Summer’s almost here, and you know what that means—it’s time to trade shivering nights in Bobst’s LL2 dungeon for sunny days in the sand, fruity drinks out of crazy straws, and beach parties like it’s 1999 and TRL is still cool. And seriously, you can do all of these things in our very own New York City (except watch TRL, R.I.P. chubby Carson Daly). Great beaches are just a subway fare away, so don’t miss the opportunity to get your tan on this summer. We’re trying to get on this level.
Rockaway Beach-This beach is, believe it or not, where you can catch some serious waves. People surf here. And with 170 acres of volleyball nets, fishing, skating, and general beach-frolicking, this is the place to go if you, like us, are unwilling to cough up the $55 NYU makes you pay for a summer membership to Coles and Palladium but still want to keep your beach bod fit.
And let’s not forget Rockaway Taco! This place is a must, and worth the inevitable wait in line. Get the fish tacos and the watermelon juice, eat barefoot.
Directions: Take the A train to Broad Channel, then transfer to the S to Rockaway Park–Beach 116th St.
Fort Tilden – This is Rockaway’s cooler older cousin. It’s harder to get to, but that’s its best feature. This is a perfect, flat morning bike ride, about an hour and a half pedal from downtown Manhattan to this decommissioned military base in Queens. Or you can bring your bike on the the A train to Broad Channel, then transfer to the S to Rockaway Park–Beach 116th St, and ride for about 10 minutes from there. You’ll be rewarded for all that schlepping (it’s pleasant, really) by a far less crowded, cleaner beach than any of the others, where you can claim a fairly large territory in the sand for the day. Before you settle in, stop at the food truck near the entrance for an excellent milkshake.
There are no amenities at this beach, so bring your own food, or hop back on your bike and head to Rocaway Taco 10 minutes away.
Fire Island-If you really want an escape, Fire Island is the furthest from urban, crowded Manhattan that you can get for a $12 ferry ride. The beaches here look just like the movies—big waves, rolling dunes, and even a lighthouse or two. While you need a car to get there, the 5 miles of white sand beach on Robert Moses State Park—including the always-popular clothing optional section—is totally worth it. If that won’t convince you, then maybe this Village People song about the notorious LGBT vacation destination will.
Directions: Take the LIRR (Montauk) to Bay Shore, Sayvine or Patchogue. Then take the ferry to the island.
Long Beach- Not to be confused with its greater namesake in California, Long Beach in Nassau County is one of the nicest beaches within a reasonable distance from NYC. Security and cleanliness are top-notch here, but the one drawback (and it’s a doosie) is the $12 entrance fee.
Directions: Take the LIRR to Long Beach
Coney Island Beach-While Coney Island may have a less-than-stellar reputation, this beach has improved a lot in recent years. Its nearly 3 miles of shoreline are often crowded with herds of fist pumpers, but don’t let that get you down—just go for a spin on the Cycone at the newly-renovated amusement park to cheer you up, or go watch Nuka the walrus slurp up twenty pounds of herring at the aquarium—both attractions are on the boardwalk just feet from the beach. And please, for the love of God, don’t miss the Seashore Freak Show.
Directions: Take the D, F, N or Q to Coney Island–Stillwell Ave, get off at 8th Street, Aquarium
Brighton Beach-Brighton Beach, right next to Coney Island Beach, is known for a few key elements: beer vendors, Jersey Shore-esque blowouts, and old Russian people. While this can seem like a strange mix at first, the beach really is beautiful and worth a try. And if you don’t like it, you’re still really not that far from the Seashore Freak Show.
Directions: D, F, N, Q to Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue