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Get Wet

A water obsessive’s guide to beaches, creeks, lakes, swimming holes, and lazy, hazy rivers—all within two hours of midtown Manhattan.

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Would you believe this is in New Jersey? A creek scene in the Delaware Water Gap.   

NYC and Upstate


1. ROCKLAND LAKE STATE PARK
Minutes From Midtown: 45
Get There By: Car. I-87 N. to Exit 11, go four miles on Rt. 9W N.
Cool Off: Before you jump in the lake, work up a sweat walking or biking the three-mile paved perimeter path.
Eats: Grab a lakeside barbecue site.
Facilities: Six comfort stations around the lake, though none with showers.
Know This: Open sunrise to sunset; $6 per vehicle. Info: 845-268-3020.

2. LAKE WELCH BEACH, HARRIMAN STATE PARK
Minutes From Midtown: 60
Get There By: Car. Palisades Pkwy. to Exit 16.
Cool Off: Largest of Harriman’s seven lakes, with 17 designated swimming areas.
Eats: A concession stand serves all the beach staples, including beer, which must be consumed in the patio area.
Know This: $7 vehicle fee. Info: 845-947-2444.

3. LAKE SEBAGO AND LAKE TIORATI BEACHES, HARRIMAN STATE PARK
Minutes From Midtown: 60
Get There By: Car. See No. 2 directions, above.
Cool Off: Both lakes are less crowded than neighboring Lake Welch; smaller Tiorati gets the most families.
Know This: Weekend swimming 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., weekdays 10 to 6.
$7 per vehicle. Info: 845-351-2583 (Sebago); 845-351-2568 (Tiorati).

4. GREENWOOD LAKE
Minutes From Midtown: 70
Get There By: Car. I-80 W. to I-87 N. to Rt. 17 N.; end on Windmere Ave.
Cool Off: The lake has just one beach, but it’s gorgeous, tucked serenely between Hudson River Valley ridges.
Know This: Open daily 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; $7 per vehicle. Info: villageofgreenwoodlake.org.

5. CANOPUS LAKE, CLARENCE FAHNESTOCK MEMORIAL STATE PARK
Minutes From Midtown: 75
Get There By: Train. Metro-North to Cold Spring ($20.50 to $27.50 round trip); taxi to park (about $25; 845-265-8294).
Cool Off: Rent a rowboat at the Boathouse ($7 for an hour, $25 for the day) or just hit the beach for a swim.
Know This: Open daily sunrise to sunset. $7 per vehicle; free entrance if you cab it. Info: 845-225-7208.

6. CROTON POINT PARK, CROTON-ON-HUDSON
Minutes From Midtown: 50
Get There By: Car. I-87 to Exit 9, continue on Rt. 9 for ten miles, exit Croton Point Ave.
Cool Off: One of only a handful of places where you can swim cleanly in the Hudson River (and it’s the only spot within an hour’s drive of the city).
Know This: Open weekends only, 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; $8 per vehicle. Info: 914-862-5290.

7. PLAYLAND PARK BEACH, RYE
Minutes From Midtown: 50
Get There By: Train. Metro-North to Rye ($13.50 to $18.50 round trip), bring along a MetroCard to board the Bee-Line Rt. 75 bus to Playland.
Cool Off: The amusement park is cleaner than Coney Island, closer than Six Flags, and faces a beach on a pretty stretch of Long Island Sound.
Eats: Cotton candy till you’re sick. Or Captain Hook’s on the boardwalk for something more substantial (914-925-0075).
Facilities: Rent beach chairs and umbrellas ($3 each), and ditch your valuables in a 75-cent locker at Playland.
Know This: Beach open 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; adults $3, children $2; park admission free. Info: 914-813-7010.

8. POLLEPEL ISLAND, HUDSON RIVER
Minutes From Midtown: 60
Get There By: Train. Metro-North to Cold Spring ($20.50 to $27.50 round trip). Tour operators Hudson Valley Outfitters depart from the Foundry Dock Park across from the station.
Cool Off: Take a guided kayak tour three miles up and down the Hudson that stops mid-river to explore the surreal Bannerman’s Castle.
Eats: A “waterproof” lunch on arrival at the island’s Wee Bay.
Know This: Closed to public except through guided tours. $120 per person. Info: hudsonvalleyoutfitters.com.

9. CONEY ISLAND, BROOKLYN
Minutes From Midtown: 45
Get There By: Subway. D, Q, N, or F train to Stillwell Avenue.
Cool Off: Coney’s 70-acre amusement area has been shorn to just nine measly acres—but the ocean’s still there!
Eats: Two words: Nathan’s Famous (1310 Surf Ave.; 718-946-2202).

10. BRIGHTON BEACH, BROOKLYN
Minutes From Midtown: 50
Get There By: Subway. B or Q to Brighton Beach.
Cool Off: No cleaner or prettier than the neighboring beaches, but where else can you eat a freshly baked pierogi on the sand?
Eats: Grab $6-a-pound pierogies at M&I International Food (249 Brighton Beach Ave.; 718-615-1011).
Know This: Emergency beach gear (chairs, umbrellas, sunscreen) goes for cheap on Stillwell Ave.

11. JACOB RIIS PARK, QUEENS
Minutes From Midtown: 75
Get There By: Subway. A to Rockaway Park–116th St., transfer to the Q35 or Q22.
Cool Off: The so-called People’s Beach is decidedly laid-back; topless bathing is more or less ignored on the eastern stretch.
Eats:Unfurl picnics at the gazebos across from the parking area.
Know This: Beach open daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Info: 718-318-4300.


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