The best NJ beaches closest to NYC: Must-know details before your trip
"Hot town, summer in the city. Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty..."
Those lyrics ring true for any New Yorker dealing with the sweltering city life in June, July and August. So, rather than sweat through another day without air conditioning, pack up the family and head to the Jersey Shore to cool off, either for the day or a weekend.
Sugar-like sand, the cool ocean breeze and refreshing waves, the boardwalk, the rides, and so much more can make for a perfect day.
To help you start planning a trip to the Jersey shore, here are the best beaches to hit that are closest to New York City
At Keansburg Beach, you're not far from New York City. In fact, there's a cool view of the Big Apple from this small, free beach.
There is a boardwalk and a fishing pier but it's most famous for its amusement park and Runaway Rapids Waterpark.
Rides on the boardwalk include Frogger, Tornado, Pharaoh's Fury, Moby Dick, Lopping Star, Wave Swinger, and more. Cool off at Runaway Rapids at the Lazy River, Castaways Creek, VooDoo Encounter, Volcanic Revenge, and more. Go-Karts, batting cages, and an arcade are also available.
There are no lifeguards on duty. Beach fires and grilling are prohibited on the beach.
How do I get to Keansburg Beach from New York?
While the best way to get to Keansburg Beach is by car which takes about an hour, there is a bus and a train from New York City that will get you there. Take the bus from NYC Port Authority Terminal to Keansburg (Route 36 and Palmer). It's about 1 hour 4 minutes long. By train, hop on the North Jersey Coast Line from New York Penn Station to South Amboy to South Broadway at Augusta Street to Main Street at Port Monmouth Road. This is about a 1-hour 45-minute trek.
Sandy Hook Beach
Sandy Hook Beach is probably one of the most popular beaches in New Jersey and usually, the first one New Yorkers hit. The Gateway Recreation Area is a federal park that draws millions of visitors annually.
At Sandy Hook, you can still see the Verrazano Bridge and Brooklyn. There is no boardwalk so you'll be surrounded by dunes and blue skies.
The parking lots fill up early, especially on a Saturday and Sunday during the summer, so plan your trip accordingly. If you're driving in, try to get there by 10 a.m. if you'd like to spend the morning or early afternoon on the beach.
Sandy Hook is technically a free beach. But it costs $20 a day for beach parking or $100 per season.
Sandy Hook has many bay beaches perfect for swimming, fishing, surfing, and picnicking. There is is also many hiking trails, bike paths, and salt marshes for nature lovers.
There is no alcohol or smoking allowed at Sandy Hook.
Gunnison Beach is for adventurous adults where clothing is optional. It's New Jersey's only nude beach.
The Spermaceti Cove Boardwalk at Sandy Hook Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area leads to an observation deck overlooking the marsh area of Spermaceti Cove.
Feel free to ride a bike along a 7-mile path that begins at the park entrance and loops through Fort Hancock.
Launch a boat at Horseshoe Cove and Bayside Beach Area C. Rentals are available through Sandy Hook Kayaks.
Don't forget to visit the Sandy Hook Lighthouse and Moby's.
When you leave the park and cross over the Route 36 bridge, you'll hit Moby's where you can order seafood from the window.
How do I get to Sandy Hook from New York?
Driving is always best. It takes about 1 hour 13 minutes to get to Sandy Hook from New York City. The closest New Jersey Transit Bus stop to Sandy Hook is on the 834, which is 7 miles from the entrance. Academy Lines bus service operates from New York City to Highlands.
The Seastreak Ferry also offers visitors a way to Sandy Hook from Manhattan between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day.
Taking the train is also an option. NJ Transit's North Jersey Coast Line to Red Bank, then NJT Bus 834 to Highlands. The drop-off is 7 miles from the entrance to the park. There is no transportation directly to the entrance of the park. Rideshare may come in handy at this point.
Long Branch Beach
Long Branch is conveniently located about one hour and change from New York City. It is a popular Jersey Shore destination for not only the beach, but for recreation, restaurants and shopping.
The focal point is Pier Village, an upscale community along the beach that encompasses the boardwalk, boutiques, restaurants and even condos overlooking the ocean.
Three public parking areas cost about $10 a day.
