It’s no secret that New York City can be overwhelming. It’s crowded, there’s always a lot going on, and in the summer it can get hot. While you can take a train from famed Penn Station all the way out to the east end of Long Island, if you have limited time and don’t want to travel far, there are plenty of options closer by to explore. Everything from a quiet, peaceful day of beach-bumming to a fun-filled adventure on the boardwalk can be found just outside the city, and here’s where to find it.
Brighton Beach and Coney Island are no big secrets, yet despite the crowds they’re still worth checking out. The crowd is actually what makes the beach here so much fun – expect sand-castle-building, swimming, beach sports and games. Stick to Brighton Beach for something more low-key (expect lots of kids and families), or head to the beach near Coney Island for something more exciting. While you’re there you must check out the boardwalk, the famous Coney Island Luna Park and all its attractions and, of course, have one of Nathan’s world-famous hot dogs.
The Rockaways has become a very cool place to spend your summer days as there’s always something exciting happening. Thanks to the Riis Park Beach Bazaar, there are food vendors, music and tons of games and activities to get involved in. You can join the surfers and catch a wave – or simply watch the waxheads in action – and, after a long day under the sun and in the ocean, try the infamously delicious fish tacos at Tacoway Beach.
Atlantic Beach is a hidden gem on Long Island and, located only 21 miles outside of Manhattan, it’s much more accessible than the Hamptons. It’s quiet and upscale but much more low-key than the beaches further east, which makes it an ideal spot for a romantic getaway or quiet retreat. Come here if you’re looking to escape the crowds and the madness of the city but don’t want to travel too far.
Another more relaxed Hamptons alternative is Fire Island, a true escape. Whether you want to hit the beach, ride bikes, explore the sand dunes and maritime forests, or discover historic landmarks, it’s amazing that Fire Island is only a quick trip from Penn Station on the Long Island Railroad. Ideally, this is more than just a day trip, because once you’re here you’ll want to stay a while. Odd but fun fact: no cars are allowed on Fire Island, so you know it’s a great place to relax!
Just one hour and 45 minutes from Penn Station and you’ll be at Jersey Shore. Sure, you could come here for a party like no other – full of funnel cake and skee ball during the day and parties and drinking at night – it’s ideal for fun-loving party animals. However, you could also head to Cape May, a historic Victorian seaside town, for something completely different. Lucky for you, both options are available, so you can take your pick!
Orchard Beach has been nicknamed both ‘The Riviera of New York’ and ‘The Bronx Riviera,’ and it’s the only public beach in The Bronx. The one-mile stretch of beach is the spot for locals to relax during the summer, so you can bet it gets crowded. But still, whether you’re just visiting The Bronx or upper Manhattan, or you’re a seasoned local, its accessibility is hard to beat.