You and the kids may be dyed-in-the-wool urbanites—but come summer, that doesn’t mean that you don’t crave cooling ocean breezes and sand between your toes, yearn for the chance to break out binoculars (you just have to find them first) and gaze up at the stars, and desperately want to set up a tent somewhere other than your coop’s living room. Here’s how you can get out of your walk-up and into the NYC “wilderness” as soon as the weather warms.
BEACH MOST LIKELY TO INSPIRE A RAMONES SONG
Rockaway Beach | Queens
“It’s not hard, not too far to reach” crooned the Ramones in their 1977 song about this urban coastline which stretches for miles along the Rockaway Peninsula. Near 103rd Street, there is a wider swath of beach for the taking and past 73rd Street, the packed sand gives way to a quieter, dune-studded conservation area (with seven playgrounds and the city’s only surfing zone sprinkled in-between). Don’t miss July’s 17th Annual Sandcastle Contest for creative kid-builders. nycgovparks.org
BEACH BOARDWALK WITH A RETRO FEEL
Point Pleasant Beach | New Jersey
On this slice of the Jersey shore, you’ll find a mile-long boardwalk (dubbed Jenkinson’s) with an old-timey, but not-too-cheesy, vibe. Buff lifeguards cruise the beach on those groovy dune buggies, candy apples practically sell themselves and mini golfers roam free. jenkinsons.com
KITSCHIEST BEACH & BOARDWALK
Coney Island | Brooklyn
Embrace this end-of-the-line (subway, that is) beauty in all of its in-your-face glory. Ride the historic, wooden Cyclone coaster or catch a Brooklyn Cyclones baseball game at MCU Park. Or start off summer with a splash by donning appropriate Ariel attire and marching in the Annual Mermaid Parade on Saturday, June 23 at 2pm. You could also just people watch while enjoying a hot dog and crinkle-cut fries at the original Surf Avenue location of Nathan’s Famous. coneyislandfunguide.com
IF KITSCHY IS NOT YOUR THING
Manhattan Beach Park | Brooklyn
Originally built as an exclusive resort for wealthy bathers, Manhattan Beach features barbecuing areas, basketball, handball, volleyball and tennis courts, baseball diamonds and playgrounds. It also proves to be a calmer and quieter alternative to its Coney Island neighbor. In June, kids will delight in watching all of the horseshoe crabs emerge from the Atlantic Ocean as they lay their eggs on the beach. nycgovparks.org
Sandy Hook | New Jersey
A mere 40-minute ride from NYC on the SeaStreak Ferry, this 1,665-acre barrier peninsula offers views of the Manhattan skyline, free tours of its lighthouse—the oldest operating one in the country—and miles of sandy shores perfect for beachcombing. sandy-hook.com
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