Daily beach passes can be purchased at the point of entry. They cost $5 Mon-Fri, $7 on weekends/holidays, and $3 every day for ages 14-17. Annual passes cost $45 and $30 for 14-17. The beach is always free for 13 and under, 62 and older, and disabled individuals. For more information, contact the Recreational Department at 732-571-6545.
Lockers, beach cabanas, and bathhouses can be rented for the 2022 season. It's a lottery system, however. Lockers are $400 for the season. Bathhouses cost $1,050 for the season and beach cabanas are $3,000 for the season. For more information, visit: https://www.longbranch.org/departments/Beach/lockers-bath-house-cabanas.
After soaking up some rays and catching some waves, enjoy a nice walk on the Long Branch beach boardwalk, grab a bite at a restaurant, and indulge in some retail therapy.
There are many shops and restaurants at Pier Village. Take the family to Boardwalk Fun Games, a high-end arcade.
How do I get to Long Branch Beach from New York?
It's always best to drive. It takes about 1 hour 12 minutes to get to Long Branch beach from the Big Apple. But New Yorkers can take a bus from the NY Port Authority to Long Branch. It's about 1 hour 22 minutes. The bus costs around $20 and leaves twice daily.
The NJ Transit train on North Jersey Coast Line departs from NY Penn Station. It costs about $10 to $20 and takes about 1 hour 37 minutes to get to Long Branch.
Asbury Park Beach
Beautiful Asbury Park beach and its boardwalk are filled with so much history. The mile-long beach has been drawing swimmers and sunbathers for years. The boardwalk is home to mini-golf, restaurants, shops, music, and playgrounds.
Asbury Park beach admission costs $5 weekdays; $7 weekends and holidays; free for children 12 and younger, as well as disabled veterans and active-duty soldiers and their families. Season badges cost $70; $20 for those 13 to 17 or 62 and older.
Parking at the beach is in lots and meters both monitored by "parking police" year-round. Lots can be around $20 a day based on time of year and events. Meters are by time.
There are no rides on the Asbury Park boardwalk but there is lots of dining, shopping and entertainment nearby such as the legendary Stone Pony (home to local musicians such as Bruce Springsteen, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes and Little Steven Van Zandt), The Wonder Bar, Silverball Museum, Asbury 18 mini golf course and Asbury Splash Park.
There is a tiny psychic booth on the boardwalk that's been there since 1932. Known to many, both locals and visitors as the "Gypsy Queen of the Boardwalk" Madame Marie Castello has been telling fortunes until she died in 2008. She even told fortunes to a young Bruce Springsteen, who has been frequenting the boardwalk since he was a kid. Today the booth is run by Marie's granddaughter.
Then of course there is Convention Hall, also very much connected to The Boss. Since the late 1990s, Springsteen and the E Street Band has held rehearsals there for upcoming tours with scores of fans standing outside to listen, and get a glimpse of Bruce and the band as they entered and exited the place. If you're lucky, maybe you'll be on the beach one day and get to hear a snippet of Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street band practicing from inside Convention Hall.
How do I get to Asbury Park beach from New York?
Driving is always best. It's about 1 hour 12 minutes by car from New York City to Asbury Park beach. But New Yorkers can take the bus from the Port Authority Terminal to Freehold Center to Asbury Park Transportation Center to Ocean Avenue at 4th Avenue (Asbury Park). The entire trek is about 2 hours 27 minutes. Those wanting to take the train can use New Jersey Transit on the North Jersey Coast Line from New York Penn Station to Long Branch to Asbury Park. The ride takes about 2 hours 18 minutes.
The 1.3-mile beach at Belmar Beach features a long boardwalk, surfing, and other activities to enjoy.
A daily beach pass admission costs $9. Individuals 15 and under are free. Seasonal badges cost $70; $30 for seniors. Beach admission is free to active members of the military and their families. Daily beach badges must be ordered via phone or mobile device before heading to the booth. Wristbands will then be given out by an attendant.
Beachgoers can purchase daily beach badges at www.belmarbeachbadges.com or TEXT "Badges" to 833-956-2440.
Parking is generally free throughout Belmar. But fees are required for parking on the east side of Ocean Avenue, Silver Lake, North Blvd, and in the parking lot at the Marina.
