A visit to one of NYC's beaches is a great way to cool off during the city's sticky summer. The best part: They're totally free. Visit these spots if you need a weekend escape. Or if you'd like to go further 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: Summer in New York guide
NYC’s best-kept secret is open again after its year-and-a-half-long rehabilitation following Hurricane Sandy. This 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.Read more
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!"Read more
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." One tip: Bring your own food, since the concession stands aren't always open and there aren't restaurants close by.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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. 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).Read more
Manhattan Beach is within walking distance of Brighton Beach, on the east end of the same Brooklyn peninsula. Originally created in 1877 as a summer resort, it's now a popular destination for family picnics and barbecues. If you're tired of the obligatory game of beach volleyball, there are tennis, basketball and handball courts and two baseball diamonds. A quick heads up: Ditch the car and take public transportation, as parking costs $20.Read more
9. Midland Beach
In the mood for a soothing, hassle-free beach experience? Head to Staten Island's Midland Beach. Part of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach, Midland Beach is known for its popular fishing pier and bike path. It's also home to bocce courts, the Midland Beach War Memorial, the Sea Turtle Fountain and sprinklers (loved by youngsters), and a roller-hockey rink.
10. South Beach
Adjacent to Staten Island's Midland Beach is South Beach. Recently refurbished after Hurricane Sandy, South Beach has all new fountains and playing fields. Lie on the sand and listen to the sounds of the Back to the Beach concert festival, or enjoy a meal at the South Fin Grill restaurant on the boardwalk.