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The best beaches near NYC

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

A visit to one of the best beaches near NYC is a great way to cool off during the city's sticky summer. The best part: They're totally free. Jump on the NYC Beach Bus and visit these spots if you need a weekend escape. 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.

RECOMMENDED: Read more about beaches in New York

Best beaches near NYC

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 Free
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, Riis Park Beach Bazaar opens Memorial Day weekend with delicious eats and pop-up vendors.

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Free
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 Free
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 Free
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

Orchard Beach was created by Robert Moses in the 1930s: It's the Bronx's only public beach and spans 1.1 miles and 115 acres. Dining opportunities at Orchard Beach are limited—there are practically no restaurants, just concession stands. So make a day of it and pack a picnic lunch. The beach's 26 sporting courts are also popular—once your time on the sand is up, get into a game of handball.

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The Bronx Free
7

Rockaway Beach

Encompassing more than 170 acres of sand, this family-friendly beach attracts New Yorkers from all five boroughs. Seven playgrounds keep kids happy while wave riders enjoy the city's only surfing areas and cool kids can grab all manner of beachy drinks and eats (there's usually live music, too). Fishing, skating, volleyball, sunning and, of course, swimming are also favorite activities. Rockaway Beach is also an excellent place to test your surfing prowess. If you're a novice, summer is the ideal time to start riding low waves, while more experienced boarders should savor hurricane season (September and October).

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Rockaways Free
8

Robert Moses State Park

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. Though only a 20-minute drive past the perpetually packed Jones Beach, this peaceful five-mile stretch of oceanfront feels worlds apart; you’ll find more and more solitude as you walk further from the immense parking lots. 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!"

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Brooklyn Free
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

6 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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