Outdoors & Recreation
Surf City: NYC's Best Beach Spots
by Heather Liang, 05/14/2014 [Updated 05/13/2015]
Brighton Beach. Photo: Will Steacy
Second on our list of beachiest boroughs is Brooklyn—with four locations where you can sun yourself on the sand or cool off in the ocean. By far the most well-known beach in all of NYC, Coney Island has a long and storied history. Once the largest amusement area in the country, Coney Island hit a rough patch following World War II after some neglect, but in recent years it again has become one of the top places for a true NYC experience. This neighborhood has it all, including nearly three miles of beach property, a boardwalk, amusement park rides (like the famous Cyclone, the new Thunderbolt and Deno's Wonder Wheel), minor-league baseball, playgrounds, bicycling, greenways—and access to venerable restaurants like Nathan's and attractions like the New York Aquarium. Another household name is neighboring Brighton Beach, made famous not only by the 1983 Neil Simon play Brighton Beach Memoirs but also by its delicious Eastern European food, courtesy of the large Russian population that resides here. Brighton Beach features its own small beach, which makes it feel more local and intimate than nearby Coney Island. Travel farther east and you'll hit Manhattan Beach, a more suburban and small-town beach area, good for families, with its playgrounds, sports facilities, dog-friendly spots and barbecuing spaces. Located along the Belt Parkway near Sheepshead Bay is Plumb Beach, a narrow sliver of shorefront that's more suitable for water-based activities than for sunbathing. Known for the abundance of horseshoe crabs that breed here, the beach gets high winds that make conditions ideal for windsurfers and kiteboarders, and the presence of public restrooms and food trucks make it a popular rest stop for bikers traveling along the adjacent Greenway.