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Easy to Reach New York City Beaches

Beaches Reached by Train

Updated: September 7, 2023

This post is about several free beaches in NYC and its surrounding areas that you can visit easily.

We provide how to get to them, what you can expect, where to eat, and where to get beach essentials like food, towels, sunscreen, and more.


NYC BEACHES OVERVIEW

These are what we think are the best beaches in the five boroughs of New York City and beyond in Long Island and New Jersey. All are free except Long Beach on Long Island.

All of these beaches are no more than 90 minutes maximum from Manhattan (except for Long Island and New Jersey beaches).

All are easily reached by one or more of these modes of public transportation: subway, bus, train, ferry, (and car if you have one).

Below we provide information about these beaches, how to get there, what amenities are available, and where you can buy beach essentials like food, towels, sunscreen, and more.

We also include information on other activities to enjoy at these beaches.

TIP: If you are new to the NYC subway, then you may find the following guides helpful.

Be sure to take a look at our New York City Summer Guide for things to do in addition to going to the beach!


Coney Island Beach and Other Brooklyn Beaches

Coney Island is very easy to reach by subway and is free to visit. From Midtown Manhattan it takes less than an hour to get there.

In addition to the beach, there are a lot of things to do there, making a trip to Coney Island a great way to pass an afternoon.

Our post on things to do at Coney Island has more detail on the things to see and do in addition to the beach as well as a guide to where to eat.

One thing to do is stroll the famed boardwalk - the longest and widest in the world!

You can also visit the New York Aquarium which is just next to Coney Island.

Another excellent attraction at Coney Island is Luna Park, an amusement park with several thrilling rides, including the historic Cyclone rollercoaster.

TIP: Admission to Luna Park is included in many of the discount tourist passes available. These passes, while not cheap, can ultimately save you a lot of money if you plan to see many of NYC's top attractions.

Read our post comparing discount tourist passes you can buy for your trip to New York City.

Beaches near Coney Island:

Two beaches you can reach by subway or by walking along the boardwalk from Coney Island are Brighton Beach, which is part of a large neighborhood with a sizeable Russian population and is nicknamed "Little Odessa".

Beyond Brighton Beach is Manhattan Beach, a smaller beach but less busy than Coney Island and Brighton Beach.


How to Get to Coney Island: 

Take the subway via D, F, N, or Q trains to "Coney Island/ Stillwell Avenue" station, which is just two blocks away from the beach.  

At some point in 2023, the NYC Ferry service will have a route between Coney Island and Pier 11 at Wall Street. Follow our post on Coney Island for the latest news on the ferry service.

Use this Google Map link to get exact directions from your point of departure.

Amenities:

  • Bathrooms along the boardwalk.
  • During beach season, lifeguards are on duty daily, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Wi-Fi hotspots and mobile charging stations.
  • Check the official City website for other information.

Food:

There are plenty of concession stands along the Boardwalk. Standouts are Nathan’s Famous at 1205 Boardwalk and Totonno’s Pizza at 1524 Neptune Avenue between West 15th and West 16th Street.

Where to buy beach essentials: 

These shops are within walking distance of the subway and the beach.

  • Brooklyn Beach Shop at 1223 Riegelmann Boardwalk (map)
  • Coney Island Beach Shop at 3018 Stillwell Ave. (map)

Rockaway Beach and other Queens Beaches

Southeast of the Brooklyn beaches is the Rockaway Peninsula, a narrow and long piece of land that is part of the borough of Queens. There are three public beaches on the peninsula.

Rockaway Beach

This is one of the most popular beaches in NYC. It's free to visit and easily reached via the subway or the East River Ferry about 90 minutes from Lower Manhattan.

In addition to the sea and sand, you can also enjoy a long boardwalk with food vendors and multiple playgrounds.

There are also a baseball field, basketball, volleyball, and handball courts, and a skate park.

There are also many events including free Yoga on the Beach, festivals throughout the summer including family-friendly events. See their official website for information

There is also a designated stretch of beach for surfers since the waves are often good for surfing.


How to get here: 

Via subway, take the A train to "Broad Channel" and transfer there to the S train to "Rockaway Park-Beach 116th Street" station.

You can also take the NYC Ferry, which is the same price as a subway ride and a lot prettier!

Use this Google Maps link to get directions from your point of departure.

Amenities: 

  • Bathrooms and spray showers.
  • Lifeguards are on duty between 10 am-6 pm.
  • Check the official City website for other information

Food: Ripper’s for burgers, Connolly’s for summer drinks like Pina Coladas and, the taco truck called Tacoway Beach. See many more options here.

Where to buy beach essentials:  These are all one block from the subway station.

