For a Half Day
Coney Island: Located just a 45-minute subway ride from Manhattan (on subway B, D, F or N to Stillwell Avenue), in south Brooklyn, Coney Island is a popular haunt for New Yorkers and tourists alike, because of its stretch of beach and historical amusement parks. Major attractions include the New York Aquarium, Surf Avenue and West Eighth Street (tel: (718) 265 3400; website: www.nyaquarium.com), located halfway to BrightonBeach. The Aquarium is open daily 1000–1630. Its Aquatheatre is home to dolphins and sea lions, the Sea Cliffs Exhibition, features walrus, penguins and giant Pacific octopus, while Discovery Cove is an interactive entertainment complex for children. Entrance is US$11 (concessions available). Coney Island’s amusement area comprises several amusement parks, featuring the Cyclone roller coaster and the Wonder Wheel, the tallest Ferris wheel in the world. Many visitors partake of a Nathan’s Famous hot dog on the boardwalk – a seaside treat for generations.
For a Whole Day
Long Island: Situated to the east of New York City, Long Island stretches for 190km (118 miles) into the Atlantic. Coastal parts of residential Long Island have some of the world’s most beautiful white-sand beaches and are popular with New Yorkers and tourists alike for weekend retreats. The north and south shores differ greatly. The south shore is fringed by almost continuous sandy shores, including such public beaches as JonesBeach (website: http://mta.info/lirr/beachbrochure/jonesbeach.htm) and gay-oriented Fire Island National Seashore (website: www.nps.gov/fiis), a ferry ride away.
Meanwhile, the north shore is more immediately beautiful; its cliffs topped with luxurious mansions and estates. The Hamptons combines the attractions of the well-to-do, such as shops and excellent restaurants, with wooded nature reserves filled with sand dunes and pristine stretches of accessible beach. A bicycle trip to The End, a nickname for the bohemian village of Montauk at the island’s eastern reach, could well be the pinnacle of a long summer weekend spent in a cottage or inn.
The quickest way to reach Long Island is via the Long Island Railroad from Penn Station, although numerous bus services cover most destinations. Parking permits for Long Island’s beaches are issued only to local residents. The Long Island Convention and Visitors Bureau, 330 Vanderbilt Motor Parkway (tel: (631) 951 3440 or (516) 951 3440 or (800) 386 6654; website: www.licvb.com) can provide further information.