Hit Asbury’s well-groomed, uncrowded sands just south of historic Convention Hall, where you’ll have easy access to the boardwalk and its cleaned-up facilities. The city’s resurgent arts scene starts right where the sand ends, at the beachfront Exhibit A, where you’ll find locally made abstract paintings on wood and canvas, plus cool found-object sculptures and collages.
Rent a bike at Brielle Cyclery’s new boardwalk outpost ($5 per hour) to get to newly redeveloped Cookman Avenue downtown. Stop by the second-floor loft space of Crybaby Gallery for often provocative photographs, screen prints, sculptures, and paintings; a new show of erotic art begins July 21. Also on Cookman, browse the retro-fashion finds at Manhattan-based Allan & Suzi; the stylish housewares and kids’ stuff at Moxie; and the ecofriendly clothes and fair-trade imports at Organic Style.
Pedal back to the boardwalk for a frozen daiquiri at the Beach Bar (happy hours from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on weekdays), then hop next door to consult the schedule of the just-refurbished Beaux-Arts Paramount Theatre for theater and opera happenings. If that’s too highbrow, look to the clubs: The new Mattison Park, adds a dressed-up dimension—tapas menu, martini lounge, occasional D.J.'s—to Asbury’s torn-jeans bar scene, while the Saint is a smallish rock hall that showcases rising indie bands.