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Summer Weekend Beach Guide from NYC (with public transit)

Memorial Day is typically the kick-off weekend to New Yorkers fleeing the city in droves and heading off to nearby beaches to enjoy some fresh air and summer vibes. The summer months in the city are definitely quieter for locals as at least half your friend group will be absent on any given weekend. If you’re looking to be one of those New Yorkers who spend their weekends outside the city, don’t worry because we’ve got more beach options than there are summer weekends. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite towns from NY to NJ to CT. The best part? You can reach all these beachy destinations with public transit from the city. Leave the stress of planning behind as we unveil the best beach towns, complete with hotel recommendations and mouthwatering restaurant options.

1. Rockaway Beach

photo: wikipedia

Just a subway ride away from the heart of NYC, Rockaway Beach is a popular hotspot for locals and visitors alike. This sandy beach stretches for miles, offering plenty of space to relax and catch some rays. Don’t miss a visit to the lively boardwalk, lined with food vendors serving up delicious seafood and refreshing beverages.

How to Get There: Subway (1 hour from Midtown)
Where to Stay: Rockaway Beach Hotel
Where to Eat: Bungalow Bar

2. Coney Island

photo: nycgovparks

An iconic beach destination in Brooklyn, Coney Island offers a nostalgic and vibrant atmosphere. Take the subway to Coney Island and enjoy its iconic boardwalk, thrilling amusement park rides at Luna Park, and the famous Nathan’s Famous hot dogs. Soak up the sun on the sandy beach or take a refreshing dip in the ocean.

How to Get There: Subway (1 hour from Midtown)
Where to Eat: Salt & Sizzle

3. Long Beach

photo: nytimes

Located on Long Island, Long Beach is a vibrant beach town known for its beautiful sandy beach and lively atmosphere. Accessible by LIRR, Long Beach offers a range of activities such as surfing, beach volleyball, and bike rentals. Stroll along the bustling boardwalk, lined with shops, restaurants, and entertainment.

How to Get There: LIRR from Penn Station (1 hour)
Where to Stay: Allegria Hotel
Where to Eat: Minnesota’s

4. Jones Beach

photo: iloveny

Just a short trip from NYC via LIRR, Jones Beach is a beloved beach destination known for its pristine sandy shores and picturesque scenery. With its vast oceanfront park, Jones Beach offers ample space for sunbathing, picnicking, and swimming while away from the bustle of a city. Explore the iconic Jones Beach Boardwalk and visit the Jones Beach Theater for live concerts during the summer season.

How to Get There: LIRR from Penn Station to Freeport station, then transfer to n88 bus for a quick ride to the Beach State Park.

5. Fire Island

photo: Sylvanna Rega/ Shutterstock

Feel like you’re on an island vacation hundreds of miles away from NYC when you head to Fire Island. This tranquil escape is a car-free barrier island that boasts serene sandy beaches, dunes, and breathtaking sunsets. Ocean Beach is arguable the most popular town with a lively downtown and more than a dozen restaurants (in addition to pristine beaches). Cherry Grove and the Pines are popular LGBTQ+ beach towns, known for their nightlife and welcoming atmosphere.

How to Get There: Take the LIRR to Bay Shore. From there, you can catch a quick taxi to the ferry terminal. The ferry to the island is approximately 30 minutes.
Where to Stay: The Palms Hotel
Where to Eat: Maguire’s Bayfront Restaurant

6. Southampton

photo: vrbo

Escape to the upscale beach town of Southampton on the eastern end of Long Island. Accessible by LIRR, Southampton boasts beautiful sandy beaches, historic landmarks, and a charming village center. Spend your days relaxing on the beaches, exploring the boutiques and art galleries, or visiting the Southampton Historical Museum.

