15 Best New York Beaches
New York City certainly does not have a reputation as a beach town, but the city’s 14 miles of public beaches offer the residents wonderful spots for cooling off and a bit of summer fun on the sand during the sweltering hot months. After the season, they are perfect for jogging, taking a dog for a romp, biking, beach yoga, or quiet hours of fishing off the pier. From Coney Island to Orchard Beach, there’s a stretch of sandy beaches and cooling waves that reaches the entire length of Manhattan. While Rockaway Beach just past JFK Airport is claimed to be the most popular, Jones Beach and Long Beach are strong competitors and each beach neighborhood has its own claim to fame. Photo: demerzel21/Fotolia
»Bayshore Waterfront Park
Bayshore Waterfront Park is located in the city of Port Monmouth on Jersey’s northern shore, next door to Monmouth Cove Marina. The park has been established to protect the magnificent coastal landscape of Sandy Hook Bay, with miles of sandy beaches, coastal shrublands, salt marshes, tidal creeks, and massive dunes as well as wonderful views of the Manhattan skyline across the bay. There is a fishing pier always full of hopeful fishermen and a number of picnic areas scattered throughout the park. The beach is wonderful for long walks, games of Frisbee or volleyball, or just soaking up the sun on a nice warm day. In the heart of the park is the Bayshore Waterfront Park Activity Center, located in one of the oldest houses in the region. The center offers exhibits on the ecology of Sandy Hook Bay and the history of the Seabrook-Wilson House in which the center is located.
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Brighton Beach, one of Brooklyn's liveliest neighborhoods, is known as "Little Odessa" for the large Russian and Eastern European communities that settled in the area. The large, wide sandy beach is lined with a popular, always busy boardwalk that is friendly and laidback, mostly catering to locals. During the day, it is the place to watch people passing by, go for a swim, or soak in the sun. In the evening, a number of brightly lit nightclubs are noisy and busy with partygoers. Don’t bother bringing food when coming to Brighton Beach, the boardwalk is lined with ethnic restaurants large and small selling interesting and delicious eats.
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»Cherry Grove Beach
Cherry Grove Beach is located on Fire Island, the 32-mile-long and ¼-mile-wide barrier island between the south shore of Long Island and the Atlantic Ocean. The island is known as the home of three wonderful parks: On the west side is Robert Moses State Park, on the east is Smith Point County Park, and the rest of the island is a national park and a wilderness preserve. Fire Island is also a home to 17 communities that live in a green, car-free environment with only about 400 permanent residents. Surrounded by fine white sand, the island is a popular destination for sun worshipers and its population grows during the summer to 20,000, not counting the day visitors.
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»Coney Island Beach
Coney Island has almost 3 miles of sandy beaches, making it a popular destination for warm summer weekends. The beaches are well organized for active recreation, with nets for handball, beach volleyball, and basketball. There is an annual professional AVP volleyball tournament on the beach in the summer. There are also several kids’ playgrounds and a number of amusement rides. The boardwalk is lined up with shops, restaurants, and cafes. Off-season, when the water is grey and cold, Coney Island offers the New York Aquarium and the Abe Stark Ice Skating Rink, or you can watch the Minor League Brooklyn Cyclones play ball at MCU Park.
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»Fort Tilden Beach
Located on Rockaway Peninsula, Fort Tilden is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. This decommissioned military structure is surrounded by reclaimed natural areas and some of the best beaches in New York. The beaches have no lifeguards, but are perfect for walking, fishing, building sand castles, or splashing in the shallows. There are lovely trails crossing the park and rangers offer tours and programs. There is a rich local wildlife that has made its home in the lush maritime forest thriving along the Atlantic shore as well as close to the fort's freshwater pond. There is an observatory deck on top of Battery Harris East with a historical gun site offering spectacular views of New York Harbor and Jamaica Bay.
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»Jacob Riis Park Beach
Jacob Riis Park is a lovely 88-acre seaside park in Queens, on the southwest side of the Rockaway Peninsula. It is located at the foot of the Marine Parkway–Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge, next to Fort Tilden. It is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. Called "The People's Beach," this large sandy beach is popular for surfing, beach games, soaking up the sun, and cooling down in the waves. Its famous 1932 art deco bathhouse is part of New York history, and today it is a landmark and an exhibition space. The beach has a number of facilities such as a pitch and putt golf course and various ball courts. Beautiful walkways and boardwalks run along the huge sandy beach, offering locals and visitors free space to enjoy the sand.
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The famous 2,400-acre Jones Beach State Park has over 6.5 miles of fantastically fine white sand beach overlooking the Atlantic Ocean on Long Island’s south shore. The park is designed on the ocean liner theme and has a number of facilities for activities, such as swimming, strolling along the boardwalk, fishing, and playing mini golf, basketball, or shuffleboard. There are frequent concerts at Jones Beach Theater. The Jones Beach Nature Center has permanent and temporary exhibits on the marine environment. There are several kids’ playgrounds and a network of trails for long strolls out of season.
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Long Beach is located on Long Beach Barrier Island, the westernmost barrier island off Long Island's south shore, protecting Long Island from the Atlantic Ocean. Founded in 1880, Long Beach is one of the oldest beaches in New York. The beach is 3.5 miles of soft white sand and is very popular with sunbathers, surfers, boogieboarders, boaters, and swimmers. The boardwalk is over 2 miles long and is popular for people watching from one of many benches as well as walking, riding a bike, roller-skating, or watching the endless ocean and the miles of sand. For rainy days, there is a popular four-screen cinema.
