Stretching along the north and south shores of Long Island are dazzling beaches known for their family-friendly vibes and natural beauty, and we don't mean just the Hamptons. Whether you have younger kids looking for tranquil shores or older kids looking to body surf, there is a Long Island beach for you. It's time to get ready for cool sea breezes and the feeling of sand between your toes.
At Long Island's family beaches you'll find picnic areas, swimming pools, and bathroom complexes along with food trucks and umbrella rentals. Use our guide to choose the best beach for your family's needs. These beaches are open Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day, unless noted. Prices listed are for summer 2017.
If you're in the mood to travel, check out our list of the best family beaches near New York City or our guide to the Jersey Shore area. For more family fun, see our Long Island amusement and water parks guide.
Enjoy the waves at Jones Beach. Photo by ric shaw/CC BY 2.0
Jones Beach State Park — Wantagh
This popular beach has been beckoning families for many years. The park is laid out over 6 1/2 miles of beautiful shoreline. Visitors can swim in the ocean, take a relaxing stroll along the boardwalk, or visit the Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center. Fields 3,4, and 5 offer beach access through the park's iconic beach tunnels; fishing is allowed at field 10, and oceanfront parking and the calm waters of Zach's Bay are located at Field 5. Note: The waves can become rough at Jones Beach and swimmers are required to swim in designated life-guarded areas. Families with young children might prefer Field 6 as it offers mobility mats over the sand, making it easier to travel with strollers and beach gear. At lunch time, enjoy traditional food stand favorites such as hot dogs and ice cream. In recent years, gourmet concession stands have been added to the amenities with made-to-order pizzas and truffle fries. Also, check out the summer concert schedule for the Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater. Jones Beach is crowded on weekends and holidays, so arrive early on those days. Bathrooms and changing areas are available at each field. Cost: $10 per vehicle or free with seasonal Empire Pass.
Long Beach Boardwalk — Long Beach
This family favorite is a great spot for a day of fun. One of the best things about Long Beach is its 2.2-mile boardwalk. After being destroyed by superstorm Sandy in 2012, the city set out to replace the boardwalk. With repurposed wood, local artwork from residents, and historical markers and explanations, a walk along this stretch is interesting and educational. Rent bikes (or bring your own) and tour the boardwalk, then head to the sand. Umbrellas and chairs are available for daily rental. After a day of sea and sand castles, check out the ocean-themed Magnolia Boulevard playground. Then, head over to the festive food trucks for lunch. Enjoy seafood from Poseidon's Kitchen, Cuban sandwiches from The Miami Grill, or Acai bowls for a healthier option from NY Acai. Long Beach is accessible from major Long Island Rail Road stations and ample parking is available. Weekends at Long Beach are crowded; be sure to arrive early. Cost: $12 per person for residents; $15 per person for nonresidents. Children 12 and younger are free.
Nickerson Beach Park — Lido Beach
Sitting on 155 acres, this complex along the Atlantic Ocean offers sun-kissed activities for the whole family. Boasting soft sand and sparkling water, the beach here is beautiful. However, it's the extra amenities that keep families coming to this spot. For teen visitors, the "Fun Zone" includes a skate park with several ramps and railings for daring riders; basketball and beach volleyball courts, and a tennis court. There is also a picturesque seaside pitch-and-putt, where families can play nine holes among the dunes of the beach. Two full-size swimming pools and a kiddie pool are located on the property. A playground and concession stand are also available, as well as a large picnic pavilion to enjoy lunch in the shade. If you do not have a Nassau County Leisure Pass or are coming from out of town, the cost might seem steep, but this beach offers a full day of activities for everyone in the family. Bathrooms, showers, and lockers are available. Cost: $12 for Leisure Pass holders; $35 for those without a pass.
Point Lookout offers some family solitude by the sea. Photo by the author.
Town Park at Point Lookout — Point Lookout
For a low-key beach experience, head to this Town of Hempstead beach. It is a relaxed place to avoid the crowds at the more popular destinations. Parking is a short walk from lot to sand. There are no concessions or rentals available—visitors must bring their own food, chairs, and umbrellas—but bathrooms are available. Cost: $10 per vehicle for Town of Hempstead residents; $25 per vehicle for nonresidents.
Ocean Beach — Fire Island
Amid the party atmosphere of Fire Island lies Ocean Beach, a swath of the barrier island bordered by Great South Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Like most of Fire Island, it is car-free; access is by ferry from Bay Shore. Warm ocean currents make the water inviting as early as mid-May and well into October. The beach is radio and alcohol-free. Food options abound, especially for seafood lovers, and there a number of conspicuously placed bathrooms near the ocean beach. First-time visitors might find navigating the village a challenge, but experienced Fire Islanders are friendly and outgoing; just ask for directions. Taxis to the ferry port are available at the Bay Shore LIRR station, on the Montauk branch.
Robert Moses State Park — Babylon
With nearly 5 miles of sparkling coastline, Robert Moses State Park is a perfect family beach spot. Featuring four fields with lifeguards at each, visitors can enjoy swimming, surfing, and boogie boarding. Each field offers concessions, beach shops, first aid, and comfort stations. Don't miss Field 5 and its large playground for kids, boardwalk, and nature walk that leads to Fire Island's lighthouse. There are many scenic areas for picnics complete with park grills and tables. An 18-hole pitch-and-putt golf course is available, as well as a large picnic gazebo. This park is easily accessible by car or the Babylon LIRR station with a bus connection. Cool bonus: As part of a new partnership with Toyota, free Wi-Fi is available at Fields 2-5. Cost: $10 per vehicle, free with seasonal Empire Pass.
Sunken Meadow State Park — Kings Park
With 3 miles of shore on the Long Island Sound, these calm waters are a pleasing spot to spend a summer day. The shoreline turns to wind-formed bluffs, making the scenery unforgettable. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Connecticut. Take a walk on the boardwalk, purchase food from the concession stand, and enjoy a day of natural beach beauty. Also available are nature walks, a large playground complex, and ample space for picnics. Cost: $10 per vehicle, free with seasonal Empire Pass.
Hither Hills State Park — Montauk
This scenic park offers families a sandy ocean beach, playground, and a unique campground with an ocean view. Biking and hiking trails are available, and don't miss the "walking dunes" of Napeague Harbor. Pack a picnic to share or purchase food here to enjoy at the picnic tables. Bathrooms and changing area available. Cost: $10 per car, free with seasonal Empire Pass.
The beachside playground is one of Orient Beach State Park's most popular attractions. Photo courtesy of the park.
Orient Beach State Park — Orient
Situated on the eastern tip of the North Fork, Orient Beach is a natural wonder. Families can swim in the relaxing bay, fish from the shore, kayak, or walk one of the many nature trails. There is a large playground for kids, and directly behind the playground plenty of space for picnics. Collect shells, view the seabirds, and enjoy the saltwater marsh. Serenity and natural beauty abound in this off-the-beaten-path spot. Bathrooms are available. Cost: $10 per vehicle, free with seasonal Empire Pass.
Top photo: Jones Beach, New York's most-visited state park, is a wonderland for families. Photo by Peter Dutton/CC BY 2.0