Beach Guide: Where to Go and What to Know

Christina Mulligan |

Summer is finally here and as the temperature soars, beaches become favorite spots both to get some sun and cool off. Whether you want to surf, swim,  relax,  play sports or just get your kids out of the house, we’ve looked at beaches throughout the area to discover their best and distinguishing features. From New York City to Long Island to New Jersey, our research helps you figure out which beach best fits your summer needs.


New York City

Bronx Beach

Orchard Beach also known as “The Riviera of the Bronx”

Orchard Beach. Flickr/Walking Geek

Orchard Beach was created by then Parks Commissioner Robert Moses in 1936, and it is the only public beach in the borough. Here you can find sun, food and family fun. This year Orchard Beach opened up with a new food concessionaire, the Havana Café. The café will operate the three existing snack bars, plus new, mobile food carts. If you aren’t in the mood for the typical hamburger or hotdog, there will also be Cuban, Italian and seafood available to satisfy your palate.

  • Pets: No dogs or any other animals allowed on the beach at any time.
  • Features: Food, handball courts, playgrounds and tennis court.
  • Upcoming events: Seaside Scavenger hunt, Sunday July 22, at 1 p.m.


  • BUS: Bx12, Bx29, Bx5, Bx52 and Westchester Line number 45.
  • SUBWAY:The 6 line to the last stop, Pelham Bay Park, and then connect to bus.
  • PARKING: Monday-Friday parking costs $6;  weekends and holidays $8.

Brooklyn Beaches

Coney Island Beach and Boardwalk also known as “The People’s Playground”

Coney Island Beach and Boardwalk. Photo courtesy of NYC Parks & Recreation

World-renowned as the People’s Playground, Coney Island is unlike any other beach when it comes its amusements and the diversity of people and salty characters — both at the Coney Island USA freak show and on the boardwalk. The three-mile stretch of beach is for the restless beachgoer, not for those who want to get a way from it all. World-class amusement parks, sea lions and tiger sharks (in the New York Aquarium), minor league baseball at the Brooklyn Cyclones ballpark, the original home of Nathan’s Famous hot dogs and so much more can keep you busy morning to night.

  • Pets: Dogs are allowed on the boardwalk, but keep them off the sand! Be sure to have your proof of rabies vaccination with you.
  • Features: Boardwalk, piers, basketball courts, bicycling and greenways, fishing areas, fitness  equipment, food, handball courts, ice skating rinks and playgrounds.
  • Upcoming events: Saltwater fishing on Saturday, June 23 at noon.  The 97th annual July Fourth International Hot Dog Eating Contest at Nathan’s Famous, Wednesday, July 4 at 3 p.m.


  • BUS: B36, B64, B68, B74, B82, X28, X29, X38
  • SUBWAY: D, F, N and Q to Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue; F and Q to West 8th Street-NY Aquarium; Q to Ocean Parkway
  • PARKING: Free start parking available

Manhattan Beach

This is one of New York City’s most popular summertime destinations. This beach fits the family outdoor fun type. Come with your picnic basket, enjoy a barbecue or roll in the sand.

Manhattan Beach. Photo courtesy of NYC Parks & Recreation

  • Pets: Dogs are not allowed in playgrounds, zoos, beach, and ball fields or on any of the courts. They must be kept on a leash at all times unless in the dog run, which is a large, fenced-in area for dogs to exercise. Be sure to have your proof of rabies vaccination with you.
  • Features: Fishing areas, barbecuing areas, food, boardwalk, basketball courts, tennis courts, baseball fields, dog runs, handball courts, playgrounds, bicycle and skate paths and volleyball courts.


  • BUS: B1 from Brighton
  • SUBWAY: The Q to Sheepshead Bay Road. Connect on bus B49 to Cheapside to Oriental and Hastings Street.
  • PARKING: Monday-Friday parking is $6; weekends and holidays $10.

Queens Beaches

Rockaway Beach and Boardwalk, and Fort Tilden also known as “Hawaii at Home”

Rockaway Beach. Photo courtesy of NYC Parks & Recreation

Surf’s up! This beach is home to the city’s only surfing areas. The seven-mile stretch includes two surf beaches between 67-69 streets and between 87-92 streets. It’s the closest thing to Waikiki you’ll get in New York! COWABUNGA! But if you use a skate board instead of a surf board, don’t worry, there are more amenities to feed your summer escape.

If you walk further west down the beach from the Rockaway Boardwalk you’ll reach Fort Tilden, a Gateway National Recreation Area, and decommissioned military base. Fort Tilden has beautiful sand dunes and its remoteness keeps crowds away. The Fort Tilden beach has no life guards.

