To call Asbury Park a secret would betray its tumultuous and storied history: a source of American music, nestled around Jersey Marshes. A house with national icons. A vibrant LGBTQ community. A city that bears the scars of the civil rights movement, blighted for decades by mismanagement and distrust, that is now in the midst of a skyrocketing recovery fueled by the very soul that gave Asbury its reason for to be: music.

Now Asbury Park is being called “America’s Coolest Small Town” by travel magazines and is regularly placed on lists of ‘best beach destinations’.

Yet just an hour’s drive from traffic-free Manhattan, Asbury Park still looks like a discovery, a seaside town of New Orleans and Dogtown that’s ignored by the bumper-to-bumper traffic of the Long Island Expressway to the Hamptons, the crowded ferries ferrying day-trippers to Rockaway Beach or the congested, car-lined roadway to Long Beach Island.

Ignored, of course, to their own loss. Because, as I’ve learned since my first trip to Asbury 25 years ago, to catch the Warped Tour with my dad in the parking lot behind the legendary stone pony, Asbury Park offers a Jersey Shore idyll for all comers: rockers, diners, surfers, art patrons and just fans of a simple, relaxing day on the beach. For years, I’ve kept a rotating and updated list of suggestions for friends and family to help them have the perfect summer weekend. Now I will also share it with the readers of The Times.

You’re here for the beach, so let’s start there. Most importantly, this is the Jersey Shore, home to paid beach access and draconian parking rules. Asbury Park luckily has ample parking near the beach and has no time limit on metered parking, although it will cost you $3 an hour from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. with no discount on the full day rate. Then, an all-day beach pass costs $6 per person on weekdays and jumps to $9 on weekends.

OK, time to choose a pier. Surfers, head north, as the only summer surf beach during watch hours is off Eighth Avenue and Deal Lake Drive (of course, no restrictions on dawn patrols or sessions at sunset). Non-surfers looking to shred can book lessons at the surf beach via summer surfing. For the equally active but terra firma crowd, head to the beaches near Sixth Avenue and look for the volleyball nets to play a pickup game or host your own.

The northern beaches are also home to ‘dog beach’, a necessity in a city where bars build puppy playgrounds, welcome dog-friendly “Yappy Hours”” and the Mardi Gras parade is centered on costumed pooches; it’s not uncommon to see dogs wearing party hats trotting along the boardwalk after a birthday party. So, early in the morning and every evening after 6:30 p.m., the beach near Lake Deal is open to dogs (and their handlers).

For those just looking to sit on the beach and relax, get yourself a beach read at the asbury book co-opa unique, local bookstore that operates as a cooperative, with members having the right to vote on decisions and discounts on new books.

The Asbury Park Walk, as recounted as it may be through its appearances in Springsteen songs and The Sopranos stages, is not the kind of amusement park on the water that many other Shore towns claim; more restaurants and bars line the boards here. But there are still traditional beach fun, including Asbury Water Park, where sprinklers, pipes and other water-emitting devices line the grounds for the kids. And Silverball pinball museuman arcade that doubles as a museum of historic pinball machines dating back to the 1950s, offers the opportunity to join the wizards on Pinball Way.

Each September, Asbury Park is the site of SeaHearNow, a nationally renowned two-day festivalbut any weekend can feel like its own music festival, as anywhere from a beer hall to a bookstore, from a cafe to a hotel lobby, hosts sometimes live music.

Start the afternoon at the transparent Clinch gallery, where local artists perform on an intimate stage under the gaze of countless music legends photographed by renowned photographer Danny Clinch. A Jersey Shore native, Mr. Clinch has photographed Bruce Springsteen, the Foo Fighters, Tupac and many others, and his gallery at the east end of the Asbury Hotel is filled with portraits of iconic artists, including a Mr. ( almost) life-size. Springsteen leaning against a muscle car with which visitors can pose for a photo. Mr. Clinch will often join bands on stage with his harmonica, holding a recent blues duet with local Seaside band Johnny Nameless.

From there, walk downtown to the House of Independents, a large sunken venue that can accommodate 500 fans for a showcase of Jersey punk, a more thoughtful and independent marquee party or just put a DJ on stage and throw a dance party. End the night by heading a few blocks to the Sainta venue that seems unchanged since it opened in 1994, for a mix of local artists and nationally touring bands, who are crammed into a small space that could easily double as a punky bar.

The second day of our self-proclaimed festival kicks off with brunch at R-Bar, a remarkable new New Orleans-themed restaurant on Main Street that hosts a brass brunch on Saturdays and a blues brunch on Sundays in the backyard garden. Grab a Kane Head High on tap and blue crab cakes and settle in for the perfect Jersey-New Orleans combo.

