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13 Best Family Beach Trips Within Three Hours Of NYC

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Little girl sitting on a surfboard in the water
Photo Credit: Amanda Donnelly

Cool down on a summer day by embarking on one of the best family beach trips within three hours of NYC! Whether you’re looking for fun boardwalk activities to attract kids of all ages or want to recline in the sun all day, we guarantee there’s a beach nearby awaiting your arrival. Visit destinations along the Jersey Shore like Long Beach Island, Spring Lake, and Ocean City to take a nice swim, for example; or drive to Long Island for an alternative experience! Other destinations, like Fire Island and Bayville, present endless opportunities for family fun. Using contributor tips and advice, we’ve rounded up some of the best choices for our list of the 12 Best Family Beach Trips Within Three Hours Of NYC! With so many spectacular beaches within driving distance, it’s easier than ever to start planning your next memorable family vacation!

Fire Island, NY

Little boy in front of the beach tent on fire Island beach, one of the 12 Best Family Beach Trips Within Three Hours Of NYC
Photo Credit: Tram Dao

Fire Island provides a one-of-a-kind escape from New York City! Accessible via ferry from Bay Shore, Sayville, or Patchogue, a no-car rule gives it a laid-back feel perfect for families. (Drive-in from Robert Moses State Park to see the famous Fire Island Lighthouse!) Certain communities like Saltaire, Ocean Beach, and Ocean Bay Park offer more kid-friendly locations for your home base. In fact, Ocean Beach boasts free access and playgrounds. Then, Ocean Bay Park offers bike rentals. Or, stroll the boardwalk to encounter other cozy communities within Fire Island, like Kismet Beach, featuring a nearby local market. In Bellport, kids savor ice cream from Carla Maria’s while parents shop at nearby boutiques like TOLA. Outdoor enthusiasts will also love visiting Watch Hill, a campground providing ranger-led programs to better acquaint you with the area. From there, walk to Davis to end your night at a delicious restaurant! 

If Fire Island has allured you to its shores, you’ll want to find an amazing place to stay with your kids! Families can go for a day-trip from NYC, or rent a home from VBRO for a week or the whole summer! If you’re looking for a hotel, families love The Palms Hotel Fire Island due to its extensive accommodation options, including standard rooms, suites, and cottages. Located in the heart of Ocean Beach, your family will have quick access to the beach, as well as boutique hotel amenities.

Long Beach Island, NJ

Long Beach Island is one of the best family beach trips within three hours of NYC! This Jersey Shore hotspot boasts beautiful ocean views, high-end restaurants, and lots of family-friendly fun. Bike to Surf City or Brant Beach, sunbathe in Bayview Park (which also has a playground), open to non-residents and residents alike with a beach badge. Here, older kids surf or paddleboard while little ones wade in idyllic waters. Want a challenge? Climb the Barnegat Lighthouse! Beach Haven, another popular section, is also famed for its Fantasy Island Amusement Park, which has rides, boardwalk games, and an arcade! At night, check out its summer concert series, play mini-golf, catch a show at Surflight Theater, or head to nearby Bay Village to stroll, shop, and dine. Then indulge in some local fudge from Country Kettle for dessert! 

Ready to head to Long Island Beach? While ideal for a day-trip from NYC, it also makes a great location for a summer rental (stay for a week or the whole summer!). Visitors often rent seaside homes from TurnKey or VBRO to enjoy access to the many kid-friendly activities.

Shelter Island, NY

Mom is a black dress with a little boy on Shelter Island beach
Photo Credit: Amanda Donnelly

Shelter Island is a secluded seaside destination ideal for families! Located off Long Island’s East End, this low-key island sits between the North and South Fork, accessible via ferry. Expect miles of gorgeous shorelines, abundant wildlife, and incredible natural beauty! Visit the public Wades Beach to lounge on smooth sand under umbrellas, or Crescent Beach if you’re searching for a less crowded weekend alternative. Toddlers can even blow off steam at the School Street playground! Shelter Island also offers boating at Gardiners Bay, fishing at Second Bridge, or biking to see the scenery! Or, hike along the Mashomack Preserve, a nature center featuring interactive exhibits like a bird-feeding area. At Sylvester Manor, a historic farm, children can attend a summer program to learn about local indigenous communities. Then, The Islander is great for a family dinner! For dessert, gelato at Whale’s Tale and fudge at Bliss are a must.

Is your family headed to Shelter Island? Indulge in a long weekend or month-long in this idyllic seaside town. Families looking for a hotel experience should consider Ram’s Head Inn. Offer world-class dining, wide-open spaces, and airy rooms, Ram’s Head Inn offers a central location with a remote off-the-beaten-path feel. Challenge kids to a round of tennis or bocce ball, or go paddleboarding, kayaking, or swimming to fill your days. Looking for something a bit cozier? Consider booking an oceanfront rental on VBRO.

