The Best Beaches Near NYC

Coney Island
Coney Island

New York City may be one of the most densely populated corners of the world, but it’s also surrounded by water—and lots of it. We’re lucky that a trip to the beach is just a MetroCard swipe away, but how to choose where to sprawl in the sand? This year, with NYC beach season extended for the first time through September 13, you’ve got time to try them all! To get you started, we’ve broken down the basics of several of the city’s most popular beaches. And if you’re looking to get out of the city entirely, scroll below for some of our favorite weekend beach getaways in the East.

For our complete 2016 Summer Family Fun Guide, click HERE!

IN THE CITY

Brighton Beach 
The vibe: Next to Coney Island, Brighton Beach is a slightly calmer South Brooklyn beach—with a Russian twist.

Getting there: Public transport takes about an hour from Midtown Manhattan; take the B or the Q to Brighton Beach.

Cool feature: Known as “Little Odessa,” many local shops feature Cyrillic signs and authentic Eastern European food and shopping. Get your fill of “old-world” Russian delights as you stroll the boardwalk. 

Coney Island
The vibe: A carnival-type atmosphere, provided by the amusement area filled with 30+ rides, prevails over this historic playland for New Yorkers.

Getting there: Public transport takes about an hour from Midtown Manhattan; take the D, F, N, or Q to Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue.

Cool feature: The Coney Island Amphitheater opens this summer with a lineup that will appeal to the whole family, including a Kidz Bop Kids concert on July 17.

Jacob Riis Park
The vibe: Wide stretches of sandy beach and a famous Art Deco-style bathhouse make Jacob Riis Park a popular getaway among local families.

Getting there: The more secluded feel means slightly trickier public transport logistics. Public transport takes about an hour and 20 minutes: From Manhattan, take the American Princess New York Beach Ferry from Pier 11 at Wall Street and the East River or the 2 train to Flatbush Avenue, followed by the Q35 bus to the beach. 

Cool feature: This summer, you’ll be able to rent beach chairs and umbrellas through the Riis Park Beach Bazaar ($10 online, $15 on-site), and order food and drink directly to your chair using a smartphone.

Manhattan Beach
The vibe: Manhattan Beach is known as a great destination for family picnics and barbecues, and is smaller and more low-key than nearby Coney Island and Brighton Beach.

Getting there: Take the B or the Q from 34th Street to Brighton Beach, then the B1 bus to Oriental Boulevard/ Mackenzie Street.

Rockaway Beach
The vibe: A classic NYC seaside spot that’s also popular with local surfers.

Getting there: Public transport takes just over an hour from Midtown Manhattan; take the A train to Broad Channel; transfer to the Shuttle and get off at Beach 116th Street.

Cool feature: The beach features seven playgrounds for children, and the entire boardwalk will be open this summer for the first time since Hurricane Sandy. Not to mention that it’s the largest urban beach in the country!

OUT OF THE CITY

Sandy Hook, NJ
The vibe: This New Jersey beach offers great views of the city and makes for a perfect day-trip that feels like a true seaside escape.

Getting there: The Seastreak Ferry offers the easiest—and most scenic—trip. Board at East 35th Street or Wall Street docks, and once you arrive, the ferry offers complimentary shuttle service that takes you between each beach. (seastreak.com) 

Cool feature: The Sandy Hook Lighthouse is one of the oldest working lighthouses in the US.

Jones Beach
The vibe: A great destination for active beachgoers who want to take advantage of not only the 6.5 miles of white-sand beach, but also to fish, visit a historic exhibit, and play mini golf, shuffleboard, and basketball.

Getting there: Take the Long Island Railroad to Freeport, and then take the Jones Beach shuttle bus.

Cool feature: Check out a concert at Nikon at Jones Beach Theater—a 15,000-seat outdoor arena.

WEEKEND GETAWAYS
The Northeast has no shortage of easy, family-friendly beach getaways. Here are some of our favorite spots for a weekend of sun, fun, and family adventure.

Cape May, NJ
The vibe: A family-friendly resort town with award-winning beaches.

Getting there: About a 3.5-4 hour drive from midtown Manhattan, or take New Jersey Transit to Cape May Bus Terminal (about 5.5 hours).

Cool feature: Climb to the top of the Cape May Lighthouse for great views of the shoreline and ocean.

Amagansett, NY
The vibe: Amagansett is known for being a low-key, family friendly Hamptons destination. Indian Wells Beach and Atlantic Avenue Beach, a beloved boogie-boarding spot, are popular with young kids and families.

Getting there: About a 2.5-hour drive from Midtown
Manhattan; or take the LIRR to Amagansett Station (just under 3 hours).

Cool feature: Both beaches provide easy access to food trucks and restaurants.

