18 Best Beaches Near New York City for Family Fun

Kimberly Miles Avatar

Ocean Grove, one of the best beaches in NYC
Photo credit: Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association

Home to some of the best beaches in the U.S., New York City is a wonderful place to spend a day or weekend splashing around with the family. From soft white sands and priceless oceanfront views to lively entertainment and celebrity sightings, here’s where you can find 18 of the best beaches near NYC.

There’s lots of fun to be had when traveling in or through the Big Apple with the family. New York City is home to some of the coolest skyscrapers, lively family entertainment, and also home to my eight year old son’s personal favorite: delicious New York style pizza!

But what many don’t know is that New York City is also home to some of the best beaches in the nation. So if you’re looking for something to do in NYC with the kids that includes sun and sand, you’ll want to add one (or more) of these 18 incredible beaches to your list:

Coney Island Beach

People on the boardwalk near the Ferris wheel in Coney Island, one of the best beaches in NYC
Photo credit: Marina K. Villatora

With three miles of sandy beaches, a boardwalk and amusement parks, Coney Island Beach and Boardwalk is an excellent year-round place to visit with the family.

Just 30 minutes from NYC, Coney Island is a great getaway whether you’re looking to relax and catch some sun, or get active and have some fun. In addition to fun in the sun and sand, Coney Island has plenty of activities to enjoy with the family. There’s beach volleyball, basketball courts, handball courts, playgrounds and fairground rides. There are also lifeguards on duty during the summer season.

In the off-season, Coney Island is an excellent place to spend the day with the family and take a stroll down the historic Riegelmann Boardwalk. Luna Park is a popular amusement park with roller coasters, go-karts, an arcade and other fun entertainment for the entire family. There’s also the New York Aquarium, Abe Stark Ice Skating Rink and Mets baseball stadium to keep busy. And don’t forget to check out the historic 262-foot-high Parachute Jump, an iconic landmark in the area.

Coney Island is also home to the original Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog stand, so if you’re hungry, don’t pass up a visit to this beloved treasure!

Long Beach

Families on the wide sand beaches in Long Beach, one of the best NYC beaches
Photo credit: City of Long Beach

Long Beach is a 50-minute train ride away from Manhattan on the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR). Located on Long Island, its sandy beaches and iconic boardwalk make it a wonderful place to spend a beach day while in NYC.

Long Island’s soft white sands make an ideal place for sunbathing and sinking your toes in the sand, or splashing around in the waves. If you don’t want to drag your own chairs or umbrellas, you can rent your own from one of the beach vendors. It’s also a great place to pick up a game of beach volleyball, or even learn how to surf.

When you work up an appetite, head to “The Shoregasboard”, where you’ll have your choice of food trucks serving up dishes such as pizza, tacos, burgers and lobster rolls. There’s something there for everyone, including kids with a picky appetite like my son. You’ll also find several delicious eateries along the 2.2 mile Long Beach boardwalk, which is a great place to take a family stroll or bike ride.

During the summers, a paid day pass is required to access the beach. However, residents receive a small discount on the pass.

Rockaway Beach

Families and lifeguard in front of waves at one of the top NYC beaches
Photo credit: NYCGovParks.org

If you want a beach less crowded than the popular Coney Island, Rockaway Beach needs to be on your list. The largest urban beach in the country, Rockaway Beach is popular among surfers, swimmers and families looking to do a little of both. And, surprisingly, you’ll find some pretty good restaurants here too.

With six miles of shoreline, the waves at Rockaway Beach are a little rough. In fact, it is the only shoreline within city limits appropriate for surfing. For those looking to learn how to surf, there are a couple of surf schools nearby.

For the kids and adults like my son and I who aren’t so much into surfing, there are plenty of other outdoor activities and concessions to enjoy. The kids will keep busy for hours at one of the eight playgrounds. There’s also fishing, beach volleyball, basketball and a boardwalk that houses the area’s most popular taco food stand. There are also other delicious concession stands that sell hot dogs, burgers, lobster rolls and arepas.

SheBuysTravel Tip: One of our favorite things to do when taking a beach vacation is to hire a photographer for family photos. This is a special gift and souvenir that we cherish. We use Flytographer to book a local photographer located in the area that we’re traveling to. Use this link and you will get $25 off your photo session.

Orchard Beach, Pelham Bay Park

Two lifeguard stands and parents and children playing in water at Orchard Beach, one of the best NYC beaches
Photo credit: NYCGovParks.org

Formerly known as “The Riviera of New York City,” Orchard Beach is the only public beach in the Bronx. With a 13 section, 1.1-mile beach that sits on the Long Island Sound and a priceless view of City Island, it has certainly earned its place as one of the best beaches near NYC.

