Asbury Park No. 10 on Travel + Leisure’s 50 Best Places to Travel in 2016

Thanks to its burgeoning live music scene and time-honored attractions like Madame Marie’s Temple of Knowledge and Asbury Lanes.

Bruce Springsteen put it on the map when he released his debut album in 1973, but Asbury Park has had its share of ups and downs since then. Most recently, it was slammed by 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, and then there were small losses, like, in 2014, when popular summer event Sand Blast moved to Atlantic City after organizers deemed the town too small to host the bash.

Things are turning around, though. In August, real estate investment company iStar announced a multi-billion dollar waterfront renewal plan that will add 2,100 new homes and 300 hotel rooms to the area. All eyes were on the town this summer, when Springsteen popped up at a local bar there to play an impromptu two-hour set. And this week, Travel + Leisure has ranked Asbury Park No. 10 on its list of 50 Best Places to Travel in 2016. Here’s what writer David Shaftel had to say about it:

In the song “My City of Ruins,” written in 2000, Bruce Springsteen described Asbury Park as a city of boarded-up windows and empty streets. A battering by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 didn’t help. But the Jersey Shore town, 90 minutes south of New York City, has started to recover, led by its gay and live-music scenes. Visitors to Asbury’s boardwalk can still have their fortunes told at Madam Marie’s Temple of Knowledge and play on vintage pinball machines (preserved at the Silverball Museum), but now they’ll also find clothing and jewelry at the Market at Fifth Avenue, sushi and tacos at Langosta Lounge, and surfboards and skateboards at Lightly Salted. A short walk from the beach, the Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten serves almost 100 varieties of beer, and famous venues like the Stone Pony—a Springsteen haunt—are still packed. The Empress Hotel on the oceanfront is the place to stay, at least until the 110-room Asbury opens this year. The first new hotel in the city in 55 years is part of a multimillion-dollar plan to revive a one-mile stretch of beachfront. Also in the works: a face-lift for Asbury Lanes, the beloved 1930s-era bowling alley.

Asbury Park shares the accolade with exotic locales around the world, like Douro Valley, Portugal (No. 8), Lille, France (No. 4), and Guadalajara, Mexico (No. 2). Despite The New York Times naming us the third best place to travel in 2015, Philly doesn’t make a show on this list. Pittsburgh’s there, though, at No. 33. Check out the full list here for some 2016 travel inspiration.

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