Bronzed bodies sprawled on blankets and shaggy-haired surfers catching a wave aren’t images that automatically pop in your head when you think about New York City. But yes, people, we do have real, honest-to-God mounds of sand and surf right here in the five boroughs. We’re not trying to pretend that we’re in the same league as Malibu or Maui, but New Yorkers have a handful of beaches that do the trick when a summer break is needed and you don’t want to make that trek all the way out to Long Island.
Coney Island is home to the Cyclone roller coaster, the Coney Island Circus Sideshow, the New York Aquarium and, most of all, those infamous Nathan’s hotdogs. Surf Avenue is the site of the original Nathan’s stand, which opened almost a hundred years ago.
Right next door to Coney Island is Brighton Beach, known as “Little Odessa” for its Eastern European shops and restaurants. Head a few blocks away from the boardwalk to Brighton Beach Avenue, where you can pick up a picnic of pirozhki (fried-yeast dough pies with cabbage or meat) or khachapuri (Georgian cheese pastries), or minced-meat kebabs and fish cakes at Gastronom Arkadia.
Manhattan Beach is a family-friendly beach a short walk from Coney Island. Smaller and calmer than Coney Island, the sand is surrounded by playgrounds, baseball fields and volleyball, tennis, basketball and handball courts.
Head out to Rockaway Beach in Queens. Aside from local heroes The Ramones, Rockaway is known primarily for two things. One is that it’s the city’s only legal surfing beach. The second? Tacos! The lines at Rockaway Taco put those at Shake Shack to shame, but the fish tacos are well worth the long wait.
Sing it, boys: