Coney Island, Rockaway Beach, Cherry Grove and more – New York City and its surrounding boroughs boast sun, fun and sand for families, adventure-seekers and everyone in between. Here’s where the local New Yorkers take a break from the stifling city on a summer’s afternoon.
Nothing says summertime in New York City more than the fabulous Coney Island Beach. Breathe in the salty sea air on the beach and boardwalk that are open all year round, nestled in the southernmost part of Brooklyn. When it gets too crowded, head for the Cyclone, the wooden rollercoaster and designated landmark that’s been in operation since 1927. And no trip to Coney Island would be complete without snacking at Nathan’s, famed for its annual hotdog-eating contest on 4 July.
Hurricane Sandy pummeled this seaside town in 2012, but since its revival, Long Beach has transformed into more than 2mi (3.2km) of walking and biking bliss. In the summer, this family-friendly beachfront also features concerts, a weekly arts festival and a farmers’ market on Wednesdays and Saturdays in Kennedy Plaza. Better yet, Long Beach has been ranked the cleanest beach in the US and the spiffiest in New York by the National Resources Defense Council.
After suffering destruction from Hurricane Sandy, South Beach on Staten Island is now embracing its renaissance. Silky sand, beachfront music festivals, fountains, playing fields and a lovely, 2-mi (3.2-km) wooden boardwalk are the perks that have lured innumerable swimmers here every summer.
Swimmers and sunbathers alike adore the charmingly small and quiet Brighton Beach. Its charisma has inspired one of Neil Simon’s plays, Brighton Beach Memoirs (1982). 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 the 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.
A well-known 6-mi (9.6-km) expanse on Long Island, Jones Beach is one of New York’s more popular beach destinations. The bathhouses 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 such as Gwen Stefani and Dave Matthews for concerts throughout the summer season.
This pristine beach is undoubtedly a divine summer destination for swimmers and surfers alike. The coastline serves as a fantastic 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 (the place of our own people), Reckanawahaha (the place of laughing waters), lekau (sand) and lechauwaak (fork or branch) are all words that describe Rockaway Beach.
The spectacular, crescent-shaped Orchard Beach is the only public beach in the Bronx. Covering 1.1 mi (1.7km) and 115 acres (46.5ha) of exquisite sands, it consists of a sandy beach, a 50-ft (15-m) -wide promenade, a 1,400-ft (427-m) -long by 250-ft (76.2-m) -wide mall that extends to a 90,000-sqft (8,361-sqm) 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’s day.
This serene, 5-mi (8-km) beachfront is a Long Island gem, boasting the over 150-year-old Fire Island Lighthouse with 192 steps to the best views of the picturesque 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.
Located on delightful 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.
This beach on Staten Island’s East Shore had its heyday back in the late-19th and early-20th centuries when it was the go-to summer destination for holidaymakers in need of R&R. Today, after years of decline and the damage caused by 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, Midland Beach is returning to normality but without the throngs of pleasure-seekers of yesteryear. Midland Beach is also home to a veterans memorial honoring local residents who served and died in World War I, World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars.
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.
With more than 2.5mi (4km) of delicate sand, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach was once a Dutch community from the 1660s until the late 1880s. Now, it is a beach lover’s go-to paradise, especially for canoers and kayakers.
Tilden Beach has wild, white sand dunes and other-worldly vegetation that will make this beach day feel like a proper getaway. This glorious oceanfront park is part of the NYC’s Gateway National Recreation Area, which has a nude beach reputation. Beach-goers can also explore incredible 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 impressive, with two massive WWII-era gun emplacements and striking structures that housed nuclear missiles during the Cold War.