Download the app — http://parkmobile.io — to help navigate the parking system in designated zones.
Beach chair and umbrella rentals are available at www.belmarbeachsupply.com.
Boat rentals are available at the Belmar Marina and the boardwalk is open all year round.
How do I get to Belmar Beach from New York?
Driving is always best as it only takes 1 hour 13 minutes by car from New York City to Belmar beach. But Belmar is also easily accessible by bus and train. New Yorkers can take the bus out of the Port Authority Terminal to Freehold to Asbury Park and then to Belmar. The ride is lengthy, taking about 3 hours and 43 minutes.
Belmar is also accessible via New Jersey Transit's North Jersey Coast Line. The train leaves New York Penn Station which will then stop at Long Branch, Bay Head, and Belmar. That is about a 2 hour and 20-minute ride.
Special beach promotions are often offered by New Jersey Transit that helps save up to $6.50.
The Belmar train station is located between 10th & 8th Avenues and the beach is about a 6-block walk away.
Another beautiful Jersey Shore beach known for its swimming and surfing is Manasquan Beach. There is also a mile-long boardwalk which is perfect for a nice afternoon or evening stroll.
Daily beach badges cost $10 for those 12 and older. Weekly badges for 12 and older cost $45 and daily access to the beach is free for active military and their families.
Season beach badges cost $85 for ages 17-64; $40 for ages 12 to 16 and $30 for seniors.
Umbrella rentals cost $10 and can be rented at the Sea Watch building.
While on-street parking is free, there is a cost to park in the five municipal lots. Daily parking fees cost $10 Monday-Friday and $15 on Saturday, Sunday, and holidays.
Gee Gee's pizzeria, deli, and arcade are stapled at Main Beach and a must-visit.
There's also a surfing beach at the sound end of Manasquan beach, by the inlet.
How do I get to Manasquan Beach from New York?
Driving is always best. It is about 1 hour 17 minute ride from the Big Apple to Manasquan beach. But New Yorkers can also take a bus from the Port Authority Bus Terminal to Lakewood via Freehold Center to Lakewood Bus Terminal to Asbury Park to Taylor Avenue at Main Street. It's a long trip, however: 3 hours and 22 minutes.
By way of New Jersey Transit trains, New Yorkers can take the North Jersey Coast Line train from NY Penn Station to Long Branch, towards Bay Head to Manasquan. The whole ride should take 2 hours 25 minutes.
Point Pleasant Beach
Probably one of the most famous beaches at the Jersey Shore and a big tourist attraction for those near and far is Point Pleasant Beach. Home to the famous Jenkinson's Boardwalk filled with restaurants, sweet shops, endless arcades, bars, amusement park rides, mini-golf, and gift shops, there is both public beach access as well as private beaches.
Daily beach passes cost $4 for ages 5 to 11 and $12 for ages 12 and up. Add a dollar more for weekends and holidays.
Full season beach badges cost $55 ages 5 to 11; $120 ages 12 and up and $90 for seniors. Half-season badges are also available from May 22 to July 18 and then again from July 19 to Labor Day. Those cost $35 for ages 5 to 11 and $90 for ages 12 and up.
Beach chair rentals cost $11, beach umbrellas are $12 and lounge chair rentals are $15 each or 2 for $25.
The municipal parking lot is metered and a quarter typically buys you 20 minutes. Depending on the crowds, there are also a few private pay lots that charge anywhere from $4 to $12. Metered parking can also be found on Ocean Avenue and a few adjacent streets.
There is free parking on the streets, but be prepared to walk a few blocks carrying all that beach gear.
Also on the Jenkinson's Boardwalk is the famous Martell's Tiki Bar, host to many of the Jersey Shore's hottest bands. It's also a favorite for beachgoers to enjoy their favorite adult beverage.
Jenkinson's Aquarium, also on the boardwalk, is home to sharks, penguins, seals, coral reefs, and more. There are also touch tanks that allow visitors to touch live sea creatures like stingrays and sea stars. A must-see when visiting the beach!
Weather permitting, there are usually fireworks on the beach every Thursday night.
How do I get to Point Pleasant Beach from New York?