Northport, NY

benches, beach and boats
Photo Credit: Village of Northport

Visit Northport to experience old-school New York charm! This historic maritime village offers off-the-beaten-path beaches, a walkable Main Street, and a scenic marina overlooking Northport Bay. Kids will love the quaint ambiance at establishments like Tim’s Shipwreck Diner, a great place to grab a classic breakfast. After breakfast, head to the beach! Steers Beach is Northport’s home-base for sunbathing, swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding, and more! They even have picnic tables for lunch. Afterward, stroll along Northport Village Park to watch boats whiz by the iconic town gazebo. Then, treat kids to a few hours at Cow Harbor Park, an enclosed playground for little kids to safely play! Of course, along Northport’s victorian Main Street, you’ll find plenty of places to stop for dinner or dessert. Plus, every Tuesday during the summer, Northport showcases a Main Street “family night” on the boulevard, headlining with live music, shopping, and more! 

If you’re looking to lengthen your stay in this charming village, considering finding a home to rent on VBRO. More days in town mean more opportunities to hit the beach and make a lifetime of memories together!

Ocean City, NJ

Beach Patrol Boat in Ocean City, NJ,  one of the 12 Best Family Beach Trips Within Three Hours Of NYC
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Ocean City is nicknamed America’s best family resort! Located two hours from NYC, you’ll find plenty of beach, boardwalk, and nighttime entertainment to keep you occupied here! Plus, its eight-mile-shoreline contains some of the cleanest sand in New Jersey, making it a great first beach trip with little ones. Regardless of which access point you choose, waters will be shallow enough for children to enjoy, as long as you remember to secure a beach tag! Ride your bike past souvenir shops on the boardwalk, grab a slice from Manco & Manco’s, and some ice cream for dessert. Or, stop into an arcade to beat the heat for a bit. OC Waterpark is another alternative! Thrill-seeking toddlers will love Playland’s Castaway Cove, an amusement park with kiddie rides ideal for preschool and under. Enjoy a family spin on the giant Ocean City Ferris Wheel when you visit the famous Gillian’s Wonderland Pier!

Families looking to stay in Ocean City will prefer booking a cozy rental house through VBRO. A long weekend means your family can continue to explore and delight in one of the best family beach trips within three hours of NYC!

Bayville, NY 

Little girl wearing a pink dress in the beach in Bayville

Make Bayville your next Long Island family beach day-trip! This waterfront town is ideal for a casual adventure, particularly for active families who love spending their entire time outdoors! As a plus, Bayville’s two public beaches, Bayville Beach and Charles E. Ransom Beach, are both great for children. In fact, Charles E. Ransom Beach even features a few restaurants and rental shops along its pier. Take a tranquil hike to visit Centre Island Beach, where you can also canoe, kayak, and go rafting. Sound Side Beach Park, another enclosed nature area, contains a fishing pier, a playground, and a splash park! Of course, families visiting Bayville can’t miss its main attraction: Bayville Adventure Park! Play mini-golf, enjoy rides, or climb obstacle courses at this kid-friendly wonderland! Stop at Cantina Bay for dinner if you like Mexican, or Mill Creek Tavern for American. 

Long Beach, NY

Long Island Beach, bench and a building during sunset
Photo Courtesy: Katherine Johnson

Long Beach makes another short and sweet escape! Located on Long Island via LIRR or car, it’s one of the cleanest beaches nearby, perfect for a day trip or a weekend visit. Due to its lifeguards and calm waves, Ocean Beach Park is often a popular choice amongst families. You’ll also find plenty of other access points along Nevada Avenue and Pacific Boulevard. The nearby 2-mile-boardwalk also has a stretch of food trucks and picnic tables if you want to have lunch! Or, little kids can head to a local playground, like the spacious one on Clark Street. Older kids visiting Long Beach will particularly love its access to surfing, featuring plenty of rental shops and schools along its pier. Hungry families are also in luck. Head to Laurel Diner for an amazing burger, then end your day at Frozen Cow with some ice cream!

Extended your time in Long Beach with kids? Consider making Allegra Hotel your home base. Long Island’s only luxury oceanfront hotel offers a rooftop pool, as well as beach access. Standard rooms and suites are available depending on your family’s needs. If you prefer something with a little more room to spread out, considering renting a house from ON VBRO.

