During a sweltering NYC summer, New Yorkers long to escape the concrete jungle for a sandy beach with cool ocean breezes. Fortunately, there are many fine beaches at hand. New York City has 14 miles of public beaches that are free, open to all, and just a subway, bus or ferry ride away.
Here are our recommendations for New York’s Best Beaches.
- Coney Island – In addition to three miles of sandy beach, this famous pleasure ground features amusement park rides (including the world-famous Cyclone roller coaster and the Wonder Wheel), entertainment like sideshows and burlesque, the New York Aquarium, fireworks displays, and lots of classic summertime food (the hot dog was reportedly invented there). Reachable via the D, F, N, Q subway lines, the journey from midtown Manhattan takes approximately 1 hour. See Coney Island’s website for more information.
- Just east of Coney Island is Brighton Beach, known as “Little Odessa” for its Russian immigrant community (and delicious Russian eateries), and smaller, relaxed Manhattan Beach. Subway: B, Q to Brighton Beach. For Manhattan Beach, from Brighton Beach subway take the B1 bus to Orient Blvd & Ocean Ave. (4 mins./8 stops) or walk (just under a mile).
- Rockaway Beach – the largest urban beach in the nation, stretching for miles along the Rockaway Peninsula facing the Atlantic Ocean. Beach goers can enjoy the sand and water, boardwalk, food concessions, and the city’s only surfing beach. From Manhattan, take the A train (make sure it’s headed to Far Rockaway – Mott Avenue) to Beach 67 Street. For the popular western beaches, exit the train at Broad Channel and transfer to the S shuttle. The journey should take 90 – 105 minutes from midtown Manhattan. NYC Beach Bus offers shuttle bus service from Downtown Brooklyn & Williamsburg to Rockaway and Jacob Riis Park on weekends and holidays.
- Jacob Riis Park – the southwestern end the Rockaway Peninsula, between Fort Tilden and Rockaway Beach. The lovely beach includes a boardwalk, an Art Deco bathhouse with exhibits, ball courts and free kayaking. While the park does have food concessions, it’s advisable to bring a picnic, since concessions are not always open. The easiest way to get to the park from Manhattan is the New York Beach Ferry, a weekend shuttle between Pier 11 at Wall Street and the Rockaways. The park can also be reached via a combination of subway and city bus (the journey takes between 90 minutes and two hours from midtown Manhattan), see directions here.
- Orchard Beach – In the Bronx’s huge Pelham Bay Park, this 1-mile-long beach on Long Island Sound is called “The Riviera of New York.” It includes a promenade, a pavilion with food stores, playgrounds, two picnic areas, and courts for basketball, volleyball, and handball. Take the 6 subway line to its last stop (Pelham Bay Park). Just outside the station, transfer to the Bx29 bus toward City Island (5 mins, 3 stops, ask the driver). From the bus stop, there is a 1-mile walk through the park.
- Midland Beach – Located on Staten Island, just beyond the Narrows and facing the Atlantic, the 2.5 mile sandy stretch also includes South Beach and the F.D.R. Boardwalk. The beach/park includes areas for barbeque, restrooms, a restaurant and fishing pier. To reach the beach from the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, take bus S51 (32 mins) just outside the terminal. From Manhattan, take Staten Island Express Bus X1 to Highland Blvd/Midland Ave. (35 mins, 17 stops), then walk the half mile to the beach. For detailed directions, see Google maps.
- Water Taxi Beach – a man-made beach on Governors Island offering a magnificent view of the Manhattan skyline, just 800 yards across the harbor. While you can’t layout on this sandy beach or take a dip in the water, you can relax on the furniture and enjoy a cool beverage, snack or meal while soaking in the sun and…that view! Ferries quickly connect Manhattan and Brooklyn to the island for just $2.00 round trip (free weekend mornings). See the park’s site for schedule, details and calendar of events.
Beaches beyond the New York City
The Long Island Rail Road offers getaways to the beaches of Long Island, including Jones Beach, Long Beach, and Fire Island beaches. The packages include round-trip rail tickets and transfers for local bus or ferry service. See the LIRR’s Beach Getaways site for schedules, prices, and details.
NYC Beach Rules
NYC’s beaches are open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.
During beach season, lifeguards are on duty daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Swimming is prohibited when lifeguards are not on duty and in closed sections.
Closed sections are marked with signs and/or red flags.
Visitors must be off the beaches from 9pm – 6am.
NYC Parks Department prohibit the following on beaches:
- Littering and all glass containers
- Smoking and alcohol
- Barbequing, open fires, and tents or shelters
- Amplified music
- Dogs on the sand from May 1 – October 1. Dogs on leach are allowed on the boardwalks.
- Snorkels, fins, rafts or other flotation devices.
- Fishing, except in designated areas.
Visit the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s New York City Area Beaches page for water quality advisories or closures before you head to the beach.
Have you enjoyed a day at an NYC beach? If so, tell us about it in the comments below.