Did someone say day trip? What about road trip or weekend getaway? Surrounded on several sides by water, New York has some amazing beaches of its own. But if you’re got a hankering to get outside of the city, we’ve scouted the best beaches in the Hamptons and elsewhere on Long Island, as well as in New Jersey. We’ll see you there! By Jessica Allen.
Southampton, about two hours from Manhattan, boasts 11 separate beaches stretched along seven miles of coastline. (And, yes, when people say they’re going to “the Hamptons,” Southampton is one of a few villages and hamlets they’re referring to.) Coopers Beach offers chair and umbrella rentals, clean bathrooms, and a concession stand, just in case you forget to pack enough chips and soda. Best of all, it has lovely white sand lapped by the icy blue Atlantic. To get to this beach, you can drive, Uber, or make like the ladies of Sex and the City and take the Jitney.
Montauk prides itself as being “much more casual and laid back than the Hamptons,” the cool cousin to the stodgier older sibling, if you will. Its beloved beach, Ditch Plains, boasts some fine, fine surfing (check Surfline before you go), but you can easily pass long hours just lounging about the low-frills beach, admiring the rugged, rocky landscape and lighthouse, which dates to the 1790s. You can get to Ditch Plains via the Long Island Railroad (about two-and-a-half hours from Penn Station).
Not to be confused with the California city of the same name, Long Island’s Long Beach is super-close (about an hour from Penn Station on the Long Island Railroad, which offers a special train-tix-and-beach-admission combo), making it among the most popular daytrip destinations on this list. In addition to sun and surf, this beach features an eminently strollable boardwalk, tons of volleyball nets, concession stands, flying trapeze, and five-odd miles of soft, soft sand. Check out the events calendar for summer highlights, including concerts and art shows.
No less an authority than the National Park Service calls Fire Island “a collage of coastal life and history [with] [r]hythmic waves, high dunes, ancient maritime forests, historic landmarks and glimpses of wildlife.” Sounds perfect, right? Right! You can get there by car, by bus, by taxi, or, our favorite route, by train + ferry. Once on Fire Island (a barrier island about 30 miles long and a quarter-mile wide), you’ll want to head to quiet, quaint Ocean Beach.
Sandy Hook Beach is just terrific: you can gaze at the horizon or admire the Manhattan skyline in the distance. You can wade into the water or walk down the shore. You can contemplate history, imagining what things were like when Henry Hudson sailed here in the early 1600s. You can fish and frolic, sunbathe and belly-surf, hike and bike, pitch a tent and search the skies for 300+ species of migratory birds. (Note: some activities require permits.) The seven-mile-long beach, part of the extensive Gateway National Recreation Area, is about 30 minutes by ferry from Pier 11—Wall Street.