New York State, ‘The Empire State’, which has a lesser-known rather amusing nickname ‘Knickerbocker State’, is one of America’s better-known states. Although millions of people visit the world-renowned New York City, fewer visitors venture to New York’s beaches.
Mention New York’s coastline and most people instantly visualise the area surrounding New York City and Long Island, which is relatively small compared to other east coast states’ share of the Atlantic Ocean. However, new York state borders Canada and the Great Lakes, including Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, which have miles more coastline and brilliant beaches to explore.
From Queens to the Bronx, beaches near Buffalo and the Great Lakes coastline, here are 20 of the best beaches in New York State that will leave you realising that there’s more than just the Big Apple.
- 20 New York Beaches
- New York City Beaches
- 1- Orchard Beach, Bronx
- 2- South Beach, Staten Island
- 3- Coney Island Beach, Brooklyn
- 4- Brighton Beach, Brooklyn
- 5- Cooper’s Beach, Southampton
- 6- Montauk’s Beaches, Long Island
- 7- Main Beach, East Hampton
- 8- Rockaway Beach, Queens
- 9- Fort Tilden Beach, Queens
- 10- Lighthouse Beach, Fire Island, Suffolk County
- 11- Robert Moses State Park, Fire Island, Suffolk County
- Beaches In New York State
- 12- Olcott Beach, Lake Ontario
- 13- Evangola State Park Beach, Lake Erie
- 14- Million Dollar Beach, Lake George
- 15- Sandy Island Beach State Park, Lake Ontario
- 16- Lake Erie Beach Park, Lake Erie
- 17- Mirror Lake Public Beach, Lake Placid
- 18- Southwick Beach State Park
- 19- Long Lake Town Beach, Adirondacks
- 20- Glimmerglass State Park Beach, Cooperstown
- New York City Beaches
20 New York Beaches
New York City Beaches
1- Orchard Beach, Bronx
Orchard Beach is a beautiful crescent-shaped beach known as ‘The Riviera of New York City’.
Although it’s quite a stretch from the French Riviera, it is arguably one of the best beaches for New Yorkers to escape from busy city life.
The beach is on Long Island Sound in Pelham Bay Park and has views across to City Island.
Either walk along the 1.1-mile (1.7 km) soft white sandy beach or stroll along the promenade.
This is a great beach to spend the day and you can grab a bite to eat at the central pavilion food stand.
The beach also hosts drive-in movies, which is an exciting way to round off a day.
Orchard Beach is in one of the five boroughs, the Bronx.
2- South Beach, Staten Island
If you find yourself on Staten Island and fancy a trip to the beach, head to South Beach on the east coast, looking out to Lower Bay.
Walk to the north end of South Beach and you almost feel as if you can touch the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, the suspension bridge which connects Staten Island and Brooklyn.
If you’re seeking a long beachside walk, head along the Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalks that connect South Beach and the lesser populated Midland Beach.
3- Coney Island Beach, Brooklyn
Head across the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge to Brooklyn and south onto Shore Parkway Road and you will reach Coney Island Beach.
Coney Island is an iconic peninsular neighbourhood defined by its amusement area, including theme park rides, an aquarium, restaurants, go-karts, live entertainment, boardwalk games and Coney Island Beach.
This New York beach is nearly three miles (4.8 km) in length and has a beach volleyball court, perfect for visiting with a group of friends.
Be warned, this beach gets busy!
4- Brighton Beach, Brooklyn
Right next to Coney Island Beach is Brighton Beach, which goes by the nickname Little Odessa due to its close-knit community of Russian and Eastern European residents.
If you want to feel a lively, bustling vibe but with fewer tourists than Coney Island, Brighton Beach is the place.
Once you’ve sunbathed on the beach, head to Brighton Beach itself, where you will find a few unusual and interesting things to see and do.
NetCost Market is a Russian grocery store disguised as a 1934 cinema.
With an amalgamation of cultures flocking to the area, enjoy some cuisines you may not have tried before, such as Ukrainian, Turkish, Georgian and traditional Uyghur dishes.
Brighton Beach is a patchwork of cultures.
5- Cooper’s Beach, Southampton
Cooper’s Beach is a short 500 ft (150m) beach backed by a line of historic mansions and impressive sand dunes.
What it lacks in size, it well and truly makes up for in mansions.
Cooper’s Beach is frequently named one of America’s Top 10 Beaches, an accolade that is hard to disagree with.
The beach has shower and toilet facilities as well as a kiosk where you can buy snacks, drinks and rent chairs and an umbrella.
For more beaches around the world read:
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- 20 Best Beaches In Italy
- 20 Best Beaches In Spain
- 12 Beaches In Australia
- 20 Nordic Beaches
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- 20 Beaches In Illinois
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- 21 Seattle Beaches
- 19 Kenya Beaches
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6- Montauk’s Beaches, Long Island
Montauk’s are perhaps the most beautiful beaches in New York.
Montauk is a village at the very tip of Long Island’s south fork.
A mixture of low rolling dunes and high cliffs frame the beaches in Montauk.
Kirk Beach Park, Ditch Plains Beach, and Gin Beach provide the perfect secluded beach experience.
Kirk Park Beach is a great pick, first and foremost, because parking is free.
The beach has a lifeguard during the peak season and toilet and shower facilities.
Gin Beach is situated on the Long Island Sound at the mouth of Lake Montauk.
As you can watch the boats travel in and out of the harbour, Gin Beach is a great calm beach to bring the kids.
Ditch Plains Beach is a popular spot among surfers offering great waves, great views, and a great atmosphere.
7- Main Beach, East Hampton
East Hampton Main Beach is one of the beaches in the world-famous elite summer holiday destination known as The Hamptons.
As well as silky sand, you may just come across a celebrity or two at this famous Hampton beach.
Main Beach is also conveniently situated and is only a 25-minute walk to the East Hampton downtown which has lots of places to grab a bite to eat.
There is a lifeguard, toilets and showers, and a kiosk selling snacks and ice cream at the beach.
There’s even a used book library, handy for if you run out of reading materials.
8- Rockaway Beach, Queens
Convenient summer sand and sun just a subway ride away is Rockaway Beach’s main attraction.
To get to Rockaway Beach from Manhattan, just take the subway and unlike many other American beaches, Rockaway Beach is free.
Many food trucks line the beach offering affordable and delicious lunch options.
Rockaway is one of the best beaches in New York for surfing in the city and is New York City’s only legal surfing beach.
With basketball courts, baseball fields, playgrounds, barbecuing areas and shower facilities, it’s a well-equipped beach perfect for hosting you and your friends for the entire day.
9- Fort Tilden Beach, Queens
Located right along from Rockaway Beach is Fort Tilden Beach.
Unlike other beaches along the Rockaway Peninsular, Fort Tilden is more secluded and, therefore, quieter.
Most people just don’t bother venturing this far down the sandy shoreline.
The fort that Fort Tilden Beach is named after was established in 1917 to protect New York Harbor from naval attacks.
The fort was armed and locked during both world wars and the Cold War.
Explore the old fort in more detail, and you will find abandoned bunkers, missile sites and rather a lot of graffiti since the fort’s decommission in the 1970s.
You can rent bikes at Prospect Park and cycle over the Marine Parkway Bridge to Fort Tilden Beach if you are up for a cycle.
It’s the perfect way to take in the views.
10- Lighthouse Beach, Fire Island, Suffolk County
Located just off the southern coast of Long Island, Fire Island is a spectacularly long barrier island.
This idyllic sandy landscape is a far cry from the densely populated metropolis of NYC.
This 26-mile (42 km) island is home to the breathtaking Lighthouse Beach.
This sand dune-backed beach wouldn’t feel out of place in New England.
Lighthouse Beach is the ultimate escape, with the lighthouse being the only reminder of civilisation.
Standing at 167 ft (51 m), Fire Island lighthouse is the tallest of Long Island’s 20 lighthouses.
Head up this black and white striped lighthouse where, on a clear day, you’ll be able to see New York City in the distance.
11- Robert Moses State Park, Fire Island, Suffolk County
Just along from Lighthouse Beach on Fire Island is Robert Moses State Park, with nearly five miles (8 km) of shoreline to enjoy.
Swim, bodyboard, surf or surf fish, it’s up to you.
Facilities at Robert Moses include picnic benches, showers and toilet facilities, a beach shop and even an 18-hole pitch and put golf course.
Robert Moses State Park is quite large and split into five fields.
The pitch and put can be found on field 2, while field 3 is home to a large recreation area and field 5 is home to a beautiful nature walk that leads to Fire Island Lighthouse.
Beaches In New York State
12- Olcott Beach, Lake Ontario
The shores of Lake Ontario are shared between Ontario, Canada and New York, USA.
Lake Ontario is the smallest of the Great Lakes, yet it provides upstate New Yorkers with ample coastline and beaches to explore.
Olcott Beach is close to the Canadian border, just a 40-minute drive from Niagara Falls.
The charming beach town of Olcott offers a unique seaside town vibe full of vibrance and quirk.
Olcott Beach’s pebbled covered sand and tranquil clear waters offer an excellent cooling-off spot in the hot summer months.
