Mark your calendar for May 29, 2021. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday that all of New York City’s public beaches will open Memorial Day Weekend.
New Yorkers will be allowed to swim from 10 am to 6 pm, daily, when lifeguards are on duty. Entrance is free, and beaches typically remain open until Labor Day, which falls on September 6 this year.
Coney Island is among one of New York City’s most iconic destinations. Pre-pandemic, the beach would typically get crowded with tourists and locals alike, due to the other amenities nearby, such as the amusement park and food stands.
Last summer, the beaches opened later, for a shortened season. But when they did open, beaches became a popular gathering spot for socially-distanced groups.
If you’re looking for a less-crowded option, you might want to venture over to Brighton Beach, located a little further down the coastline from Coney Island.
Take the Q train to the Ocean Parkway subway stop. Walk a block toward the waterfront. You will find a ramp leading up to the boardwalk.
Pictured below, these “comfort stations” along the boardwalk have been the subject of some controversy in the past. Wondering what’s inside these odd-looking structures? Toilets.
I took the photo above two summers ago, and I was amused by the scene. The man and woman in the foreground appeared to be a married couple. The man is snapping photos of two young women clad in funky platform shoes, their hair dyed bright green and purple. The wife is watching her husband take their photo, her arms akimbo.
As for swimming in the ocean, I feel it’s my duty to be blunt about what to expect. The last time I went swimming at Brighton Beach, back in the summer of 2019, I saw a dead rat floating in the water. So, if you’re new to city beaches, don’t expect a luxurious experience.
Even if you don’t want to go swimming, walking along the boardwalk can be a stimulating and refreshing way to spend a few hours on the weekend. The air feels cleaner along the water, away from the congestion of the city.
Personally, I love sitting on a towel in the sand, listening to the ocean’s waves. I find the atmosphere calming and rejuvenating.
I chose to highlight Brighton Beach because I have visited that one the most. For many New Yorkers, the ideal beach will depend on access and proximity to other amenities.
Beach photo by author July 2019.
Comfort station photo by author June 2019.
Boardwalk photo by author May 2018.