Where Do New Yorkers Go to the Beach? As an iconic coastal city, New York has no shortage of beaches for residents to enjoy during the summer. However, with no beaches actually in New York City itself, most New Yorkers seeking surf and sand travel to nearby beach destinations in Long Island, New Jersey, Connecticut, and beyond.
Top Nearby Beach Destinations for New Yorkers
Long Island Long Island, New York offers some of the most popular and acclaimed beaches for New York City residents. Easily accessible by car or Long Island Railroad from the city, favorite beach towns include:
The Hamptons: This group of tony villages on the South Fork of Long Island offers white sand beaches like Cooper’s Beach, Main Beach, Atlantic Beach, Gibson Beach and more against a backdrop of sprawling multimillion dollar mansions. Two to three hours drive from NYC.
Fire Island: Located off the southern coast of Long Island, Fire Island is only accessible by ferry but offers over 17 miles of protected beaches and sand dunes. Top Fire Island beaches include Sunken Forest, Kismet Beach and the island’s iconic gay mecca at Cherry Grove. One hour drive plus 20 minute ferry from NYC.
Jones Beach State Park: One of the most popular beaches in the country, Jones Beach offers 6.5 miles of sandy Atlantic coastline along Zach’s Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. 1.5 hours drive from NYC.
Robert Moses State Park: Featuring wide sandy beaches with areas of surf as well tidal pools and nature trails, Robert Moses is another of Long Island’s treasured beach parks. 1.5 hours drive from NYC.
Long Beach: Extending over 6 miles off the south shore of Long Island, Long Beach mixes small town vibes with beaches, a lively boardwalk and waterfront resorts. One hour drive or LIRR train from NYC.
New Jersey The Jersey Shore has been a beloved beach destination for New Yorkers for generations. Offering sandy Atlantic beaches with beach towns to suit every taste, top spots include:
Asbury Park: Just over an hour from NYC, Asbury Park captures classic Jersey Shore charm along with saltwater taffy shops and vibrant bar and music scene centered around the iconic Stone Pony music venue.
Ocean Grove/Bradley Beach: These neighboring beach towns boast old-fashioned Victorians, beachfront motels and B&Bs and more relaxed beaches compared to other heavily developed parts of the Jersey Shore. 1.5 hours from NYC.
Spring Lake: For over a century, Spring Lake has charmed beachgoers with its stately Victorian homes, 2-mile sandy beach with sparkling Atlantic waves, and lively downtown. 1.5 hours from NYC.
Point Pleasant Beach: Popular for its boardwalk, amusement park rides,aquarium and lively nightlife in addition to its long stretch of sandy beach. About 1.5 hours from NYC.
Atlantic City: Best known as America’s first and longest running casino gambling mecca, Atlantic City also boasts iconic boardwalk and wide beaches with rolling waves. 2.5 hours from NYC by car or train.
Connecticut’s Long Island Sound beaches offer calm waters, scenic shoreline views and charming New England beach town communities. Top spots for New Yorkers include:
Westport: Quaint and picturesque Westport mixes white sand beaches with high-end boutique shopping, galleries and restaurants from celebrity chefs. About 1.5 hours drive from NYC.
Greenwich: As one of Connecticut’s most affluent communities, Greenwich mixes top-tier private schools and multimillion dollar estates with public beaches along the rocky and forested coastline. Under one hour from NYC.
Darien: Darien’s Weed Beach and Pear Tree Point Beach offer small town family vibes along the rocky “Connecticut Riviera.” One hour drive from NYC.
Mystic: This historic seaside village may be best known for Mystic Seaport living history museum, but also offers a popular classic wooden carousel, aquarium and calm beaches along the Mystic River. Around 2.5 hour drive from NYC.
Other Notable Beach Destinations for New Yorkers Cape Cod, Massachusetts: Featuring iconic lighthouses, cranberry bogs, charming villages and over 600 miles of looping seashore along the Atlantic, Cape Cod has attracted visitors from across New England for generations. Top beach towns like Wellfleet, Dennis, Provincetown and Hyannis are 2.5 to 4 hours drive from NYC.
Block Island, Rhode Island: Accessible by ferry from Long Island or mainland Rhode Island, little-developed Block Island transports visitors back in time with 17 miles of protected beaches, dramatic 300 foot sea cliffs, 365 freshwater ponds and winding country bicycle trails connecting everything. 5 hours drive plus ferry from NYC.
Wildwoods, New Jersey: Wildwood, North Wildwood and Wildwood Crest offer retro 1950s motels, amusement park piers and nightlife and wide sandy beaches with beach concerts and events all summer long. 2.5 hours drive from NYC.
