Last month, I made a trip down to Asbury Park with my dad to celebrate the opening night of Jersey Collective's first gallery show. I've lived in New Jersey all my life (with the exception of 4 years spent in NY for school), and it's kinda silly that I've never been to the town Bruce Springsteen named his 1973 debut album ("Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ") after. In other words, this trip was loooong overdue haha! Growing up, my family often made trips down to Point Pleasant -- and now, we typically head to Long Branch for our summer beach escape. I had no idea that Asbury Park was so close to those other two Jersey shore points... until I looked at a map (lol). For some reason I always thought that Asbury Park was farther south! Clearly my sense of geography is terrible..
I wanted to have some time to explore the boardwalk, so we got there a few hours before the event was scheduled to start. We parked the car in a lot overlooking Wesley Lake - a small body of water that was lined with beautiful beach houses and the most adorable pedal boats ever.
Dragon, swan, AND flamingo boats... seriously my heart could not handle it. (!!!)
And this house was basically a castle..
The boardwalk had qualities that reminded me of Coney Island (Brooklyn, NY) - mostly because of the art scene. When I'm in NY, I always find myself "street art hunting" - so I was beyond thrilled to see some NJ murals for a change of pace! We stopped into a few of the shopping boutiques too - which sold art and other handmade goods. I didn't buy anything, but I had a fun time "window shopping!" ;)
We ran into a magician, and stopped to watch his tricks. I got dragged into being a participant of his little show, and he took a selfie on my camera:
There were so many colorful / whimsical food shacks along the boardwalk, and I wanted to try them all! There was also a fortune teller, which (again) reminded me of Coney Island.
We got dinner at this place called the Langosta Lounge. Not gonna lie... it was kinda pricey, and the service was kinda terrible... lol - but the food was good! I got the "Jersey Buratta" salad - which was baby arugula, buratta mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, basil oil, and avocado croutons with an aged balsamic reduction drizzle. The menu description alone had me salivating... I also totally would have added lobster, but opted not to because it would have cost an extra $8 (if I remember correctly..) Why is seafood so damn expensive?! #sadface I felt kinda dumb for not even getting lobster at the "lobster lounge" ... but oh well lol.
After dinner, we headed over to the gallery. I designed the poster, event booklet, and postcard invite for the show - so that was pretty exciting for me to see it all come together in person. Kerri, the founder of Jersey Collective and coordinator of the event, was able to get matching balloons for the color scheme I used in the postcard / poster - and that basically made my night. ;)
When the event finished, I made a trip back to the boardwalk for Day's Ice Cream. I got a waffle cone with 2 scoops: birthday cake + toasted coconut. (YES, YES, and YES.) Ice cream is by far my biggest summer guilty pleasure, so it was the best way to end the day.
Asbury Park breathed an energy and personality unlike anything I had ever experienced in NJ before, and left me feeling like my love for NJ was renewed all over again. Because I've spent my whole life here, with little opportunity to travel, it's easy to forget how beautiful of a place it really is. There are so many parts of it that I still haven't seen yet!
I'm currently in the process of planning to make a trip down to Cape May next month, which is the southern-most part of NJ. Again, this is a place I have also never ever been - so I'm excited to explore! Hopefully, we can make some stops at other nearby shore points too. I'm pretty curious about what's down there, and you betcha there will be a blog post about it - stay tuned!!