Pack the SPF! Trips to the best beaches for kids in NYC and beyond guarantee a fun summer afternoon for the whole family.
Not only will the kids love to search for shells and splash in the waves, but there are plenty of other cool amenities to enjoy. When in Coney Island, you're within striking distance of awesome amusement parks for kids. Other locales boast some of the best picnic spots in NYC and fun water playgrounds for kids.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to outdoor activities for kids in NYC
Though you're probably thinking about booking a few summer weekend getaways—and we certainly can't blame you—don't be fooled by NYC's urban surroundings. There are plenty of beaches within the five boroughs that are perfect for days when you want to smell the salt water in the air and bury your feet in the sand.
After you visit the best beaches for kids, we highly recommend finishing the festivities with a cone from the best ice cream shops in NYC. Happy summer!
Best beaches for kids
Coney Island is a one-stop shop during the summer months. After shrieking on the Cyclone or taking in Brooklyn from a new vantage point on the Wonder Wheel, you'll want to make your way from Luna Park and Deno's Wonderwheel Park for a little r&r on the beach. Although the crowds can seem overwhelming, you'll be able to find a spot on the sand where you can set up shop and help the kiddies build a sandcastle. The good news is that you are also within striking distance of the boardwalk—now a historic landmark—that has plenty of food options when tummies start rumbling. Of course, we'd be remiss not to suggest a trip to Nathan's—the hot dogs and curly fries will make the long wait worth it.
Summer doesn't officially begin for Long Islanders until they set up their colorful chairs and umbrellas at Jones Beach. While plenty of families love sinking their feet in the sand and splashing around in the water—though the rough tide is definitely something to monitor—there are still plenty of other great things to do in the area when you're traveling with kiddos. Beach-goers are within striking distance of a boardwalk that boasts a variety of snack and entertainment options that the kiddies will love. In 2018, a new splash pad opened for the tots who are too young for the waves. Pipes from above and water bursts from the ground are a great way for them to cool off when the current gets too strong. Plus, there are plenty of playground options, and even the Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center. Don't forget to take a look at the events lineup at the Nikon Theater at Jones Beach, too!
When urbanites need a breather during the summer months, they head to Rockaway Beach. Boasting 170 acres of sand and the green light for surfers to hang 10—as the only legal surfing beach in the five boroughs—this warm-weather destination is a hit for the entire family. When the littles grow tired of the waves, there are plenty of nearby playgrounds to keep them occupied. On the Beach 30th St Playground,little bathers can run under a series of blue arches that will soak them from head to toe and a ship playscape will have kids battling it out with water-shooting cannons to become king of the high seas! For those with older kids in tow, check out the local Rockaway Jet Ski and Rockaway Water Park's floating Tarzan Boat—a playground adventure in the Hudson!
When you're treated to an exceptionally nice weekend, take the extra time to make your way out east. Long Island's Robert Moses Beach is a great place to spend the afternoon, and thanks to numerous trails, getting there with towels, chairs and splash toys will be a whole lot easier. Kiddies will love to walk along the beach in search of shells, but they most likely will be drawn to the playground area and boardwalk. When you're done soaking up the sunshine, head to Field 2 for a round of mini golf.
This is definitely the beach for little ones who can't get enough of planes. They'll be delighted as jets fly overhead as they're en route to JFK. Although the crowds at the beach are manegable, one thing that might be challenging is the distance to the food vendors. You'll want to pack as much as you can because once you set up your blanket, you won't feel inclined to get back up.
Manhattan Beach juts out from the same peninsula of Brighton Beach and boasts wide stretches of soft sand for families to romp around on. Between dips, the kids can face off in a game of volleyball on the regulation-size courts and explore the 36-foot-long pirate ship outfitted with wooden planks, talk tubes, a cannon and a crow’s nest in the nautically themed Pat Perlato Playground. Pack sneakers and sandals to take advantage of the space’s two handball courts and three basketball courts, then enjoy a picnic on or bring a barbecue to the northeast side of the promenade.
Need to cool off? Grab a spot on the Staten Island Ferry and prepare for a full-day beach getaway on New York Bay. As you make the trek down the Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk, keep an eye out for the colorful Playland Playground, channeling an age-old Staten Island amusement park with carnival faces and dolphin decorations throughout. You won’t be able to miss the sea-turtle fountain—a favorite for kids to visit (bring your water shoes!)—and there’s plenty of activity nearby for those who’d choose sports over sand castles. Strap on skates or bring a set of wheels to use on the bike paths and skateboard park ramps.
The crescent-shaped beach is entirely man-made. Thanks to the sound's minimal waves, parents can feel more at east with little ones playing at the water's edge, which definitely makes the spot one of the best beaches for kids. Nearby concessions keep hungry kids happy, while the changing rooms, showers and bathrooms ensure that everyone's sand-free for the ride home.
Hop aboard the SeaStreak Ferry in Manhattan for a 40-minute ride to immaculate, shell-strewn Sandy Hook. After they've been dropped off near the lighthouse in the Fort Hancock Historic District, kids (4-feet and up) can climb 95 steps and a nine-rung ladder to the top. Guided tours are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Get some fresh air in your lungs and hit the trails as a family at this scenic Staten Island oasis and one of the borough's largest parks. Meander through Wolfe’s Pond Park’s native forest (the spot is a wildlife and plant preserve), and keep an eye out for marine life such as blue crabs and jellyfish, and birds like killdeers and sandpipers. Active kids can hit the nearby basketball and tennis courts, or the family can kick back and enjoy a picnic and soak up some sun on the sandy beach, looking out over Raritan Bay.
Brighton Beach is the ultimate place to enjoy a beach pinic. No trip to the neighborhood is complete until you dine at a local Russian spot or order a few dishes from one of the food emporiums. You can totally leave the cooler at home!