That Asbury Park is the most gay-friendly beach town in NJ should come as no surprise. Similar to Hamilton Park, my childhood neighborhood and Jersey City’s gayborhood of the 80s and 90s, Asbury Park’s revitalization is deeply rooted in the gay community sharing its love, taste, elbow grease, and charm: proving pivotal in its rebirth into the bustling City by the Sea it is today.

There are about a dozen bars and hotels that cater to the LGBTQ community; the Empress Hotel, for example, bills itself as “Asbury Park’s LGBTQ friendly hotel,” and as a frequent guest for years and years, that is quite the understatement. Paradise, the gay bar and nightclub attached to the hotel, is often the place to be. Whether checking out eye candy poolside, watching a drag show or dancing til the wee hours of the morning, this gay hot spot will not disappoint. Asbury Park also hosts the Pride Festival each year, attracting over 20,000 in 2016, easily making it the state’s largest LGBTQ parade and festival.

Still not convinced Asbury Park is the perfect Gay Trip… I mean Day Trip?  Asbury Park’s continued appeal is it’s location, especially when compared to the juggernaut of LGBTQ beach life, Fire Island. It’s just over an hour from Jersey City on our hip whip ‘Maggie May’, and we conveniently pickup Day Trippers outside the Grove Street Path station: a 7 minute ride on the WTC train and an equally easy and quick ride on the PATH if coming from Chelsea, Greenwich Village or Midtown. Still need a nudge? Here’s some quick insider tips to help let your Pride shine…

Where To Stay

Asbury Park’s premiere LGBTQ hotel. Lets not forget the balconies.

http://www.asburyempress.com/

LGBTQ-friendly, boutique hotel a few blocks from the beach.

http://www.thehoteltides.com/

Victorian architecture meets modern rooms and amenities.

http://www.berkeleyhotelnj.com/

Where To Let Loose

Poolside drinks, drag shows, karaoke, movie nights and late night dancing. Need we say more?

Best Time: Now o’clock.

http://www.paradisenj.com/

Upscale lounge with a mixed crowd overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Cocktails and delicious bites galore.

Best Time: After washing sand from body crevices.

http://www.watermarkap.com/

Local joint with great prices, outdoor space and tons of flair.

http://www.johnnymacbar.com/

Bar overlooking the beach with an eclectic and jovial crowd seeking a break from the sun to dance and drink.

Best Time: Weekend afternoons are always a treat.

https://www.facebook.com/beachbarasbury/

Great live acts and memories are often made at this enduring, local joint.

Best Time: When off the beaten path.

http://www.thesaintnj.com/

My all-time favorite watering hole. Great beer, food, tunes, tattoos,

and company.

Best Time: Whenever in Asbury

https://www.facebook.com/Bond-Street-Bar

 

 

Where to Eat

Trendy boardwalk restaurant to satisfy the foodie in all of us.

http://langostalounge.com/

Boardwalk restaurant cooking up Mexican flair. The aesthetically-pleasing staff serves as a great distraction while waiting for your grub.

http://popsgaragenj.com/

Best brunch in town. Period. Fear the wait.

http://langostalounge.com/ 

Traditional Korean deliciousness in a taco shell. Served fresh from

the boardwalk and Cookman Avenue.

http://www.eatmogo.com/

Collection of food trucks with benches and an ocean view.

https://www.facebook.com/northeatsfoodtrucks

Where to Beach It

In The Heart Of It

You’re sure to find party-pockets throughout the beach but much of the action can be found directly alongside The Beach Bar – South

East of the Convention Center

Honey I brought the kids: Straight-shot down 2nd Avenue. East of Asbury Splash. Close to bathrooms, food, families, and a play area in the sand.

Get Off My Lawn

Head to North Beach, North East of the Convention Center. The further you walk, the more privacy you’ll find.