“Keep Asbury weird” is a favorite saying among locals and an affectionate moniker for the unique seaside city. The town’s colorful crowds make it easy to do just that, and its many offbeat attractions prove that there’s no shortage of strangeness here. In fact, it’s one of the many things that makes Asbury Park one of the coolest, er, weirdest places to be.
Paranormal Books and Curiosities + Museum
Asbury Park’s Paranormal Books and Curiosities wears their badge of weirdness with pride. The shop is full of eerie oddities, gifts, and a wide variety of books on all things paranormal. Behind the storefront is a paranormal museum that is only available through private tours given by the owner, Kathy Kelly.
Ask any Asbury local where is the best place to get your fortune told, and they’ll send you to Madame Marie’s. A fixture on the boardwalk and inspiration for Bruce Springsteen songs, in 1932, Madame Marie Castello opened her psychic booth, “Temple of Knowledge,” on the Asbury boardwalk and has remained a popular attraction decades later; it’s now run by her granddaughters. Check out the original booth and the new brick-and-mortar location on Cookman Ave.
Madame Marie’s, 4, Boardwalk, Asbury Park, NJ, USA, +1 732 775 5327
Catsbury Park Cafe & Tea House
Enjoy a cup of freshly brewed tea with friends—including the furry and four-legged ones—at Catsbury Park Cafe & Tea House. Some might argue this isn’t so strange as it is cute and adorable, but Catsbury is unique insofar that it is the Jersey Shore’s premier cat café. For $9, cat lovers can enter into the cat lounge and cuddle kitties to their heart’s content. Plus, many of the cats that reside here are rescues and are up for adoption.
The Asbury Park Zombie Walk
This ghoulish gathering has been luring hundreds of visitors to the AP boardwalk for the past 10 years. Arguably Asbury’s weirdest event (unless you count the men who dress up for the Mermaid Parade), the annual Zombie Walk even broke the Guinness Book of World Records for largest zombie gathering in 2003 and 2010. The undead can partake in a Jell-O brain-eating contest, Thriller dance parties and donate to the zombie blood drive.
Cookman Ave Art Installation
In between the vegan-friendly Cookman Creamery and The Parlor Gallery lives a wildly colorful and crowded outdoor “art installation.” A collection of plastic toys, crates, and various recycled items sit stacked one on top of the other and even line the brick walls of the neighboring building. An additional fenced-in area of meticulously crafted plastics sits behind the streetside installation with a sign warning visitors to “Enter at your own risk” and that it’s all for sale, of course.
SS Morro Castle Shipwreck
The story of the shipwrecked SS Morro Castle is shrouded in mystery and intrigue. On September 8, 1938, the massive and luxurious cruise liner washed up on the shores of Asbury Park, near the Convention Hall, in flames and disarray. The reason behind SS Morro Castle’s untimely demise remains an unsolvable case, and for decades on, people continue to visit the site of the shipwreck, which now features a plaque in memoriam of the accident.