New York City is acclaimed and appreciated for the countless cultural and social amenities engendered by its impressive urban environment, but occasionally you experience the need for a natural environment, open spaces and outdoor recreation. With summer well underway, the beach in particular often beckons those longing for a temporary escape.
Fortunately for residents and visitors alike, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation maintains 14 miles of beaches, with lifeguards on duty from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Surfing, sunbathing and walks in the sand are right around the corner at these five beaches, several of the best in NYC.
Everyone’s heard of Coney Island, a must-see-at-least-once destination in Brooklyn. If you’re looking for a quieter but just as favorable alternative, though, head to neighboring Brighton Beach for your summer getaway. The surrounding neighborhood, called “Little Odessa,” is affectionately known for its Eastern European restaurants and stores that specialize in sweet and savory pastries, vodka, jams, dumplings and other Russian and Ukrainian delicacies and goods. The city is working to rebuild an improved Coney Island Boardwalk at Brighton Beach.
Cedar Grove Beach
The city’s newest addition to its coastal inventory, Cedar Grove Beach is a popular oceanside destination for families and individuals located at Ebbitts Street and Cedar Grove Avenue in Great Kills Park. Developed from a converted oceanfront bungalow colony, the tranquil Cedar Grove Beach is now fully open to the public, with comfort stations, free parking lots and lifeguard services.
Manhattan Beach Park
Also located in Brooklyn, and situated east of Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach Park is a small family friendly summer hotspot that features basketball, tennis and handballs courts; a handful of baseball fields; and a path that permits bicycling and skating from 5 to 10 a.m. For refreshment, hit up a concession stand or nearby café, or take advantage of the barbecuing that’s allowed in certain areas at the park. If you drive your own vehicle, expect to pay for parking, located near Exit 8 off Belt Parkway.
Rockaway Beach and Boardwalk
Unlike other beaches in New York City, Rockaway Beach in Queens offers adventure-seekers the opportunity to catch a wave at the city’s only legal surfing beaches. Residents also flock to Rockaway Beach for alternative recreational activities, such as kayaking, paddleboarding, biking and skating. In addition, the park features a variety of playgrounds and concessions, as well as a boardwalk.
South and Midland Beaches
Located on lower New York Bay, Midland Beach and neighboring South Beach share the Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk. South Beach, with its exquisite view of the Verazzano Bridge, Fountain of Dolphins and Ocean Breeze Fishing Pier, is a popular summer getaway. The beach includes a park, designed for seniors, with bocce courts, chess tables and benches, as well as concession stands and free parking lots. Midland Beach tends to be the less crowded of the two, though it also contains appealing attractions such as tennis and shuffeball courts and a playground.
This summer, you don’t have to go far to find an oceanside oasis. New York City Beaches opened Memorial Day weekend, and this year, beach season has been extended. Except for Cedar Grove and Wolfe’s Pond beaches, which will close as usual on Labor Day, the city beaches will stay open through Sunday, Sept. 10.