Restored Historical Hotel on Nostalgic Beachfront Boardwalk
In the 1930s, a fortuneteller named "Madam Marie" Castello set up a small booth along the popular beachfront boardwalk in Asbury Park; her shack was just a short walk away from the red-bricked Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel, which had opened a few years before. As decades passed and crowds waned, Madam Marie nonetheless remained a beloved institution on the bustling scene—she is said to have predicted rock ‘n’ roll stardom for hometown boy Bruce Springsteen, who used to play guitar by her booth as a teenager, and celebrities often came to her counsel. In 2004, a massive boardwalk restoration project brought back crowds, who shop for fine art and dine in the ocean breeze. It also helped bring back Madam Marie, who reopened her booth after a seven-year hiatus. In keeping with the spirit of renewal, the boutique Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel underwent restoration that blends its charming 1920s art-deco flourishes with modern comforts.
Hints of Roaring Twenties grandeur are peppered throughout the building, such as carved ceilings and walls, large doorway arches, grand staircases, and steam-powered butlers. Elsewhere, there's a large gym, billiards room, and spacious bar area. Up in the bright guest rooms, lodgers can look out to sweeping panoramic views of the ocean; the spacious accommodations feature flat-screen TVs and a marble bath.
At the onsite Dauphin Grille—a whimsical bar and lounge—chefs cook up seafood dishes and seasonal bistro fare using fresh, wild-caught fish and local ingredients, including veggies and herbs from the hotel's garden. Meanwhile, the bar serves up a wide variety of international wines.
Asbury Park, New Jersey: Beachfront Boardwalk Scene with Eclectic Art and Shopping
Right smack between New York City and Philadelphia, Asbury Park is a 50-mile ride from Newark Liberty Airport, and resides about 60 miles from both Philadelphia International Airport and Atlantic City International. There's an inescapable air of nostalgia in Asbury Park: the beachfront boardwalk is often the epicenter of activity here, where locals and visitors stroll the slats to watch the ships pass and blue sky suspended over the sea. Outdoor concerts, live theater, fireworks, and bonfires liven up the beach year-round, and a vibrant arts scene has helped give a contemporary flair to the downtown area, which is marked by several fine-art galleries, antique markets, and a tiny independent movie theater.
During his ascendancy in the 1970s, Bruce Springsteen and his band were fixtures at Asbury Park's music clubs, and the legendary rocker still stops by to join impromptu jams and pose to have his face painted onto the state seal. These storied venues are just short walk from the Berkeley Hotel, as is the Convention Hall, which packs in audiences to see today's headlining music stars.