The USA has some fantastic urban beaches. In the Summer, Chicagoans are spoiled by happening North Avenue Beach on Lake Michigan. Miami has South Beach, littered with plenty of palm trees, fake tans and toned bodies. In L.A. there’s Santa Monica and Malibu. But what about New York City? For a metropolis surrounded on all sides by water, you’d think there would be some more obvious beach options, right? The truth is New York does have surprisingly decent sun, sand and surf – you just need to know where to look.
Believe it or not, New York has enough sandy, swimmable beach options to make your head spin. From happening urban beach parties and hidden unspoiled sands within the limits of the Five Boroughs, to some truly great wild beaches within an easy day trip of Manhattan, there’s enough oceanfront out there to please even some of the most die-hard of beach-lovers.
With Summer weather in full swing, there’s no better time for Undiscovered New York to count down the city’s top 5 best beaches, all either within city limits or close enough for a day trip. Think you’re a New York beach veteran? We bet there’s at least one great waterfront on this list you’ve never visited. Click below for our picks!
Beach #5 – Water Taxi Beach(es)
A trip to the New York City beach might seem like it involves trains or boats, but did you know there are beaches you can get to with no more than a taxi ride? We’re talking about New York’s three Water Taxi Beaches, which feature over 1,000 tons of sand, food, frequent live music and some killer views of New York City (see left).
Want to check it out? Just hop in a taxi, get on the subway or grab a water taxi and head one of their three locations at Long Island City, South Street Seaport or Governor’s Island.
Beach #4 – Long Beach
Just an hour from New York on the Long Island Railroad is Long Beach, a surprisingly happening Summer beach town and favorite beach day trip for claustrophobic New Yorkers looking to beat the heat. Grab one of the daily express trains from Manhattan’s Penn Station and you’ll be laying on a towel near the ocean in no time. Play some frisbee or volleyball, have a swim and then be back in the city in time for happy hour cocktails.
Beach #3 – Sandy Hook
We first mentioned Sandy Hook during our exploration of New Jersey back in April, and in terms of New York area beaches, it’s one of the best. Just a 30 minute ferry ride from Manhattan’s South Street Seaport is one of the more unspoiled stretches of sand in the Tri-State Region boasting wild beach grasses and some interesting history to boot. When you arrive at the Sandy Hook landing, be sure to check out historic Fort Hancock, which at one time played an important role in the defense of New York Harbor.
Beach #2 – Robert Moses State Park
Finding the best spots in New York sometimes takes effort, and the beaches at Robert Moses State Park are no exception. Although this pristine sandy stretch along New York’s Fire Island is not really accessible by public transportation, it’s worth the car trip to get here. And because Robert Moses is located on a barrier island well off Long Island proper, it’s home to some coastline that could hold its own with some of the best beaches anywhere in the U.S. All within about an hour’s drive of New York.
Beach #1 – Fort Tilden
As far as “undiscovered” New York City finds, Fort Tilden’s unspoiled beach has to be one of the best. This little-known beach, located near the site of an abandoned military installation in the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens, is one of the more remote and serene stretches of sand you’ll find anywhere in the city limits.
Forget Coney Island – on Fort Tilden’s beach you’ll have plenty of sand all to yourself. The hard part is getting there – you’ll either need to take a car or 12 mile bike ride from Manhattan. Check out this piece for advice. Good luck!