Summer means barbecues, drinking outdoors, and, for many of us, spending as much time as possible out in the sun. If you want to get to the beach this season, you’re going to want to know the basics — how to get there, and what to expect once you’re there — so we’ve put together this guide to help you make the most of your trip to the water’s edge.
Getting There: Best bet on the weekends and holidays is the Rockabus ($15 round trip), which goes direct from Grand Army Plaza, or NYC Beach Bus ($12 round trip), which goes direct from 4th Ave/Pacific St — either way, the drive is about a half hour. On weekdays, the trip is about twice as long, but manageable: about 1 hour and 15 minutes via the F/G to the A.
Facilities: Post-Sandy, things are still not completely back to normal — sections of boardwalk still need to be rebuilt, parts of the beach remain closed — and what’s open is narrower — and many shops have not been able to reopen. But with new modular lifeguard stations and comfort stations, and food vendors making the most of things, you can enjoy the beach while the city continues its very expensive progress.
What We Love: The beach attracts a diverse, fun-loving crowd, so it can be fun for families, surfers, teens, and adults looking for a place to sunbathe and take a dip in the water, which is pretty clean, considering the crowds it draws. For food, Rockaway Taco is worth a taste.
What’s Lacking: As tasty as those tacos are, because there aren’t a lot of other options at the moment, you might encounter a long line, so consider bringing food and beverages. Also, the beach can get pretty crowded at peak, weekend hours.
Photo via NYC Parks/Daniel Avila
Getting There: The Rockabus ($15 round trip) also has a drop-off here from Grand Army Plaza, as does NYC Beach Bus ($12 round trip), from 4th Ave/Pacific St, but again, just on the weekends and holidays, and the trip is just over a half hour. Weekdays, the trip can be just over an hour via the 2 train to the Q35 bus.
Facilities: Since Fort Tilden remains closed this summer because of Sandy damage, Riis is the next best bet for beachlovers who want something close, but still feels like a bit of an escape from the city. The art deco bathhouse is quite a sight, but aside from comfort stations, Riis doesn’t have many amenities to offer.
What We Love: Though it’s becoming more and more popular, you can still find an ample piece of sand to stretch out and enjoy with your family and friends. If you’re looking to let it all hang out, note that the east end of the beach is topless.
What’s Lacking: There are no good food options at the moment, but the National Parks Service, which operates Riis, is inviting food trucks here starting later this month — just remember to bring cash if you want to try Rickshaw Dumpling, Eddie’s Pizza Truck, or Pura Vida (plus more to come), since there aren’t any ATMs nearby.
Photo via sarahmclellanny
Getting There: The trip is about 40 minutes via the Q or the F train.
Facilities: Plenty of places to grab a bite to eat, and most have re-opened following Sandy, including Nathan’s. Plenty of bathrooms (don’t pay the 25 cents to use the one by the Wonder Wheel!), including modular ones that have replaced damaged ones on the beach.
What We Love: It’s one of the beaches you can get to the fastest, and for the least amount of dough. And it’s got the most going on aside from sand and surf, all back after the hurricane — from the annual hot dog eating contest, the Mermaid Parade, the sand sculpting contest, Cyclones baseball, the Aquarium, rides like the Cyclone and the Wonder Wheel, and so much more.
What’s Lacking: All those things add up to lots and lots of people, and the crowds can feel a bit chaotic at times. Escaping the crowds to the water is an option, but the beach and the tide can sometimes be as chaotic (with trash, anyway).
Photo via buzzfeedbenBrighton Beach
Getting There: The trip is under 40 minutes via the Q, and even faster during the week if you can catch the express B train.
Facilities: Just east of Coney Island, Brighton Beach doesn’t have all the same attractions, but it’s close enough that you could enjoy the food and entertainment up the beach if you wanted to. But why would you, when you’ll find controversial modular comfort stations, Russian restaurants — which were hit hard during the storm — and a comparatively clean beach.
What We Love: It’s even quicker to get here on the subway than to Coney, and there are fewer tourists, meaning more space to stretch out on the beach or the boardwalk. And it’s hard to beat sitting outside at one of the restaurants, watching people walk by, after you’ve gotten your fill of sun. Tatiana is back open after Sandy — it’s pricey, but if you’re looking for a fun, slightly bizarre end to a beach day, stick around for the stage show.
What’s Lacking: It can be difficult or pricey to find a quick drink or snack close to the beach (though there are often people walking and selling things out of coolers), so stock up on Brighton Beach Ave (try Brighton Bazaar for pre-made picnic supplies) before you walk over.
Photo via katushhhhManhattan Beach
Getting There: It takes just under an hour via the F to the B1 bus.
