Enduring the winter in New York City can be tough, but it’s usually the thought of summer that gets disgruntled city dwellers through the dark, cold nights. Even so, a place so densely populated can seem stifling in more ways than one when the temperature rises. Thankfully, surf, sun, and sand are only a short journey away. Below are just a handful of some of the best beaches to spend a day off away from the concrete jungle.

Jacob Riis Park Beach, Queens, NY

Jacob Riis Park, Rockaway, Queens, NYC, USA: boardwalk and old bathouse

Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the Rockaways, and even now the beachside community is still in the process of rebuilding. Luckily Jacob Riis beach offers plenty of incentive to visit and help business get back on their feet. The Riis Park Beach Bazaar, located inside the National Park, offers everything from beach chairs to umbrellas, from food stands to live music. It will even begin hosting weekend bonfires on the beach this summer, making it the perfect place to spend all day and all night by the ocean.

Sandy Hook Beach, Sandy Hook, NJ

Sandy Hook New Jersey view with New York in background

While it might sound like something out of a superhero movie, the Seastreak is actually a ferry that can take you from Manhattan to Sandy Hook in only 35 minutes. From the ferry dock, you can choose your own adventure by picking a shuttle to one of the four beaches: North Beach (home to the tour-able Sandy Hook Lighthouse), Gunnison Beach, or beach areas D and E. You can also explore Horseshoe Cove or charter a boat for fishing (or partying), rent bicycles, and enjoy the myriad bars and restaurants.

Cherry Grove, New York


I can hear the ocean’s roar ?☀️

A photo posted by Gilberto Alvarado (@taikogil) on

Cherry Grove is one of the two LBGQT-friendly communities (the other being the Pines) located on the easily accessible Fire Island. You can get there by taking the LIRR to Sayville before continuing onto the Sayville Ferry, or take the Fire Island water taxi. And while the plethora of cottage-style housing is the stuff Norman Rockwell’s dreams were made of, residents are big fans of artistic expression, which can be seen through the murals, paintings, and landscaping of the town. There are also plenty of lively clubs, bars, and restaurants to explore. It’s also home to the historically landmarked Cherry Grove Community House and Theater, designated as such for the “the enormous role it played in shaping what gradually evolved into America’s First Gay and Lesbian Town.”

Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY

Coney Island Beach And Pier

A world of wonder (and the Wonder Wheel) are only a subway ride away from New York City. Home to multiple amusement parks, the world-famous Cyclone ‘coaster, countless bars and restaurants, and the New York Aquarium, Coney Island has a little bit of something for everyone. During the summer months, the beach also invites bands to play, shows family-friendly movies for free, and sets off a fireworks display–meaning you can make an entire day of your journey (just make sure you leave room for a Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog).