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The Ultimate Ranking of New York City’s Best Beaches

New York City’s beaches have changed a lot in the last few years, and it’s totally for the better. Every summer, beachgoers happily welcome more dining options, better accessibility, and less trash (I don’t remember the last time I found a syringe in the sand, but maybe I’m lucky).

Is NYC on its way to becoming a “beach city?” OK, probably not. But if you live here, you do have some lovely options for digging your toes in the sand and feeling the salt spray on your face, without buying more than a MetroCard.

By / June 8, 2017

Each city shoreline offers something unique and different, so we all have a favorite. Here at Rally, we’ve written about the best New York beaches in the past, but in honor of all these great new changes, let’s do a little reevaluation and rate our faves. Here’s our very-subjective ranking of the best beaches in the city.


8. Midland Beach (Staten Island)

Midland Beach is a great neighborhood beach, but unfortunately ranks last on our list of the best NYC beaches because it’s the least accessible of all of them.

The sand and sea itself is comparable to other city beaches. The shuffleboard and handball courts make for a fun afternoon, and the long, spacious boardwalk is great for going on a sunny summer jog or casual bike ride.

But if you want to go and don’t live in the neighborhood, you’ve gotta drive or be forced to take two buses. That sort of kills the magic, right?



7. Manhattan Beach (Brooklyn)

On the same peninsula as Coney Island, all the way east past Brighton Beach, you’ll find Manhattan Beach, a patch of sand typically less crowded than its fun-loving neighbors.

There isn’t a ton to do other than wade and sunbathe, but it’s a nice beach to set up camp on if you love the calm waters, but don’t want the crowds of Coney Island. Get there early, bring a grill, and have a chill weekend.



6. Fort Tilden Beach (Queens)

Fort Tilden is a beautiful and relatively untouched beach … until summer weekends, when half of gentrified Bushwick shows up.

Accessibility has improved with specialty beach buses and ferries dropping off passengers pretty close to the shore, but come prepared: it’s isolated from everything else. No lifeguard means you can have more fun, but also are more likely to die in the ocean, which, uh, isn’t fun.

Make it an easy, relaxing day by riding your bike and packing a picnic lunch with plenty of water and booze. Yes, Fort Tilden Beach is beloved for its quiet seclusion, but it’s really a destination spot, requiring extra planning. (And maybe go during the week, when it’s actually quiet and secluded.)


First light @ #forttilden

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5. Orchard Beach (Bronx)

Orchard Beach is the only public beach in the Bronx, and as such, is quite crowded on hot summer weekends. But during the week, it’s serene and beautiful, and a great place to escape the city.

Sitting on Pelham Bay, the water is calm, shallow, and warm, perfect for days when you’d rather float in the sun than battle the rough waves farther south. And surprisingly, it’s actually man-made! Surrounded by beautiful forests and with pretty views of City Island, it’s easy to see why this spot was chosen to create Orchard Beach in the ‘30s.

Food options aren’t as unique as at some other city beaches, but there are plenty of vendors, and extracurriculars abound. Check out some cool nature hikes, like Kazimiroff Nature Trail, which goes through a wooded area and ends at a scenic coastline view. Orchard Beach is a unique destination, unlike any other beach on this list.



4. Brighton Beach (Brooklyn)

Brighton Beach blends right into the edge of Coney Island. You’d think you were still at Coney, if it weren’t for the lack of bright flashing lights and screaming kids on carnival rides. It’s a chiller experience with more green space, gazebos, and quiet cafes to hang out at in between sunning sessions.

And there’s no shortage of food or entertainment nearby. The neighborhood of Brighton Beach is also known as Little Odessa, and cute Russian shops and restaurants offer plenty to explore.

Visit Cafe At Your Mother-in-Law for hearty, affordable Korean/Uzbek food, or Gambrinus, a Russian seafood restaurant decorated like a ship and featuring a great beer menu. Why finish off a beach day with a hamburger when you can get borscht instead?



3. Jacob Riis Park Beach (Queens)

Rightfully called “the people’s beach,” Jacob Riis Park Beach has always been super popular, but a new group of beachgoers flock here for the Riis Park Beach Bazaar, an indoor/outdoor market filled with shopping, food, live music, and tons more.

Vendors include local flavors from the ubiquitous (like Ample Hills Creamery and Chick’nCone) to the cool and new (like the Middle Eastern flavors of Samesa and the mobile Latin restaurant Comostamos). The bazaar also lets you do some shopping at one of the indie pop-up shops, like the beach outpost of Rockaway-based Zingara Vintage.

Riis Beach might also be the only beach to feature beachside yoga, along with multiple other sporting areas, from pickleball to soccer. Plus, with tons of grills, a new beach ferry, and a long idyllic shoreline, it’s the perfect place for a party—or just an afternoon away from it all.


Decided to give the NYC beaches a try 🌞

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2. Coney Island (Brooklyn)

Coney Island is NYC’s beach where swimming is happily the afterthought. Yes, you absolutely can swim at Coney Island; you might even make some new friends on the weekend, when everyone is drunk on illegally purchased Coronas and pumping the radio from retro boomboxes. However, the boardwalk is the real star of the show.

Honestly, what’s better than riding a century-old ferris wheel while eating cotton candy with the scent of the salty ocean in your nose? Or riding a terrifying roller coaster before playing carnival games on the boardwalk?

Then, after a long day of getting toasty in the sun, strip down to your bikini and run into the ocean. Coney Island is different from any other beach in America, and that’s why we love it.


#coneyisland4lyfe #latergram #nyc2017

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1. Rockaway Beach (Queens)

Rockaway Beach truly has something for everyone.

For starters, the swimming areas are plentiful and clean. Where the tides are too rough to wade, bring your board and surf (or just watch hot surfers do their thing). You can also find spots for beach volleyball or excellent beachcombing.

Sit by the beach and grab lunch from Rippers or Caracas Arepa, or pick up something from a local favorite like Tacoway Beach or Last Dragon Pizza and hang out with your friends by the water. If you’re feeling anti-social and just want some mostly quiet beach time, walk west between stops on the S shuttle and you’ll find a little bit of seclusion, or at least some sand.

And it’s so accessible. Even if you can’t afford the ferry or a fancy beach bus, Rockaway Beach is at the end of the A train, which reaches all the way to the northernmost point of Manhattan and connects to almost every other train line. In other words, Rockaway Beach has all the characteristics that make up a perfect city beach.


Rockaway Beach is a neighborhood on the Rockaway Peninsula in the New York Cityborough of Queens. It is located on the South Shore of Long Island. The neighborhood is bounded by Arverne to the east and Rockaway Park to the west. It is named for Rockaway Beach, which is the largest urban beach in the United States, stretching for miles along the Rockaway Peninsula facing the Atlantic Ocean; the beach itself is run and operated by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. The neighborhood, with 13,000 residents as of 2010, was once known as the "Irish Riviera" because of the large Irish American population in the area. #BigApple #NewYork #rockawaybeach #June #beach #NYC #TimeoutNewYork #summer #nyclife #manhattan #photography #photooftheday #photooftheweek #seasons #TheBigApple #america #queens #Irish #IrishRiviera #LongIsland

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Quinne Myers is a writer, illustrator, apparel designer, and lingerie industry pundit living in Brooklyn. Loves sweaty concert dancing, eating dessert, feeling feelings, and petting every dog.

More articles by Quinne Myers



  1. I’m very surprised coney island made 2nd choice, if even the list at all. I thought this was a rating for the beach, not the park(s) or whatever is next to it. The water and beach at coney island has so many commuters from the park that they’re both disgusting. I would not step foot in that water.

  2. A few of these beaches are nice, but I definitely do not agree with this list/order. Coney Island is fun for an amusement park but terrible for the beach…It’s dirty and often very overcrowded. Orchard Beach is nice to visit and look at, but not healthy to swim at, due to the high level of algae and natural chemicals in their waters. Also, while this is a list of NYC beaches, there are some fantastic and very clean beaches just a short drive away into Long Island.

  3. Rainbowtea

    I’m surprised that Orchard Beach made it to the list. as a child I always thought it was yucky. Isn’t beach water supposed to be like uhhh blue?

  4. NYC Livin'

    Clearly you are not from here… There are these huge crab looking shits that are round, flat, & have the diameter of a foot or so and they scare the shit out of me (at orchard)!!! Plus everybody and their mother from the Bronx goes to orchard therefore the people around are not those who’d you want to be around, in my opinion. Coney is literally packed every time I go and there is always a fight happening there as are the cops always around. The only ones that I like are Brighton and Rockaway… they are so much cleaner and less packed.

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