We've put together a list of great beaches accessible from New York sans car, along with all the details on how to get there.Less
An easy train ride followed by an even easier bus ride is all that stands between you and five miles of idyllic oceanfront, an 18-hole golf course, picnic areas, surfing, and best of all, fewer beachgoers than some other packed spots closer to the city. The especially crowd-averse can head to Field 5, where the nearly 200-year-old Fire Island Lighthouse awaits. Climb the 100-plus steps and gaze upon the sand-dwellers from a regal distance—or stay comfortable at ground level.
For an action-packed day trip, this historic New Jersey beach offers seven miles of shoreline, hiking and biking trails, fishing, walking tours of Fort Hancock, and views of the oldest working lighthouse in the country. Oh, and also, Gunnison is a nude beach, so break out your birthday suit and kiss those tan lines goodbye. For something a little more PG, head to North Beach or South Beach, both popular, family-friendly picks.
Once called the “Riviera of New York City,” this man-made Bronx beach spills over the Long Island Sound and is easily accessible from Manhattan. Commissioned by Robert Moses in the 1930s, the approximately 1.1-mile stretch is the Bronx’s only public beach. If the idea of tanning all day burns you up, there are also basketball, tennis, volleyball and handball courts, picnic areas, and a hexagonal boardwalk perfect for sunset strolls.
Coney Island is an East Coast icon replete with carnival games, amusement park rides, and a nearby aquarium. It wouldn’t quite feel like summer in New York without the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest (participate at your own risk) and the Mermaid Parade—each coinciding with some of the beach’s busiest days. The usual boardwalk concessions (funnel cake, hot dogs) are perfect for noshing between dips, and people-watching is prime. This is one of NYC’s most famous summer hot spots.
Home to a large population of Russian transplants, this Brooklyn enclave welcomes throngs of NYC residents looking to beat the summertime heat. Neighbor to Coney Island, this popular beach offers plenty to do beyond crisping in the sun. Grab some borscht and vodka at an authentic nearby supper club, then make your way to the surrounding neighborhood—known as Little Odessa—for an even more immersive cultural experience.
As an alternative to playing Frogger in the crowded Hamptons, hit up Fire Island—home to 26 miles of eclectic coastline. Fair Harbor is family-oriented, the Ocean Beach is sceney, and the Pines has historically hosted a large gay community. And bonus—no traffic! The island is free of cars and paved roads, and the only way to get around is by foot, bike, or golf cart. The high-energy parties here are undoubtedly popular, but the island is big enough to find a serene spot.
From Downtown, you’ll need about an hour and a half to get to this surfer sanctuary, which has become increasingly popular with a young, hip crowd. Good sand, great waves, snack shacks (Rockaway Beach Surf Club for fish tacos, Rippers for cheeseburgers), and quasi-legal mystery cocktails make it worth the trek.
Since the bus is always so damn crowded, the trip to Jones Beach is more of a slog than the others. But all that hassle will seem worth it once you get there, thanks to mini-golf, lots of big concerts, two swimming pools, and a massive beach—ideal for families with kids to entertain. The adjacent boardwalk is perfect for long strolls before throwing down a towel or cooling off in the water.
There's one simple rule to live by here: Go for the beaches and boardwalk; stay for the top-notch hooligan watching. Before the Jersey Shore was home to fist-pumping partiers, it served as the summer base for President Ulysses S. Grant, who had a home in Long Branch. If it’s good enough for USG, it’s good enough for the rest of us.
If you're looking for a quiet Coney Island alternative, Manhattan Beach is your best bet. After gawking at the mansions surrounding this family-friendly Brooklyn beach, build a castle of your own from sand, or enjoy some beach volleyball and a picnic.