How to Get There: LIRR from Penn Station (approximately 2.5 hours)
Where to Stay: The 1708 House
Where to Eat: T Bar

7. Montauk

photo: shutterstock

For a truly picturesque beach getaway, head to Montauk, the last town at the tip of Long Island. Reachable by LIRR, Montauk offers breathtaking coastal landscapes, stunning beaches, and a laid-back atmosphere. Enjoy outdoor activities like surfing, fishing, and hiking in Montauk Point State Park. Don’t miss the chance to visit the iconic Montauk Lighthouse, a must-see landmark.

How to Get There: LIRR from Penn Station (approximately 3.5 hours)
Where to Stay: Gurney’s Montauk Resort
Where to Eat: The Crow’s Nest

8. Shelter Island

photo: Justin Crowder / EyeEm / Getty Images

Leave the city life behind for a getaway to the tranquil oasis of Shelter Island. This secluded island is accessible by LIRR followed by a ferry, and offers a peaceful retreat with beautiful sandy beaches, nature trails, and a laid-back atmosphere. Spend your days lounging on Crescent Beach, known for its calm waters and breathtaking views. Explore the island’s natural beauty by hiking through Mashomack Preserve or kayaking along its picturesque coastline.

How to Get There: LIRR from Penn Station (approximately 3 hours), train drops you off walking distance to the 10-minute ferry ride.
Where to Stay: The Chequit
Where to Eat: The Flying Goat

9. Long Branch, NJ

photo: pier-village

Long Branch is the first shore town on the NJ Transit coastal line. The beach offers a beautiful stretch of sandy shores with a good amount of restaurants nearby. The popular area is called Pier Village where you’ll be able to find restaurants, hotels, and entertainment.

How to Get There: NJ Transit from Penn Station (approximately 1.5 hours)
Where to Stay: Wave Hotel
Where to Eat: Sirena Ristorante

10. Asbury Park, NJ

photo: tripadvisor

Take a NJ Transit train ride to Asbury Park, a lively and vibrant beach town on the Jersey Shore. Along with its beautiful beach, Asbury Park is renowned for its artistic and musical heritage. Explore the Asbury Park Boardwalk, which features unique shops, fantastic restaurants, and live music venues.

How to Get There: NJ Transit from Penn Station (approximately 1 hour, 45 minutes)
Where to Stay: Asbury Hotel
Where to Eat: Stella Marina Restaurant & Bar


11. Ocean Grove, NJ

photo: James J. Connolly

Nestled on the Jersey Shore, Ocean Grove is a charming and tranquil town renowned for its well-preserved Victorian homes. This hidden gem offers a peaceful retreat with its serene beach and unique architecture. Take a stroll along the quaint Main Avenue to admire the stunning homes, plus there’s a semi-permanent tent city, filled with dozens of charming tent cottages which are rented out each summer season.

How to Get There: NJ Transit from Penn Station (approximately 1 hour, 45 minutes)
Where to Stay: The Inn at Ocean Grove
Where to Eat: Days Ice Cream

12. Belmar, NJ

photo: vacationinbelmar

A vibrant and bustling beach town, Belmar is a favorite destination for families looking to relax, or those looking for nightlife. Take a NJ Transit train to Belmar and enjoy its wide sandy beaches, perfect for swimming and sunbathing. The town has a popular boardwalk where you can find some snack stands and restrooms.

How to Get There: NJ Transit from Penn Station (approximately 1 hour, 45 minutes)
Where to Stay: Tandem Bike Inn
Where to Eat: Marina Grille

13. Point Pleasant, NJ

photo: unitednorthjersey

A family-friendly beach town on the Jersey Shore, Point Pleasant offers a delightful mix of beachside fun and attractions. Hop on a NJ Transit train and you can enjoy sandy shores, a bustling boardwalk, and thrilling rides at Jenkinson’s Boardwalk. Don’t miss the chance to stroll the beach and visit nearby Jenkinson’s Aquarium.

