A necessary respite from hectic, steamy, and humid New York summers, a beach day makes for a wonderful getaway. What could be more refreshing than a cool sea breeze and the sound of crashing waves? Luckily, there are several nearby beaches – both in and outside of the city – that New Yorkers can visit for an unforgettable summer afternoon. We profile 12 nearby beaches for NYC locals to visit this summer.
Tilden Beach has wild white sand dunes and other-worldly vegetation that will make this beach day feel like a proper getaway. This gorgeous oceanfront park is part of the NYC’s Gateway National Recreation Area, which has a nude beach reputation. Beach-goers can also explore stunning bike or walking trails that take you past the remnants of Fort Tilden, a ruined military base built in 1917 to protect New York Harbor from air and sea attacks. Battery Harris East and West are especially breathtaking, with two massive WWII-era gun emplacements and striking structures that housed nuclear missiles during the Cold War.
Jacob Riis Park Beach offers beach-goers concerts, a golf course, concession stands, and more. Due to its accessibility to public transportation, famous city planner Robert Moses dubbed Jacob Riis Park Beach ‘the people’s beach.’ As part of his legacy, its famous Art Deco bathhouse is home to park ranger-led activities and history exhibitions.
A well-known six-mile expanse on Long Island, Jones Beach is one of New York’s more popular beach destinations. The boathouses were designed in the Art Deco aesthetic, and the large water tower at the park’s entrance was created to resemble the campanile of St. Mark’s Basilica. For beach-goers with a taste for live music, the Nikon Amphitheater draws in notable celebrities like Gwen Stefani and Dave Matthews for concerts throughout the summer season.
Located on charming Fire Island, Cherry Grove is one of the most prominent LGBT beach resorts in the United States. Noted in the New York Times as a ‘…wonderful environment where you could be gay and open and hold hands and enjoy life…,’ this idyllic waterfront offers plenty of clubs, bars, and restaurants in which you can enjoy handcrafted cocktails and the sea breeze.
Superstorm Sandy pummeled this seaside town in 2012, but since its revival, Long Beach has transformed into more than two miles of walking and biking bliss. This family-friendly beachfront also features summer concerts, a weekly arts festival, and a farmers’ market on Saturdays in Kennedy Plaza. Better yet, Long Beach has been ranked the cleanest beach in the U.S. and the spiffiest in New York by the National Resources Defense Council.
The stunning, crescent-shaped Orchard Beach is the only public beach in the Bronx. Covering 1.1 miles and 115 acres of exquisite sands, it consists of a sandy beach, a 50-foot-wide promenade, a 1,400-foot-long by 250-foot-wide mall that extends to a 90,000-square-foot bathhouse, and 26 courts for basketball, volleyball, and handball. Such a remarkable setting lures visitors in abundance, who flock to cool off on a scorching summer day.
This pristine beach is undoubtedly a divine summer destination for swimmers and surfers alike. The coastline serves as a stunning place to hang ten, relax, swim, and camp. The name Rockaway originates from the Delaware and Chippewa Native American dialects that reflect the historical and geographic traits of the peninsula. Reckonwacky means ‘the place of our own people,’ Reckanawahaha means ‘the place of laughing waters,’ lekau means ‘sand,’ and lechauwaak translates to ‘fork’ or ‘branch’ – all words that describe Rockaway Beach.
This serene, five-mile beachfront is a Long Island gem, boasting the 200-year-old Fire Island Lighthouse with 192 steps to the best views of the scenic Fire Island coast. Robert Moses State Park offers a rare tranquil environment to visitors, as radios are prohibited on Fields 3 and 4. You can also take a romantic stroll on Field 5 to the Elysian Fire Island coast.
Swimmers and sunbathers all adore the charmingly small and quiet Brighton Beach. Its charisma has inspired one of Neil Simon’s plays, Brighton Beach Memoirs (1983). Due to the large local Russian community, Brighton Beach is nicknamed ‘Little Odessa,’ and the surrounding area will transport you to Eastern Europe. After a day of relaxation, wander the local markets and sample a huge selection of vodkas.
Originally created in 1877 as a summer resort, this refreshing sandy beach has become a popular destination for picnics, barbecues, outdoor activities, and movies in recent years. You can also witness an incredible natural phenomenon every May and June when horseshoe crabs emerge from the Atlantic Ocean onto Manhattan Beach to mate and lay eggs.
After suffering destruction from Hurricane Sandy, South Beach is now embracing its renaissance. Silky sand, beachfront music festivals, fountains, playing fields, and a lovely, two-mile wooden boardwalk are the perks that have lured innumerable swimmers here every summer.
More than 2.5 miles of delicate sand, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach was once a Dutch community in the 1660s and late 1880s. Now, it is a beach lover’s go-to paradise, especially for canoers and kayakers.