Summer is right around the corner and that means skipping town and hanging out on the beach as much as possible. Luckily, the area around NYC has a ton of options for your seasonal escape. But, as soon as June hits, those towns tend to get very crowded. So, why not head out to the ocean now? Plenty of your favorite beach spots are already open for business, making May the perfect time to kick off the summer season early. Here are five places to check out before Memorial Day.
Stone Harbor, New Jersey
The Reeds at Shelter Haven.
This Jersey Shore town has no Snookies or Situations in sight. The adorable downtown features tons of delicious restaurants like the fancy Jay’s On Third or the flip-flop-friendly Uncle Bill’s Pancake House, adorable independent shops like Blue Eden, and the Harbor Square Theatre, which puts on concerts and plays in addition to showing all the major blockbuster films. But, if you want to take a break from all of the action, just walk a few blocks and you’ll have your toes in the sand in seconds. After your busy day, retire to The Reeds at Shelter Haven where they serve Wafflewiches (a.k.a. waffle-and-ice-cream sandwiches) and have rooms that overlook the bay.
Hamptons, New York
Everyone you know heads out to the Hamptons for the summer, right? Well, lead the way by getting out there now. Whether you want to get a head start on bathing suit shopping in the quaint downtowns of Southampton or East Hampton, or be the first to taste the new menu at Rams Head Inn on Shelter Island, there’s plenty to do before school is out. And since traffic isn’t as bad yet, you might want to consider taking a drive out to Montauk and spending the night at oceanfront hotel Gurney’s since it’s open year-round.
Now, you might not think Nantucket is the closet beach town to get to, but they start running direct flights from New York this month—and there’s no better time to visit. Since the crowds haven’t hit yet, shop keepers are eager to chat you up and there’s no lines at the famous ice cream parlors, fudge shops, or the Cisco Brewery. Any of the island’s properties are worth a stay, whether you book a weekend at The Wauwinet for some romance or the Jared Coffin House, which is located smack in the middle of town.
Thimble Islands, Connecticut
Why settle for a beach town when you can have your own private island just two hours from NYC? The archipelago located off the coast of Connecticut is only reachable via boat and you have to rent private homes through sites like VBRO or Airbnb. But, there’s no better way to spend a spring weekend that relaxing on your own dock and taking a kayak out for a little tour. Invite some friends along and you may even be able to take over an entire island.
Coney Island, New York
Coney Island Brewery.
Who says going to the beach has to be an all-out getaway? Coney Island’s Luna Park opened last month, meaning you can ride the famous Cyclone (which happens to be celebrating its 90th birthday this year) or sip on beer at Coney Island Brewery’s outdoor beer garden. The beach doesn’t officially open until Memorial Day, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a stroll along the sand after your day of drinking and riding roller coasters. We suggest you do the latter first.