I plopped down on the hard subway seat sunburnt and beat preparing myself for the journey home. It would take about two hours no doubt. I love Coney Island. It's nostalgic. When I was new to the city and in college, this was the only beach my colleagues and I knew about. We'd make the long trips together, pack picnics, and have a party all day on the beach. Sometimes now, I ache just for a relaxing day on the beach, no frills and so I came up with this guide to the best beaches that are accessible from NYC. Check it out.
Like I said, Coney Island is my go-to if I'm with a group of friends. It's definitely party central in terms of beaches. I will go if I want a day of day-drinking margs with my pals, riding the silly rides at the local amusement park, a famous hot dog from Nathan's, and a good photo op. The pros are that there is a lot to do besides go in the water (which is probably good because the water is a little scary in that area!) and that it's classic for amazing photo opportunities. The cons are that it's about a two hour train ride for those who live way uptown. To get to Coney Island you take the B or D train all the way to the last stop in Brooklyn. It's probably the most affordable beach to get to, but it's a little out of the way.
Long Beach is gorgeous and family friendly. This is definitely where I go if I want to hang out with my family who lives there or catch some sun by myself. The water is nice and clean, so I don't mind swimming and surfing there either! There are some great local eats nearby too, especially Carvel Ice Cream. The pros of Long Beach are the cleanliness, relaxing vibes, and great boardwalk to stroll on and the cons are that it requires a little more cash than your other options. A train ride on the LIRR and a short walk will take you about an hour and fifteen minutes and run you about $19 round trip. A day beach pass is $10.
Orchard Beach is perfect for uptowners. A quick 35 minute ride from midtown and accessible by the subway, it's the perfect option for an inexpensive and quick beach day. On the weekends, the crowds are a little rowdier, but weekdays are generally quiet. There are plenty of fun things to do like tennis, paddleball, basketball, picnic areas, shops, and more. The beach is free to access and you can get there by taking 6 train to Pelham Bay Park and then take the Bx29 bus to Orchard Beach.
Jacob Riis Beach
Somewhat of a little brother to Rockaway Beach, quieter neighboring beach Jacob Riis is a perfect beach getaway destination for NYC locals. Accessible by the 2 train and the Q35 bus toward Rockaway Beach. They boast food and recreational ball courts as well if you get tired of soaking in the sun.
Cherry Grove Beach
Cherry Grove Beach is located on Fire Island on Long Island. Fire Island is known for it's strong LGBTQ+ community presence and its relaxing and fun vibes. Cherry Grove beach is perfect for a weekend beach getaway as they boast a lovely hotel, restaurants, dance clubs, and more. They sometimes even have yoga on the beach. Cherry Grove Beach is a little more of a commitment travel-wise, as it required a car and a two hour drive, but it's well worth the trip if you have a weekend to spare.