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Cedar Grove Beach
Photograph: Shutterstock | Cedar Grove Beach

Seven hidden beaches in New York City you can visit this summer

These secret beaches are worth a visit if you can find them.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver
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We all have our favorite beaches in New York City we go to each summer—Coney Island, Orchard Beach and Rockaway Beach—but there are several hidden beaches you might not know about.

These are the beaches less traveled. The ones that aren't necessarily covered in sand (some are) or even swimmable, but they're beaches nonetheless and they're beautiful in their own right.

Have you ever been to Dead Horse Bay or Swindler Cove? We'll teach you all about NYC's hidden beaches below.

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Hidden beaches in NYC

Dead Horse Bay
Photograph: Shutterstock

Dead Horse Bay

Can a beach be abandoned? Maybe not, but this particular stretch of oceanfront isn't one the masses seek out and there's a very good reason for that—it's full of trash (and now radiation). Back in the 1850s, the marshland and beach were surrounded by horse-rendering plants (where dead horses were made into glue and fertilizer), garbage incinerators, and oil factories. The horses' remains were just dumped into the water. As you can imagine, it wasn't a pleasant scene. Around the turn of the 20th century, when horses were being replaced with automobiles, Dead Horse Bay became a landfill. By the 1930s, the dump was capped off, but that cap broke in the 50s, leaking garbage onto the beach. The junk—bottles, shoe leather, bits of plastic and a ton of other pieces of trash—still continue to wash ashore. Unfortunately, in August 2020, the National Parks Service closed Dead Horse Bay to the public after it found radiological contamination. NPS says the cleanup could take many years, which means it'll be abandoned in the meantime.

Find it: Gateway National Recreation Area (but we don't recommend you go looking right now)

Swindler Cove
Photograph: Shutterstock | Swindler Cove

Swindler Cove

As one of Manhattan's only beaches, Swindler Cove at Sherman Creek Park has a dirty past—that is, it's a former illegal dumping site that was transformed by New York Restoration Project into a gorgeous 5-acre park. After NYRP, the city and the state introduced native plants and renovated the shoreline, it opened to the public in August 2003 and still remains quite hidden since it's found along the Harlem River.

Find it: Head to Fort George to 3703 Harlem River Drive

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  • Art
  • Public art
  • Staten Island

Because Cedar Grove was once an oceanfront bungalow colony, it's one of the newest public beaches in NYC. It's definitely smaller and quieter than most other city beaches, which is good because some of us need a chill spot to soak in the sun. It's surrounded by lush nature in Great Kills Park with Oakwood Beach to the south (we wouldn't recommend swimming there). Unlike some of the other hidden beaches, this one is completely swimmable, so pack your bathing suit.

Tip: While you're in the area, try to get to Great Kills Beach, which is another lesser-trafficked shore.

Find it: Located on Staten Island next to New Dorp Beach, you can find it at Ebbitts Street and Cedar Grove Avenue.

  • Things to do
  • Event spaces
  • Brooklyn Heights

It's all about the scenic views at this beach that's nestled between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. Beautiful at any time of day, the Pebble Beach has ample space for sitting on its stone bleachers and enjoying an ice cream cone or coffee with your friends or significant other. While you can't swim here (it's the East River after all), it's perfect for taking in city views and grabbing some air.

Find it: Head to DUMBO's Main Street and head toward the water.

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Red Hook

This Red Hook park with a little sandy beach overlooks Buttermilk Channel, which used to be one of the main waterways used by New York's shipping industry. The park has great views of the Statue of Liberty, Governor's Island, the Manhattan skyline and Staten Island. During the summer, the Red Hook Boaters (redhookboaters.org) offer free, first-come first-served kayaking sessions, while Red Hook Flicks (redhookflicks.com) screen gratis outdoor movies.

Find it: It's Coffey Street at Ferris Street in Red Hook.

Hurricane Point
Photograph: Shutterstock | East River State Park Hurricane Point

Hurricane Point

Located within East River State Park, Hurricane Point is found at the same location that Smorgasburg Williamsburg is situated. This tiny beach is reachable by ambling over some boulders and rocks and really for nature lovers looking for a little bit of water to walk along. Of course, the views of Manhattan from here are incredible, especially at sunset.

Find it: Go to East River State Park and walk toward the river between North Ninth and North 10th streets.

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Williamsburg

This actually sandy beach was once a ferry landing for Brooklynites. The park it belongs in is named after the ferry, which carried farm goods and passengers across to Manhattan. Today, it is filled with native species of trees, shrubs and perennials and benches near big boulders, where the waves lap up. 

Find it: North of Domino Park in Williamsburg, it's just west of River Street right on the East River.

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