Thanks to Ray Yeager for this great shot!Destination: Asbury Park, New Jersey
Travel Time from Philly: 1.5 hours by car

Every summer my friends and I try to block off a few days on our busy calendars for day trips to the beach. This year was no different. In fact, we had our first trip planned by the beginning of June!

To keep things interesting we decided to try a new beach location, instead of our usual trip to Wildwood and Ocean City. We chose Asbury Park. Not only was it a new location to most of us, but it was recently ranked among New Jersey’s top ten beaches by New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium and the Stockton University Coastal Research Center. Once the location was chosen all we needed to do was get there and then the fun could begin.

We spent the week leading up to our day trip praying for warm and sunny weather. Unfortunately, the weather gods weren’t with us and we ended up with clouds. Four of us drove through the clouds from Philadelphia, which is only about an hour and a half drive, and one friend from New York met us there.

Upon arrival, the four of us Philadelphians oohed and awed at the cute town for about a minute and then wondered what the heck we were going to do all day if the clouds didn’t break. Although the beach town was cute there didn’t seem to be that much for four straight women to do — little did we know how much fun we’d end up having that day.

We found our friend from New York on the street, ready with his beach attire, and proceeded to park our car. One tip for anyone traveling to Asbury Park, pay to park your car in a lot or at a spot where you don’t have to keep feeding the meter, it’ll end up being cheaper.

Our next task was to find a restaurant where we could have a leisurely lunch and catch up on each other’s lives. Luckily, that didn’t take long. We ended up at McLoone’s Asbury Grille. Not only did we get to sit outside, where there was great boardwalk people watching, but they had the most amazing coastal potato chips! Oh and we spotted a woman wearing the most eye-catching Bruce Springsteen jean jacket we’ve ever seen too.

After spending more than two-hours catching up and munching on yummy food we decided it was probably time to check out the rest of the area.

We didn’t get far down the boardwalk before we spotted a surrey rental shop. We couldn’t resist the six-person surrey sitting out front. It was practically calling our names. Needless to say, we rented the bad boy and took it for a spin around town — for some strange reason we weren’t allowed to ride it on the boardwalk. The houses and town itself were beautiful. We even got to ride over a little bridge. If you haven’t taken a ride on a surrey with your friends, please do so immediately. It is one of the funniest experiences you’ll have. We got more laughs, claps and cheering from people on the streets than I think I’ve ever gotten for anything in my life, although that may not be saying much.

One forty-minute ride, a few almost accidents, and a number of new friends later, we finally headed to the beach to relax for a bit. At this point it felt like it was about 50 degrees outside, but the beach was empty and the sites were pretty. In fact, we got to see a wedding party take their photos on the beach which is always nice to watch. For anyone looking for a beach wedding, Asbury Park would be worth a look. It’s pretty and not too crowded.

Oh, I almost forgot one of the best parts of our trip — the cute shops and the night market they host! We didn’t know anything about this, but when we walked into what looked to be an indoor mall area after our time on the beach we saw all the vendors setting up for the night market. And let me tell you, these weren’t your everyday vendors. They were cute crafters selling their items. They had everything from jewelry, to vintage records shaped into bowls, dreamcatchers (which we all purchased), and boutique clothing.

Our day ended with some delicious ice cream and lots of goodbye hugs as we sent our friend off to New York. All in all the day was a huge success, despite the clouds and some rain at the very end. If you’re looking for an escape for the day and are willing to drive a little, I’d highly recommend grabbing your friends and headed to Asbury Park!

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