Montauk, NY
The vibe: Montauk is beloved for its wide stretches of beach, naturally beautiful bluffs, and free-spirited, surfer feel. Kirk Park Beach is a very popular public beach on the eastern end of Montauk, with a park and picnic area across the street, as well as restaurants and shops within walking distance. Gin Beach is known as a kid-friendly beach that features small waves, warm waters, and clean sand.

Getting there: Montauk is about a three-hour drive from midtown Manhattan; or a 3.25-hour ride on the LIRR to the Montauk stop.

Cool feature: Go whale-watching with Viking Fleet (they offer trips to see porpoises, whales, and other marine life). (vikingfleet.com)

Robert Moses State Park, NY
The vibe: Make the trek out to these Fire Island beaches for more secluded access to clean sand and water. The state park has something to offer everyone—from a swimming beach to a nature trail and tennis courts.

Getting there: A 1.5-hour drive from Midtown Manhattan.

Cool feature: Take a three-quarter mile nature walk on the boardwalk from Field 5 to the Fire Island Lighthouse. If the kids are at least 42” tall, you can climb to the top for beautiful views.

Westerly, RI
The vibe: Watch Hill beach is beautiful and clean, though parking can be on the expensive side. Misquamicut State Beach offers fun waves for more active swimmers, and is home to Atlantic Beach Park, which offers bumper cars and kids’ rides.

Getting there: About a 3.25-hour drive from Midtown Manhattan.

Cool feature: After a day at the beach, stop by the historic Flying Horse Carousel in Watch Hill, where kids will love trying to score the brass ring. If they’re not successful, homemade ice cream from neighboring St. Clair Annex makes for a good consolation prize.

Relevant Directory Listings

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Monster Mini Golf

<p>Upon entering Monster Mini Golf, all perceptions of traditional mini golf will be spirited away by the indoor, 18-hole, monster-theme, glow-in-the-dark miniature golf course! The locations in <a href="https://monsterminigolf.com/deerpark/">Deer Park</a>, and <a href="https://monsterminigolf.com/gardencity/">Garden City, NY</a> invite guests to experience a host of family-oriented fun activities. Whether visiting for the first time or the one hundredth, mini golfers feel the excitement and adventure of playing mini golf amidst spooktacular monsters and custom, glow-in-the-dark, hand-painted artwork. While testing their skill on the fairways, lively music flows over the course from the unique “WEIRD Radio” station” and an interactive DJ entertains golfers with contests, awarding cool prizes for the wackiest reasons. While the course is challenging enough for adults, it is also quite playable for children. Monster Mini Golf is open year-round and frightfully fun for the entire family. In addition to miniature golf and thrilling arcade and redemption games, the locations offer additional attractions. <a href="https://monsterminigolf.com/deerpark/">Monster Mini Golf in Deer Park, NY</a> offers a Laser Maze and a Virtual Reality experience. The Garden City location offers a Laser Maze, Bowling, and a Virtual Reality Experience. Two very posh, private party rooms are also available and are perfect for any event. Monster Mini Golf looks forward to making it a monstrous success. Monster Mini Golf is indoors, ensuring that the event will always take place, regardless of the weather. It is a climate-controlled, affordable source of family entertainment. For more details please visit <a href="http://monsterminigolf.com">monsterminigolf.com</a> or find them on Facebook.</p>

Polaris Productions Theater Camp

<p>Kids will learn, rehearse, and perform the wonderful Maurice Sendak and Carole King musical, Really Rosie. For 10 weekdays, campers will take part in physical and vocal warm-ups and learn choreography, staging, and vocal parts. They’ll develop skills in acting, singing, character development, and more. This camp will ignite your child’s imagination and passion for performing, build their self-esteem, and help them form lasting friendships. They’ll have fun! At camp’s end, the kids will perform Really Rosie for family members and friends. Kids of all levels of experience, ages 8 through 13, are welcome to join.</p>

Play On! Studios

<p>Play On! Studios offers theater day camps and after-school classes on the UWS that are guaranteed to give kids a summer full of acting, music, and fun they won't soon forget! Young actors will rehearse and perform in a full production, work with professional NYC actors/teaching artists, build up their skills in a nurturing, non-competitive environment and play lots of drama games!</p> <p>Creative Drama Camps are perfect for kids entering grades K-4. Campers will work each week to put on a brand-new show! Each session, they will receive a script, rehearse a production, make a set and costumes, and perform their play. Kids will also play drama games, play outside (weather permitting), and have tons of fun!</p> <p>Musical Theater Camps are aimed at kids entering grades 4-9. In Musical Theater Performance Camp, campers put on a complete musical production in a professional NYC theater! Campers will stretch their skills with drama exercises and games, vocal coaching, field trips, and building a professional set. Our incredible teaching artists and campers come together to put on a truly remarkable show!</p> <p>During the school year, classes are great for beginners or more experienced actors - sing, dance, and put on a play! Whether your child is just starting out, or ready for Broadway, we’ve got the class for them. Classes are available for grades PreK-8, after school or on Saturdays! Come play with us.</p> <p> </p>