A Day at the Beach
New York City is surrounded by beaches, most of which are open to the public for free. The beaches get very crowded during the summer months, but it's still a lot of fun to take a break from the city and spend a day at the shore. Many beaches are flanked by a thriving boardwalk, with food, rides, and games.
If you're planning a beach trip out of the city, leave early. If you get there late, you'll have trouble finding a spot anywhere near the ocean to put your blanket down. For information on beach hours, call the city information number at 311 or 212-NEW-YORK (639-9675) from outside the city. The Web site is
Brighton Beach station (B or Q train)
The beach is located in a wonderful Russian neighborhood (called Little Odessa) in Brooklyn with interesting restaurants and shops. Though it boasts miles of clean beach, Brighton Beach is one of the city's most crowded, so get there early to stake out your territory. The train ride will take about an hour from midtown.
Legendary playwright Neil Simon's
Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue station (D, F, N, or Q train)
Here you'll find the legendary amusement park with the still-impressive Cyclone roller coaster and boardwalk, which has been restored. You can still get a cracklin' good hot dog from the original Nathan's Famous. (For details on Coney Island attractions, see page 184.) The waves here are mild. Like nearby Brighton Beach, Coney Island is often crowded, with slightly more families than teenagers because of the nearby amusement park and attractions. A third, much smaller beach, Manhattan Beach, is located to the east of Coney Island. Manhattan Beach can be reached via the Q train from Brighton Beach and then the B1 bus.
Rockaway Park Beach
Rockaway Park Beach-116th Street station (A or S train)
Because of its distance and size (at ten miles, it's the longest municipal beach in the country), Rockaway Park is one of the least crowded beaches. The nicest stretch is north of the last subway stop on the A line at 116th Street. (Note that the S train is the Rockaway Park shuttle, not the Forty-second Street train.) The trip should take about an hour and ten minutes from midtown.
Far Rockaway is a year-round beach community with some die-hard surfers; they're the ones in the wet suits. Beware of the rough waves here, but do take a walk along the delightfully deserted beach.
Pelham Parkway station (2 or 5 train) then the Bx12 bus to Orchard Beach (summer only)
Orchard Beach, a manmade beach on Long Island Sound in the Bronx, is affectionately known as “the Riviera of New York.” It's in Pelham Bay Park, close to City Island, so it's a popular beach destination. It has a boardwalk, bandshell, and sports facilities. The nature center is open 10
The beach and parking lot were designed by Robert Moses. Explore the rest of Pelham Bay Park if you don't want to sit on the beach all day. It has a nature center and playgrounds among other features. A nearby lagoon served as the site for the 1964 Olympic rowing trials.
Freeport station (Long Island Railroad) then the N88 shuttle bus to Jones Beach (summer only)
You must drive or take the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) to get to Jones Beach, so it is less crowded than the city beaches. During the week, you can actually spread out and play Frisbee on this manmade beach. There are lots of attractions and amenities in this state park. The LIRR has rail/beach packages.