In addition to the breathtaking Orchard Beach shoreline, the Pelham Bay Park side has a hexagonal-block promenade, a pavilion, two golf courses, two playgrounds, two picnic areas and miles of hiking trails. There are also 26 courts for basketball, volleyball and handball.

Changing areas and showers available to clean up after a day playing and splashing around. The Orchard Beach Bathhouse, built during the great depression, is a designated historic landmark. When you get hungry, there are snack bars and food carts available.

Brighton Beach

Sunset at Brighton Beach, one of the best NYC beaches
Photo credit: NYC The Official Guide

Located in Brooklyn, Brighton Beach is also known as “Little Odessa” due to its Russian and Eastern European community and influences. Its beach and boardwalk are much more laid back than Coney Island, and you’re bound to find more local New Yorkers than tourists hanging out here.

Brighton Beach is also a great getaway if you’re looking for a relaxing beach day of swimming and people-watching. The boardwalk is a nice place to take a stroll and indulge in traditional ethnic Russian and European restaurants and food markets.

Jones Beach State Park

Jones Beach State Park, one of the best beaches in NYC
Photo credit: New York State Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation

Located on Long Island, Jones Beach State Park is one of the best beaches near NYC for children and adults who love to swim and sunbathe. There’s so much to do at this park for all ages, it’ll be impossible for anyone to get bored!

With 6.5 miles of white sand beach on the Atlantic Ocean, this beach is great for surf bathing and stillwater bathing. In addition to its beautiful beach, Jones Beach State Park offers a wonderful environment for surf fishing. There are also two swimming pools.

But water activities aren’t the only thing to enjoy at Jones Beach Park. There’s also a splash pad and two-mile boardwalk to take a stroll or bike ride. There’s also the WildPlay Adventure Park where you can play outdoor sports such as mini-golf, shuffleboard, basketball, corn hole, paddle tennis, table tennis and pickleball. I know my son would be absolutely fascinated with the Jones Beach Energy and Nature Center where he can learn about the area’s marine environment.

At the end of the day when the family has worked up an appetite, there are many concession stands and restaurants to choose from.

Manhattan Beach Park

Manhattan Beach Park, one of the best beaches in NYC
Photo credit: NYC the Official Guide

A great alternative to Coney Island, Manhattan Beach Park is a lively vacation and weekend getaway destination that was once reserved for just the wealthy. Now, it is a welcoming beach park with plenty to do and keep busy for all ages.

Located on the most southern tip of Brooklyn, Manhattan Beach Park is a popular summer vacation destination for families in New York City. On any given day, you’ll see families enjoying the sun, sand and water while having a picnic or BBQ. With two playgrounds, two large baseball diamonds and courts for tennis, basketball, volleyball and handball, there is no shortage of outdoor activities to keep entertained.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach

Franklin Roosevelt South Beach, one of the best beaches in NYC
Photo credit: NYCGovParks.org

Located on the Atlantic Ocean, this 2.5-mile Staten Island boardwalk and beach is one of NYC’s four most spacious beachfront areas. It has two main beaches: South Beach and Midland Beach. Both are among the best beaches near NYC.

The boardwalk itself features concession stands, restaurants, restrooms and showers to make your beach day a comfortable one. It is also adjacent to baseball fields, fountains, a fishing pier, roller hockey rink as well as shuffleboard and handball courts.

On South Beach you’ll have the Verazzano Bridge as your backdrop while you sunbathe and sink your toes in the sand. You can rent a bike and take a ride through a scenic biking trail, or take a stroll along the boardwalk where you’ll find the popular Fountain of Dolphins. There’s also activities such as tennis, kayaking or fishing off of the Ocean Breeze fishing pier. For the seniors in the family, there’s a park made just for them with chess tables, benches and bocce courts.

Midland Beach is connected via the boardwalk and is the least crowded of the two beaches and excellent for younger children. There you’ll find a sea turtle fountain as well as a playground. There are also tennis and shuffle ball courts.

Robert Moses State Park

Robert Moses State Park, one of the best beaches in NYC
Photo credit: New York State Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation

With five miles of white, sandy shoreline, Robert Moses State Park is an oceanfront beach facility that packs plenty for families to do during a New York City getaway. This park is located at the most western point of Fire Island and is also conveniently located at the south end of the Robert Moses Causeway. Because of its location, it is the only part of the island accessible by car or bus.

