NYC Beaches After Sandy: What to Expect at Rockaway, Coney Island, Brighton Beach and Others in 2013
New York City beaches open for the season this Memorial Day weekend despite the damage they sustained during Hurricane Sandy. The Parks Department staff, and sanitation and construction crews have been working nonstop to make sure they are safe and clean, and that the sand is back where it belongs. (In some communities, sand washed up onto residents' front lawns!) This is good news for NYC families because—much as we enjoy hitting the Jersey Shore, Long Island beaches and Fire Island—we're not big fans of renting cars or sitting in traffic.
While it won't quite be business as usual for New York City's beaches this summer, you'll still be able to hop on a subway, bus or ferry to hit the shores. From the "Bronx Rivera" to the iconic Coney Island to the Rockaways, these eight urban seasides offer everything that suburban beaches do except the out-of-town commute.
The New York City Parks Department has a guide dedicated to the ongoing beach restoration. It's a great resource if you don't find the information you're looking for below.
Coney Island & Brighton Beach
West 37th Street to Corbin Place
D, F, N, Q to Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue
NYC's most famous beach is almost back to its pre-Sandy glory. The entire three-mile stretch of oceanfront beach and boardwalk is useable, all debris has been cleared away, sand has been stockpiled, and new elevated comfort stations and lifeguard posts are being installed. The New York Aquarium, closed since the storm, will partially reopen on Memorial Day weekend, and the Cyclone, Luna Park and Deno’s Wonder Wheel are already back in business. Read our comprehensive post about Coney Island for additional info. Meanwhile Brighton Beach, which is located further east and has a less touristy feel, is also in good shape.
Oriental Boulevard from Ocean Avenue to Mackenzie Street
B, Q to Brighton Beach, then take the B1 bus to Manhattan Beach
This ten-block beach located on the eastern side of the Coney Island peninsula is good to go. It has a short concrete promenade, designated barbecuing areas, two playgrounds and, usually, fewer people than Coney.
Pelham Bay Park
6 to Pelham Bay Park, then take the Bx5 or Bx12 bus to Orchard Beach
Pelham Bay Park is the largest park in New York City and features lots of attractions including this one-mile long, crescent-shaped, man-made beach on the Long Island Sound, affectionately nicknamed the "Bronx Riviera" or "Riviera of New York City." Orchard Beach did sustain some damage during Sandy on the north and south ends of the promenade, but it's currently being repaired. Meanwhile the comfort stations, nature center and other amenities have been cleaned up and are ready for visitors. Once you tire of sun and sand, hop the Bx29 bus to City Island, which is just minutes away, for a seafood dinner and ice cream.
Beach 9th Street to Beach 149th Street
A to Broad Channel, transfer to the S to Rockaway Park-Beach 116th Street. Or take the weekends-only Rockabus or NYC Beach Bus, which leave from locations in Brooklyn and on the Lower East Side.
Of all the NYC beaches, Rockaway was the hardest hit by Sandy. The city spent $140 million to restore the area and while it opens Memorial Day weekend, it will still be in recovery mode. (At least the MTA restored subway service to the beach in late May so visitors can get out there.) Since parts of the boardwalk were totally destroyed, city erected four temporary boardwalk "islands," with concession stands and bathrooms. Plus MoMA PS1's VW Dome 2 will be up through June 30 at Beach 94th Street and Shore Front Parkway. The playgrounds will reopen later this year once safety resurfacing is complete. Despite all this, Rockaway Beach is still the only place in town where you can catch a real wave. Surfing is allowed between Beach 67th-Beach 69th Streets and Beach 87th-Beach 92nd Streets, and you'll also find designated spots for saltwater fishing.
Jacob Riis Park
Beach 149th Street to Beach 169th Street
2 to Flatbush Avenue, then take the Q35 bus to Jacob Riis Park. Or a lovely alternative is to take the weekends-only New York Beach Ferry from lower Manhattan directly to the park. Click here for info. Rockabus and NYC Beach Bus go here, too.
The National Park Service oversees this extremely popular beach, which is part of Jamaica Bay and known for its restored Art Deco bathhouse. Although the building was damaged by Sandy, it was deemed structurally sound. Jacob Riis Park is currently welcoming visitors, and the beach, the pitch and putt golf course and concession stands will open Memorial Day weekend. The one place that's still wrecked is the parking lot, which was used to house debris and is currently undergoing repairs. At least one quadrant of the lot will be open for parking come Saturday, May 25 but it's probably best to opt for mass transit. While the New York Beach Ferry dock was destroyed by Sandy, the company's Facebook page promises the boat will be back in business in time for Memorial Day weekend.
Cedar Grove Beach
From the St. George Ferry Terminal, take the S76 to Ebbitts Street and Cedar Grove Avenue, and walk down to the beach.
Considered a secret gem by locals, this beach has some interesting history (HBO's Boardwalk Empire recently filmed here) and controversy. Though owned by the city and open to the public, the beach was maintained for decades by the folks at Cedar Grove Beach Club, a community of families who had been vacationing there for generations. But in 2010, the city took the land back to turn it into a destination beach and playground. The beach took a beating during Sandy with downed trees and displaced sand, but it will still open on Memorial Day weekend. Crews have been working around-the-clock to ensure that the beach and surrounding areas are safe. The city is currently regrading the dunes and conducting bathymetric studies to ensure there are no steep drop-offs in the water.
Midland Beach & South Beach
Fort Wadsworth to Miller Field
From the St. George Ferry Terminal, take the S51 bus to Father Capodanno Boulevard and Sand Lane.
It should be business as usual at Midland Beach & South Beach this summer. The city has repaired the damaged portions of the 2½-mile Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk, and is busy replacing the comfort stations. The mobile food vendors are set to return for the season, and the playgrounds and sprinklers will be open. Unfortunately Kayak Staten Island won't be offering free kayaking at South Beach as in years past. The organization is currently looking for a new launch location.
The Beach at Wolfe's Pond Park
Wolfe’s Pond Park
From the St. George Ferry Terminal, take the S78 to Seguine Ave, then walk along Hylan Boulevard to the beach.
The beachfront is located on Raritan Bay. The city is currently putting in supports for new bathrooms and lifeguard stands since the old ones were destroyed by Sandy. This shore is good for young kids since its surf is mellow. Once you're over the beach, explore Wolfe's Pond Park, a nature-lover’s paradise with wetlands and trails.
NYC Beach Tips
Keep your feet covered. Our shores aren't as pristine as most suburban beaches—especially this summer since many of them are still under construction—so wear flip-flops at all times.
Arrive in your bathing suit. Although the beaches have outdoor showers and bathrooms, it's against the rules to change in the stalls. If the beach staff catch you (or even your kids) doing it, they will scream at you!
Leave your pooch at home. NYC beaches don't allow dogs during the summer.
No smoking. Smoking is banned at all NYC beaches.
Travel lightly. Flotation devices aren't allowed in the water and temporary shelters, like tents, are not permitted on the sand.
Stay safe. There have been issues with riptides in the Atlantic Ocean the past few years. Find out how to keep your family safe.
Fill your season with fun from our Summer Guide.