Newport, RI

Newport Beach,  one of the 12 Best Family Beach Trips Within Three Hours Of NYC
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Take a family vacation in Newport to experience this dazzling seaside playground! Known for its Gilded Age mansions, marina with expensive sailboats, and walkable wharves, this Rhode Island destination is particularly popular during the summer. Families with young children will love swimming at the peaceful Easton’s Beach, whose concession stand sells some of the best lobster rolls in town. Don’t forget to ride the vintage carousel too! Then, saunter down its Cliff Walk to get a feel for Newport’s natural beauty, a 3.5-mile trail overlooking opulent properties along the Atlantic Ocean. If your kids are more interested in seeing one of these historic mansions up-close, however, tour one of many publically open options, like The Breakers or The Elms. Or, cruise the streets in a Newport Trolley for an educational tour of the area. Afterward, kids will delight in a visit to Newport Creamery or Newport Fudge!

Families interested in staying a while will find an abundance of options. Considering booking Gurney’s Newport Resort & Marina, offering standard rooms and suites with a charming seaside ambiance. Go low-key with the Newport Marriott, which offers ocean-view rooms, some of which include balconies! Then, Ocean House provides families a unique stay within a historic Rhode Island luxury hotel, including a beachfront location and world-class amenities. Finally, The Vanderbilt, Auberge Resorts Collection combines old-world glamour with modern luxury, just minutes from the waterfront. With so many amazing options, you’ll be able to stay and play on one of the best family beach trips within three hours of NYC!

The Hamptons, NY

Little boy on the beach in The Hamptons,  one of the 12 Best Family Beach Trips Within Three Hours Of NYC
Photo Credit: Tram Dao

With miles of white sand, there’s no doubt The Hamptons will impress any age! Stop in tranquil Long Beach if you have littles in tow, or Sagg Main Beach in Sagaponack Harbor if you have older kids who don’t mind a tide. Don’t miss the Sagg Main Monday drum circle! Then, grab a slice from World Pie Pizza as well, and visit the famous Buddhaberry for frozen yogurt. Or, visit Hampton Bays, Meschutt Beach has calm waves and a snack bar to satisfy the kids! In East Hampton, visit Main Beach, or Atlantic, if you’re near Amagansett. Families staying in Westhampton will love the low-key Ponquogue Beach, which also hosts live music performances. Shock Ice Cream is a must-visit here! Cooper’s Beach in Southampton is also popular among families, followed by dinner at 75 Main. Remember most beaches require daily parking passes and tags!

When staying in The Hamptons, most families choose to rent a home from site like VBRO. If you’re hoping for a hotel stay, consider The Hampton Maid, offering spacious, resort-style rooms and suites in the heart of The Hamptons. Then, families can also consider the Sea Crest Resort in Amagansett. With quick access to grassy-covered dunes and the ocean, your kids will delight in running and splashing all day! Sea Crest Resort also offers seasonal cabana service.

*Thank you to Hamptons Moms contributor for helping us compile this section. 

Read about our recommendations for the Best US Lakes For Families To Visit During Summer!

Cape May, NJ

Huge Family posing with a boat saying Cape May,  one of the 12 Best Family Beach Trips Within Three Hours Of NYC
Photo Credit: Missi Dunham

Cape May is one of the best family beach trips within three hours of NYC! Summers in this New Jersey town are filled with long days in the sun and tons of kid-friendly fun! Visit Cape May Public Beach, offering funky architecture alongside chances to swim, build sandcastles, or dine alfresco at nearby restaurants like Mad Batter. Though not ideal for swimming, Sunset Beach has magnificent views in the evening! Nearby, you’ll also find Cape May State Park, a protected area housing native wildlife, a beach, and the famous Cape May Lighthouse. At the Washington Street Mall, the main shopping strip, stroll boutiques, enjoy live performances, or take in twinkling lights via a horse and carriage ride! Hotels like Congress Hall also usually host events for families, like game nights or movie nights. If you have more time to explore, visit the Beach Plum Farm or the Cape May Zoo!

If you’re planning an overnight or two (or more!) in Cape May with kids, many families choose to rent homes through site likes like VBRO or Airbnb. However, if you’re looking for a hotel stay, consider Sea Crest Inn. Offering standard hotel rooms, as well as two-room suites, Sea Crest Inn is ideal for families looking for panoramic views of the ocean, beach access, and pool-side lounging. Then, The Montreal Beach Resort is a family-run hotel providing standard rooms, suites, and kitchen suites, as well as an oceanfront pool and rooftop dining! Finally, Carroll Villa Hotel is a charming option just half a block from the beach. Offering rooms and suites, Carroll Villa Hotel’s inviting atmosphere is welcoming to kids of all ages!