  • Pets: No dogs on boardwalk or beach at any time.
  • Features: Boardwalk, barbecuing areas, food, fishing areas, baseball fields, basketball courts, playgrounds, skate parks, and volleyball courts
  • Upcoming events: Yoga on the Beach on Saturday, June 23 8:00 a.m.–9:00 a.m.

Directions to Rockaway and Fort Tilden:

  • BUS: Q22 from bus terminal on Archer Avenue. If going to Fort Tilden, the Parks Department suggests telling the bus driver to drop you off there.
  • SUBWAY: A to Broad Channel then shuttle train to Rockaway. If you want to go to Fort Tilden, its less than a mile walk west of Rockaway Beach.
  • Biking: The bike ride to Rockaway is one of the most scenic in the city. Just head south on Flatbush Ave. until you cross the Marine Parkway Bridge. Head east for Rockaway Beach or west for Fort Tilden.
  • Ferry: The New York Beach Ferry provides summer service Fri-Sun from Pier 11 at Wall St. in Manhattan to Rockaway Beach.
  • PARKING: $5 parking is available in Jacob Riis Park off of Rockaway Blvd. Free parking lots are available between 11th and 15th Street and at 95th Street.

Staten Island Beaches

South/Midland Beach also known as “New York City’s best kept secret” or “Staten Island Spiaggia”

Beyond sunbathing, you can take a stroll across the FDR boardwalk and view the Fountain of Dolphins, or take a paddle with a kayak or a canoe. No matter what you do, at the end of the day picking this beach will have been worth it.

Midland/South Beach. Photo courtesy of NYC Parks & Recreation.

  • Pets: Dogs are allowed on the boardwalk, but keep them off the sand! Be sure to have your proof of rabies vaccination with you.
  • Features: Boardwalk, barbecuing areas, baseball fields, basketball courts, bicycle and skate path, bocce courts, dog runs, fishing areas, food, handball courts, kayak and canoe launch sites, playgrounds, and skate parks.
  • Upcoming events: Learn To Ride on Saturday, June 30, 10:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. The free program teaches kids ages five and up how to safely ride a bike. Make sure to bring a proper fitted helmet.


  • BUS: S51 or S52
  • PARKING: Free parking lots available


Wolfes Pond Park

This beach is more than just a beach, it’s situated in one of Staten Island’s largest parks. Besides the waves, visitors can enjoy a sprawling nature preserve, where diverse animal species roam free. On July 13, families can camp in the park overnight.

Wolfes Pond Park. Flickr/allieâ„¢

  • Pets: No dogs on the sand!
  • Features: Barbecuing areas, dog runs, fishing areas, food, hiking trails, playgrounds, roller hockey and tennis courts
  • Upcoming events: Family Camping on Friday, July 13 at 6:00 p.m.


  • BUS: S78 to Tottenville. Get out at Cornelia and Highland Blvd. and walk up Cornelia.
  • SUBWAY: Staten Island Transit to the Hugenot Avenue stop and then walk down toward Highland Boulevard.
  • PARKING: Free parking lot.


Long Island

Heckscher State Park

If you’re easily bored in the sun and need activities other than swimming on your beach days, come here — and bring your dog, too. The 1,469 acres is filled with activities that will attract you and your family no matter what you want to do.

Heckscher State Park. Flickr/HBarrison

  • Pets: Prohibited in bathing, picnic areas, buildings and walkways.
  • Features: Biking, boat launches, fishing, food, grills, hiking, nature trails, picnic tables, play grounds, playing fields, recreation programs and tent or trailer sites.
  • Upcoming events: Children’s Summer Performance: Chip Bryant on Saturday July 7 at 1 p.m.


  • From NYC or western L.I.: Take Throggs Neck or Whitestone Bridge to Cross Island Parkway south to Long Island Expressway, east, to Sagtikos Parkway, south, to South State Parkway, east, to Heckscher State Parkway.
  • From eastern LI: Take Sunrise Highway, west, to Southern State Parkway (Heckscher State Parkway).
  • PARKING: $10 daily. Parking is available past the entrance on Heckscher State Parkway.


Jones Beach

Known for its open-air concerts, Jones Beach is also a world-class destination for swimming. The beach offers about six miles of oceanfront, a half mile of bay beach for stillwater bathing and two swimming pools. So whether you want to swim against the waves or have a  safe place for kids to splash and play, Jones Beach is perfect for families.

Jones Beach. Flickr/DVDaniels

  • Pets: No pets allowed.
  • Features: Boardwalk, fishing, food, gift shop, golf, marina, museum/visitors center, performing arts center, paddle ball, picnic tables, playgrounds, pool, recreation programs and shuffleboard.
  • Upcoming Events: Volleyball Tournament on Saturday, July 14 and Sunday, July 15 at 9 a.m.


