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A Guide to New York City's Public Beaches

By Nicholas Rizzi | July 16, 2012 7:07am
Beach-goers at Coney Island Beach on June 21, 2012.
Beach-goers at Coney Island Beach on June 21, 2012.
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DNAinfo/Tuan Nguyen

NEW YORK CITY — As New York simmers in yet another heat wave,  there are few better ways to cool off than by hitting a beach.

So far this year, the city beaches have all been found clean and ready for summer fun, though it's always advisable to check — particularly if you're headed to the coast after a heavy storm.

"Water quality is generally pretty good when it's not raining," said Larry Levine, a spokesman for the National Resource Defense Council.

"After heavy rainfall, it's not a bad idea to hold off on a beach visit, or at least going in the water, for at least 24 hours."

Levine said to check the Health Department's website for closures and health warnings to make sure everything's safe before heading out to the beach.

And New York City's beaches have plenty to offer during the summer. From surfing to roller coasters, or just relaxing on the sand. Here's a list of the city's beaches and the activities nearby.


Orchard Beach: Hop on the Bx12, Bx29, Bx5, Bx52, to the Bronx's Orchard Beach.

Part of the massive Pelham Bay Park, which is three times the size of Central Park, Orchard Beach has plenty of sand and water with beautiful views of City Island.

The beach also has nearby barbecue grills and, if you want to work off your picnic lunch, it has several basketball courts near the entrance, as well as kayaking and canoeing.

While there, visit the park's running tracks, hiking trails, horseback riding trails, playgrounds, handball courts, football fields, tennis courts, golf courses and historical houses.

If traveling by car, parking costs $6 per day on Monday through Friday, $8 on weekends.


Coney Island and Brighton Beach: If you're in the mood for something smaller than Pelham Bay Park, but with a lot to do, take a trip down to Coney Island and Brighton Beach.

Several subways and buses will take you to the nearly three mile beach and boardwalk packed with stores, eateries and attractions.

Stop at Nathan's Famous' original location at 1310 Surf Ave. to chow down on some hot dogs.

After that, catch the Coney Island Circus Sideshow on 1208 Surf Ave., or channel your inner performer and take a class at the Sideshow School where you'll be able to learn such skills as fire eating and breathing, snake charming and many other feats.

If chowing down on fire isn't your idea of fun, take a ride on The Cyclone roller coaster, currently celebrating it's 85th birthday, or visit the Luna Park amusement park on 1000 Surf Ave.

You can also catch a Brooklyn Cyclones game at nearby MCU Park, 1904 Surf Ave., or hang out with the sea otters and penguins at the New York Aquarium on Surf Avenue and West 8th Street.

Manhattan Beach: If you don't want to leave Brooklyn, but want to avoid the crowds in Coney Island, head to Manhattan Beach.

Hop on the B1, B49 or Q train, and make sure you check out the huge mansions in the neighborhood on the way to the beach.

Smaller than Coney Island, Manhattan Beach offers a less crowded and low-key way to spend a summer afternoon.

Work on a tan or play tennis, handball, volleyball, basketball and baseball at the nearby courts.

When you're done, grab some grub at the nearby concession stand before the trip home.


Rockaway Beach: Channel your inner Ramone and hitch a ride on the Q22 or — if the bus ride's too slow — the A train to Rockaway Beach, which inspired the band's famous punk song of the same name.

The beach and boardwalk stretches from Beach 9th Street to Beach 149th street and has plenty to do.

For starters, grab a wetsuit and head to the beach between 67 to 69th streets and 87 to 92nd streets to ride some waves at the only city beach that allows surfing. Rent a surfboard and grab lessons at Boarders Surf Shop, 192 Beach 92nd St., or spend a Saturday on a weekend retreat with the New York Surf School's Yoga and Surfing Program, where you'll learn how to surf while searching for enlightenment.

If surfing's not your sport, drop the wetsuit and grab your skateboard and enjoy the two public skate parks near the beach — the Rockaway Skate Park at 91st Street or the Far Rockaway Skate Park on Beach 11th Street off Seagirt Boulevard.

The beach also features plenty of handball courts — though some are under reconstruction — volleyball and basketball courts, baseball fields and barbecue areas.

Or you can just sit back and watch some Rockaway Rockies league roller hockey at the rink at Beach 108th Street on the weekends.

Aside from sports, the boardwalk also has several eateries and plenty of sand and water to enjoy.


Midland Beach and South Beach: Enjoy the forgotten borough's largest beach at Midland and South Beach, with entrances to both throughout Father Capodanno Boulevard.

Hop on the S51, S52 or pull into one of the free parking lots to get to the beach.

Connected by the 2.5 mile Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk, there are plenty of unique activities to enjoy.

Grab your remote-control car and race along the oval car track near the Midland Avenue entrance in Midland Beach, practice your tricks at the Ben Soto public Skate park, play some soccer on the synthetic turf field or enjoy some fishing at Midland Beach's fishing pier.

Near South Beach, relax with a game of bocce ball at the courts, or kayak and canoe at the take-off point near the Sand Lane entrance.

Cedar Grove Beach: Similar to Manhattan Beach, Staten Island's newest beach offers a more relaxing experience.

The Cedar Grove Beach, near Cedar Grove Avenue and Ebbitts Street, was a private beach until the city closed up the rental community that used it and opened the beach to the public last year.

Relax and possibly catch the filming of "Boardwalk Empire" at the nearby vacant bungalows, before the city demolishes them.

Wolfes Pond Beach: All the way on the South Shore of Staten Island, Wolfes Pond Beach in Prince's Bay offers plenty to do for visitors and locals alike.

Aside from the beach, fish at the pier on Cornelia Avenue and Hylan Boulevard, or enjoy Wolfes Pond Park.

The park has nearby food trucks, playgrounds, spray showers, dog runs, a trail for hiking, mountain bike trails, a roller hockey rink and tennis courts.