During decades of economic stagnation, the town of Asbury Park had nothing more to its name than the fact that state troubadour Bruce Springsteen got his start at the Stone Pony nightclub here in the mid-1970s. But since 2000, blocks of previously abandoned Victorian homes have seen such a revival that Asbury is sometimes called 'Brooklyn on the Beach.' Thousands more units are projected over the next few years, and a looming 16-story hotel/condo complex will dominate the boardwalk by early 2019, with units starting at $1.2 million.
The downtown area, several blocks of Cookman and Bangs Aves, has antiques shops, hip restaurants (from vegan to French bistro) and an art-house cinema. Thirty-nine bars and counting lure trains full of young NY-based revelers to the convenient NJ transit depot, like moths to the vodka.