Robert Moses State Park packs enough to keep the entire family busy during a day trip to the beach. With four lifeguard-staffed fields, water activities such as swimming, boogie boarding, surfing and surf-fishing are welcomed and popular among beach-goers. Anglers in the family will love the long piers for fishing or crabbing. Those with personal water vehicles will appreciate the day-use boat basin with a pump-out station.

In addition to the fun you can have splashing around on the beach, there are a number of dry activities including an 18-hole pitch & putt golf course, volleyball courts, a large playground and a scenic nature boardwalk. The boardwalk on the east side of the park connects to the Fire Island National Seashore and Fire Island Lighthouse. Nearby are the towns of Kismet and Saltaire that can be reached by foot.

If you don’t want to spend money eating out, you can bring along your own food and have a scenic picnic or BBQ using one of the park grills, tables and gazebo. You’ll also find concessions, shops, rest stations and four bathhouses with private outdoor showers.

Barrett Beach Park

Barrett Beach Park, one of the best beaches near NYC
Photo credit: National Park Service

Also located on Fire Island is Barrett Beach Park, once considered the “jewel” of Long Island. After 40 years of being run down and destroyed from tourism, it was completely restored by the National Seashore in 2003. It is now once again one of the best beaches in NYC, especially for boaters and families looking for a secluded piece of paradise.

Barrett Beach Park is centrally located on the island and is only accessible by foot, private boat or via a charter ferry service from Patchogue or Sayville. In addition to its beautiful waterfront views, families who visit the park can enjoy a boardwalk trail, picnic and playground area. There are also restrooms available for visitor use on the beach.

There are also family programs led by park rangers that cover topics such as shelling, nature walks and safe boating.

Asbury Park

Asbury Park, one of the best beaches in NYC
Photo credit: Visit New Jersey

A short 90-minute road trip from NYC, Asbury Park is a popular beach near NYC for swimmers, surfers, sunbathers and fishers. Since it is served by both public and private transportation, it is extremely accessible for visitors from both NYC and Philadelphia.

This beautiful mile-long beach has a boardwalk that is also home to mini-golf, playgrounds, live music, theaters, art galleries and water parks. When you’re ready to grab a bite or do some shopping, there are a variety of different restaurants and retail shops to choose from. If your child is as into arcades as my son, they will absolutely love the Silver Ball Museum Arcade. There you can find all the classic games such as pinball and Skee-Ball, as well as newer games.

During the summer, your family can sit back and enjoy fireworks on the beach while sticking your toes in the sand. Asbury park is also home to many events throughout the year, including the annual Oyster Festival!

Jacob Riis Park Beach, Far Rockaway

Jacob Riis Park Beach, one of the best beaches in NYC
Photo credit: NYC the Official Guide

Located on the southwestern Rockaway Peninsula in Queens, this beach is nicknamed “The People’s Beach.” It received its nickname due to its easy access to public transportation– it can be reached by train, bus or ferry.

Three miles from Rockaway Beach, Jacob Riis Park Beach is one of the most popular NYC beaches. In addition to its mile-long stretch of swimmable beach, there’s also a golf course, ball courts, concession stands and a restored art deco bathhouse. One of the top beach attractions is The Bazaar, where you can find live music and events, games and some of the best food in NYC!

Fort Tilden Beach

Fort Tilden, one of the best beaches near NYC
Photo credit: National Park Service

For families looking to get away from the crowds at Jacobs Riis Park Beach, Fort Tilden is right up your alley. Although it’s a little tougher to access due to the permits required to park, active families who don’t mind the half-mile walk or bike ride from Jacob Riis Park Beach will find it well worth the tranquility.

A former military site, Fort Tilden Beach has an observatory deck on a historic battery with incredible views of the New York Harbor, Jamaica Bay and the Manhattan skyline. In addition to its coastal defense resources such as Battery Harris and the Nike Missile Launch Site, there are several other ways to pass the day including hiking trails, athletic fields, an arts center and theater. There is also a maritime forest, freshwater ponds.

The only downside is that there are no amenities or lifeguards at Fort Tilden Beach. In fact, swimming is prohibited.

Ocean Grove Beach

Ocean Grove NJ little library shaped like a boat
Forgot your beach book? You’ll find Ocean Grove’s little library on the beach. Photo credit: Cathy Bennett Kopf

Located at the center of the Jersey Shore, Ocean Grove Beach is just an hour’s drive from Manhattan and Philadelphia. It isn’t just one of the best beaches near NYC, but is also a popular year-round beach destination for families on the east coast as well as international travelers.

