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Memorial Day in May – the first and official day that all New York beaches open to the public. Mainly, this day is for remembering our people who served for our country. While we do remember them and dedicate this day to them, celebrating is a big part of it.
I’ve lived in NY my entire life and while you don’t see me normally write about it, I do have tips on visiting beaches within the New York area for you! I love the beaches although they are not my favorite. The water is not clear and snorkeling is not possible, but New York is my home and my feet take me to the beach there as often as the weather permits!
For Memorial Day weekend, and any day afterwards, here are my top NY beaches to visit:
Located in Nassau County, Long Island, this is my favorite beach in NY. You can take the LIRR there from 34th Street Penn Station or other stops within the island. I love it because it is very clean, the waves somehow are always perfect, and there is a huge strip of bars and restaurants to enjoy. I’ve had friends live in Long Beach, which makes it even better if you have an apartment to stay at! The fee is $12 per person beginning Memorial Day, but you can buy a season pass for under $100 per person.
Park for free on the street! Alcohol permitted in coasters or plastic cups.
Located in Queens, not far from JFK Airport are the Rockaways. Take the A train or take a nice drive down Crossbay Blvd. through Broad Channel. The Rockaways are easy to get to and have become the new “hip” spot for Brooklyn-ers, Manhattanites, and Queens folks. There are many Irish bars and beach stands. Head to 86th Street Bar and Grill on the beach. They have $3 Narrangassetts and if you’re lucky, free music! I enjoy playing cards on the picnic tables there. Surfing is possible at this beach. Walk a few blocks north and you can explore the marina side of the island.
Free admission year-round; No smoking on beach; Free parking on street; Alcohol in permitted areas only.
At the eastern end of Long Island lies Montauk – another of my favorite beach destinations within NY. My only two complaints are the drive – it’s about 3 hours from NYC without traffic and finding a hotel room. Many hotels book up by Christmas the year before so you have to jump on it quick.
Other than those two small but possible to get past complaints, Montauk is beautiful! There are about 5 or so beaches around the shores and the waves run wild. Sand dunes populate everywhere and you can have bonfires on the beach. It feels as if you’re not in NY anymore. Surfing, biking, jogging, running, and fishing are popular all around the area. Many of the hotels are on the beach or right outside the dune areas.
Parking for Free at Hotels; Paid Parking in Public Lots; Alcohol Permitted; Smoking Permitted; Bonfires Permitted.
Fire Island is located about 30 minutes away from Long Island by ferry. It’s quite the trip out there but so worth it! Fire Island is like nature island mixed with deer, no cars, Rocket Fuels (a crazy good drink), seafood, bars and house parties.
Head straight to Ocean Beach for partying although checking out the smaller towns on the island is just as fun. There is only one main hotel as most houses are vacation rentals that go by the week. Plan to get there early and spend the entire day so you can ferry back if you don’t have a place rented. Many are friendly enough to invite you inside if they’re hosting a huge kegger or get-together. Get some lobster and walk around!
Alcohol Permitted; Smoking Permitted; No Cars!
These are my top 4 recommendations if you’re looking to be social, engage in activities, find good food nearby, and have a blast. For more seclusion, await on a post for me on beaches that may better suit that type of atmosphere!