Category: Archive

Hit the Beach

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

While New York City is hardly renowned for its beaches, the area boasts an impressive amount of coastline, all perfect for a hot day. The city has spent millions to get its shores in picturesque condition and now is the prefect time to hit the beach.

R o c k a w a y:
W i t h i t s I r i s h r o o t s s t i l l v i s i b l e on the s u n – f a d e d boarding house s a n d the storefronts of local s t e p d a n c i n g s c h o o l s , this stretch of beach remains a popular destination for city beachgoers. R o c k a w a y is the U.S.’s longest municipal beach, with almost 10 miles of sand, much of it recently replaced for the influx of summer visitors.
Where to eat: One of Rockaway’s best-kept secrets, the Wharf is located behind a gas station (416 Beach 116th St.), and while it is hard to find, it serves fresh seafood with a view to die for. Boats pull right up from Jamaica Bay to the unpretentious outdoor dining area, and the Manhattan skyline is visible above the reeds.
Best side trip: To get to the Rockaway peninsula, you will most likely pass through the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. Covering almost 9,000 acres, the Refuge’s visitors’ center will start you off in the right direction for a hike, though less athletic types will appreciate the great sunset.
How to get there: Though it seems hours away, Rockaway is one of the e a s i e s t r e t r e a t s f r o m t h e h u s t l e a n d b u s t l e o f t h e c i t y . E a s i l y r e a c h e d b y c a r from Cross Bay Blvd or the A train, a best bet is the Q 5 3 , a n e x p r e s s b u s that begins its trip alongside Woodside’s 61st Street train station and terminates on Beach 116th St., the area’s main drag.

C o n e y I s l a n d:
America’s beach is open for business. With transportation greatly improved to the area and a recent resurgence in development, Coney Island is enjoying crowd swells that herald back to the area’s 1920s heyday. With a traditional boardwalk crammed with things to do, the recently cleaned up beach is not the only reason to go.
Where to eat: Lauded as one of the city’s best pizzas, you can’t go wrong with the pies that the coal-burning brick oven at Totonno Pizzeria Napolitano (1524 Neptune Ave.) turns out. Built in 1924, it is the oldest continuously operating pizzeria in the U.S. run by the same family.
Best side trip: Head down the boardwalk to Keyspan Park for a Brooklyn Cyclones game. A minor league team in the Mets system, they put on quite a show and the stadium boasts one of the best designs and views of any stadium in the country.
How to get there: By public transportation, the train is the way to go. The D, Q, N or F trains all terminate at Stillwell Avenue, which is a short walk to the boardwalk. Those who insist on driving can take the Belt Parkway to exit 6 and proceed south on Cropsey Avenue to West 17th Street.

Orchard Beach:
Dubbed the “Bronx Riviera,” this crescent-shaped patch of shoreline offers access to the Long Island Sound and its calm waters. Activities are not limited to the sand, however, as there is a bandshell, as well as tennis and basketball courts in neighboring Pelham Bay Park.
Best Side trip: Hands down, it’s City Island for unwinding after a day at the beach. Boating, fishing, and seafood are just some of the draws for this small seafaring island connected to Pelham Bay Park by a precarious-looking bridge.
Where to eat: Johnny’s Famous Reef (2 City Island Ave.) is the place go for a real taste of the island. Picnic tables are set up so you can enjoy a variety of fried seafood and cheap drinks with a view of the Throgg’s Neck Bridge.
How to get there: Orchard Beach is accessible by the Bx12 or Bx5 busses. Driving is not a bad idea, as there is ample parking and it makes it easier to get to City Island. The 1.5-mile-long City Island is not well served by public transportation, but driving usual ends in a line of cars that snake from one end of the island and back. The Bx29 bus leaves from the Pelham Bay Park station to the island.

For general beach information in all five boroughs, call the following numbers:
Bronx: 718-430-1858 / Brooklyn: 718-965-8941 / Manhattan: 718-408-0243 / Queens: 718-520-5936 / Staten Island: 718-390-8020.

