8 Things to Do in Asbury Park During the Offseason (and How to Make a Weekend of It)

With autumn in full swing, you’re probably itching to go somewhere with prime leaf-peeping opportunities. But anywhere known for its fall foliage tends to come with premium prices this time of year. That is, unless you look to destinations that are entering their low season but still have plenty to do, like Asbury Park, New Jersey. Roughly 90 minutes by car or train from NYC, the summer beach town that doubles as an LGBTQ+-friendly destination makes for a spectacular fall getaway with plenty of opportunities to see the leaves change—we’ll tell you how.

Your Next Weekend Escape Lake George

things to do in asbury park farmers market
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What To Do

1. Stop by the farmers’ market

The weekly Asbury Fresh market takes over Kennedy Park on Sunday afternoons and is filled with the best of local Jersey produce. (It’s peak apple season—just saying.)

2. Raise a stein at an authentic biergarten

If you’re into beer—or just convivial drinking dens—head to the Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten for German brews, pretzels and more. It’s hosting an Oktoberfest bash the weekend of ‪October 12 and 13, which promises special brews, food and even live polka bands.

things to do in asbury park allaire state park
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3. See the fall colors

Nearby Allaire State Park, about a 20-minute drive or Uber from Asbury, offers prime opportunities to catch the red, yellow and orange hues of autumn. Make sure to budget time for it accordingly—you could easily spend a full afternoon in the 3,000-plus-acre park, which encompasses hiking trails, a river and a historical railroad and iron-making village.

4. Catch a show at a historic venue

Asbury’s music scene—centered around The Stone Pony, made famous by the likes of Jersey boys Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi—makes it a special place to visit year-round, and you can pretty much guarantee there will be something of interest on the schedule when you’re in town. Case in point: This fall, there’s an ABBA-themed tribute event; RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Sasha Velour will blow through town on the Smoke & Mirrors tour; and there’s even a cake and cookie convention happening, which needs no further explanation.

5. Shop handmade goods and unique finds

There are lots of new design-focused stores popping up in Asbury, including Hot Sand, a glass studio where you can collaborate on a creation directly with a glassblower. Hi-fi fans should beeline to Asbury’s Holdfast Records, where you can spend a good amount of time thumbing through vintage vinyl. The nearby Rebel Supply Company is a clothing store slash consignment shop featuring new and secondhand clothes, jewelry and art. And those on the hunt for one-of-a-kind home goods and miscellanea shouldn’t miss Antique Emporium.

6. Play some (vintage) pinball

If you’d rather take in some nostalgia than buy it, head over to the Silverball Museum Arcade, which features vintage video games and pinball machines, some dating back to the early 1930s, and many of which you can still play.

things to do in asbury park beach
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7. Hit the beach (and bring your dog)

If you’re looking to take one last glimpse of the ocean before the impending chill, Asbury Park beaches are open to the public year-round. No lifeguards are on duty during the fall months, so swimming is off-limits, but that won’t stop you from taking a blanket and setting up a peaceful fall picnic on the sand while the waves crash onto the shore. And from late September through mid-May, dogs are allowed on both the boardwalk and the Eighth Avenue Dog Beach all day, so you can bring Fido along too.

8. See local art

At Exhibit No. 9 and the Danny Clinch Transparent Gallery, you can discover (and purchase) the works of local artists and photographers. At the latter, which is housed in a floor-to-ceiling glass-enclosed space, you can also buy books, furniture and other novelty items, and occasionally catch a musical act in the process.

things to do in asbury park asbury ocean club
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Where To Stay

The big news this year was the arrival of the Asbury Ocean Club, a luxe property located directly behind the boardwalk. The 54-room hotel is elevated, literally, above many of the town’s buildings, which translates to expansive, panoramic views. It also boasts a sand dune garden and gigantic pool deck overlooking the ocean. There’s also a light-filled drawing room featuring unique furnishings, a baby grand piano, a bar and an open-air kitchen (a champagne cart rolls through starting in the early afternoon, naturally). The rooms are pretty special too: Each suite has high ceilings, plenty of square footage and floor-to-ceiling windows, many with large outdoor terraces. Little touches like air plants and banquette seating surrounding a coffee table stacked with your favorite magazines further make it feel like you should move right in—or at the very least plan to spend a few nights.

Where To Eat

Many of Asbury’s restaurants are within walking distance of each other, should you want to peruse menus. Francophiles will love Pascal & Sabine, a French brasserie with a handsome, lively bar. Menu highlights include buttery escargot, a mushroom tart, trout almondine, a serious burger and traditional steak frites. The cocktail program and large regional wine list mean you’ll probably leave very full and in very good spirits if you decide to partake. We specifically love the Jackal: jalapeño-infused tequila, mezcal and ginger syrup.

A stone’s throw away is Moonstruck—somewhat of an Asbury Park institution, set on multiple levels of a Victorian building with wraparound porches that overlook a peaceful lake separating Asbury from its neighboring town. The regular menu highlights many of your favorite foodie regions—France, Italy, Spain and Greece, to name a few—and the seasonal menu is has fall written all over it with dishes like baked Brie with fig jam, and rigatoni with pumpkin and goat cheese.

Located right on the boardwalk, Watermark is always solid for a drink and a snack; it’s more of a cocktail joint at heart, but it also doubles as a lovely wedding or party venue. And if you’re looking for a day drink or nightcap, The Asbury Hotel’s rooftop bar, Salvation, has quickly become one of the area’s most festive spots.

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Dan Koday is a travel and lifestyle writer and editor with 15+ years experience creating content for your favorite websites, print publications and brands. As a native to the NYC...