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Only about 12 miles from Manhattan, Manhattan Beach is a popular Brooklyn summertime destination when the weather melts the asphalt and the families pack their picnic baskets and head to the beach. It is one of New York’s less crowded beaches and was originally conceived as private and exclusive. Today it is free of charge and popular for its two large playgrounds, soft white sand, and two large baseball diamonds. On the eastern border, the park also has tennis, basketball, volleyball, and handball courts. The beach has a vague Mediterranean feel, except that its fine sand is so much better than regular Mediterranean pebbles.
Photo: Victoria Lipov/Fotolia
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Midland Beach is a popular Staten Island sandy beach with wonderful views of the Verrazzano Bridge. One of its most famous attractions is the sea turtle fountain, which kids love and run through endlessly. Besides the kids’ playground, the beach park also offers handball and shuffleboard courts. The Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk is shared with South Beach next door, making it easy to go from one beach to another. While the boardwalk is great for walking, biking, or rollerblading, the beach is great for kayaking, swimming, or fishing off the Ocean Breeze Fishing Pier. A seniors’ park on the beach has chess tables, bocce courts, and a number of benches.
Photo: Andrea Wilhelm/Fotolia
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Orchard Beach is the only public beach in Bronx, on the Long Island Sound, and when it was created in the 1930s, it was called "The Riviera of New York." The lovely 115-acre beach, which is more than a mile long, has a hexagonal-shaped promenade, two playgrounds, picnic areas, 26 courts for basketball, volleyball, and handball, and a central pavilion with a number of restaurants, snack bars, food stalls, and souvenir shops. Orchard Beach is still a popular spot on a hot summer’s day, with thousands of sun worshippers enjoying the cooling waters, soft sand, and one-of-a-kind spectacular view of the city.
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»Robert Moses State Park
Robert Moses State Park is located at the westernmost end of Fire Island, easily accessible from the Babylon train station or by car. This lovely beachfront park has lifeguards on duty during the season and the beach is packed with visitors during the summer. Surfing and surf-fishing are very popular, as are swimming, volleyball, picnicking, strolling along the water, and making sandcastles. There are scenic picnic areas scattered around the park, with grills and picnic tables. There is an 18-hole pitch and putt golf course open between April and mid-November. There is also a large volleyball court east of Democrat Point, a spot popular with surfers and fishermen. It has 4x4 drive-on access and faces both the Atlantic and the Fire Island inlet.
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»Rockaway Beach and Boardwalk
Rockaway Beach is located on the coast of the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens, and while the locals use it all year round, it truly comes alive each Memorial Day weekend. The beach is considered the city’s only legal surfing beach. It has several kids’ playgrounds and the shallow surf is full of kids and their parents cooling off from the city heat. The packed sandy beach is great for long strolls, biking, beach volleyball, and all sorts of other beach activities. Most people just stretch out on the sand and soak up the sun. There is an hourly ferry from Pier 11 that connects the beach to Manhattan near Wall Street, making Rockaway Beach one of the most accessible and cheapest beaches for city residents seeking a bit of refreshment in the summer.
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The East Shore of Staten Island has been a beach destination for New York residents since the 19th Century. Once called "The Riviera of New York City," the historic 2 mile-long South Beach Boardwalk has been recently restored and now offers new playing fields, fountains, and a lovely, clean, sandy beach with lifeguards on duty. The 835-foot-long Ocean Breeze Fishing Pier, popular with strollers as much as with fishermen, is one of the longest in the city. There is a shady gazebo, a few snack bars, and a restaurant and all enjoy fantastic views of the beach and the ocean. Summer brings regular concerts and the popular annual Back to the Beach festival.
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Gunnison Beach is located in the Sandy Hook part of the Gateway National Recreation Area on the New Jersey Atlantic coast, in Middletown Township. It is managed by the National Park Service. It is New Jersey's, and New York’s, only legal nude or clothing-optional beach. This lovely sandy beach attracts thousands of tourists every summer, and not all of them are nudists. While Sandy Hook has other, more family-oriented beaches, Gunnison is by far the most attractive. During hot summer weekends, as many as 5,000 nudists come to enjoy the sun and the sea. At the entrance to the beach is a small plaza with showers and bathrooms. There are regular food trucks with food and shops offering beach paraphernalia such as umbrellas and chairs. Interestingly, the beach is one of the few that allow alcohol. The nudists share the beach with a large population of endangered native piping plovers, and one part of the beach is reserved for them.
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15 Best New York Beaches
- Bayshore Waterfront Park, Photo: Courtesy of Pavlo - Fotolia.com
- Brighton Beach, Photo: Courtesy of viii - Fotolia.com
- Cherry Grove Beach, Photo: Courtesy of Vinh - Fotolia.com
- Coney Island Beach, Photo: Courtesy of natian - Fotolia.com
- Fort Tilden Beach, Photo: Courtesy of viii - Fotolia.com
- Jacob Riis Park Beach, Photo: Courtesy of demerzel21 - Fotolia.com
- Jones Beach, Photo: Courtesy of David Biagi - Fotolia.com
- Long Beach, Photo: Courtesy of viii - Fotolia.com
- Manhattan Beach, Photo: Courtesy of Victoria Lipov - Fotolia.com
- Midland Beach, Photo: Courtesy of Andrea Wilhelm - Fotolia.com
- Orchard Beach, Photo: Courtesy of misumaru51shingo - Fotolia.com
- Robert Moses State Park, Photo: Courtesy of viii - Fotolia.com
- Rockaway Beach and Boardwalk, Photo: Courtesy of paulbriden - Fotolia.com
- South Beach, Photo: Courtesy of Alexander - Fotolia.com
- Gunnison Beach, Photo: Courtesy of Andrew - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of demerzel21 - Fotolia.com
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