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4 Great NY Beaches You Can Easily Get to Without a Car

<strong>Fort Tilden:</strong> The beaches at this decommissioned military base in Queens can be tricky to get to without a car, but two wheels are good enough. Either plan for an epic two hour bike ride from Manhattan or take your bike on the B/Q train to the Sheepshead Bay / East 16 Street station (at Avenue Z). From there, it's about a 7 mile bike ride, first through relatively quiet residential streets, then on a bike path along the beaches, and finally over the Marine Parkway Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge and into <a href="http://www.nyharborparks.org/visit/foti.html">Fort Tilden</a>. (<a href="http://www.ridethecity.com/">Map it</a>.) Lock your bike at a bike rack behind the bathroom across from the baseball diamonds, or pedal a little further to the beach and lock to a chain link fence by the dunes.<p></p>There are no lifeguards, so watch out for riptide. There are also no amenities other than that bathroom by the bike rack. So bring your own food. But what's great about the Fort Tilden beach is its DIY vibe; it's also relatively uncrowded. It's also part of Gateway National Recreation Area, and when you're done with the sand there's lots to explore along the trails. Like <a href="http://randolphmase.wordpress.com/2009/01/30/gateway-national-recreation-area-%E2%80%93-jamaica-bay-unit/">this</a>!


<strong>Sandy Hook: </strong>Hands down our favorite of this group, these public ocean-front beaches are as beautiful as they are easily accessible... <em>for a price.</em> $40 gets you a round trip ferry ride to New Jersey's <a href="http://www.sandy-hook.com/">Sandy Hook</a>, where both family-oriented and nude beaches await. <a href="http://www.seastreak.com/">The Seastreak ferry</a> leaves from Pier 11 &amp; East 35th Street on the East River, and arrives at Sandy Hook about 45 minutes later. <p></p>There, a free bus awaits to drive you to the beaches, or you can bring you bike (for an extra $5) and pedal over to the beach on the bike trails. It's about a five minute bike ride to the nearest beach, and a little further to the nude beach (which is a real sausage fest). Each of the main beaches have lifeguards, bathrooms, showers, changing rooms, umbrella rentals, and snack food stands. Also note, if you want to kick your beach getaway up a notch, the Seastreak also operates ferries to Martha's Vineyard!


<em>Courtesy <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/23912576@N05/3565767070/">laverrue's Flickr</a></em><p></p><a href="http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/manhattanbeachpark">Manhattan Beach</a> is the cleaner, emptier alternative to the Coney Island and Brighton Beaches. Like those two locales, it is also conveniently located in Brooklyn (ignore the misnomer), but the calming ocean breeze isn’t spoiled by relaxation-reducing tourists or the overwhelming number of Brighton Beach residents.<p></p> It’s about a 40 minute subway ride from Union Square, plus an additional 10 minute bus ride or 20 minute walk. That walk would take you over the quaint Sheepshead Bay on an equally quaint wooden footbridge, and then through the quiet and majestically ritzy Manhattan Beach residential area. Surrounding the beach is a large designated space for grilling and a variety of playgrounds, making Manhattan Beach the perfect spot for an all-day, blood-pressure-lowering adventure.



<em>Courtesy <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/23912576@N05/3565767070/">laverrue's Flickr</a></em><p></p><strong>Jones Beach:</strong> It can get crowded and it takes a bit of time to get out there, but <a href="http://nysparks.state.ny.us/parks/10/details.aspx">Jones Beach State Park</a> is definitely the place to go for a big, classic day at the beach. It boasts 6.5 miles of ocean beach, a beautiful boardwalk, a half mile of bay beach, two swimming pools, miniature golf, <em>and a Friendly's.</em> Hell, even Grammy award-winning recording artist <em>Sting</em> is playing the amphitheater tonight! <p></p>Depending on where you're coming from in the city, it can take between 90 minutes to two hours by mass transit. You take the LIRR to the Freeport Stop, where you'll squeeze onto an MTA bus packed with rowdy teenagers who will spark a wave of dread and doubt about your decision to ever leave the A.C. <em>Maintain.</em> As everyone gets off at the West Bath House, remain calm and seated. Go further, to the East Bath House, where the beach tends to be less crowded. While it's true the Friendly's is located at the West Bath House, it's advisable to hit that at the end of the day, after a leisurely walk along the boardwalk.