Facilities: Another spot that was hit hard by Sandy, it is back open, but we haven’t been down to check it out yet, so our friends at Sheepshead Bites were able to fill in some info, confirming that it, and its bathrooms, are indeed open. If you’ve been and can add any info (is the concession stand open? did they install the new benches? etc.), let us know in the comments!
What We Love: Because it’s a little out of the way, it can be a little less crowded than other beaches. If you get there early enough (and you lugged your BBQ stuff), you can set up and hang out in the picnic area all day — if not, you can take a break from the sun and get some shade in that area.
What’s Lacking: Food and drinks. Aside from the concession stand, there is nothing nearby, so when you make the switch from the subway to the bus, maybe make a stop at Cuccio’s Bakery on Avenue X for some things to nibble on. Or, bring your own from home.
Getting There: It takes about an hour and 15 minutes via the R train to the S79-SBS (including an approximate 15-minute walk from the bus).
Facilities: The shore along Staten Island was devastated during Sandy, but most parts of the beaches have reopened. And here, the popular sea turtle fountain and sections of the boardwalk are also back. Temporary trailers are in place as comfort stations this summer, while repairs are made to the damaged facilities If you’re up for bringing the equipment, there’s a barbecue area, which has also reopened.
What We Love: Staten Island is ready to show that Sandy can’t keep them down, so it’s a great time to visit if you’ve never been. They’ve got a number of events this summer, including music and fireworks, taking place at Midland Beach (when they would normally have been down the shore at South Beach, but it’s still undergoing construction of berms). Midland didn’t lose much of its beach in the storm, so you’ve still got a wide stretch for sunbathing and taking a run into the ocean, all with a great view of the Verrazano bridge.
What’s Lacking: Food and drinks. The concession stand was so badly damaged, it had to be torn down. If you don’t bring your own eats, after heading back to catch the bus, grab a slice at Nunzio’s on Hylan Boulevard, a pizzeria that’s been on Staten Island since 1942.
Photo via rayraelyauSandy Hook
Getting There: Take the R (or the 2, once they shut down the R tunnel in August) to Pier 11 at Wall Street, then catch the Seastreak ferry. It’s $45 (cash-only) round-trip for adults, $17 for kids ages 5-12, kids under 4 are free (go on a weekday, and all kids 12 and under are free). The total travel time is about an hour and 15 minutes.
Facilities: After fears that the national park might not be able to reopen this year because of Sandy damage, many parts have been able to reopen, including its clothing-optional area in Gunnison Beach. There are portable toilets available as repairs are made to bathroom facilities.
What We Love: After a relatively short trip, you can feel like you’ve gone a long way from the city. The clean beach and water, and what feels like more space than NYC beaches, all come together to provide a nice escape.
What’s Lacking: Concession stands were hit hard and haven’t yet reopened, so be sure to bring a lot of water and enough food for everyone you’re with.
Photo via hershbokennyc
Getting There: Okay, this is going to be a bit of a stretch, but hear us out: Take the F or the Q to Herald Square, then walk over to Penn Station, where you can catch, on Fridays at 4:07pm, the Cannonball ($27 one way) to the Hamptons. The train goes express, with its first stop in Westhampton arriving just 90 minutes later. So you could be at the beach in about two hours! You have to get to Penn pretty early to ensure you get a seat, or you could try paying more for a reserved ticket ($47 one way) but those are sold out for the next several weeks.
Facilities: It’s a relatively quick trip, but it’s one that requires more planning (and money) than the other beaches on our list. But we’re including it because the new Cannonball route makes it easier to get away for a weekend at the beach. Grab some friends, check out some options for house rentals, catch a cab or rent bikes, and then just hang out on a towel until you return on the Cannonball, which departs from the farthest stop, Montauk, at 6:37pm on Sunday.
What We Love: The beaches in the Hamptons have some variety, but you’ll most likely be looking at some beautiful sand, refreshing waves, and a horizon that goes on forever. Main Beach in East Hampton was named the top beach on a list of best beaches in the U.S. Beaches in the Hamptons were not as badly damaged in Sandy as those to the west, so if you’ve been before, they’ll be the way you remember.
What’s Lacking: You might not be alone if you’re thinking about taking a trip to the Hamptons for the first time this summer. Locals are concerned that the hurricane’s damage to the Jersey shore, plus this new Cannonball route and general increased interest in the area, will add up to even more tourists. But is their loss of exclusivity and quiet your gain?
Photo via AudreyH
Help Our Beach Communites
As we mentioned, many of these beaches, and the communities next to them, are still recovering following Hurricane Sandy. If you’re going to enjoy a beach this summer, patronize the local businesses! You might also consider making a donation or volunteering to help with some of the relief efforts that are ongoing.
Top photo via Coney Island