cyclery on Main Street for rentals, including tag-alongs and kid-size bikes. Though you can no longer pedal on the boards during the day (though you can sneak in an early ride before 10 AM), it’s still worth seeing the town on wheels along the bike paths. Ask about their four-wheel, covered surrey rides that are big enough to fit the whole family for a full family-friendly experience.
Flip flop down the boards and on the beach
The boardwalk is always a good idea for finding things to do in Asbury Park. You can’t miss the iconic 5,000-square-foot carousel building and old casino built in 1929 at one end, giving beautiful and haunting reminders of the beach town’s history. As you walk along the boards, soak up the past and the modern amenities like gourmet eateries, family entertainment, and—this being Asbury—spots with live music. For a family-friendly option, stop for a round of mini golf at the picturesque Asbury Eighteen, with stellar views of the legendary Asbury Park boardwalk and beach. And if your kids are game for playing in the sand, step onto the beach, where you can walk along the shoreline or spread a towel—but keep in mind, beach badges are required from Memorial to Labor Day.
Test your skills with the classics at the Silverball Retro Arcade. From pinball machines to arcade games dating to the 1950s, you and the fam can play your gaming hearts out. There are over 600 games in rotation, giving life to the arcade games you (or your parents) grew up with. The best part? Play for as long and as much as you like because the old-school bag of quarters isn’t needed (you pay one price to enter).
Get wet and wild in the Asbury Park splash park.
Located right on the legendary Asbury Park Boardwalk, Asbury Splash Park offers a fun and exciting kid-friendly alternative for water activities in the summer. Kids will be clamoring to stand under the garden hose nozzle and larger-than-life watering can. In cooler temps, the Rachel D’Avino Playground (built in honor of beloved Sandy Hook teacher Rachel D’Avino) is right on the sand and a nice spot to take a break. Or, if you are looking for something to do indoors, check out Asbury Lanes to get a strike in family entertainment. This retro-style alley also has a diner and entertainment for a rainy day filled with family fun.
Shop till you drop at Asbury Fresh
You can’t visit this town without shopping, and Asbury Fresh is Monmouth County’s largest group of farmers and makers in one spot. Check out the farmers’ and makers’ markets popping up on a rotating schedule offering local foods, artisan products, and more for the total Asbury Park creative vibe. Or, when temps drop, the seasonal Asbury Park Bazaar is worth a visit. This marketplace in the Convention Hall brings together local makers, music, and art and has lots of activities, like kid art classes and photo booths, to keep littles busy while you shop.
Nosh at one of the diverse Asbury eateries
Shore food options usually run on the typical fried seafood and landlubber fare, but not so in Asbury, where healthier gourmet restaurants and eateries abound. Start your day with delicious coffee at Asbury Park Roastery (the popular spot has three locations around town), or grab a gluten-free, vegan, or traditional donut at Purple Glaze. For savory options, try yummy Mexican street-style food at Loteria and the Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten for delicious German food. Top off your day with a cone from Cookman Creamery, where hand-crafted small batch ice creams in gourmet, unique flavors like Lavender Chamomile, Wasabi, or Lions Mane Coffee are on the menu (they also have kid favorites too).
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