We’ve waited so long for this time of the year and, happily, the moment has arrived when we finally get the chance to slather on the sunscreen, make sand castles with our kids, sip icy lemonade and take a dip in all the gorgeous waters around this amazing place we call home. Here are eight easy-to-access beaches to relax in this season:
Beach 411: A quick walk from the train to the sand
Beach locale: Long Beach, Long Island
There’s something very likeable about Long Beach, a Long Island town with a beach that’s a quick walk from the LIRR station. They’ve thought of everything, including changing areas and diaper changing stations, and there are loads of restaurants to choose from. Best of all, you don’t even have to leave the beach when it’s time for a snack or meal as most local restaurants will deliver right to your beach blanket. One extra-convenient feature: You can skip the schlepping, thanks to Beach Comfort, which is at the ready with beach umbrellas and chairs to rent for the day.
Beach 411: Sand without surf? Count us in!
Beach locale: Newport Green, Jersey City
Bring a picnic and revel in the sheer relaxation of Newport Green, located in the lively Newport neighborhood of Jersey City. Considered the only urban beach on the Hudson River, though there’s no water to dip in, Newport Green provides a serene waterfront respite from the sticky city. You’ll find a sandy beach featuring Adirondack chairs and umbrellas and, surrounding the beach, a vibrant 4.25-acre lushly-landscaped park, an imaginative playground perfect for kids of all ages, a carousel, splash pad and scenic waterfront walkway to Hoboken, all with the sparkling Manhattan skyline as a backdrop. We love the fact that this spot is just a PATH train plus a five-minute walk away so there’s no chance you’ll waste the day sitting in traffic!
Beach 411: It’s sure to be packed—but there’s lots to do!
Beach locale: Jones Beach, Long Island
There’s just so much to do when you spend the day at Jones Beach. This New York State Park is easily accessible for the car-less (there’s a free shuttle from the Freeport LIRR stop) and the bath house has recently been renovated for clean (and easy) diaper changes and beach prep. Plan to explore more than just the sand and surf, including WildPlay, a $1.5-million project opening this summer that will include rope courses, a 40-foot tall zipline, pathways and play areas for visitors of all ages.
Beach 411: Get your Jersey Shore fix—here
Beach Locale: Long Branch, NJ
If the Jersey Shore is on your bucket list, plan at least one day trip down to Long Branch. The beach is easily accessible for New York City folk via New Jersey transit and this iconic Jersey shore town promises a gorgeous beach, restrooms and shower towers, yummy meals (try tacos at Surf Taco, homemade ice cream at Gracie and The Dudes and burgers at the legendary Jr’s restaurant) and more than enough ways to have fun all day long. Be sure to stay for the glorious sunsets!
Beach 411: Tacos and high tides
Beach Locale: Rockaway, Queens
Thanks to the hard work that it took to jazz up this beach after Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Rockaway Beach is going to remain a super popular place to be this summer. The 170-acre stretch is sporting a new boardwalk and beachfront dining options. For the most variety, head to 97th Street where there are lots of concession stands with very innovative food/beverage offerings. Getting here is easy, too. For example, if you don’t feel like taking the A train to this Atlantic Ocean beach, consider hopping aboard the NYC Ferry by Hornblower to really experience our waterfront city. Then, once you arrive, sit back and watch the surfers work the waves at this, the city’s only legal surfing beach.
Beach 411: A place to do more than soak up the sun
Beach Locale: Croton Point Park Beach, Westchester
Want to head north for a getaway? Hop aboard MetroNorth and head right to Croton Point Park Beach, a popular Westchester beach that’s a one hour ride to the Croton-Harmon stop and a 10-minute walk once you arrive at the station. Known for its scenic views and spacious layout, adventure seekers can explore the 508-acre Croton Point Park to discover a host of activities, including a boat launch, hiking trails, grills and grassy lawns for picnics. There are kayak rentals at the ready nearby on the Croton River or you can just take a long dip in the beach’s sparkling waters. It’s best to pack a picnic lunch or, for small bites, just walk to The Green Growler for tasty treats.
Beach 411: A beach and an amusement park? Count us in
Beach Locale: Rye, NY
If you’re thinking of doing a double-duty fun day away from the city, Rye Beach and Playland, which are about a block apart, might your family’s idea of the best way to spend the day. The beach sports a fully outfitted diaper changing station and restrooms to change into beach gear, there’s an on-site restaurant serving yummy fare as well as a concession and snack shop with delicious beach fare. Best of all, it’s super easy to get here: Just take MetroNorth to Rye, hop the shuttle to Playland and walk down the block to the beach or stay at Playland and ride the Dragon Coaster over and over to your heart’s content.
Beach 411: Visit the former ‘Riviera of New York’
Beach Locale: Orchard Beach, The Bronx
On super sunny days, expect a crowd to flock to Orchard Beach, the only public beach in The Bronx, and with good reason. It’s 115 acres and 1.1 miles of endless sand situated overlooking the picturesque Long Island Sound. This beach is equipped with snack bars, food carts, two picnic areas and two playgrounds. Changing areas and showers are also available at this beach, accessible via the subway to Pelham Bay Park, followed by four stops on a local bus.
Lambeth Hochwald is a writer in New York City who focuses on lifestyle stories for a wide variety of publications. After spending her early years in the suburbs, she’s a big fan of quick train rides out of town with her husband and teenage son.