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Best Beaches in NYC, Long Island and NJ

May 25, 2018 - 4:45 pm
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By Laurie Jo Miller Farr

When you want to get to the beach in a hurry and without crazy traffic jams, the "best" beaches have a good deal to do with proximity and access. Blessed with dozens of choices – some with historic boardwalks –  located in the five boroughs and nearby Long Island and New Jersey, you can be spoiled for choice without going far.
 

Rockaway Beach, Queens
Take the A train to Rockaway Beach and Boardwalk. Facing the Atlantic Ocean, the nation's largest urban beach is super accessible. Or, get to the Rockaways in an hour via the NYC Ferry departing from Wall Street. Swimming areas are plentiful and if the tides are too rough for wading in, bring your surfboard. You can also find spots for beach volleyball or beach combing. And did someone say taco food trucks? Beachgoers should take note that a 12-block stretch between Beach 91st Street and Beach 102nd Street is indefinitely closed to maintain a protective dune built in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Orchard Beach, The Bronx
As the only public beach in The Bronx, the crescent-shaped Orchard Beach deserves a nod. Man-made in the 1930s, the Long Island Sound waterfront has a promenade just over one mile long. Orchard Beach is bordered by Pelham Bay Park, New York City's largest and three times bigger than Central Park. Bring the family; there's basketball, tennis, a children's playground, free summer concerts, calm water and lifeguards.    

Coney Island, Brooklyn
Not your grandmother's beach anymore, Coney Island (opened in 1923) has earned a revered place on the best beaches list for generations. Waves, sand, food, an arcade, an amusement park and a beloved 2.7-mile boardwalk come together at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. And these are pretty big waves. What's more, there's Wonder Wheel and Luna Park where the famed Cyclone roller coaster looms large. On the Fourth of July, Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest is a classic, now in its 102nd year. Take the F, D, N, or Q train to Coney Island - Stillwell Avenue.

Jones Beach, Long Island
The mother of all New York beaches, this behemoth attracts six to eight million beachgoers every year. It has more than six miles of sand, two miles of boardwalk, two swimming pools, miniature golf, a nature center, an amphitheater, a working water tower modeled after the Venetian campanile and lots more. If the traffic jams and massive maze of parking lots (so big, they're called "fields") get you hot under the collar, come via the LIRR to Freeport Station and walk downstairs for the n88 NICE Bus.     

Robert Moses State Park, Long Island
Get there on the LIRR to Babylon and connect to the S47 bus for the 20-minute transfer to the beach. If you're driving, $10 parking seems reasonable enough. Five miles of less-crowded oceanfront, wide and clean, are for those who prefer Mother Nature's wonders to Coney Island's attractions. You can surf, swim, boogie-board, jog or just stroll along the beach. Graced by a boardwalk and a 200-year-old lighthouse, this is the western end of Fire Island...which is, of course, one of America's best beaches.   

Coopers Beach, Long Island
Dr. Beach's expert No. 5 pick for the "2017 Top 10 Beaches" is Coopers Beach in Southampton, New York. It's "hundreds of yards wide, made of grainy white quartz sand," Dr. Beach notes Coopers Beach sand dunes are covered by beach grass and a backdrop of extravagant mansions. Best of all, there's access for the public. The main beach has a concession stand, chair rentals for $10, umbrella rentals for $15, bathrooms and fresh water showers. A daily parking permit is $50 per car per day.

Sandy Hook, New Jersey
One of the prettiest beaches in the tri-state area is a seven-mile stretch that comes with bonus NYC skyline views. On this skinny peninsula off the coast of central New Jersey, lifeguards are on duty from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Also on duty, Sandy Hook Lighthouse is the oldest standing and oldest operating lighthouse in the United States. From Manhattan, the 40-minute Seastreak ferry ride departs from Wall Street or the NYC Ferry Terminal at East 35th Street, getting you there, even without a car. There's a complimentary shuttle service between the ferry landing and the beach.

Asbury Park, New Jersey
Greetings from Asbury Park. Bring a playlist full of Springsteen when you begin your trip at Penn Station. Taking NJ Transit, transfer at Long Beach to get to the beach and boardwalk in about 14 minutes. Catch some waves, take in a concert or catch up with friends over classic rock at The Stone Pony. Come hungry, because there's everything from Italian ice to oysters along the historic boardwalk. And bring a blanket because bonfires on the beach are on Friday evenings in May and June, Wednesday evenings in July and August, and on Friday evenings in September.