Driving is always best and should only take 1 hour 15 minutes from New York City to Point Pleasant beach. But if New Yorkers need to take public transportation, there is a bus and a train. But it will take a while to reach Point Beach. The bus leaves the Port Authority Bus Terminal and heads to the Lakewood Bus Terminal toward the Point Pleasant Station to the NJT Rail Station Bus Station. From there it's just a short walk to the beach. But the bus takes almost three hours.
There is a direct train departing from New York Penn Station and arriving at Point Pleasant. Services depart twice daily and operate Monday to Friday. The journey is a bit shorter than the bus, approximately 2 hours 3 minutes.
Seaside Heights Beach
Another popular beach for residents and tourists is Seaside Heights Beach, where many like to swim, surf, and sunbathe.
Besides the beach, the Seaside Heights boardwalk is a huge attraction, filled with shops, restaurants, rides, arcade games and so much more.
Daily beach passes cost $9 for the ocean beaches and $5 for the bay beach on Saturday, Sunday, and holidays. The weekly fee for Seaside Heights beach tags is $35.
Seasonal badges for Seaside Heights are $45 each if purchased before May 15. After that date, the price jumps to $60.
Children 11 and under, veterans and active-duty military are free with proper ID.
One of the biggest attractions on the Seaside Heights boardwalk is Casino Pier and Breakwater Beach Waterpark, an amusement park and a state-of-the-art water park with a large interactive play area.
Some of the main attractions at Casino Pier include the Centrifuge, Crazy Crabs, Hydrus Roller Coaster, Shore Shot, Skycoaster, Super Slide, and other thrilling rides. At Breakwater Beach, visitors can indulge in The Harbor, Revere's Wild Ride, Patriot's Plunge, The Perfect Storm, and many more water rides. There is something for everyone, young and old to enjoy.
Other attractions near the famous Seaside Heights Boardwalk include Retrocade Classic Video Arcade, EJ's Tap House, and Van Holten's Chocolates and Sweet Shop.
How do I get to Seaside Heights Beach from New York?
Driving is always best. This is a little longer of a car ride, taking about 1 hour 30 minutes from New York City to Seaside Heights beach. But New Jersey Transit operates a bus from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York to the Toms River Park and Ride every 30 minutes. The bus then continues to Seaside Heights. It's about a two-and-a-half-hour ride.
Alternatively, there is a train from New York Penn Station to Newark Penn Station to Bus Lanes (Raymond Blvd Side) to Toms River Park and Ride to Seaside Heights. You should arrive within 2 hours 45 minutes.
Island Beach State Park
Another Ocean County beach that gets extremely crowded during the summer is Island Beach State Park filled with dunes, salt marshes, and tons of trails.
The swimming beach has lifeguards, bathhouse pavilions, and concessions. Surfers are welcome at the south end of the beach area.
The main gate of IBSP opens at 8 a.m. and closes at 8 p.m. But during the summer weekends and holidays, the park opens at 7 a.m.
The park charges in-season entrance fees per vehicle. From Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend, it costs $6 on weekdays and $10 on weekends for New Jersey weekends. It costs $12 on weekdays and $20 on weekends for non-residents. It also costs $5 for motorcycles for Jersey residents and $7 for motorcycles for non-residents.
Pedestrians and bicyclists are admitted free at the main gate.
At Fisherman's Walkway, there is a $3 fee for both residents and non-residents.
There are no umbrella rentals on the beach but there are many shops nearby to buy beach paraphernalia.
Back for 2022 -- Weekday Only Mobile Sportfishing Vehicle Permits at Island Beach State Park! This is available starting April 1 at $150 for NJ residents and $175 for non-residents. Permits can be purchased at https://yourpassnow.com/ParkPass/nj.
Weekday-only permits allow anglers to drive their 4x4 or all-wheel drive vehicles on the beach just to fish between 6 a.m. on Mondays through 8 p.m. on Fridays.
How do I get to Island Beach State Park from New York?
Driving is always best. It takes 1 hour 46 minutes by car. But NJ Transit does offer a bus that departs the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York to the Toms River Park and Ride to Island Beach State Park in about two hours.
By train, beachgoers can get on the North Jersey Coast Line train at NY Penn Station to Long Branch to Bay Head to IBSP. That is over a 3-hour trip.
Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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