Even if you haven't splurged for a summer share this year, you can still get a nice dose of of sun and surf. These seven beaches are relatively easily accessible via public transportation for a day trip out of this concrete jungle.
Sandy Hook, New Jersey
You can access this seven-mile stretch of Jersey Shore beach (complete with dunes!) pretty easily from the city. Just take a Seastreak ferry from East 35th Street or Wall Street ($45 roundtrip). There's daily service — two trips during the week and three every day of the weekend. It's a 30-45 minute ferry ride (longer from 35th Street), but you'll feel a million miles away once you arrive. There's also a complimentary beach shuttle bus service that takes you between beaches.
If you're looking for a beach with a hipster vibe — and a place to surf — this is probably your best option among the five borough beaches. There's also lots of great food on and off the boardwalk (tacos, anyone?). (For lots more, check out our post "How to vacation in the Rockaways like a pro.") Take the A train for about an hour to an hour and a half and you're there in your tiny piece of paradise in Queens.
The Bronx's only public beach is just over a mile long, has a promenade, a central pavilion, snack bars, food and souvenir carts (though you may want to pack a picnic if you want more than the usual snack bar fare). It's also got two playgrounds, two picnic areas and courts for basketball, volleyball and handball, plus changing areas and showers, too. To get there, take the 6 to Pelham Bay (the last stop), and hop on the Bx12 bus. Expect it to take about an hour and a half.
If you're into Russian food and Russian culture, we highly suggest you check out this Brooklyn beach. The boardwalk has a kitschy Little Odessa feel, thanks to its eateries serving borscht, vodka and other specialties. Note: It's a significant walk from the boardwalk to the water, but at least you'll walk off those pierogis while you do it. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour from Manhattan, and you can reach it via the B and Q to Brighton Beach.
A neighbor to Brighton Beach, Coney Island is one of NYC's must-visit iconic spots. Aside from the beach, its also home to an amusement park (and its famous Cyclone rollercoaster), the New York Aquarium, a circus sideshow and Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs, as well as lots of other food stalls on its boardwalk. It'll take about an hour from Manhattan on the D, Q, N or F trains to Coney Island Terminal-Stillwall Ave.
This beach on the south shore of Long Island has a four-mile stretch of sand with a two-mile boardwalk. Post-Sandy, the boardwalk has been rebuilt and is now home to lots of food trucks; Shoregasboard is a seven-day-a-week mobile food market with eight food trucks open for lunch and dinner. And if you're looking for waves, the ocean beaches have plenty. Allot about 50 minutes for the commute from Penn Station (on the Long Island Rail Road). One-day train and beach admission passes are $22 from Manhattan and Brooklyn.
You can gawk at the surrounding mansions while you head out to this quarter-mile strip of sand and water. It's actually in Brooklyn, not Manhattan, as the name might suggest, and though it's not as happening — or amenity-filled — as Coney Island or Brighton Beach, a concrete promenade allows for some meandering, plus there are volleyball, tennis and handball courts, and a couple of baseball diamonds. Hop on the B or Q trains to Brighton Beach and then the B1 for a five-minute ride to the beach—an hour journey from Manhattan.