  • CVS Drugstore at 88 07 Rockaway Beach Blvd (map)
  • Family Dollar Goods 86-01 Rockaway Beach Blvd (map)
  • Key Food Supermarket 87-15 Rockaway Beach Blvd (map)

Jacob Riis Beach

This small but very nice beach was opened in 1912 and is known as the “People’s Beach” because it was the first beach that was accessible to all New Yorkers by public transportation.

This is still the case! A subway and a bus will get you here for $2.90 in 90 minutes from Manhattan. You can drive, but the beach parking lot costs $20.

The sand is soft and clean, and the water is swimmable. It is generally quieter than Rockaway Beach, though not as big. (See the video at the top of this post).

Nearby is an Aviators Sports Golf Course. You can practice your short game at the Riis Park Par-3/Pitch and Putt golf course.


How to get here:

Take the 2 train (5 train during rush hour) to “Flatbush Avenue” and transfer for free to the Q35 bus.

Get off at the “Jacob Riis” bus stop just after you pass over the bridge. Between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day, both buses will stop inside Jacob Riis Park.

Use this Google Maps link to get directions by public transportation or car from your point of departure.

Amenities: 

  • Open daily from 6 am to 10 am
  • Lifeguards are on duty between 10 am-6 pm
  • Restrooms
  • Outdoor showers
  • Picnic area
  • Playgrounds
  • Ball courts
  • Check the official City website for other information.

Food: Concession stands are at Bay 9 and the Riis Beach Bathhouse.

Where to buy beach essentials: Bring them with you. This beach is not near any stores.


Fort Tilden Beach

West of Rockaway Beach and Jacob Riis Park is Fort Tilden Beach, which is a three-mile stretch of beautiful sand, grassy dunes, and trees. (See the video at the top of this post).

It’s part of Fort Tilden Gateway National Recreation Area, a former military site that now has athletic fields, hiking trails, a maritime forest, and, of course, the beach.

When it comes to beaches, Fort Tilden is the best-kept secret in NYC. That's mainly because it’s not easy to reach by either public transportation or car.

The closest one can get from public transportation is a 16-minute walk (¾ of a mile).

By car, it’s next to impossible to find parking as the lot requires a permit, and parking spots are a rare find. 

If you don't mind the walk or bike ride, you’ll love the space this beach affords you. Pack a lunch because there are no concessions. 

Fort Tilden isn't really an official beach so no lifeguards are there and swimming is prohibited. Do people swim regardless? Yes -- but we can't advocate that. 

Plus, no food stands and no bathrooms. But it's a beautiful beach with few people there.


How to get here:

Take the 2 train (5 during rush hour) to the “Flatbush/Nostrand Avenue” stop. Transfer (for free) to the Q35 bus. Get off at the first stop over the bridge, “Marine Pkwy Bridge/Rockaway Blvd”.

Use this Google Maps link to get exact directions from your point of departure.

Amenities: 

  • No bathrooms or showers. You can walk to the bathrooms at Jacob Riis Park.
  • Port-a-johns are usually available at the nearby sports fields at Fort Tilden.
  • No lifeguards. Swimming is prohibited. 

Note: No nearby food. No nearby stores, So bring a towel, pack a lunch and enjoy the solitude!


Orchard Beach in the Bronx

This free beach is located north of Manhattan in the Bronx. You can take a subway/bus combo to get here. From Midtown Manhattan it is just a 35-minute trip.

Once known as the "Riviera of New York City” Orchard Beach sits on Long Island Sound rather than the Atlantic Ocean.

It's the only public beach in the Bronx and stretches about one mile.

There is a promenade, two playgrounds, food stands and souvenir shops, and two picnic areas.

There are also courts for tennis, paddleball, volleyball, and basketball.


How to get here: 

Via subway, take the Subway 6 train to "Pelham Bay Park" station, and transfer to the Bx12 bus to Orchard Beach.

The bus transfer is free. Use this Google Map link to get exact directions from your point of departure.

Amenities:

  • Bathrooms.
  • Mobile Phone Charging Station.
  • During beach season, lifeguards are on duty daily, from 10 am to 6 pm.

Food:

Orchard Beach Snack Bar has hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, fried chicken, shish kabobs, fries, onion rings, nachos, wings, slushes, and soda.

Where to buy beach essentials:  

There are no shops on Orchard Beach, so best to make purchases before getting on the subway.


South Beach in Staten Island

Take the free Staten Island Ferry to get to this beach with stunning views of the Verrazano Bridge as well as activities other than sunbathing and swimming.

You can walk along the one-and-a-half-mile-long boardwalk -- it’s the fourth-longest boardwalk in the world! You can also play tennis or shuffleboard.

South Beach is connected by the boardwalk to Midland Beach which is especially family-friendly. It is typically less crowded and there are tennis courts and shuffleboard. 

You can also go fishing off the Ocean Breeze Fishing Pier, one of the largest fishing piers in NYC.


How to get here:

Take the free Staten Island Ferry from Lower Manhattan to Staten Island. (You can also take the NYC Ferry for $4 one-way). Depart the ferry at the St. George terminal. 

From there, walk 5 minutes to the S51 bus at Bay Stand Nick Laporte Place. Take the bus until the Father Capodanno Blvd/Sand Lane stop. Get off and walk 2 minutes to the beach.

Use this Google Maps link to get exact directions from your point of departure.


Amenities:

  • Bathrooms.
  • During beach season, lifeguards are on duty daily, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Mobile charging stations.
  • Free parking lot.
  • Check the official City website for other information.

Food:

  • Concession stands along the boardwalk.
  • Subway Sandwich, 329 Sand Lane (map)
  • Key Food Supermarket 300 Sand Lane (map)

Where to buy beach essentials:  Key Food Supermarket, though don't expect to buy beach towels here.


Long Island Beaches

Long Beach

Less than an hour from NYC, Long Beach is a fantastic escape.

With its 2.2-mile boardwalk, rebuilt after Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Lomg Beach feels like a seaside resort.

However, there is a price to enjoying this gem. Visitors aged 13 and older must buy a $15 ticket to enter the beach at designated beach entrances.

You can save on the cost of admission by purchasing an LIRR Beach Getaway Package.

  • The price is $26.75 and includes:
    • R/T Rail to and from Long Beach Station
    • Discounted admission to the beach
    • Participating vendors coupons for a round-trip ride on the Long Beach Bus (Weekends Only) and discounts at participating vendors throughout Long Beach.

How to get there: Purchase an LIRR Beach Getaway Package at Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan, and take the Long Island Railroad to the Long Beach Station. The beach is a short walk east, then south.

Amenities: Bathrooms. Showers. Lifeguards are on duty, weather permitting, from 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

Food: Many places along the boardwalk as well as mobile beach carts.


Where to buy beach essentials: 

Long Beach Surf Shop at 70 W Park Ave, just one block from the train station (map)

Since you are departing from Penn Station, you can purchase beach items before you board the train if you have the time.

There is a Duane Reade/Walgreens drugstore located in Penn Station across from the main LIRR Ticket Counter.


Jones Beach State Park

East of Long Beach, the Long Island beaches become wide and long. They feel more remote from an urban environment. 

This means though that they take a bit more effort to get to by public transportation. It is, however, worth it to see some of the nicest beaches on the East Coast.  

Jones Beach has over six and a half miles of beautiful shoreline with white sand and clean water.

You can swim in the ocean, sunbathe, and walk along the boardwalk. Swim in one of two pools.

Play miniature golf, shuffleboard, basketball, corn hole, paddle tennis, table tennis, and pickleball. 

During the summer, you can see fantastic bands perform at Jones Beach Theater (ticket required).


How to get here:

By public transportation from Penn Station, take the Long Island Railroad’s Babylon Branch Line to Freeport Station. 

Transfer there for the NICE's system N88 bus, which runs non-stop to the beach.

You can save money by buying a package ticket for $21.50 that includes round-trip train and bus fare from New York City. 

If you already have a LIRR ticket, the NICE bus fare is $2.90, payable with MetroCard.

By car, see this Google Maps link for directions.

Amenities:

  • Concession stands
  • Gift Shop 
  • Showers 
  • Visitor Center
  • Boardwalk Cafe
  • Gatsby on the Ocean Restaurant

Where to buy beach essentials: Gift Shop or bring your own.


Robert Moses State Park

Robert Moses State Park Beach is at the western end of Fire Island, a barrier island parallel to the mainland of Long Island.

It boasts five miles of gorgeous shoreline and loads of things to do. You can swim, surf, boogie-board, and fish.

From the eastern end of the beach, you can take a scenic walk to the 150-year-old Fire Island Lighthouse.

You can get food at concession stands or bring your own to enjoy using their park grills and picnic tables.


How to get here:

By public transportation from Penn Station, take the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) to Babylon Station. Then transfer to the S47 bus to Robert Moses State Park.

By car, use this Google Maps link for directions.

Amenities:

  • Restrooms
  • Private outdoor showers, 
  • Grills and picnic tables
  • Lifeguards on duty seasonally
  • Concession stands
  • Beach shops

Where to buy beach essentials: Shops at the beach. 


Main Beach in East Hampton

The Hamptons are well-known for their white sand beaches, clear blue waters and stunning houses that line the shore.

Fortunately, you do not have to live there to enjoy the beach. The best beach for a day trip is Main Beach in East Hampton, a nice small town to explore.

The beach is free but you do have to pay substantially more than other beaches in this list to get there.

If you have a car, driving to Main Beach from Manhattan will take approximately 3 hours each way. 

While you won't pay for transportation costs, you will have to pay for a parking permit for $50 per day.

