Best NYC beaches with small kids?
February 20, 2016 10:52 AM   Subscribe

I am looking forward to summer, when my kids will finally be old enough for me to manage a beach day trip without a stroller (I think). What are the best beaches, accessible by public transport, for small children? Requirements/desires within.

We've avoided the NYC beaches thus far with our kids because it's seemed like a huge ordeal to get to one without a car, with a stroller, timed around the naps, plus we are very fair-skinned people and burn within minutes. But this summer the kids will be 6 and almost 3 and I think I can do it without a stroller. Good people of Mefi, please tell me your favorite beaches for small kids that meet the following criteria:

1) Can get there with no car and it's not a huge hassle. We are in Brooklyn right on the F line and can get to the A/C/2/3/4/5/N/R pretty easily.
2) Have umbrellas to rent (or maybe you can suggest some kind of portable umbrella or shade structure that will shade 3-4 people?)
3) Have gentle or no waves.
4) Is as nice and as beautiful as can be expected with probably large crowds of beachgoers.

#3 feels challenging? We took one trip to Robert Moses (in a car) a few years ago and the surf really felt too rough for a small child to have any fun in.

I found this in Time Out and it looks like Orchard Beach, Sandy Hook (NJ) and the Staten Island beaches look the most promising. FWIW, we'd be up and out early from BK, leaving 7-8AM and probably return mid-afternoon.

Thanks for your thoughts/experiences!
posted by pipti to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
My favorite quiet spot on the subway is Far Rockaway around Beach 98. It's on the Rockaway Shuttle, which is an extension of the A line. It's Atlantic facing, so it could in principle be choppy if the weather is rough, but it's only ever been calm at the shore when I've been there. Supervised kids should be fine, and there are lots of families. There are concessions with bike rentals and other paraphernalia, but not sure about umbrellas specifically.

Coney Island is easier to get to for you (straight shot on the F) and it's more sheltered than Rockaway, so very calm seas. But it's Coney Island, so it's very busy.
posted by caek at 11:28 AM on February 20, 2016

Try Coney Island- it's nice to take only one train. With two umbrellas you'd probably be fine. I don't know if it's possible to rent them there. If you walk the equivalent of a few blocks down the boardwalk, to the west, the beach is much less crowded [especially if you get there way early]. There are never big waves there. Not sure if this would be a plus for you, but Coney Island means you can also go on rides, or to the aquarium, or to a cyclones game so you don't have to burn on the beach allllll day. The rockaways are prettier but it can be a hassle to get there
posted by the twistinside at 12:57 PM on February 20, 2016

As people have said, the surf at Coney Island is calm. That's even more so at Brighton Beach, which is tucked farther behind the Rockaways. Of course, it's very crowded--but maybe easier to deal with on a weekday, if you were thinking along those lines?
posted by the_blizz at 2:10 PM on February 20, 2016

I love the Rockaways but they definitely do not meet criteria #3-- the waves get huge and the rip tide can be very strong. I'm a decent but not particularly strong swimmer and there have been plenty of times when the waves were too much for me.

I think the best beach for you would be Manhattan Beach but it's admittedly not the easiest to get to. However, if you can get to the B/Q easily enough then it's only a short ride from the Brighton Beach stop on the B1 bus. You can't rent umbrellas-- I don't think any of the beaches within NYC do-- but there is a large shady picnic area you could take advantage of. The water is very calm and it's much less crowded than other NYC beaches because of its relative inaccessibility.
posted by fox problems at 2:41 PM on February 20, 2016

Adding that the Rockaways are not very family friendly, as far as I've seen. The waves do get rough, the shore is uneven in depth, and there's rip currents.
posted by hyperion at 4:08 PM on February 20, 2016

I used to live in Staten Island and will vouch for South and or Midland Beach being viable options! Ticks all your boxes. From the ferry terminal they're a not-cripplingly long bus ride on the S51. You may be pleasantly surprised by how pretty the shoreline is over there. Both beaches have boardwalks (non-commercialized ones - not like the Jersey Shore kind) which are awesome for nature observation as well as swimming areas with lifeguards, etc. Not rough water. Lots of families. You'll forget you're in the five boros!
posted by Otter_Handler at 4:19 AM on February 21, 2016

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! Coney Island is first on the list. I want to try Staten Island but I think walk-->subway-->ferry-->bus will too much for a three-year-old. Will wait a year or two on that one.
posted by pipti at 9:35 AM on February 23, 2016

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