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The best New York beaches

Summer's here! Time to put on those shades, fill the cooler and lie out on the sand at the best New York beaches.

A visit to one of the best New York beaches is a great way to cool off during the city's sticky summer. The best part: They're some of the best free things to do. Jump on the subway and visit these spots for some much needed weekend getaways. Or if you'd like to go farther out, see our list of off-the-beaten-track beaches, all an hour away or less. The city-run beaches are open for swimming from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.

Find the best New York beaches

1

Fort Tilden Beach

NYC’s best-kept secret and lifeguard-free three-mile stretch of clean sand, trees and grassy dunes is so isolated that even on a summer weekend you’ll get a good 50 yards of beach to yourself. Since Fort Tilden Beach is nearly inaccessible via subway or car (unless you have a fancy fishing license), we suggest biking there. Oh, and don’t forget to pack some grub—the area is pretty sparse in terms of eateries and stores.

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Rockaways
2

Jacob Riis Park Beach

If you need to escape the city scene, venture to this sandy spot, which is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. "We're a pretty laid-back beach," one lifeguard tells us. "We have a very eclectic crowd here—all shapes, sizes and ethnicities." Although there aren't many concession stands and restaurants close by, Wild Feast Foods launched in October and is open year-round; Riis Park Beach Bazaar opens Memorial Day weekend with delicious eats and pop-up vendors.

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3

Jones Beach

Jones Beach is one of New York state’s biggest, with 6.5 miles of sand, two swimming pools, a two-mile boardwalk, miniature golf and the Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center, which offers educational tours. It’s also particularly good for long strolls on the boardwalk with your iPod.

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Long Island
4

Cherry Grove Beach

Since the ’60s, New York’s gay and lesbian crowd has ridden the ferry to cool off at this serene hamlet, which is only accessible by wooden walkways (no paved roads here). Though all of Fire Island’s spots technically share the same beachfront, this area is a bit more laid-back and affordable than the more popular Pines, but there are still plenty of clubs, bars and restaurants tucked among the cottages where you can shoot the breeze and dance with queer peeps. In the idyllic town, murals and mosaics cover the walls, reflecting the skills of artsy regulars.

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Downtown
5

Long Beach

Stepping right off the train onto this Long Island spot will set you back a little bit of cash, but the five miles of pristine sand are well worth the $12 admission. The City by the Sea was once a popular resort destination for New Yorkers during the turn of the 20th century, and its brand-new boardwalk (after Superstorm Sandy destroyed the old one) adjacent to the beach 
is perfect for in-line skating before lying out on the white sand or diving into the Atlantic. After all that surf and sunbathing, cool off with some cold ones and chow down on St. Louis dry ribs at beloved beachside barbecue joint Swingbelly’s.

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6

Orchard Beach

Bronx’s only public beach, spanning 1.1 miles and 115 acres, is notable for its unique crescent shape and stunning views of City Island. The shore was created by Robert Moses in the 1930s and still remains one of the most popular beaches in New York to date. For what the sandy waterfront lacks in restaurants and bars, it makes up for with concession stands, two picnic areas and 26 courts for basketball, volleyball and handball.

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The Bronx
7

Rockaway Beach and Boardwalk

This beloved, family-friendly beach attracts New Yorkers from all five boroughs for a good reason—there’s so much to do! Apart from working on your tan (booze in hand), the kiddos can stay entertained on one of the seven playgrounds while cool kids grab tasty bites and drinks from Rippers, Anna Bow and Tacoway Beach. Other activities include movie nights, fishing, skating, volleyball and, of course, surfing. Rockaway Beach is an awesome place to hop on a board, if you feel so inclined (sign up for the Rockaway Beach Shuttle and Surf Lessons if you want to become the next Johnny Tsunami). And if you’re looking for great places to shop, the boardwalk is home—along with nearby Rockaway Beach Boulevard—to great shops such as Off Season, where ladies can snag chic beach essentials as well as Zingara Vintage, if you’re searching for unique treasures and throwback wares.

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Rockaways
8

Robert Moses State Park

If you want to escape the always-packed Jones Beach, this not-so-hidden oasis is only a 20-minute drive away. In fact, the serene five-mile stretch of oceanfront can feel like a deserted island. Bliss out among the dunes on this massive Fire Island beach, which has enough nooks and crannies for you to uncover your own secluded patch of sand. On top of amenities like umbrella rentals, concessions and an 18-hole golf course right on the water, you’ll get clean, shell-studded sand and just-rough-enough waves for boogie boarding.

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Long Island
9

Coney Island Beach

Coney Island is one Brooklyn standby that perfectly juxtaposes old and new. While some might say its peak has come and gone, others would disagree, particularly Dick Zigun, the founder of Coney Island USA, the nonprofit responsible for organizing Coney Island's famed events, including the Mermaid Parade. "The beach is still the main attraction," says Zigun of the shore's three miles of southern exposure. "Some people might prefer the Riviera or Montauk, and maybe our sand isn't as pristine, but we've got half-naked New Yorkers here!" Not to mention you've got a full theme park, delicious Nathan's Hot Dogs and all the people-watching you could want a few steps away.

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Brooklyn
10

Gunnison Beach

Shed your clothes and inhibitions at one of the biggest and most popular nude bathing spots on the Eastern Seaboard. This sparkly clean two-mile stretch of sand was once the site of a military base; soldiers frequently went skinny-dipping in the nearby surf until the facility was decommissioned in the early ’70s. Today, the beach continues to attract naturists—so much so that parking is frequently maxed out on weekends. Avoiding tan lines isn’t the only draw, as this pristine coastal destination also offers dramatic views of lower Manhattan, hiking and bird-watching.

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Comments

9 comments
Michelle H
Michelle H

jones. orchard and long beaches are not free just fyi. 

Sarah S
Sarah S

Plum Beach,NY .This one is just beautiful!!!

Lisa W
Lisa W

Coney Island Beach? Really? Trashiest place on earth. How about the lovely Long Beach? A simple train ride from Penn. Grocery store and small shops to stop at on your walk over from the train station. Or Long Branch in Jersey. Another easy train ride, with nice place to get lunch and a sno-cone establishment. Oh yes, jones Beach is beautiful, until you get stranded there when the buses decide they don't want to come and pick up the beachgoers to take them back to the train station (common story).

Robert Bass
Robert Bass

I have been going to New York City's Beaches since I was a child. I am now just short of being officially a senior. I also frequent Long Island beaches, Florida beaches and Caribbean beaches. I mention this to say I notice the differences. Since the Bloomberg era going to the beach in New York( especially Rockaway) has become a less than pleasant experience. First when you finally get down to the sand with all of what you bring ,the first thing that you may find is that there is no life guard there-only Park Department employees( usually unpleasant) telling you that you can not even stick your toes in the water because there is no life guard. You may have to drag all of your belongings about a 1\4 mile to the nearest life guard. When you finally do get there you will be hearded into a small area of ocean. If any one strays out side of the small flagged area the Parks Department or the life guards will be happy to remind you of your transgressions by blowing their whistles which occurs about every three minutes. In short The City is so afraid of getting sued or that some one will drown in ankle deep water that a peaceful day at a New York City Beach is a thing of the past

Milagro
Milagro

whoah this blog is excellent i love reading your articles. Keep up the great work! You realize, a lot of people are searching round for this information, you can aid them greatly.

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