8 Underrated Beaches Within 2 Hours of NYC
Look, we love Rockaway and Coney Island (and not just for the tacos and hot dogs). But sometimes we don’t feel like running into our upstairs neighbors, our ex and half the office on our day off. These lovely beaches are the answer.
Sandy Hook, New Jersey (30 minutes from NYC by ferry)
Why sit in traffic on the way to the beach when you could be relaxing with the wind in your hair on the deck of a boat? This popular (but still reasonably uncrowded) beach is just a quick ferry ride from Manhattan and boasts such a serene atmosphere that you’ll wonder how you can still see the city in the distance.
Long Beach, Long Island (1 hour from NYC by LIRR)
OK, this one’s not exactly unknown—it definitely gets busy on weekends—but if you feel like burning through a vacation day midweek, it’s one of the cleanest and all-around nicest beaches just outside the city, complete with sparkling white sand, food trucks and even a beach concert series. (Heads up, though: You’ll pay a $15 entrance fee per person.)
Robert Moses State Park, Fire Island (1 hour, 15 minutes from NYC by car or 1 hour, 30 minutes by LIRR and Suffolk County Bus)
Already know Long Beach and Jones Beach like the back of your hand? Head just a smidge farther to the western edge of Fire Island and you’ll find five miles of shoreline, picnic areas, private outdoor showers, a golf course and a scenic stroll that leads to the adorable Fire Island Lighthouse.
Long Branch, New Jersey (1 hour from NYC by car or ferry, 2 hours by NJ Transit)
Didn’t get around to booking that Caribbean resort trip? No problem: This serene stretch of the Jersey shore has pristine sand, umbrellas and lounge chairs to rent, tons of dining options and some gorgeous oceanfront condos to ogle. (If you want to quell your jealousy for a night, check into the stylish Bungalow Hotel.) We're not sure how there are palm trees here, but there they are.
Asbury Park, New Jersey (1 hour, 15 minutes from NYC by car or 2 hours by NJ Transit)
Just south of Long Branch is another gem, featuring a wide boardwalk that passes through the beautiful skeletons of two old Beaux-Arts buildings, hip boutiques and restaurants (that would impress even the most discerning Williamsburg resident) and a serious live-music scene. Oh, and a happy hour for dogs—this place is basically heaven.
Sunken Meadow State Park, Long Island (1 hour from NYC by car)
The North Shore of Long Island is dotted with “town” (read: expensive to get into) beaches, but there are a few spots that are more welcoming to those fleeing the city. This tranquil stretch features three miles of sand, a wide boardwalk and miles of hiking trails along the bluffs.
Tod’s Point (Greenwich Point Park), Connecticut (1 hour from NYC by car or 2 hours by Metro-North)
OK, we’ll get this out of the way: The price of admission is steep for non-residents ($7 for a beach pass and $35 to park). But if you’re feeling spendy—and hey, the money goes to maintaining the beauty—you’ll be rewarded with warm, shallow water, grilling stations, winding walking paths and NYC skyline views.
Calf Pasture Beach, Connecticut (1 hour, 30 minutes from NYC by car or 2 hours by Metro-North and Norwalk Transit)
The water at this Norwalk beach is so calm, it almost feels like a lake. There’s also kayak rental, beach-volleyball and bocce courts, a mini golf course, a pier and a beachfront café (lobster rolls, anyone?). You’ll also have a hefty parking fee here, but split between your squad it still makes for a reasonable day trip.