  • From NYC or western L.I.: Take LIE East to Northern State Parkway East to Wantagh Parkway South to Jones Beach State Park.
  • From eastern L.I.: Take Northern State Parkway West or Southern State Parkway West to Wantagh Parkway South to State Park.
  • PARKING: $10 daily. Six parking lots are available past the entrance on Ocean Parkway.

Robert Moses State Park

Robert Moses State Park. Flickr/Dougtone

This beach is on the western end of the Fire Island National Seashore, the narrow barrier island running parallel to Long Island. Robert Moses is a smaller version of Jones Beach, drawing families and young adults for swimming and surfing. The beach doesn’t get crowded, but if you want a break from the gulls and crash of the surf, take a walk and visit the Fire Island Lighthouse.

  • Pets: No pets allowed!
  • Features: Fishing, food, golf, marina, picnic tables, lighthouse and recreation programs.
  • Upcoming Events: The Fire Island Lighthouse has events throughout the summer and can be toured daily from 9:30 to 5:00 pm (6:00 pm starting July 1).


  • Robert Moses is located along the southern side of Suffolk County, on the western end of Fire Island. From Manhattan it is about 48 miles via Southern State Parkway to Robert Moses Causeway (exit 40).
  • PARKING: $10 daily. True to its namesake, Robert Moses Park has ample parking just past the entrance off of Robert Moses Parkway.

Sunken Meadow State Park

On the Long Island Sound, Sunken Meadow has three miles of beach and its quiet waters make for a safe environment for kids who are shy of big waves. It’s essentially the South Shore ocean beach without the rough ocean waves. What really makes this destination stand out is the horseback riding and hikes.

Sunken Meadow State Park. Flickr/Dougtone

  • Pets: Dogs are permitted in undeveloped areas with a 6-foot leash. They are prohibited in bathing and picnic areas, or buildings and walkways. They cannot enter through the main entrance so make sure you contact the park office before arriving.
  • Features: Boardwalk, biking, bridle path, fishing, food, golf, grills, hiking, nature trails, picnic tables, playgrounds, playing fields and recreation programs.


  • Sunken Meadow is located in Suffolk County in the Town of Smithtown. It is 46 miles from Manhattan via the northern terminus of Sunken Meadow/Sagtikus Parkway. Long Island Expressway exit 53.
  • PARKING: $10 per day. Parking lots are at the northernmost end of Sunken Meadow Parkway.


New Jersey

Point Pleasant Beach

Point Pleasant Beach. Flickr/Anne Helmond

This destination is for the kids or for the kids at heart. It has the beach, a playground, a first-class aquarium, arcades, live entertainment and more. This beach has options both for those who want to soak up or avoid the sun. Adults can hit the beach at Martell’s and enjoy a non-alcoholic, or an alcoholic beverage at the Tiki Bar. If you want to take a mini-vacation not too far from home, Point Pleasant Beach is the perfect destination.

  • Pets: Not allowed on beach.
  • Features: Amusement park, aquarium, arcades, boat  rental, dinner cruises, fishing areas, food, parasailing, playground and live entertainment.


  • From New York and the North: Garden State Parkway to exit 98 for Route 34 south. Follow Route 34 south, which will become Route 35 south. From Route 35 South, follow the bridge into Point Pleasant Beach.
  • PARKING: 75 cents per hour. The metered municipal parking lot is at Ocean Ave. and Arnold Ave.

Sandy Hook

Sandy Hook. Flickr/jfl1066

Beaches along the Sandy Hook Atlantic Shore include North Beach, Gunnison Beach and South Shore Beach. Each beach promises some family fun in the sun. Sandy Hook is great for nature lovers, with over 300 species of birds and a Holly forest. For some history at the beach, check out the Twin Lighthouses and the site of the Nike defense missile system. Gunnison Beach is for beach goers who don’t want to get any tan lines or just enjoy being nude: Clothing is optional!

  • Pets: Pets are only allowed on the Inlet side of Hook, at the Gateway National Park. The dogs must be leashed.
  • Features: Boat rentals, fishing areas, food, and trails for biking, roller-skating or walking.


  • From North Jersey and New York: Go south on the New Jersey Turnpike and take it to exit 11 onto the Garden State Parkway south. Get off at Exit 117 (Keyport/Hazlet). After the toll, bear left and follow Route 36 East 12 miles to the entrance. Stay right to enter. You can also take the Seastreak Ferry from two locations on the east side of Manhattan — 35th Street and Pier 11 at Wall Street — for $45 round trip. Bike transport on the ferry costs extra.
  • PARKING: $15 per day. Lots are available past the entrance off of Hartshorne Drive, but they often fill up before noon, so arrive early.


Let us know your best beach tips in the comments section, below.

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