Enjoy Summer At New York City’s Best Beaches

Published on July 11, 2024, 11:34 am
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Summer in New York City offers a vibrant mix of activities, and exploring the city’s beaches should be at the top of your list. With a range of unique beach destinations, NYC provides a perfect escape from the concrete jungle to sun, sand, and surf. From the lively attractions at Coney Island to the serene shores of Staten Island, there is something for everyone. Let us dive into the best beaches NYC has to offer, along with tips on what to do, where to eat, and how to make the most of your beach experience.

Rockaway Beach: The Surfer’s Paradise

Located in Queens, Rockaway Beach is renowned for its surf-friendly waves and expansive boardwalk. It is the only beach in NYC where you can legally surf, attracting both beginners and seasoned surfers. The beach stretches from Beach 9th Street to Beach 149th Street, providing ample space for all kinds of beach activities.

Things to Do:

  • Surfing: With designated surf areas, Rockaway Beach is a hotspot for catching waves. Surf schools like Skudin Surf and Locals Surf School offer lessons for all levels.
  • Boardwalk Activities: The boardwalk is perfect for biking, running, or a leisurely stroll. It is also lined with food vendors offering a variety of treats, from classic beach snacks to more gourmet options.
  • Art and Culture: The Rockaway Beach Surf Club is a cultural hub that combines a bar, a restaurant, and an art gallery. It is a great spot to unwind and enjoy local art and music.

Where to Eat:

  • Rippers: This popular boardwalk spot offers burgers, fries, and breakfast items. It is a great place to grab a bite between surf sessions.
  • Tacoway Beach: Located within the Rockaway Beach Surf Club, this taco joint is a local favorite, known for its fish tacos and vibrant atmosphere.

Getting There: Take the A train to Broad Channel and transfer to the S shuttle to Beach 90th Street. Alternatively, the NYC Ferry offers a scenic route to Rockaway from Manhattan.

Coney Island: Classic Fun and Attractions

Coney Island, located in Brooklyn, is synonymous with summer fun. It is home to historic amusement parks, the famous Cyclone roller coaster, and a lively boardwalk. This iconic destination offers a mix of thrills, family-friendly activities, and classic beach relaxation.

Things to Do:

  • Luna Park: This amusement park features a variety of rides and games, including the historic Cyclone roller coaster, which has been thrilling visitors since 1927.
  • New York Aquarium: Located at the eastern end of the boardwalk, the aquarium is home to a wide range of marine life, including sharks, sea lions, and penguins.
  • Coney Island Beach & Boardwalk: The beach itself is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and people-watching. The boardwalk offers a vibrant scene with street performers, food vendors, and souvenir shops.
  • Events and Festivals: Coney Island hosts a variety of events, including the annual Mermaid Parade, Friday night fireworks, and the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest on the Fourth of July.

Where to Eat:

  • Nathan’s Famous: No trip to Coney Island is complete without a hot dog from Nathan’s. This iconic eatery has been serving up its famous franks since 1916.
  • Gargiulo’s: For a sit-down meal, head to Gargiulo’s, a family-owned restaurant serving classic Italian dishes in a historic setting.
  • Tom’s Coney Island: Located on the boardwalk, Tom’s offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a view. Their crab cakes and pancakes are particularly popular.

Getting There: Take the D, F, N, or Q train to Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue. The B36 and B68 buses also stop nearby.

Brighton Beach: A Cultural Retreat

Adjacent to Coney Island, Brighton Beach offers a more relaxed and culturally rich experience. Known as “Little Odessa” for its large Russian-speaking community, this beach is a blend of sun, sand, and cultural immersion.

Things to Do:

  • Beach Activities: Brighton Beach is perfect for swimming and sunbathing. It is generally less crowded than Coney Island, making it ideal for a more laid-back beach day.
  • Cultural Exploration: Stroll along Brighton Beach Avenue to explore Russian and Eastern European shops, bakeries, and restaurants. The area offers a unique glimpse into the local immigrant culture.
  • Asser Levy Park: This nearby park hosts concerts and events throughout the summer, providing additional entertainment options.

