Life’s A Beach
The Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel
1401 Ocean Ave // Asbury Park, NJ
(732) 776-6700 // berkeleyhotelnj.com
Distance from White Plains: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Once upon a time, if you’d heard of Asbury Park, it was as a hardscrabble town and the home of The Stone Pony, the club where Bruce Springsteen first made a name for himself as a blue-collar troubadour. Hardly the place you’d want to go for a relaxing vacation. But Asbury Park has become a quiet Jersey Shore vacation destination—without becoming The Jersey Shore. The luxurious Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel is at the forefront of that transformation.
Located just a few seconds from the beach and boardwalk, The Berkeley offers modern elegance in a muted ocean color palette, proving once and for all that “beachfront” and “tacky” don’t have to be synonymous. Get out early to snag a private cabana by the pool and order a massage treatment, or a mojito from the outdoor bar. If swimming pools aren’t your thing, try the 24-hour fitness room (or the billiards room for pool of a different kind). Make sure to check out Dauphin Grille, the upscale in-hotel eatery run by Kitschens, a local restaurant empire that also operates numerous spots along the boardwalk. But the real reason to stay at The Berkeley is visible from your window (if you ask ahead of time): the pristine Atlantic Ocean lapping against the beach just a few blocks away.
Asbury Park is easily accessed by New Jersey Transit, and, once you’re in town, it’s very walkable. In fact, one of the greatest pleasures Asbury Park has to offer is its beautiful sea breezes. After the summer crowds have died down, it’s a quiet vacationer’s paradise. Hit the beach with a blanket and an umbrella. Afterwards, stroll the boardwalk and check out the numerous cute boutique stores, like Style Rocket (732-807-4777, stylerocket.com), which sells trendy clothing and gifts with a young, hip perspective.
For a glimpse of what the shore once was, stop by the Silverball Museum Arcade (732-774-4994, silverballmuseum.com), a collection of more than 200 playable pinball machines dating back to the early 1930s. If you’re looking for something off the beaten path, check out Asbury Lanes (732-776-6160, asburylanes.com). This historic bowling alley plays up the sport’s retro-hipster chic, and frequently has local bands performing on a stage while you bowl. And if you’re here on a pilgrimage to The Boss, be sure to check out The Stone Pony’s (732-502-0600, stoneponyonline.com) concert line-up, which is still going strong decades later. We hear that Bruce shows up occasionally to give a surprise appearance.
The Nitty-gritty: In the fall, room rates vary from $129 to $309. Access to pool, fitness center, and billiards room is included. Massage treatments vary by length. Parking is additional.