How to Get There: NJ Transit from Penn Station (approximately 2 hours)
Where to Stay: The Tower Cottage
Where to Eat: Frankie’s Bar & Grill

14. Sandy Hook, NJ

photo: theopensuitcase

If you’re seeking a more secluded beach getaway away from any busy downtown, board a Seastreak ferry to Sandy Hook, a stunning barrier island in New Jersey. With its pristine shoreline and serene atmosphere, Sandy Hook is perfect for nature lovers and those looking to unwind. Enjoy biking or hiking through the picturesque Gateway National Recreation Area, which encompasses Sandy Hook. Plus still get a great view of lower Mahattan while sunbathing.

How to Get There: Seastreak ferry from E35th St or Wall Street (approximately 1 hour)

15. Atlantic City, NJ

photo: visittheusa

Possibly the most well known Jersey Shore town, Atlantic City is notorious for their casinos, entertainment options, iconic boardwalk, and lively nightlife. Take a NJ Transit bus to this bustling seaside city and enjoy the wide sandy beaches along the Atlantic Ocean. Test your luck at one of the famous casinos, catch a live show, or indulge in delicious dining options.

How to Get There: NJTransit from Penn Station (approximately 2 hours, 45 minutes)
Where to Stay: Hard Rock Hotel
Where to Eat: Amada

16. Orchard Beach

photo: mta

Located in the Bronx, Orchard Beach is a popular city beach getaway accessible via public transit. Take the subway and bus to reach this family-friendly destination with a crescent-shaped sandy beach. Enjoy picnicking, barbecuing, and swimming in the calm waters of the Long Island Sound. The beach is walking distance to City Island so you should absolutely combine these into a 2-for-1 trip.

How to Get There: Subway to Pelham Bay Park and take a bus, or take bus direct to City Island or Orchard Beach (approximately 1 hour, 15 minutes)
Where to Eat: Tony’s Pier

17. Greenwich, CT

photo: scenesfromthetrail

Travel to Greenwich, Connecticut, via Metro-North train and discover the hidden gem of Greenwich Point Park. This secluded coastal park offers a peaceful sandy beach, nature trails, and picturesque views of the Long Island Sound. Explore the park’s diverse ecosystems, go for a swim, or simply relax by the water. The beach is accessible by walking or a short taxi from the train station.

How to Get There: Metro-North from Grand Central (approximately 45 minutes)
Where to Stay: Delmar Greenwich Village
Where to Eat: Mexicue

18. Westport, CT

photo: discoverwestport

Escape the city and venture to Westport, Connecticut, accessible by Metro-North train. The nearest beach is Sherwood Island State Park which is about 2 miles from downtown Westport. Explore the park’s sandy beaches, nature trails, and diverse wildlife. Enjoy a leisurely picnic or take part in activities such as fishing and birdwatching.

How to Get There: Metro-North from Grand Central (approximately 1 hour, 15 minutes)
Where to Eat: bartaco

19. Fairfield, CT

photo: experiencefairfield

Accessible via Metro-North train, Fairfield is a vibrant coastal town with a beautiful sandy beach. Enjoy the sun and surf at Jennings Beach, which features a long shoreline, picnic areas, and a playground. Take a stroll through the charming downtown area, filled with boutique shops and delicious eateries.

How to Get There: Metro-North from Grand Central (approximately 1 hour, 15 minutes)
Where to Stay: Delmar Southport
Where to Eat: Old Post Tavern

20. Old Saybrook, CT

photo: oldsaybrook

Travel to Old Saybrook, Connecticut, via Metro-North train and enjoy a tranquil beach getaway. Saybrook Point Park and its adjacent beaches offer a serene setting, perfect for beachcombing, sunbathing, and birdwatching. Explore the quaint downtown area with its historic buildings and delightful shops.

How to Get There: Metro-North from Grand Central (approximately 2 hour, 30 minutes)
Where to Stay: Saybrook Point Resort
Where to Eat: Otter Cove

21. Gitano Island

photo: gitanoisland

Gitano Island is a beach club just a couple minutes ferry ride over from lower Manhattan. Experience a tropical escape so close to home, right on Governor’s Island. Lounge here for the day while sipping cocktails and enjoying the scenery.

How to Get There: Take the ferry from 10 South St

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