Here’s where all of the most stylish New Yorkers will be spending their summer Fridays.
New York City in August is a ghost town. As temperatures peak in the city, families escape to the shore. While the Hamptons is the most infamous beach destination for New Yorkers, it’s not the only one. From subway-accessible beaches in Brooklyn to the far corners of the North Fork of Long Island, these are the coolest beach destinations for the city’s most stylish residents.
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WHERE: New Jersey
In the last century, Asbury Park, New Jersey has gone from a glamorous 1920s weekend getaway to a seedy beach town to a hipster hotspot. Closer than the Hamptons and much more affordable, Asbury Park attracts stylish artists, families, and members of the LGBTQ community to its funky downtown and cool Art Deco boardwalk.
Where to Eat & Drink: The Jersey Shore’s best pizza can be found at Talula’s, a Neapolitan-style casual-chic eatery known for locally-sourced ingredients, farm-to-table dishes, and natural wines.
Where to Stay: The Asbury Hotel is by far the coolest hotel in New Jersey, with a happening rooftop bar, a boozy pool scene, and chic rooms just steps from the Boardwalk.
INSIDER TIPVisiting the beach is not cheap in Asbury Park–there’s a $7 mandatory fee for everybody, even if you’re not in a car.
WHERE: New Jersey
Technically, Manhattan’s closest beach (accessible by ferry in under 30 minutes), Sandy Hook, is an undeveloped former army base that’s home to a lighthouse, plenty of bay and ocean beaches, and even a nude beach.
Where to Eat & Drink: This is a BYO picnic kind of beach, although there are food trucks on summer weekends. If you choose to drive instead of taking the ferry, nearby Moby’s Lobster Deck serves baskets of fried seafood right on the water. For something a little more upscale, visit Bahr’s Landing.
Where to Stay: Sandy Hook’s proximity to the city means it’s more of a day trip than an overnight trip, but if you’d like to make a weekend out of it, you can search for AirBnBs in the town of Atlantic Highlands.
Brighton Beach & Coney Island
Coney Island is the weirdo capital of New York in the best way possible. It’s a strange, sometimes scary, and always wonderful place that time forgot. The beach isn’t the cleanest in the world, but you’re here for the rides at Luna Park, the boozy slushies served in the creepy carnival maze under Deno’s Wonder Wheel, and people-watching on the boardwalk.
Where to Eat & Drink: No day at Coney Island is complete without a walk down the boardwalk to Brighton Beach, Brooklyn’s Russian enclave, for a surprisingly delicious meal at Tatiana Restaurant & Nightclub.
Where to Stay: Coney Island and Brighton Beach are accessible by subway and there are few hotels in the area.
The Rockaways & Fort Tilden
If you’re wondering where all the beautiful and tattooed denizens of Bushwick are hanging out on summer weekends, head to Fort Tilden and the Rockaways. Accessible by both subway and ferry, Fort Tilden, Jacob Riis, and the Rockaways are surprisingly clean for city beaches, with golden sand and deep blue-green water that’s warmer than the Hamptons. The Rockaways are a place for dartying (day partying), so bring your boombox and a cooler full of booze (no glass allowed). If you look cool enough (try not to dress like an off-duty cop), people on the beach might try and sell you homemade rum punch or margaritas–say yes, because they’re delicious and the party’s just getting started.
Where to Eat & Drink: The boardwalk is lined with summer pop-up restaurants serving everything from ceviche to pizza. Rippers at Beach 86th street is an iconic summer hangout right on the beach. Off the boardwalk, visit the Rockaway Beach Surf Club for margaritas and tacos.
Where to Stay: Although the Rockaways are accessible by subway as a day trip from New York, it’s work making a weekend out of it since there are some fun and funky options for spending the night: One of the coolest options in the area is Camp Rockaway at Jacob Riis Beach. Chic safari-style tents with cozy beds, a fire pit, and picnic tables make this a low-key and stylish adventure. You won’t believe you’re still in New York City.
WHERE: New York
Fire Island National Seashore is arguably the most beautiful beach in New York. The 32-mile long barrier island is a protected area with unique wildlife and a few enclaves of tiny car-free villages that all have a different personality. Families and Fire Island newbies should head to Ocean Beach, which is where you’ll find most of the hotels, restaurants, and vacation conveniences. But to get to know the real Fire Island, you’ll want to rent a house or know somebody who has a house in either Cherry Grove or The Pines, the center of Fire Island’s LGBTQ+ culture. You’ll get to experience avant-garde art events and all-night parties in an idyllic setting that feels much farther from the city than it really is. Before you go, brush up on your cultural history with Cherry Grove, Fire Island: Sixty Years in America’s First Gay and Lesbian Town.
Where to Stay: Hotels are few and far between on Fire Island. Make a friend with somebody fancy who owns a house, or check out Airbnb to find a mid-century cottage by the beach.
East Hampton & Amagansett
WHERE: New York
While East Hampton might be the most famous and chi-chi of all the Hamptons, nearby Amagansett is the most low-key–but equally as star-studded. The town of East Hampton is the luxury shopping mecca of Long Island, with high-end vintage stores, expertly curated boutiques, and one of the best bookstores around. It’s also a cultural hub, with lectures, concerts, and performances at Guild Hall and an out-of-this-world sculpture park that’s home to works by Buckminster Fuller and Yoko Ono. The beaches in both towns are beautiful and pristine, with restricted access for non-resident vehicles (but biking or walking to the beach is free). There’s not much in terms of beach amenities, so bring your own shade and picnic and set up for a day in the sun.
