Feel the sand between your toes at bars and beaches in and around NYC.
Tue Jul 5 2011
Photograph: Virginia Rollison
Beekman Beer Garden
Stake out an illuminated couch at this sandy outdoor lounge and spend a few hours savoring cocktails and seaside fare. In between rounds of drinks, test your skills at the Ping-Pong, pool or foosball tables, or on the jumbo chessboard with game pieces the size of small children. On Sundays, arrive early in the day for a free afternoon concert: Brooklyn garage-rock outfit Cheeseburger kicks off the Beach Party music series on Sunday 10, which will continue weekly through August 14 with indie virtuosos including the Raveonettes (July 31) and Mission of Burma (August 7). 89 South St at Pier 17 (212-896-4600, beekmanbeergarden.com). Daily 11:30am--3am. Beach Party concerts 3pm; doors open at 11:30am.
Water Taxi Beach at Governors Island
While away your weekend afternoons on the hippest island in the Manhattan archipelago. You can tan on a stretch of sand, challenge your fellow beach bums to a bout of volleyball or basketball, sample beers from breweries such as Magic Hat ($20--$30 for ten tastings) or dig into some pulled pork at the Blues, Brews and Barbecue grillfest held every Saturday (entrance is free). When the sun starts to go down, stick around for deejayed dance parties and live concerts (admission is usually extra, check the website for more info). Governors Island (watertaxibeach.com). Fri--Sun 11am--7pm.
This shore spot is an NYC summer classic for a reason: Coney Island is packed with thrills, whether they come from the sword swallowers, snake charmers or fire-breathers at the Circus Sideshow (1208 Surf Ave at 12th St; 718-372-5159, coneyisland.com) or from the Cyclone and Steeplechase roller coasters (1000 Surf Ave between 8th and 12th Sts, Coney Island, Brooklyn; 718-373-5862, lunaparknyc.com). Take a break from the adrenaline-pumping activities to catch a sea-lion show and pet a horseshoe crab at the New York Aquarium (Surf Ave at 8th St; 718-265-3474, nyaquarium.com), then grab an authentic Italian brick-oven pizza at Totonno's (1524 Neptune Ave between 15th and 16th Sts, 718-372-8606) or a cold brew at Ruby's (1213 Reigelmann Boardwalk between Stillwell Ave and W 12th St; 718-372-9079, rubysconeyisland.com), the boardwalk's oldest and most-beloved dive bar.
There's been a lot of buzz lately about Rockaway's growing status as a cool bohemian beach destination for foodies and artsy Brooklynites, thanks in part to hip eateries like Rockaway Taco. This summer, the taco slingers take over three of the beach's snack bars (at Beach 96th, 97th and 106th Streets), along with some of the city's trendiest restaurants, like the East Village's Caracas Arepa Bar and LES ice cream shop La Newyorkina. Eat your fill, then try your balance at one of Rockaway's surfing beaches (Beach 67th to 69th St and 87th to 91st Streets), the only legal wave-riding zones in the entire city. If sand and water aren't your thing, strap on a helmet and pads to ride the concrete of Rockaway Skate Park, which features ten vert ramps and four grinding rails. Boardwalk between Beach 9th and 109th Sts, Rockaway Beach, Queens (718-318-4000, nyc.gov/parks)
This suburban spot's perfect for both sporty types and those who want to experience the romance of the beach without getting sand in their pants. Toss on your workout gear and power walk or jog down the two-mile boardwalk, tracking your progress with the posted distance markers. If you're with friends, challenge them to a game of miniature golf ($5) or shuffleboard ($2 per hour). Or bring a date and watch the sun set over the water while noshing on spoonfuls of Friendly's ice cream. 2400 Ocean Pkwy, Wantagh, L.I. (516-785-1600, nysparks.state.ny.us).
Maybe you're not ready to debut your super-hot summer beach bod quite yet, but that doesn't mean you can't go watch a bunch of surfside athletes who are. Long Island's Long Beach is jam-packed with sporting exhibitions this year, including the Quicksilver Pro New York (longbeachny.org; Sept 1--16), the first professional surfing competition of its kind on the East Coast. If you're looking to get off the sidelines, sign up for the Michelle O'Neill Volleyball Tournament (monfoundation.org; Sept 10 at 9am; $65, pre-registered donation $45), the proceeds of which go to help kids with cancer and special needs, or register for an amateur match at the Beach Tennis USA and ITF World Championships (beachtennisusa.net; Aug 19--21; $15--$35) which also offer public open-play courts. Those of you with Muscle Beach--level strength can enter the rings of the East Coast National Beach Wrestling Championships (July 16; participants $25, beach spectators $10, bleacher spectators free) for a three-minute rumble with a fellow hard body. All that activity will surely cause you to work up an appetite, so keep your eyes peeled for cyclists peddling ice cream on the boardwalk or hit the concession stand in front of the Allegria Hotel on National Boulevard Beach. (longbeachny.org). Beach admission $12.