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware: Billed as “the Nation’s Summer Capital,” Rehoboth mixes lively boardwalks, eclectic shopping, dining and bars with red sand beaches fronting the Atlantic and coastal Lake Gerar. 3 hours drive from NYC.
Poconos, Pennsylvania: Best known as a popular lakes region vacation spot, the Pocono Mountains also feature attractions like water parks, ski resorts, state parks with waterfalls and a handful of beaches open to visitors at its lakes. 1.5 to 2 hours drive from NYC.
Rockaway Beach, Queens: At just 45 minutes to an hour NYC subway ride from Manhattan, Rockaway Beach is the closest option for New Yorkers without leaving city limits. With a recently remodeled beachside boardwalk post-Hurricane Sandy, it offers urban beach and surfing vibe.
Most Popular Beach Activities for New Yorkers
Beyond simply relaxation, sunbathing and swimming, New Yorkers also flock to area beaches to enjoy popular activities like:
- Surfing – Top spots near NYC include Rockaway Beach, Long Beach and assorted Jersey Shore beach breaks.
- Fishing – Beaches like Jones Beach, Sandy Hook and Long Beach allow beach fishing with permit.
- Beach volleyball – From Brooklyn’s Coney Island to Long Beach and Jersey Shore, nets appear each summer.
- Beach yoga – Free/drop-in classes are offered on beaches from Long Beach to Rockaway.
- Beach concerts/movies – Free summer concert series and movie screenings happen along Rockaway Beach, Jones Beach, Central Park and parks in Hudson River towns.
- Beach bars/nightlife – Coastal towns like Asbury Park, Atlantic City, Montauk, Cape Cod and more allow visitors to dance the night away.
- Beach shopping – From Montauk’s boutiques to Cape May’s Victorian gingerbread houses, beach towns allow shopping away from the big city.
- Beachside stays – New Yorkers often choose charming beachside inns, B&Bs or resorts when traveling out of the city.
- Beach boardwalks – Whether taking in shoreside attractions or simply going for long oceanside strolls, boardwalks are icons of nearly any beach trip.
No matter what experience New Yorkers are seeking, countless beach destinations from right in the city limits to a quick road trip or weekend away offer the chance to dip your toes in the sand and soak up the summer sun.
Which is the Best Beach in New York?
Based on reviews, amenities, accessibility and overall appeal, some of the best beaches near New York City include:
Ocean City, New Jersey
- 8-mile long sandy beach along the Atlantic Ocean
- Family-friendly with fun boardwalk, beach concerts & activities
- Clean beaches & bathhouses
- About 2 hours drive from NYC
The Hamptons Beaches (Southampton, East Hampton), Long Island
- Wide, white sand beaches with calm surf
- Beautiful scenery with multimillion dollar mansions
- High-end amenities like cabana & chair rentals
- 2-3 hour drive from New York City
Jones Beach State Park, Long Island
- 6 miles of golden sand and surf along the Atlantic
- Extensive amenities like bathhouses, concessions, trails
- Field concerts & events held in summer
- About 1.5 hour drive from NYC
Rockaway Beach, Queens
- Closest beach to NYC at just over an hour subway ride
- Surfing hot spot with long wave breaks
- Urban oceanfront scene with eclectic food concessions
Frequently Asked Questions About New York Beaches
Where is the closest beach to New York City?
The closest beach to New York City is Rockaway Beach in Queens. At under an hour subway ride away, it offers swimming and surfing along the urban oceanfront.
What is the easiest beach to get to from NYC without a car?
Aside from Rockaway Beach via subway and bus, NYC residents can also conveniently access Long Beach via Long Island Railroad, or travel to Jersey Shore beaches by NJ Transit from Manhattan. Select ferries also provide some access to Fire Island and other spots.
Which New York beaches allow swimming?
Most larger public beaches like Jones Beach, Rockaway Beach, Long Beach and beaches along the Jersey Shore, Cape Cod and elsewhere allow swimming when lifeguards are on duty during the summer season. Always check with local municipalities on current water conditions.
What beach is the nicest to visit near New York City?
Some of the highest acclaimed beaches within range of NYC include the beaches of the Hamptons on Eastern Long Island, including Cooper’s Beach, Main Beach and Atlantic Beach against a backdrop of sprawling mansions. However, many alternative beach towns offer their own unique charms and attractions.
Do people surf at New York beaches?
Yes, popular beaches for surfing near New York City include Rockaway Beach, Long Beach and certain Jersey Shore spots like Manasquan Inlet when the waves are breaking right. Beginner surf lessons are also readily available.
What months are the beaches open near New York?
Most beaches within driving distance of New York are open daily with lifeguard supervision from Memorial Day weekend in late May through Labor Day weekend in early September. Some town beaches are open on weekends in late spring and early fall. In winter, beaches may be open but closed to swimming.