The Ultimate Guide to Brooklyn Beaches

You’re in New York. It’s a sweltering hot day and you’re dying to go to the beach. You look at your MTA app and realize that the Rockaways are two hours away by public transportation. Jersey Shore requires a car.

What to do? Head down to the Brooklyn beaches! They are close, they are fun, and they will hit the spot! Not sure where to go? Read on for the ultimate guide to Brooklyn Beaches!

Which Brooklyn Beach is Best?

There are three Brooklyn beaches to choose from. We have been to all of them, many, many times as a family.

Each one has it’s own positives and negatives. I’ll go through each of the Brooklyn beaches individually, with special notes for families with young(ish) children.

When do Beaches Open in New York City?

The Brooklyn beaches are officially open from Memorial Day to Labor Day (May 29th through September 12th in 2021).

That’s when there are lifeguards on duty and the bathrooms are open. That’s not to say you can’t go the rest of they year, but it’s more of a DIY experience in the winter and shoulder seasons.

Comparing the Brooklyn Beaches

None of the Brooklyn beaches have chairs or umbrellas available, so if you want them, you need to bring your own. Then again, this is the status quo in most of the area beaches so if you’re a local you probably already know this.

Coney Island beach and Brighton beach are connected by a boardwalk, so it is easy to get from one to the other! The boardwalk is also one of the best places to exercise in New York City for free! Now let’s get to the details!

Coney Island beach picnic with rides in the background!

Coney Island Beach

If you want to combine your beach visit with another activity, such as rides in the Luna Park, a baseball game, or a visit to the New York Aquarium, then Coney Island is the place to go! It’s also an iconic place for photography, and eating those famous hot dogs.

I wrote a whole long post about the best things to do in Coney Island on a budget. That post focused on the rides, and how to save money on your visit to Coney Island.

For older kids and adults Coney Island is a fun destination! There’s a lot of activity, and it’s easy to get to on the subway! I would say this beach has the most party atmosphere, and lots of fast food places along the boardwalk.

For younger kids, it is not my favorite place. There are not too many rides for the little ones, although we have enjoyed coming to the aquarium.

We haven’t found a healthy food options that are appropriate for someone like us that’s on a paleo, organic type diet.

How to Get to Coney Island Beach

Here are your options to get to Coney Island Beach from anywhere in New York City.

  • Take the Subway to West 8th- NY Aquarium: F or Q trains
  • Take the Subway to Coney Island – Stillwell Ave: D, F, N, Q trains
  • Driving is possible. There are paid lots by the amusement park and by the aquarium; street parking is harder to come by.
Brighton Beach
boardwalk at Brighton beach

Brighton Beach

Ahh Brighton Beach…immediately east of Coney Island, lies this beach and neighborhood by the same name. In fact, the boardwalk seamlessly connects these two Brooklyn beaches. Best know for it’s Russian and Eastern European residents, this beach is part ethnic enclave, part easy-access beach locale.

The subway runs right over the main Brighton Ave where you can grab anything you might need for your beach visit (umbrellas, hats, beach toys and more) as the trains screech overhead. There are also many restaurants and a majority of grocery stores carry prepared food, making it easy to buy some quick provisions for your beach picnic!

Our current favorite restaurant is the small Euroasia Cafe (on Brighton 6th Street between Brighton Ave and the boardwalk). For those wanting a beach side dining experience, there are also a few restaurants directly on the boardwalk! This is unique in New York and definitely something to take advantage of, if you crave that ocean view dining experience.

Let’s talk playgrounds: All three beach have playgrounds, but Brighton Beach is the only one that has a small playground directly on the sand (at Brighton 6th St). There is also a larger playground at Brighton 2nd St.

How to Get to Brighton Beach

  • Subway B or Q trains to Brighton Beach
  • Driving is definitely possible. There is metered parking all over the place (free on Sundays!) as well as a public (paid) lots. If you come on a week day you may have luck with regular street parking.
Manhattan beach at sunset

Manhattan Beach

There is something especially tranquil about Manhattan Beach. Manhattan beach is separated from the other Brooklyn beaches by several residential streets. That means that it does not have a boardwalk and you can not easily walk from Manhattan Beach to Brighton Beach and Coney Island.

Manhattan Beach is the most compact of the Brooklyn beaches. It is surrounded by recreational space, including grilling areas, a large playground, and quite a few trees. The sand is ever so slightly finer in my experience.

So what’s the catch you’re asking yourself? Its relatively isolated nature means that there is very little commerce around and it’s also just harder to get to!

How to Get to Manhattan Beach

  • Driving: This is the easiest option, but during the summer (May to September) parking is not allowed on the residential streets, meaning you will have to pay to park in the adjacent parking lot.
  • Public Transportation:
  • Take the B or Q subway to Sheepshead Bay and switch to the B49 bus toward Kingsborough Community College.
  • Take the B of Q subway to Brighton Beach and switch to the B1 bus.

So which Brooklyn beach should you choose?

Think about who’s going: kid or no kids? babies or teenagers? Consider how you will get to the Brooklyn Beaches: Driving of Public Transportation? And most importantly, what vibe do you feel like?

My short answer is this:

  • For rides and hotdogs> Coney Island
  • Fine dining and convenience> Brighton Beach
  • Low key car owners> Manhattan Beach

More New York City Beaches, just outside of Brooklyn

If you have a car, then definitely check out the expansive beaches in Queens. The Rockaways are best accessed by car and parking is plentiful.

Read my full guide on Fort Tilden and Jacob Riis Beaches in Queens.

Have you been to the Brooklyn beaches? Where do you go to dip your feet in the ocean? Have you ever had to schlep your umbrella on the subway?

P.S. Here are more ideas for things to do in New York City with kids, and the must-sees for short visits! And here are beaches in Queens!

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