Further out from the city but with wide swaths of sandy white beaches, Long Island offers, and logically so, some great beach options. It might cost you, but is usually considered well worth it.

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L o n g B e a c h :
A favorite of many in the know, this beach town also boasts a strong Irish community amid a small-town feel. Located on the south shore of Long Island near the Queens-Nassau border, you can make a day of it between the town and the shore. A day pass for the beach is $6 per person and free for children under 13.
A two-and-a-quarter-mile Long Beach Boardwalk is a year-round attraction for joggers, cyclists and sun worshippers.
Where to eat: Minnesota’s (959 W Beech St.) is a lively spot for dining and carousing into the wee hours.
Worth a side trip: Fore! The area around Long Beach is scattered with golf courses that take advantage of the sea air and views. One is Lido Beach Golf Course — seaside links that feature elevated greens, massive bunkers, significant water hazards, and is rated among the top 10 public courses in the metropolitan area.
How to get there: Long Beach is o n e o f t h e f e w b e a c h e s o n L o n g I s l a n d t h a t i s easily a c c e s s i b l e b y p u b l i c t r a n s p o r t a t i o n . The Long Island Rail Road stops a short walk from the beach. Parking is tough on the narrow one-way streets, but becomes more manageable the further from the beach you go.
Hot Tip: Manhattan’s P u c k F a i r o f f e r s a b e a c h s h u t t l e t o L o n g B e a c h e v e r y S u n d a y a n d M o n d a y this summer . F o r $ 2 0 , y o u g e t a r o u n d t r i p – r i d e , c o f f e e , t e a , j u i c e a n d b a g e l s b e f o r e t h e r i d e , a b e a c h p a s s , a n d a p i n t w h e n y o u g e t b a c k . — contact Simon at 646-334-3389 for more information. Also, check your local, as many bars offer beach trips like this.

J o n e s B e a c h :
Part of Jones Beach State Park, there is over 2,000 acres of beachfront on this part of the south shore of Long Island. Prime space on the sand fills up quickly, though there is also one-half mile of bay beach and two swimming pools for those who prefer no salt in their water.
Where to eat:
Recently renovated, there are numerous concession stands everything from hot dogs and hamburgers to ice cream for dining. The Boardwalk Restaurant with indoor, bar or outdoor patio seating options. Or visit the Old-fashioned Ice Cream Parlor on the upper level of the West End Bath.
Worth a side trip: See what’s going on that evening at the Tommy Hilfiger at Jones Beach Theater. Seating 14,000 people comfortably, it is currently one of the top ranked amphitheaters in the country and plays host to top artists and celebrity attractions, as well as festivals and fine arts performances.
How to get there: Driving is the easiest way to get there, via the Wantagh Parkway. It costs $7 to park, and it is advised to get there early, as prime spaces in the lots closest to the beach fill up quickly, and there is often congestion at the toll plaza. Public transportation is available, but it will take time and a working knowledge of Long Island Bus schedules. For information, call 516-228-4000.

Day or weekend trips to some shore destinations can be the perfect remedy to summer doldrums.

New Jersey: While northern beaches along the shore like Point Pleasant and Seaside Heights have long been the place for sun-starved New Yorkers, central Jersey’s LBI is said to be crawling with them as well. This pristine stretch of sand offers beaches ranging from the peaceful to kitchy.
Ocean City, MD: This ocean resort town has all the trimmings of a traditional beach vacation — Ferris wheel, funnel cakes, sun and sand. The local chamber of commerce has been working to raise the area’s profile as a golf and convention destination as well.
Newport, RI: Once playground of the rich and famous (with the mansions to prove it), this is a popular destination for Irish J-1 students and has tons to see and do offshore.
Cape Cod, MA: This pristine stretch of coastline offers a national seashore, nature trails, and history. You can chose between echoes of Camelot in Hyannis, a quiet artists retreat in Welfleet or the wild in Provincetown.

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