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    New York State is a great destination for beach lovers with its long stretches of sand lining the Atlantic coast and scenic beaches in the Great Lakes and Finger Lakes areas to the north. Some New York State beaches offer a true retreat into nature with little but miles of lonely sands to explore. Then there are other beaches – like New York’s famous Coney Island – that buzz with sports activities, seaside amusement parks and lively boardwalks.

    New York City alone has nearly 23 km of beaches including Rockaway in Queens and Brighton Beach in Brooklyn, most of which are easily reached by bus or ferry from the city centre. Beaches in Upstate New York like Lake Placid Public Beach are especially appealing to families seeking fresh air and maybe a paddle or lazy float session on the lake. Read on for more of the best beaches in New York State.

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    Rockaway Beach

    A top spot for surfers

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    Rockaway Beach on the namesake peninsula in Queens offers an action-packed day of activities including beach volleyball, fishing, 7 playgrounds, and a 5.5-mile seaside boardwalk to stroll along. It’s also the only beach in New York City where surfing is allowed, which is best enjoyed in the summer months. In autumn, the waves are bigger and better suited for experienced surfers.

    There are many ways to get to Rockaway Beach, including a fun "brew cruiser" bus that offers a round trip ride from Long Island City to Rockaway Brewing Company on the beachfront. You could also take a ferry from Wall Street in Lower Manhattan and Sunset Park in Brooklyn.

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    2

    Jones Beach State Park

    Long Island’s nature haven

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    Jones Beach State Park has a breathtaking length of white sand that extends for more than 10 km along Long Island’s south shore. Also known as Southwick Beach State Park, the beach is great for swimming, especially in the calmer section sheltered by a bay, and there’s a host of things to do here like playing basketball or mini-golf, fishing, or taking walks along the boardwalk and park trails. If you tire of the ocean waves you could go for a swim at the Olympic-sized pool in the park’s West Bathhouse.

    To learn more about the area's ecological features, visit the park’s Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center, which has educational tours and displays about the seashore.

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    3

    Orchard Beach

    A busy Bronx beach that's a hive of activities

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    Orchard Beach in the Bronx offers a fun seaside escape with a mile of sand and 115 acres of parkland to relax and play on. With the beach and surrounding park well equipped with food and leisure facilities, you really only need to bring your towel and sunscreen when visiting.

    Find basketball, volleyball and handball courts on-site, as well as playgrounds and picnic areas. If you didn’t plan for a picnic, then you could fuel up at the central pavilion with its selection of cafes, restaurants and food stalls.    

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    foto door Gabriel Liendo (CC BY-SA 3.0) bewerkt

    4

    Coney Island Beach

    Home to the famous Wonder Wheel

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    Coney Island’s miles of sandy beaches at the southwestern edge of Brooklyn offer beachgoers a host of things to see and do from the bustling boardwalk to a variety of restaurants, cafes and shops. Play beach volleyball and basketball through the summer, or if you’re visiting during the autumn or winter months you could try honing your spins and spiral moves at the Abe Stark Ice Skating rink.

    Be sure to allow time to catch at least a few rides at the seafront amusement park, including its famed Wonder Wheel and the vintage Cyclone rollercoaster.

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    5

    Robert Moses State Park

    Miles of brilliant white sand on Fire Island

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    Robert Moses State Park is a beautiful coastal escape on Fire Island, with some 8 km of fine white sand and plenty of sports and leisure activities to enjoy. Many come here to just dip their toes in the cool Atlantic waters and relax on the sands, while those needing more action could try the 18-hole pitch and putt golf course, play some volleyball or go fishing.

    Make use of free public grills and picnic tables set around the park and enjoy a beach barbecue, or wander down the boardwalk to Fire Island Lighthouse. If you’re ready for more exertion you could climb the 182 steps to the top and take in the panoramic ocean views.

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    6

    Fort Tilden Beach

    Seaside park on former military grounds

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    Fort Tilden is a protected nature park set on the Rockaway Peninsula with lovely beaches and lush forest to explore. Considered to have some of the most spectacular beaches in New York, Fort Tilden is a fine place for a day of relaxing on the sands or taking long strolls along the shore. The park also has trails through forest and coastal scrubland that you could walk on your own or go with a guided ranger tour.

    Some vestiges of the area’s former life as a military fortress remain in the park, including Battery Harris East, a bunker that once housed two 16-inch M1919 guns. Now there’s been a staircase installed so you can climb to the top of the bunker and enjoy panoramic ocean views.   

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    7

    Brighton Beach

    A Brooklyn beach town with a Black Sea vibe

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    Brighton Beach is a popular beach for local New Yorkers, who flock here in the summer months to see and be seen on the South Brooklyn neighbourhood’s wide sandy beach and boardwalk. The Brighton Beach community is often called “Little Odessa” for its large population of immigrants from Russia and Eastern Europe.

    You could spend a day simply relaxing on the sands or meandering down the boardwalk to sample the diverse range of cuisine on offer at the restaurants and cafes along it. It’s also worth wandering Brighton Beach Avenue to delve into the local shopping scene and browse for cheap eats in the markets. Find more action at the amusement parks in Coney Island nearby.

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    8

    Main Beach, East Hampton

    Strike your best celebrity pose on the ritzy sands

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    Main Beach in East Hampton is the most popular of the village's 5 beaches, with a gorgeous stretch of soft sand to lay your towel on. The Hamptons might be best known as an exclusive summer retreat for the rich and famous, but its beaches are still free for all to visit. 

    It's a chilled-out beach that keeps potential ravers and riff-raff out with a strict ban on alcohol and pricey parking permits. Even so, Main Beach can get busy in summer so it might be best to go in September when the crowds have thinned out but the weather's still warm.

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    9

    Lake Placid Public Beach

    A picturesque upstate summer escape

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    Lake Placid Public Beach offers a tranquil inland alternative and proves that not all of New York State’s best beaches are on the ocean. Found in the Lake Placid community on the southern shore of Mirror Lake, this sandy beach is a scenic place to swim, fish, dive off the dock or launch a kayak.

    Activity-minded families could make their way to the tennis courts and playground, or enjoy a walk or bike ride around the path that rings the lake. As part of a park, the area approaching the beach offers plenty of space to enjoy a picnic or sprawl on the grass to soak up the summer rays.

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    10

    South Beach, Staten Island

    Also a top spot for summer festivals and fireworks

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    South Beach on Staten Island is a good place for families looking for a fun-filled weekend escape. Whether you’re looking for a patch of sand to snooze on or want to do some kayaking, volleyball, basketball, tennis, or just thinking of running along the boardwalk, South Beach is an ideal spot. There’s also a skatepark and playgrounds for the young ones, as well as the Ocean Breeze pier, one of the largest fishing piers in the city.

    Getting to South Beach is part of the fun. Staten Island Ferry from Lower Manhattan offers fabulous views of the New York City skyline and Statue of Liberty on the way over – the ferry service is free for all.

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    Lana Willocks | Schrijver

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