We took advantage of a beautiful and breezy day to drive down to Asbury Park for a day in the sun to drink a couple of beers and eat some vegan food. Simon is a born and raised Jersey boy (Okay, not like the fist pumping, duck face making, spiky hair kind that posts shirtless selfies on Instagram but just simply that he was literally born and raised in suburban New Jersey. Thank you MTV’s Jersey Shore for the gross stereotype!) We have been together for almost 6 years now and how many times has he taken me to the Shore? ZERO. But there is nothing like moving out of the east coast to motivate him to finally give me a tour of where he used to hang out as a kid.
Downtown Asbury Park
// vegan pizza? always a yes, please //
Asbury Park Boardwalk
// beaches – art – food – booze //
The main attraction of the boardwalk is obviously the beach. You have to purchase a day pass for about $7 at ticketing booths and you must wear a wrist bracelet on the beach (the boardwalk itself is free). It gets busy and crowded so it’s best to come early to get a good spot. It’s a bit crazy to me that you have to pay to go on the beach, though, after living on the west coast where all beaches are free.
One of the reasons I wanted to check out Asbury Park was for the art murals. I am always chasing street art and love to see what artists come up with. It’s so fascinating to that the artists can paint such big murals because I can barely draw on a piece of paper. My mom is an excellent painter and she encourages me to take art classes and paint all the time. Perhaps one day, I will follow in her footsteps and pick up a watercolor brush, but until then, I will continue to collect other people’s art though photography.
Simon also took me to the skate park where he used to come to all the time. I would imagine that he was about this kid’s size when he used to “tear sh*t up” back in junior high. Exchanging childhood stories are always so much fun. Hearing about his hopes and dreams while standing at the exact places he had them just brings us so much closer together as a couple.
The Boardwalk also had a lot of cute shops selling boho dresses and beach wear, small stands where artists sold their creations and of course, bars and restaurants where you can cool down with a nice cold beer, and every bartenders’ favorite, a five dollar mojito.
While you can easily spend an entire day here without getting bored, there is something lacking here… vegan food. Simon got a vegetarian sandwich without the mozzarella cheese but failed to ask if the hoagie had dairy and eggs in it, so I can’t recommend it as something to eat. There are a couple of places that offer vegan ice cream and we tried Eddi Confetti’s. Eddie Confetti’s vegan ice creams were more like a double frozen shave ice. It melted REALLY fast, even on a mildly warm day and eating it in the shade. There are many options for vegetarians, but sadly, vegans are better off packing a lunch and bringing it rather than trying their luck at finding something decent to eat.
I wish we had stayed to watch the sunset but we were both starving so decided to end our day by driving to Belmar for dinner instead. Kaya’s Kitchen is a cute little place that serves 100% vegan fares including cupcakes and cheesecakes! I was going to get a grilled vegetable tower but the fun part about eating out is eating something you wouldn’t make yourself, right? So I got the perogies instead and it was so yummy. I still prefer them with apple sauce but the onion gravy added a different element that I haven’t experienced before.
I’m really glad that Simon and I crossed Asbury Park off our To-Do-Before-We-Move list. Even Simon was surprised at how much Asbury has changed from his childhood days. According to him it’s less gritty and the beaches are no longer condemned, but I think I would have liked the grittiness of it more. We take so much of what is available to us for granted because we think that it will always be there. We travel to far and exotic places but we have to remember that places we live near change over the years. Places around us with that raw and old world character will inevitably change to fit the modern era and without exploring our own “backyard”, you just might miss out on something that you can never get back.