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Jones Beach, Long Island  

8. SPRING LAKE
Minutes From Midtown: 85
Get There By: Bus. Academy Bus ($30 round trip; 201-420-7000).
Cool Off: Opt for one of Spring Lake’s middle beaches, like Newark Avenue Beach, for a slightly roomier swim (and a slightly longer trek for food and bathrooms).
Know This: $8 entry fee per person (no charge for children 11 and under). Info: 732-449-8005.

9. MANASQUAN
Minutes From Midtown: 95
Get There By: Bus. Academy Bus ($30 round trip; 201-420-7000).
Cool Off: Surfers love the “Manasquan Bowl” at Inlet Beach, where the strong winds and surrounding jetties create up to fifteen-foot swells.
Eats: Join the locals for hot dogs at Carlson’s Corner (432 Beach Front; no phone), a summer-only spot less than a block from the water.
Know This: $6 entry fee per person on weekdays, $7 on weekends.

10. POINT PLEASANT
Minutes From Midtown: 95
Get There By: Bus. Academy Bus ($30 round trip; 201-420-7000).
Cool Off: Get a bird’s-eye view of the crowds below with Point Pleasant Parasail ($65 for single, $120 for doubles; 732-714-2359).
Eats: Great sundaes and “bobsicles” are a five-minute walk down the street at Hoffman’s Ice Cream (732-892-0270).

11. HOOKS CREEK LAKE, CHEESEQUAKE STATE PARK
Minutes From Midtown: 55
Get There By: Car. Garden State Pkwy., Exit 120.
Cool Off: Surrounded by dense trees, the seven-acre lake feels completely removed from the surrounding exurbia (it can still get plenty crowded, though).
Know This: $10 per vehicle on weekends. Info: 732-566-2161.

12. ROUND VALLEY RECREATION AREA, LEBANON
Minutes From Midtown: 45
Get There By: Car. Rt. 78 W. to Exit 20.
Cool Off: Join day swimmers on the west side of the massive, 2,350-acre reservoir. Or if you’re camping, launch a canoe or kayak from the south parking lot.
Know This: $10 per vehicle on weekends. Info: 908-236-6355.

13. SHEPHERD LAKE, RINGWOOD STATE PARK
Minutes From Midtown: 60
Get There By: Car. Take the I-87 N. to Exit 15A.
Cool Off: No matter how humid it is, the spring-fed lake remains refreshingly cool. Added bonus: There are 35 miles of marked hiking trails plus 25 miles of unmarked fire roads, great for mountain biking.
Know This: $10 per vehicle, weekends. Info: 973-962-7031.

Long Island & Fire Island


1. LONG BEACH
Minutes From Midtown: 50
Get There By: Train. Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) to Long Beach ($18 round trip, includes $10 beach admission).
Cool Off: Surfers come for the waves at Lincoln Blvd., partyers for bars along Park Ave. and West End’s Beech St.
Eats: Plenty of options along Park Ave., or grab a slice at Gino’s Pizzeria (516-432-8193) while you stumble back to the train station.
Know This: $10 a person. Info: 516-431-1021.

2. JONES BEACH STATE PARK
Minutes From Midtown: 50
Get There By: Train. LIRR to Freeport, transfer to the N88 bus ($15 round trip).
Cool Off: Despite 6.5 miles of oceanfront, it gets mighty crowded. Field 2 usually provides ample sand space. The bay beach is a kid haven.
Know This: Info: 516-785-1600.

3. NICKERSON BEACH PARK, LIDO
Minutes From Midtown: 55
Get There By: Car. Meadowbrook Pkwy. S. to Loop Pkwy. to Point Lookout. Turn right onto Lido Blvd.
Cool Off: Send the kids off to the adventure playground and skate park while you catch up on your trash reading.
Know This: $20 per vehicle. Info: 516-571-7700.

4. TOBAY BEACH, OYSTER BAY
Minutes From Midtown: 60
Get There By: Car. State Pkwy. to Wantagh State Pkwy., to Jones Beach Causeway.
Cool Off: Few crowds, calm waters, and expansive views. The catch: Nonresidents permitted only Monday through Friday.
Eats: Hit Singletons Seafood Shack for fried goodness (516-826-1610).
Know This: $30 per vehicle. Info: 516-679-3900.

5. ROBERT MOSES STATE PARK
Minutes From Midtown: 75
Get There By: Train. LIRR to Babylon, transfer to the S47 bus ($17 round trip).
Cool Off: Break from all that surfing and fishing you’ve been doing, and try out the 18-hole pitch-and-putt right on the ocean (club rentals $2, course rates $10; 631-669-0449).
Know This: Info: 631-669-0470.

6. CAPTREE STATE PARK
Minutes From Midtown: 70
Get There By: Train. LIRR to Babylon, transfer to the S47 bus (mandatory travel package is $40, $34.50 for kids 11 and under; includes round-trip fare and four hours on a fishing boat).
Cool Off: A fishermen’s Mecca. Admission to Captree covers everything from charter boats to rods to worms.
Eats: Captree Cove’s chowder bar is the place aprés-fish (631-376-1866).
Know This: Info: 631-669-0449.

7. HECKSCHER STATE PARK
Minutes From Midtown: 70
Get There By: Car. Long Island Expy. to the Sagtikos State Pkwy. to Heckscher State Pkwy.
Cool Off: For the wave-phobic, the park offers the calmer waters of Great South Bay and a pool.
Eats: A seven-mile drive puts you at the Gatsby (631-581-1900), a restored mansion in Islip, for dinner.
Know This: $8 per vehicle; pool access $2 for adults, $1 for kids. Info: 631-581-2100.


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