Wildwood, NJ

Wildwood’s vintage ambiance will appeal to your entire family! This Jersey Shore town’s 40-block-boardwalk contains miles of stunning beaches, family-friendly attractions, and daily events! (Programming like sandcastle building contests or outdoor movies are available throughout beach access points!) Most families rent property in Wildwood Crest, whose shoreline is clean, calm, and ideal for young kids. Wildwood is also famous for its boardwalk, which encases the massive Morey’s Piers Amusement Park, with slides, rides, and more. Cool down on a hot day at Raging Waters Water Park and Ocean Oasis Water Park & Beach Club! Wildwood’s boardwalk also flaunts arcades, an aquarium, mini-golf, bike rentals, go-karting, and Ripley’s Adventure Maze! When sunset approaches, a view from north Wildwood’s Hereford Inlet Lighthouse will impress any kid. At night, grab a slice at Sam’s Pizza, seafood from Jumbo Seafood Grille, Beach Creek, The Wharf, or Jersey Girl, and dessert from Sea Shell Ice Cream

Finding a family-friendly place to stay in Wildwood won’t be an issue! Select from kid-friendly options like The Adventurer Oceanfront Inn, Seapointe Village Resort, Port Royal Hotel, Pan American Hotel, and Fleur de Lis Beach Resort. Or, rent a spacious home from VBRO. No matter what your family’s needs are, you’re sure to find the ideal accommodations in Wildwood!

Spring Lake, NJ 

Man walking with surf board at Spring Lake, one of the 12 Best Family Beach Trips Within Three Hours Of NYC
Photo Courtesy: springlake.org

Head to Spring Lake for a quieter Jersey Shore! Families love this tranquil town, sporting a bikeable boardwalk and gorgeous central lake area for fishing, boating, or spotting architecture. Nearby, Divine Park also has an expansive tennis court open to families! Since no food is allowed on the beach, many families pack a picnic or visit nearby Asbury Park Beach, known for its restaurants, shopping district, and live music. Sunbathe or swim in Spring Lake via access points throughout the beach area, provided you purchase a tag. Families also love Third Avenue features, a cute commercial hub lined with boutiques, restaurants, and rental shops. Stop for a slice at Spring Lake Pizzeria or skip straight to Hoffman’s Ice Cream for some delectable dessert! 

In Spring Lake, families staying awhile can find cozy, oceanfront accommodations on VBRO. Or, families looking for hotel accommodations can find delight in staying at The Breakers on the Ocean. Here, sleep oceanside within walking distance to restaurants, local activities, and the Wildwood Boardwalk! Then, at Chateau Inn and Suites find an array of boutique rooms and suites, including two kitchenette options. After settling into this sophisticated hotel, take a short walk to pristine beaches, the historic downtown area, and other local attractions.

Montauk, NY

Montauk is another of the best family beach trips within three hours of NYC! Located at The Hamptons’ very end, it is a walkable town, particularly for older kids. Teens who love surfing will enjoy Ditch Plains Beach, home to numerous surf schools, and plenty of waves to practice. Kirk Park Beach is also suitable for those with younger children. Every Wednesday during summer, The Surf Lodge also hosts a family night with live music, activities, and more! Montauk offers plenty of additional family-friendly attractions, too, like visiting the Montauk Point Lighthouse or exploring the historical Camp Hero State Park. Aside from hiking, Montauk is also a great spot for fishing, chartering a boat, or renting a bike to ride through town. Or, horseback ride at Rita’s Stable! Either way, stop at Crow’s Nest for dinner, which has a huge beach area for kids to roam!

Families looking to stay in Montauk will find no shortage of kid-friendly options! Select from fantastic hotels like Gurney’s Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa, the only luxury hotel in the Hamptons located directly on the beach. Then, Hero Beach Club offers airy rooms, a tranquil atmosphere, and numerous cozy spaces to curl up with a good book, like the beautiful beach, on pool-side loungers, or in the garden. Families can also consider top-notch hotels like Driftwood On The Ocean, Beachcomber Resort at Montauk, and Beach Plum Resort.

Book Gurney’s Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa using Hotel.com now.

*Thank you to Hamptons Moms contributor for helping us compile this section. 

Looking to go further afield? Here are the Best Lakes In The Midwest For Families!

Thank You to Our Community 

No matter where you visit, we’re sure you’ll love your next summertime adventure near NYC! A special thank you to the Families Who Love to Travel Facebook community who helped to compile this list of 13 Best Family Beach Trips Within Three Hours Of NYC! Families Who Love To Travel is a group of amazing families who love adventure and exploring through travel. Join the Facebook community and the Instagram community to connect with other families who love the unique experiences travel has to offer. 

Looking for more beach inspiration? Check out Best Cute Towns To Visit With Kids Near NYC!

*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the accommodations, restaurants, or activities on this list may also be closed. Please ensure availability before making your decision.

*This post featuring the best family beach trips near NYC may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are compiled from submissions submitted by the generous members of our Families Who Love To Travel community. 

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The Families Love Travel Team has a zest for life and an even bigger passion for globetrotting! Comprised of real-life travel professionals, we work hard behind the scenes to provide dynamic solutions for adventuring with children. Our enthusiastic team understands the challenges that often accompany traveling with kids and is committed to making Families Love Travel an inclusive space to convey these experiences.
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