With miles and miles of shoreline along the ocean, bays, rivers, and lakes, New York State is a natural choice for maritime-themed outdoor recreation. Many of the major bodies of waters have land set aside for recreation; New York beaches can be found from the Great Lakes in the west to the Atlantic Ocean in the east. With the St. Lawrence River, Hudson River, Jamaica Bay, the Finger Lakes, and so much more, the state offers nearly endless opportunities for hitting the beach.
New York City alone has more than 500 miles of shoreline; beaches in New York City are found in all of the boroughs with the exception of Manhattan. The city's park department maintains over fourteen miles of beach, including Rockaway Beach in Queens, Orchard Beach in the Bronx, and Brooklyn's Manhattan Beach. In Staten Island, Midland Beach, South Beach, and Wolfe's Pond Beach are popular destinations in the summertime. All of the beaches are free to visit and open between Memorial Day and the classic end of summer, Labor Day.
Coney Island, one of the most famous beaches in New York City, presents a full array of activities. Along with swimming, surfing, and beachcombing along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, visitors can enjoy classic midway amusements. A roller coaster, Ferris wheel, hot dog stands, and the New York Aquarium all are easy to access from the famous boardwalk.
The Gateway National Recreation Area is home to several beaches in New York City. With Jacob Riis Park in Queens, Great Kills Park in Staten Island, and Sandy Hook over in New Jersey, visitors have their pick of great beaches here. Along with traditional shoreline activities such as swimming and fishing, the recreation area also offers historical tours, kayaking, nature walks, and rustic camping.
Many of the top-rated beaches in New York are located on Long Island. Fire Island National Seashore and Robert Moses State Park on the tip of Long Island are popular when the weather heats up, and the beaches in the Hamptons attract the attention of the jet set. Jones Beach, not far from the city, is known as much for its outdoor concerts as swimming, while the white-sand beaches on the northern shore tend to be more secluded. Whether they choose to visit one of these New York beaches or all of them, vacationers will be treated to beautiful scenery, all within steps of charming villages and towns.
Many of the beaches in New York are part of state parks. In western New York, Beaver Island State Park in the upper Niagara River offers sandy beaches and a large marina. Farther north, the Thousand Islands region, which shares a border with Quebec and Ontario, offers a variety of beaches and state parks along the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. Accessible only by foot or boat, Wellesley Island State Park has three miles of beaches, as well as cabins, hiking trails, a nature center, golf course, and even a butterfly house.
Along the Hudson River, sandy beaches are found along the way as the river winds 315 miles from the Adirondacks to the New York Harbor. Many of these New York beaches are part of protected parks, sure to be preserved for future generations to enjoy. Croton Point Park, which is managed by Westchester County, offers more than 500 acres along the Hudson, including a swimming beach, a boat launch, and campsites.
No matter which part of New York vacationers include in their plans, there's sure to be a beach nearby. When the weather's warm, there is a place to get away from it all, enjoy nature, and have a lot of fun at the same time.