You don't need a car to get there as you can take the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) from Penn Station ($45 round trip). There is a free shuttle service to and from the town to the beach. 

The train trip takes about 3 hours each way. It’s best to leave on the earliest train out and the latest train back so you have the most amount of time at the beach possible. 

On the weekends, the outbound train is usually just before 10 am and the last train back is generally at 8:00 pm (be sure to check the schedule). This gives you 7 ½ hours at the beach and some time in town, including time for a meal.

A third way to get to East Hampton is by taking one of the two shuttle services from various points in Manhattan to East Hampton. Both are approximately $40 each way when purchased online in advance.

How to get here:

By public transportation from Penn Station, take the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) Montauk Line to East Hampton. Take the free shuttle service to the beach. 

By car, use this Google Maps link for directions.

By shuttle check the Hampton Luxury Liner and the Hampton Jitney.

Amenities:

  • Restrooms and showers
  • Lifeguards on duty seasonally
  • Concession stands
  • Chair and umbrella rentals

Food: Either the concession stand, restaurants in town, or pick up food to go at the Citarella Gourmet Market or Stop and Shop one block from the train station.

Where to buy beach essentials: In town at the CVS.


New Jersey Beaches

Sandy Hook

This free beach has 7 miles of beautiful sand that you can get to in about 30 minutes on the Seastreak Ferry.

Though not cheap, you will feel miles away from the bustle of NYC, while having a great view of Manhattan in the distance.


How to get here: 

Take the Sandy Hook Ferry from Pier 11 or East 35th Street via the high-speed Seastreak ferry, which shuttles back and forth from Manhattan. 

It’s a $47 round-trip (less for children, see fares here).

A free bus shuttle brings you from the ferry to the nearest beach in less than 5 minutes.

Use this Google Map link to get exact directions from your point of departure.

Amenities: Bathrooms. Lifeguards are on duty from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.

Food: Various food stands.

Where to buy beach essentials:

This is a national park and therefore there is not a lot of shopping.

There are restrooms and some food vendors, but you would be safer bringing food and beach supplies with you

You can find more information on their official website.


Asbury Park Beach

This lively popular beach in the city of Asbury Park has a clean, white sand beach and water that’s perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and surfing. There are playgrounds and you can even play mini-golf!

The setting of the beach is incredible. It is situated along the historic boardwalk lined with restaurants, bars, snack kiosks and small shops. 

There are festivals, concerts, and free events like beach bonfires! Check the scehdule here.

There is a fee, however, given all the amenities it is worth it. Monday to Friday is $6 and Weekends and Holidays are $9.

The beach hours are Monday to Friday: 9 am to 5 pm, and Weekends and Holidays: 9 am to 6 pm.

Asbury Park is well-known for its vibrant music scene, which has produced many famous musicians and bands over the years, including Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi.

Amenities:

  • Restrooms, showers, water fountains
  • Lifeguards on duty seasonally
  • Beach shops
  • Restaurants, fast food, and bars
  • Beach umbrellas and chair rentals

Where to buy beach essentials: shops along the Boardwalk.


How to get here: 

By train:

From New York Penn Station, take a New Jersey Transit train to Long Branch. Get off at the Asbury Park station. The train ride is approximately 2 hours.

From the Asbury Park station, you can take a 25-minute taxi or Uber/Lyft ride to the beach.

Use this link to the  New Jersey Transit Trip Planner.

Be sure to buy your ticket for Asbury Park Station before you board the train.  

Fares: 

  • Adult, 11 and up One-Way $16.25
  • Child 5-11 Senior, Military/Disabled $7.35

There is a ticket counter, though the lines can be long. Save time by buying your ticket from the NJ Transit ticket machines.

By bus:

From Port Authority Bus Terminal, take New Jersey Transit Bus 139 toward Lakewood(via Freehold Center/Mall).

At Freehold Center, transfer to Bus 836 to Asbury Park Transport Station (via Neptune Wal-Mart).

The ride is about 2 hours and 20 minutes. Use this link to the New Jersey Transit Trip Planner.

Fares:

  • Adult, 11 and up One-Way $19.50
  • Child 5-11 Senior, Military/Disabled $8.50

By car

The ride is about one hour and 15 minutes. You will have to pay for parking, however. Here is a detailed list of parking options.

Use this Google Map to get directions from your point of departure. 


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About The Author

Stephen Pickhardt

Stephen is the CEO of Free Tours by Foot and has overseen the transformation of a local walking tour company into a global tour community and traveler’s advice platform. He has personally led thousands of group tours in the US and Europe, and is an expert in trip planning and sightseeing, with a focus on budget travelers. Stephen has been published and featured in dozens of publications including The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Yahoo, Washington.org, and more.
Updated: September 7th, 2023
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