You name an ecosystem and NYC has is: forests, marshlands, and of course, beaches! In NYC, there are at least 14 miles of public beaches spread across the five boroughs. Today, let’s pit them against each other and find out which NYC beach is best for you.
Coney Island Beach
What You’ll Like: Between being steps away from amusement parks, sports courts, the New York Aquarium, a baseball stadium, dozens of concession stands, oh, and a beach, there’s no way you’ll run out of entertainment.
What You Won’t Like: This is everyone’s go-to NYC beach, from locals to tourists. Expect it to be crowded and don’t expect to find parking.
What You’ll Like: Brighton Beach is just up the boardwalk from Coney Island Beach, but the vibe is totally different. Brush up on your Russian because you’ve now entered “Little Odessa,” home to one of NYC’s Russian/Eastern European enclaves. Not only will you hear Russian being spoken by several of your fellow beachgoers, your options for concessions will be from places with names like ‘Moscow Cafe’ and ‘Tatiana Restaurant.’
What You Won’t Like: Brighton Beach isn’t as thrilling as Coney Island. But that could be a positive if you’re looking for slightly smaller crowds. Parking sucks regardless.
What You’ll Like: This NYC beach is called the “Riviera of New York” for a reason. This mile-long beach is packed with playgrounds, sports courts, food and souvenir shops, and even a bandshell that serves as the venue for free performances.
What You Won’t Like: This is the Bronx’s only beach, so expect it to be crowded. Also, parking is not free.
What You’ll Like: As far as I know, this is the only NYC beach with its own song, so you’ll have that bragging right if you decide to visit. But you might have a hard time deciding which part of this 5.5-mile long beach to visit. If you want to surf, you can do that legally from 67-69 Street and 87-92 Street. Looking for an environment more friendly to nudists (although it isn’t legal!)? Jacob Riis Park, aka the People’s Beach, is the area for you. If you’re the adventurous type, head further east to Fort Tilden. There are no lifeguards, so swim at your own risk. Plus there is a former fort there ripe for exploration.
What You Won’t Like: Rockaway Beach has resurfaced on everyone’s radar as of late, so don’t be surprised to find crowds.
South Beach/Midland Beach
What You’ll Like: If you’re looking for something more eye-catching than miles and miles of water, South Beach’s view of the Verrazzano Bridge might pique your interest. These Staten Island beaches also have amenities specifically suited for children and the elderly. For kids, there’s the sea turtle fountain at Midland Beach, and older adults can use the beaches’ chess tables and bocce ball courts.
What You Won’t Like: As with every other beach in NYC, you’re more than likely going to face crowds. Welcome to New York, where you can be lonely, but never alone.
When deciding which NYC beach to visit, it mainly boils down to how far you want to travel, how much crowding you’re willing to tolerate, and how much culinary variety you want available to you. If you’re still having a tough time deciding between beaches, take this fun quiz by the NYC Parks Department called “What Beach Are You?”
Want more tips on being a better informed NYC explorer? Then sign up for my email list, so you’ll be notified every time I release a new article about NYC! And if you really can’t get enough of the city, follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, where I post new NYC tips almost daily. Thanks for reading!