With a mile of pristine beaches, tree-lined streets, parks and a busy boardwalk, Ocean Grove Beach gives family members of all ages something to look forward to. During the summer, there are a number of fun activities that take place on the beach including family movie nights, sandcastle contests and a biathlon. Anglers in the family can spend part of the day fishing if they choose. And if your family includes a furry friend, you can bring them during the off-season for a walk or jog along the beach.

When you want to take a break from the water, take a stroll through the downtown area. The downtown has a number of restaurants, gift shops and ice cream parlors to cool off after a hot day. Summers are packed with activities and events such as flea markets, walking tours, performances and arts and crafts shows. There are also tennis and shuffleboard courts.

Sandy Hook Beach, Gateway National Recreation Area

Sandy Hook Beach, one of the best beaches near NYC
Photo credit: National Park Service

Located on a thin seven-mile peninsula in Monmouth County, New Jersey, Sandy Hook Beach is just a 30-minute ferry ride from Manhattan. With miles of sandy shoreline and a variety of activities for all ages, It is one of the best beaches near NYC for a family day trip to the beach.

Its expansive ocean is great for swimming, surfing, scuba diving, fishing and windsurfing. Lifeguards are available from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Families can also pass the day biking, hiking, or jogging along the 5-mile long, 12-foot-wide multi-use pathway. Nature lovers can pass the time bird watching or exploring the salt marshes.

If you’re hungry, you won’t even have to leave the beach. There are many mobile food vendors serving up a variety of food. Or, bring your own food for a beach picnic. When the adults are ready for some time out on their own, there is plenty of nightlife and restaurants to explore.

Sandy Hook Beach is also known for its historic landmarks, such as the Sandy Hook Lighthouse. The lighthouse is the oldest operating lighthouse in America and is designated a National Historic Landmark.

Coopers Beach, Southampton

Coopers Beach, one of the best beaches near NYC
Photo credit: Discover Long Island

Frequently ranked as one of the top ten beaches in the U.S., this white sandy beach located in the Hamptons offers 500-feet of sparkling shoreline with an incredible backdrop of historic mansions and sand dunes.

There is a hefty $50 per day parking fee, but on the beach you’ll have access to full facilities including concessions, bathhouses with freshwater showers, and chair and umbrella rentals. If you have younger children, you’ll love the soft sand for sandcastles and gentle waves for swimming. There are lifeguards on duty during the summer for added comfort and security.

When you want a taste of the glitz and glamour, head to the South Fork area to shop (or window shop) at luxurious boutiques and eat at high-end restaurants. You may even run into a celebrity!

Main Beach, East Hampton

Main Beach, one of the best beaches in NYC
Photo credit: Village of East Hampton

Also frequently ranked as one of the top ten beaches in the US along with Coopers Beach, Main Beach on the east side of the Hamptons is conveniently located. As one of the best beaches in NYC, it has all you need to have a relaxing and fun beach day with the family.

On Main Beach, you can find a pavilion, storage lockers, shops, restaurants, snack bars and refreshments. There are also bathrooms and lifeguards. If water sports are your thing, you can rent kayaks, surfboards and paddleboards. There are also lessons available for those who want to learn. On Main Street, you can find local attractions such as museums and an old-fashioned windmill.

If driving, there is a parking fee of $25. However, if you’re staying in the area and want to avoid the hefty parking fee, you can simply bike with the family to the beach.

Ditch Plains Beach

Ditch Plains Beach, one of the best beaches near NYC
Photo credit: Anuja De Silva

Located in Montauk, Ditch Plains Beach is a large beach most popular for surfing and swimming. Because it’s one of the best beaches near NYC it can get crowded quickly. However, if you visit in the off season, you’ll have the same beauty and more space.

Ditch Plains Beach is at the far eastern tip of Long Island and takes about 3.5 hours to arrive from NYC. Therefore, it may be better for an overnight trip versus a day trip. While it is one of the most popular destinations on the east coast for surfers, it is also great for sunbathers.

In addition to the incredible views of the cliffs from the shoreline, this beach offers seasonal lifeguards and concessions. Because of its long break, it’s an ideal beach for both newbie surfers and veterans.

Since it’s a part of the East Hampton town beaches, you’ll need a parking sticker if you plan to drive, but there is no cost if you arrive by bike or by foot.

Have you been to any of these incredible beaches near NYC? If so, which one is your favorite? Share in the comments!