Look, we love Rockaway and Coney Island (and not just for the tacos and hot dogs)...but so does everybody else. When you’re looking for a seaside escape where you’ll have room to spread out and not bump into anyone you know (because no one wants to see their upstairs neighbors or their ex on their day off), these lovely beaches near NYC are the answer. Check out our roundup of the best sandy shores within two hours of the city.

Editor’s note: Please follow all social distancing and local guidelines at the beach, and remember to confirm that the beaches are open for the season before visiting.

RELATED: 12 Lesser-Known (but Totally Charming) Upstate New York Towns You Need to Visit

tod s point beach ct
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1. 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.

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sandy hook beach nj
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2. Sandy Hook, New Jersey (30 MINUTES FROM NYC BY FERRY OR 1 HOUR, 30 MINUTES BY CAR)

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 (available between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day) and boasts such a serene atmosphere that you’ll wonder how you can still see the city in the distance.

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robert moses state park lighthouse
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3. 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.

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long branch nj beach and boardwalk

4. Long Branch, New Jersey (1 hour from NYC by car or ferry, 2 hours by NJ Transit)

Had to cancel that Caribbean resort trip last year due to COVID-19? 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 Wave Resort.)

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asbury park nj beach convention hall
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5. 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 in non-COVID times, a serious live-music scene. Oh, and a happy hour for dogs—this place is basically heaven.

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kings park bluff sunken meadow state park ny

6. 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.

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long beach NY

7. 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.)

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Gunnison Beach near NYC

8. Gunnison Beach, NJ (30 MINUTES FROM NYC BY FERRY OR 1 HOUR, 30 MINUTES BY CAR)

New Jersey’s only clothing-optional beach, this two-mile stretch of white sand offers expansive views of the city and the opportunity to shed your inhibitions. Located on the east shore of Sandy Hook, the vibe here is relaxed-but-fun and the beach is also accessible by ferry ride from Manhattan between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day or you can drive and pay the $15 parking fee.

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best beach near nyc fort tilden beach
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9. Fort Tilden Beach (45 minutes from NYC by car or 1 hour, 30 minutes by public transportation)

Shh...don’t tell anyone about this pristine three-mile stretch of white sand and grassy dunes that’s likely to be crowd-free even on the hottest day of the year. While you can get close via the subway and then a bus or in a car, you’ll need to walk or bike at least half a mile in order to get to the actual beach (hence the relative peace and quiet). Just keep in mind that there are no lifeguards on Fort Tilden beach (and swimming is technically prohibited).

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calf pasture beach ct
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10. 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 rentals, 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.

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RELATED: The Most Charming Small Towns in Connecticut

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