The main event takes place on Second Avenue, where the siren song the legendary stone pony still resounds on the boardwalk, 48 years after opening its doors, and Mr. Springsteen still appears occasionally. The venue’s summer stage at the back hosts major national artists from Phil Lesh to Jason Isbell to the Bouncing Souls, while the aftershow could take place inside the Pony, where local bands grace the same stage that Mr. Springsteen, Stevie Van Zandt and Southside Johnny regularly called home.

If your ears aren’t ringing yet, get back on the boardwalk at Asbury Park Yacht Clubwhich often hosts late-night concerts past midnight on weekends, and sweaty dancers spilling out into the salty air.

Asbury’s many live music venues can only be eclipsed by the booming restaurant scene. There’s plenty to eat, so let’s start early.

This is New Jersey, after all, so for breakfast you’ll be eating this greasy, salty ground pork shoulder product: Taylor Ham (or, as it’s called in Asbury, Pork Roll). It’s available across the city, but for the best experience, head to Johnny Pork Roll Truck in the North Eats Food Truck park and get the Sandwich, a traditional pork roll, egg and cheese with “saltpepperketchup,” a side condiment that needs to be pronounced in one breath.

If experiencing the state’s most treasured and peculiar cuisine isn’t in the cards, head over to Cardinal provisions for a mix of traditional brunch standards and original takes, like eggs cacio e pepe.

You’ll want to leave this breakfast, so take a stroll downtown to Frank’s Deli and Restaurant for a classic multi-page laminated menu and formica-covered cubicles. There’s nothing wrong with this menu, but you’re here for jaw-dropping Italian sandwiches. Order them like Anthony Bourdain: a pile of ham, salami, pepperoni, provolone, tomatoes, onions, shredded lettuce and hot peppers, drenched in oil and vinegar.

Now dinner can go two ways. You can organize a full pizza tour, sampling every New Jersey style in the square mile of Asbury. start to by Maruca on the boardwalk for a slice of “Tomato Pie”, a Jersey original where the sauce swirls like a spiral from the center, mingling with the cheese rather than being buried by it. So by Talula sells some of the best Neapolitan pizza in New Jersey or New York, sourcing all their ingredients from local farms identified on a blackboard above the bar. Or head to killer pies for a traditional slice and a custom classic fountain soda.

For more than a seated dinner, head to Heritage in Saint-Laurent (where a $75 prix fixe meal with a signature duck dish may be the best restaurant in town), Pascal and Sabine for French-inspired dishes, or Costero district for fine Mexican cuisine and some of the best shrimp tacos on the shore. The promenade is home to Langosta Lounge and its famous Surf Curry, with fresh seafood floating in a house blend of yellow and green curry. Newcomer R-bar features classic Big Easy dishes like okra, but also Jersey-inspired spins like a fried pork roll sandwich that’s a homage to Turkey and the Wolf’s famous fried bologna sandwich in New Orleans. And since the fish swim so close, there’s plenty of seafood to reading bonney.

If you saved room for dessert, go to Confections of a Rockstar and order cupcakes and other treats like a Macaron 5, a S’more than a Feeling or an Oreo Speedwagon (I could go on but I have a few surprises in store for you for the visit).

Unlike many Jersey Shore towns, Asbury Park has several large hotels with full amenities and a range of prices. To experience the new modern essence of Asbury, stay at the asbury, a hotel built from the historic Salvation Army building that often features live music in the lobby, a rooftop bar, and a backyard pool (weekdays start at $395, weekends -ends at $660). Directly across from Bradley Park is Berkeley Oceanfront Hotela long-standing hotel that has been renovated and upgraded (weekdays from $295, weekends $459). At the other end of the beach is the empress hotel (weekdays $229, weekends $339), a popular spot for LGBTQ visitors, with ocean views.

For those seeking luxury, the new Asbury Ocean Club (weekdays start at $585, weekends at $905), housed in a glittering glass tower in the center of the stretch of beach, it’s like stepping out of Asbury and into a scene from the Hamptons or South Beach. The lobby, bar, and pool are all on the second floor of the hotel, with the only exposure to the street in a small lobby with elevators. And the St. Lawrence ($425 to $600 most nights), newly opened this summer in the historic Tides Hotel building, has 20 individually decorated rooms — each decorated with a custom surfboard by a local artist and comes with free beach passes — above an expansive restaurant, whiskey bar, and backyard pool.