When it comes to summer weekend getaways, there's nothing better than a beach town. There are lots of great family beach towns for tri-state area families to visit. From the many beach towns along the Jersey Shore to picturesque beach towns on Long Island and cute Connecticut spots, these beachy weekend getaways are all easy to visit from Midtown Manhattan, and a few are even reachable by public transportation.
Once there, you’ll find kid-friendly beaches, of course, as well as lots of options for fun—from family-friendly restaurants and amusement park rides to mini golf, ice cream shops, and quaint downtowns to stroll. And, while we’ve compiled this list of beach town getaways with weekends in mind, you can opt for a day trip or even extend your getaway to a week or more.
Looking for more summer travel ideas? Bookmark our Guide to Day Trips and Weekend Getaways and our Ultimate Kids Summer Vacation Guide for all our top picks.
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Take a surf lesson at Rockaway Beach without ever leaving the city. Photo courtesy of The Rockaway Hotel + Spa
Beach Towns in New York for a Weekend Getaway
Swimming? Surfing lessons? Fishing? These are just a few of the many things for kids and families to do while visiting Rockaway Beach, which is the closest spot to Manhattan on this list—but far enough away to feel like you’re getting a beach vacation.
If you’re coming from NYC, here’s the best part about this beach town: You can take the LIRR straight there. Once you arrive, you can’t miss the boardwalk, which was completely redesigned post-Hurricane Sandy. There are lots of places to eat along Park Avenue and entertainment, like live music on the beach, throughout the summer. Find more ideas in our guide.
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Pull up a lounge chair and enjoy the serene shores at Montauk. Photo courtesy of Mommy Poppins
The activity-filled Hamptons are synonymous with summer in New York, and there’s plenty of fun to be had all along the coast, including at its eastern end in Montauk. And while it’s probably one of the pricier spots on our list, families love the great beaches and activities, from checking out the iconic Montauk Point Lighthouse to having a scoop or two of ice cream (or burgers and fries!) at John’s Drive-In. Check out our full guide for even more fun ideas.
RELATED: Family-Friendly Hotels in the Hamptons and North Fork
Greenport's "Bug Light" is an only-on-Long Island destination. Photo courtesy of Greenport Village
Long Island's typically more subdued North Fork has been increasing in popularity lately, and Greenport is a great, family-favorite place to check out. After you hit up the beach (Orient Beach State Park is a good choice and includes a beach playground), stroll through the downtown area, where kids will definitely want a spin on the classic carousel. When it’s time to eat, Crabby Jerry’s has a laid-back vibe, water views, and, on our last visit, lawn games (like giant tic-tac-toe) for the kids to play.
Kids will love this 32-mile island off the coast of Long Island from the start, thanks to the ferry ride over. If you’re there for the weekend, Ocean Beach is a good home base and, since there are no cars allowed, it’s infinitely walkable. From the ferry, there are hotels and the beach within walking distance, as well as shops, restaurants, and more fun things to do.
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Cape May maybe perched at the edge of the Jersey Shore, but it's worth the drive to Exit 0. Photo courtesy of Congress Hall
Jersey Shore Beach Towns for a Weekend Getaway
You can’t go wrong with this Jersey Shore beach town at the very end: Exit 0 on the Garden State Parkway! When visiting Cape May, you can spend the day swimming and building sand castles, of course, as well as enjoy even more kid-centered fun, like a trip to the FREE Cape May County Park & Zoo.
As we mention in our guide to Long Beach Island with Kids, this island hotspot has two different types of beach experiences: the Atlantic Ocean and The Bay, which is great for younger kids. Along with the surf, don’t miss other activities, like heading to Barnegat Lighthouse State Park and Fantasy Island Amusement Park. Fun bonus: Kids get a kick out of its “Kiddie Passport” where, if they ride nine specific rides—and have the stickers to prove it—they’re rewarded with a prize at the on-site Scoops Up ice cream shop.
If you’re an activity-centered family, then you can’t go wrong with Point Pleasant Beach, another Jersey Shore hotspot. It’s home to the famed Jenkinson’s Boardwalk, where you’ll find everything from Jenkinson's Aquarium to an amusement park and a ropes course, which even has options for the 48-inch and under crowd.
Between the hotels and the activities, Atlantic City is a surprisingly great beach destination with kids—particularly because getting on the beach is totally FREE. And it’s set to get even better this summer, with Island Waterpark at the Showboat Hotel, which opens Friday, June 30, and features options for both little (Kids Cove, Slide Island) and big kids.
RELATED: Jersey Shore Travel Guide for Families
The Lynde Point Lighthouse in Old Saybrook will let you know you've arrived in coastal New England. Photo courtesy Old Saybrook
Beach Towns in Connecticut to Visit with Kids
This Connecticut town has all the makings of a kid-friendly getaway: Visit the beach—Harvey’s Beach on the Long Island Sound is ideal for families, especially those with younger kids when it's low tide—enjoy food and treats, catch an outdoor concert and soak in a bit of history, too, like Fort Saybrook Monument Park.
Stonington’s DuBois Beach is a true hidden gem and with admission at just $10 per adult (kids are FREE!), it’s a great spot for families. There is lots more on offer too, including events like the annual Stonington Village Fair in August. You can visit The Lighthouse Museum while you're in town, and it’s also a great home base if you’re visiting the nearby Mystic Aquarium or the Mystic Seaport.
Silver Sands State Park is one of our top beaches in the area and along with Walnut Beach (hello, summer concerts!) are both great options when visiting this cute town in New Haven County as is the downtown and historic district. Bonus: This is another spot on this list where you can take the train straight from Grand Central, and if you’re up for about an hour’s drive, you can also visit Mystic from here, too.