The 12 Best Long Island Beach Towns for Families That Aren't the Hamptons
Long Island has some great beaches and beach communities beyond the ever-popular Hamptons options.
On both coasts of Nassau and western Suffolk counties, many communities boast gorgeous seashores and so much more. Attractions include bustling boardwalks, picture-perfect marinas, tons of shopping options, excellent dining spots, playgrounds and parks, and free outdoor music and events.
Read on for a rundown of a dozen Long Island beach towns not on the East End–plus a quickie guide to Fire Island. These communities are so charming you could check out a different one each week and still have a few left over to visit come fall. For more fun things to do this season, check out our Summer Fun Guide, and be sure to bookmark our frequently-updated Family Activity Calendar.
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Long Island Beach Towns in Nassau
Probably the biggest attraction of this North Shore community is its amusement park. Bayville Adventure Park has a pirate-themed mini golf course, rock climbing, bumper boats, a water slide, an arcade, and much more. Cool off at Charles E. Ransom beach right across the street. You can eat at the park’s restaurant, Basil Bay’s Beaches & Cream Soda Shoppe, or head to one of Bayville’s waterfront dining spots, such as Wall's Wharf Restaurant or Breakers Restaurant.
Freeport’s famed Nautical Mile is worth visiting in the summer. Restaurants and shops line the street, and Crow’s Nest Mini Golf is a perfect stop for families. Afterward, take in the sights of the many boats as you walk along the canal. At the end of your stroll, head to Freeport Water Taxi & Tours, which offers boat rides, including a one-hour day cruise, seal-watching tours, sunset cruises, and more.
Pryibil Beach is popular with Glen Cove families eager for a day in the sun. Photo by Tab Hauser
3. Glen Cove
Called the City of Glen Cove, this community celebrated its 350th anniversary in 2018. While most beaches are only for Glen Cove residents, Garvies Point is open to all and features a one-mile promenade, waterfront parks, walking and bike trails, playgrounds, and much more. The Morgan Park Summer Music Festival offers free concerts in July and August. St. Rocco’s Feast is one of the community’s biggest celebrations every summer. Check out Garvies Point Museum and Preserve, another great spot for kids that offers Summer Saturday programs for families.
4. Long Beach
Another Nassau County city, Long Beach is known as the “City by the Sea.” Accessible by car (parking can be difficult) or the LIRR, this community boasts gorgeous beaches and an awesome 2.2-mile boardwalk, where families can enjoy the arts and crafts fair on summer weekends.
Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park and Beach in Oyster Bay is near the 26th president's former home. Photos courtesy of the Town of Oyster Bay
5. Oyster Bay
The historic North Shore community claims President Theodore Roosevelt as its most famous former resident. You can tour his beautiful home, known as the Summer White House, at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site. Have a picnic, swing on the swings, or go for a swim at Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park and Beach. Afterward, stroll down Main Street for shopping and dining. And, come October, be sure to visit again for the annual Oyster Festival.
Port Washington's Manorhaven Beach Park offers a host of outdoor activities in the summer. Photo courtesy of the Town of North Hempstead
Less than 40 minutes by train from Manhattan, Port Washington is a beautiful, waterfront community on the North Shore. For a fun excursion, take a tour of the harbor aboard a Port Water Taxi. Or, head to one of the community parks on Main Street, such as Manorhaven Beach Park and Blumenfeld Family Park. North Hempstead Beach Park, open to nonresidents, has a beach, boat ramps, picnic areas, and more.
Long Island Beach Towns in Western Suffolk
Although small, Cold Spring Harbor is packed with things to do for families. Its charming Main Street has lots of trendy shops and restaurants. Enjoy lunch at the Gourmet Whaler and some sweet treats at Sweetie Pies on Main. Or bring your own food and head to Cold Spring Harbor Park, where you can picnic along the waterfront. A definite must-see is the Whaling Museum & Education Center, a family-friendly museum that focuses on Long Island’s maritime heritage.
This community has it all: museums, parks, beaches, and a bustling Main Street packed with restaurants and places to shop, including two venerable toy stores, Little Switzerland Dolls and Cow Over The Moon. At the heart of the Village is Heckscher Park, which hosts seasonal family-friendly festivals (including the popular Summer Arts Festival), a large playground, and the Heckscher Museum of Art. Fleets Cove Beach is open to non-residents for a fee.
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Enjoy beautiful views of Northport Village. Photo by Kristen Markel
Another quaint North Shore community, Northport is admired for its lovely Main Street and beautiful harbor setting. Live concerts are regular evening events during the summer both at Northport Village Park and on Main Street. On select Tuesdays in August, Northport Harbor Family Nights take over as Main Street is closed to traffic, restaurants pull tables out front, and family-friendly games and activities abound. Popular local beaches include Crab Meadow, which features a boardwalk, snack bar, restaurant, and playground. It’s also a venue for outdoor movie nights in the summer.
The Village of Patchogue has undergone quite a renaissance these last few years, and the South Shore community is a hugely popular spot for families. Shorefront Park has a pirate-themed playground, beach, and outdoor concerts. Alive After Five street celebrations feature live music, food, arts and craft vendors, and plenty of activities just for kids.
Port Jefferson celebrates Long Island's maritime heritage. Photos courtesy of Long Island Explorium
11. Port Jefferson
Whether it’s by car, train, or ferry, you definitely should get to this picturesque, harborfront community that offers so much for families to do. Jeanne Garant Harborfront Park is a gem, complete with a playground, picnic area, pier, and promenade along the shoreline. Rocketship Park is another popular spot for kids, as is the Long Island Explorium, where kids get to explore all things maritime. There are plenty of restaurants and shops to satisfy everyone’s needs and wants.
Perhaps not as well known as nearby Patchogue, Sayville is just as inviting. There is a wonderful downtown that’s lined with places galore to grab a bite to eat. Be sure to save room for dessert so you can check out the goodies at Sayville Chocolatier. Sayville General Store is a charming spot to shop for toys, handmade goods, and more. Head over to the Long Island Maritime Museum for a look at exhibits that tell the story of boating, fishing, and maritime rescue on Long Island. The museum also hosts the community's annual Seafood Festival, which in 2022 takes place Saturday, August 20, and Sunday, August 21. Corey Beach in nearby Blue Point offers calm bay water for swimming and a popular beach playground.
Family-Friendly Beach Communities on Fire Island
Don't forget Fire Island. Take a ferry from Bay Shore, Sayville, or Patchogue, and in 30 minutes, you can be at one of the many family-friendly communities that make up this gorgeous part of Long Island. Head to Ocean Beach, Ocean Bay Park, or Seaview for longer stays, while Kismet and Watch Hill are the perfect day-trip destinations. Fire Island's western edge is home to Robert Moses State Park, while the eastern edge abuts the beaches of Smith Point County Park. Note: Cars are not permitted on Fire Island, so pick your destination wisely. Likewise, beaches on Fire Island are alcohol- and radio-free. Ocean Beach is considered the most family-friendly community. Elsewhere, Sailors Haven includes Sunken Forest, a 40-acre collection of beach trees that appears sunken due to the abundance of ocean dunes. Fire Island Lighthouse, one of four lighthouses on Long Island open to the public, is a 1-mile walk along the scenic boardwalk from Robert Moses.