Where to Eat & Drink: Visit Amagansett Square for a little shopping at Ulla Johnson, Love Adorned, and Innersleeve Records before dinner at Wölffer Kitchen, a spin-off restaurant from Bridgehampton’s beautiful Wölffer Estate Vineyard. After dinner, the legendary Talkhouse beckons with big-ticket acts, fun cover bands, and karaoke nights.
Where to Stay: Everything in the Hamptons is going to cost an arm and a leg, and if it’s going to be expensive, it might as well be chic as hell, too. The Maidstone is a mishmash of styles and patterns that’s so fabulous you’ll want to move in immediately and never leave. Comfy rooms and a great restaurant make this one of the best boutique hotels in the Hamptons. Terra Glamping has over-the-top tents just steps from the water in Napeaugue.
WHERE: New York
While Bushwick favors the Rockaways, glitzier Williamsburg favors Montauk. This is where you’ll find all the fancy creative people you follow on Instagram rubbing elbows with Malia Obama and Leonardo DiCaprio at a bar that looks straight out of an Anthropologie photoshoot. Montauk is adjacent to the Hamptons (just a few minutes’ drive east) but it’s an entirely different scene, with refurbished motels right on the beach, wild nightlife, and a healthy-meets-hedonistic vibe that will have you partying until 5 am and surfing at sunrise.
Where to Eat & Drink: Lobster at Duryea’s Lobster Deck, sunset drinks at Montauket, a candlelit dinner at The Crow’s Nest, a concert at The Surf Lodge, and late-night dancing at Memory Motel (in exactly that order).
Where to Stay: Montauk is awash in hipsterified seasonal hotels, but if you’re looking for something a bit upscale, Gurney’s Montauk Hotel & Spa is right on the beach with ocean views, a year-round swimming pool, and a fancy restaurant. The most fun place to stay is Ruschmeyer’s, a woodsy-chic hotel with individual cabins reminiscent of boozy adult summer camp. During the week it’s a quiet respite from the city, while the weekends tend to go a bit wild. Don’t miss out on the restaurant here, with seafood specials and clam pizza served with large-format cocktails for a group. Play lawn games under the string lights outside before curling up by the fire to make s’mores.
WHERE: New York
Shelter Island feels like what might happen if you put the Hamptons in a time machine and time-traveled back 50 years. The quiet island is relaxed and low-key, with beautiful homes and overgrown hedges overlooking the rocky beaches of the many coves and inlets of this 8,000-acre island. As you might assume with an island, most of the action takes place on the water, so you’ll make the most of your weekend with a boat, a kayak, or a stand-up paddleboard at your disposal to navigate the beaches and wetlands.
Where to Eat & Drink: Get to Commander Cody’s early for home-cooked seafood (literally, you’re eating in somebody’s back yard) and soul food staples. For fancy food with a water view, head to Salt and order any of the sushi appetizers. (Make sure to hang out for a drink after your meal at the sailboat-turned-tiki bar in the boatyard next door.) There’s only one place in town to party, and that’s Sunset Beach, a super-stylish beachfront hotel that’s great for–you guessed it–sunset cocktails. Order as many bottles of rosé as you can afford and groove to the uber-hip beats of the DJ fresh of the plane from Berlin.
Where to Stay: Shelter Island is a place where you’ll have the best time as a guest in a fancy person’s home, but if that’s not an option, head to The Chequit, a historic hotel that’s been recently revamped with a preppy-meets-bohemian vibe and an excellent onsite restaurant.
WHERE: New York
While the South Fork of Long Island is home to wide, golden beaches, the North Fork faces Peconic Bay and the Long Island Sound, with smaller, rockier beaches and calm water. That doesn’t mean it’s not a beach destination, but don’t come here expecting to surf. Instead, the focus is more on the town than the beach, where you’ll find quaint antique shops like Beal & Bell, cool vintage stores like The Times, and hip speakeasy bars like Brix & Rye. Greenport is also the heart of the Long Island wine scene, so bring (or rent) a bike to check out all the vineyards.
Where to Eat & Drink: Greenport puts the Hamptons to absolute shame when it comes to the quality and level of service you’ll find in restaurants. Little Creek Oyster is a cult favorite in a tiny hidden shop, while Barba Bianca serves fancified Italian seafood. 1943 serves some of the best pizza anywhere (seriously–it’s on par with NYC’s most revered pizza joints) while The Halyard is a can’t-miss for delicious waterfront dining and an epic piano bar that makes you feel like you’re time traveling. Days Like These at Lin Beach House feels like a private drinking club in the tropics, and they’ll even help you create your very own gin at Matchbook Distilling Co. Keep an eye on their Instagram for announcements about special pop-up dinners.
Where to Stay: Sound View is a simple and chic motel that got a recent makeover, turning it into one of the most stylish hotels on Long Island. The minimalist rooms are just steps from the Long Island Sound, making the balconies the ideal place for watching the sunset. It’s cozy in the winter and breezy in the summer–the perfect weekend getaway.