After exploring the beach and a dip in the lake, check out the Olcott Lighthouse located at the end of Olcott Pier.
The lighthouse feels more like a glorified beach hut than a lighthouse, but this cutesy little lighthouse is worth a visit.
13- Evangola State Park Beach, Lake Erie
Lake Erie is the second-smallest of the Great Lakes and shares its waters with Ontario, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan.
Drive 27 miles (44 km) from Buffalo, NY, and you will reach Evangola State Park.
The Evangola State Park Beach is a perfect spot for swimming, picnicking, and relaxing on the sandy shores.
Bring your lunch or buy something to go from one of the local eateries but be sure to choose a lake view picnic table to eat at.
There’s also a campground, shower, and toilet facilities if you want to stay in the area.
It’s the perfect spot for a sunrise beach walk.
14- Million Dollar Beach, Lake George
Close to the border with Vermont, Lake George is home to the beautiful Million Dollar Beach.
Million Dollar Beach sits on the southernmost shores of the lake in front of Lake George Battlefield State Park.
This white sandy beach is open from the end of May to the beginning of September from 10 am to 6 pm.
So swim in the lake’s waters, launch your boat, enjoy a volleyball game, or chill out on the beach to enjoy a great day at Million Dollar.
One thing you won’t be short of at Lake George is the incredible views.
From the beach, you can see Buck Mountain and Cat Mountain and Prospect Mountain to the west.
It’s hard not to picture spending more than a few days in the Lake George area, hiking, swimming, and relaxing on the beach.
15- Sandy Island Beach State Park, Lake Ontario
The Sandy Island Beach State Park sits on the eastern bank of Lake Ontario and Sandy Pond Beach is the main beach.
The beach is a sand bar between Lake Ontario and North Sandy Pond and is a conservation area backed by grassy dunes.
This area on eastern Lake Ontario is the only significant freshwater sand dune in the whole of the northeastern United States.
The beach is only open from 11 am to 7 pm on weekends between May and mid-June, but open every day from 18 June until 5 September.
16- Lake Erie Beach Park, Lake Erie
Funnily enough, Lake Erie Beach Park is located on Lake Erie and is a great beach to go to in the late afternoon.
Enjoy some time swimming in Lake Erie where the waters are calm, play in the sand, head out for dinner at any one of the restaurants overlooking the beach and lake, and relax as the sunsets.
Lake Erie Beach Park is open all year round from 8 am to 10 pm and admission is free.
17- Mirror Lake Public Beach, Lake Placid
Lake Placid is both a village and a lake in New York’s Adirondack Mountains.
In winter, it’s a popular snow sports centre and was a former Winter Olympics venue.
Lake Placid is known for great hiking opportunities and Mirror Lake’s Public Beach in the summer.
The beach can be found at the southern end of Mirror Lake and has a sandy, grassy and gravel shoreline.
Swim, paddleboard, kayak or aqua-bike, Mirror Lake is the perfect spot for an outdoor summer adventure in the sun.
The famous Ironman Triathlon is held a Mirror Lake, so the lake will be closed to swimmers and watersports on that day, but you can instead watch this impressive event.
18- Southwick Beach State Park
Southwick Beach State Park sits on the east side of Lake Ontario, around 25 miles from the city of Watertown.
The Lakeview Marsh and Barrier Beach National Natural Landmark is to the south of the beach.
Southwick Beach is a long sandy stretch of beach backed with dunes and trees.
Visitors to this flagship beach can enjoy picnics on the designated benches, hiking trails, sports field facilities and plenty of walking along the shores of Lake Ontario.
19- Long Lake Town Beach, Adirondacks
Long Lake Town Beach is in the small hamlet of Long Lake in the Adirondacks.
Long Lake Town Beach boasts incredible views of the Seward Mountain Range.
There is so much fun at Long Lake Beach that it will keep you and the family entertained well into the evening.
This lake beach is sandy but small, but it’s the water you go for.
Long Lake has a fantastic swimming dock with a mini trampoline, slides, and rope swings for hurling yourself into the water.
This NY beach has a lifeguard on duty between 10 am and 6 pm.
20- Glimmerglass State Park Beach, Cooperstown
I do not blame you if you want to visit this beach just to say you are going to Glimmerglass.
Doesn’t it sound lovely?
Glimmerglass State Park Beach is located on the northeast side of Otsego Lake in central New York.
The park is named after the lake portrayed in James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales, a series of five novels written in the 18th century.
With a picnic area overlooking the beach, the meandering Shadow Brook to the left of the beach, and lush greenery surrounding the beach, there are plenty of exciting things to do at this inland lake.
Stay until sunset to watch the red and pink hues glimmer on the Glimmerglass lake’s waters.