Where to Eat:

  • Tatiana Restaurant: Located on the boardwalk, Tatiana offers Russian and Eastern European cuisine with beachfront views. Their seafood dishes and live music performances are highlights.
  • Volna Restaurant: Another great spot for Russian cuisine, Volna is known for its borscht, pelmeni (dumplings), and fresh seafood.
  • Café At Your Mother-in-Law: This quirky eatery serves Korean-Uzbek fusion dishes, offering a unique and flavorful dining experience.

Getting There: Take the B or Q train to Brighton Beach. The area is also accessible by several bus routes.

Orchard Beach: The Bronx Riviera

Often called the “Riviera of New York,” Orchard Beach is the only public beach in the Bronx. Located in Pelham Bay Park, the city’s largest park, Orchard Beach offers a family-friendly atmosphere with plenty of amenities.

Things to Do:

  • Swimming and Sunbathing: The beach features a 1.1-mile crescent-shaped shoreline with calm waters, making it ideal for swimming and sunbathing.
  • Recreational Facilities: Orchard Beach boasts a variety of facilities, including picnic areas, playgrounds, basketball courts, and handball courts. There is also a central pavilion with food vendors and restrooms.
  • Nature and Hiking: Pelham Bay Park offers numerous trails for hiking and exploring. The Kazimiroff Nature Trail is a popular choice for those looking to experience the park’s natural beauty.

Where to Eat:

  • Beach Concessions: The central pavilion offers a range of food options, from classic beach fare like hot dogs and ice cream to more substantial meals.
  • City Island: Just a short drive or bus ride away, City Island is known for its seafood restaurants. Johnny’s Reef and The Lobster Box are local favorites, offering fresh seafood with waterfront views.

Getting There: Take the 6 train to Pelham Bay Park and transfer to the Bx12 bus, which stops directly at Orchard Beach.


Staten Island’s South Beach: A Hidden Gem

South Beach on Staten Island offers a quieter beach experience with stunning views of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge. It is an excellent destination for those looking to escape the more crowded beaches of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Things to Do:

  • South Beach Boardwalk: The 2.5-mile boardwalk is perfect for walking, biking, and rollerblading. It connects to Midland Beach, providing a continuous stretch of scenic waterfront.
  • Fishing and Boating: The Ocean Breeze Fishing Pier is a popular spot for anglers. The calm waters also make South Beach suitable for kayaking and paddleboarding.
  • Freedom Circle and Fountain: This area features a beautiful fountain and seating areas, making it a pleasant spot for relaxation and picnicking.

Where to Eat:

  • South Fin Grill: This beachfront restaurant offers a fine dining experience with a focus on seafood. The outdoor seating provides excellent views of the beach and the bridge.
  • Boardwalk Grille: Located directly on the boardwalk, this casual spot serves burgers, sandwiches, and seafood, perfect for a quick and tasty meal.

Getting There: Take the Staten Island Ferry from Manhattan to St. George Terminal, then transfer to the S51 bus to South Beach.

Whether you are a local looking for a weekend escape or a tourist seeking a unique NYC experience, the city’s beaches offer a refreshing retreat. From the bustling energy of Coney Island to the tranquil shores of Staten Island, there is a beach for every taste and preference. Plan your visit and enjoy the diverse and vibrant beach culture that New York City has to offer.


Featured image credit: DepositPhotos.com

Jonas Bronck is the pseudonym under which we publish and manage the content and operations of The Bronx Daily.™ | Bronx.com - the largest daily news publication in the borough of "the" Bronx with over 1.5 million annual readers. Publishing under the alias Jonas Bronck is our humble way of paying tribute to the person, whose name lives on in the name of our beloved borough.