Keep in mind that these reports are from early-to-mid-July, 2020.
One member asks…
“Has anyone been to a local beach lately that wasn’t very crowded? We’ve been to our usual spot, Jacob Riis, twice so far this summer, and last Thursday it was packed ... Would love any suggestions. We have a zipcar rental tomorrow and I’m a little worried about the weekend crowds…”
Consider Staten Island: “We frequent the beaches on Staten Island. It takes 20 minutes to get there, they're rarely crowded, easy to get a parking space especially if you go to lot 8 or 9.”
Avoid Riis: “We also went to Riis (instead of Robert Moses or Jones bc we wanted a shorter car trip, ha) and ended up in awful traffic to Riis, then in a standstill at the parking lot. Afraid we were going to get turned away whenever we did make it to the entrance, we decided to get off the line and continue to Rockaway where we circled for parking for over twenty minutes and nearly lost our minds. Although we did find a spot - felt like winning the lottery - when we got to the beach it was so incredibly crowded, we ultimately left. I don’t know if it was a fluke or what but I was pretty shocked. It was crowded for pre-covid times. We tried a couple of entrances and there was just no space. Also barely anyone was wearing masks on the boardwalk/walk to the beach/on the streets, certainly no one wearing them at the beach, which normally does not bother me but in this case people were definitely less than six feet apart. (Also witnessed a verbal argument between two groups over social distancing and masks.) Our kiddo was pretty disappointed to leave without going to the beach, the grownups maybe even more so. (Three hours in the car + thirty minutes wandering around the boardwalk looking for a place to sit = pissed off parents.) I haven’t tried Robert Moses since April but will try that next time. At the crack of dawn to help with the traffic.”
And maybe avoid Robert Moses and Jones too: “I think beach days are just the new/ only Covid activity. We drove to Robert Moses this weekend, on Sunday, and All the lots were full, so they closed access. We had gone to Robert Moses on Father’s Day and it was not packed at all, so we were a bit surprised. We drove from there to Jones Beach, and there was plenty of parking, but so many people! We had never been to Jones Beach, so I’m not sure what the normal vibe is, but it was packed with parties. Lots of people together, drunk and smoking, I even saw some girls flashing each other, very college party vibe. So I had a very “I’m too old for this!” reaction. We ate our picnic we had packed and left. Tons of traffic in and out, but in full disclosure we are not morning people so we left our house around 11:30 am. Never again. We’ve decided if we can’t leave early we can’t go to the beach”
Coney Island could be great if you arrive in the morning: “We live in Park Slope and due to proximity Coney Island has been our beach of choice. We like the convenience and options it provides. We went this past weekend getting there around 11. While it was hard to find street parking, we ended parking at the New York Aquarium parking lot for $18 which was worth every penny to save time. There were plenty of spaces and it was a quick walk to the beach. The beach itself was certainly crowded by then but still plenty of room to physically distance and we were able to enjoy a solid 90 minutes of happy beach time with a quick commute back home. Mask wearing by beach goers was 50/50. By the time we left around 12:30 it was definitely getting more crowded past our comfort level so we plan on getting there by 10 next time so we can enjoy the beach for longer and hopefully have it be less crowded. Overall we’ve found all the conveniences built in to Coney Island to be a greater return on fun.”
Same for the Rockaways: “We went to the Rockaways this weekend and we went pretty far- Beach 30th st where there was lots of street parking (it's basically grass) and it wasn't crowded at all. We go pretty early- we leave by 9am and get there/parked/set up by 10 am and usually leave by 1pm. There aren't any food options there, so you should plan to bring your own or leave when you're hungry, but there is a playground, bathroom and again, at least this past weekend, it wasn't crowded!
When we were leaving at 1 we did see a HUGE amount of traffic heading to the beach, so I would definitely not recommend going if you can't be there in the morning…”