This summer, we made the choice to stay local after having our second child in May. New York City has a lot to offer and newborn life can be, well, unpredictable! Now that we’ve gotten into a good groove and I’m actually sleeping (a 7.5 hour stretch each night, woohoo!), we’ve started to embark on some day trips in and out of the city. I’ll be detailing each one over these last summer months. First up in our NYC Staycation, our day at the beach in Long Beach, New York!
We knew we wanted to rent a car and head to a beach within a manageable distance, no more than an hour and a half. Long Island seemed like our best bet, and after hearing that Rockaway can get too crowded (even on a Tuesday, which is when we went), and Jones is a little too far, Long Beach in the middle seemed perfect! We rented a Zipcar, which is really our saving grace in New York City. For under $100 for the day, we were able to pick it up a couple blocks over and load it up right outside our door. We had a car at one point, but since we drive so infrequently, and it costs a minimum of $350 in our neighborhood just to park it in a garage, it wasn’t economical. So, Zipcars are where it’s at.
I am a FIRM believer that “the early bird gets the worm,” so I always like to leave for our excursions rather early. And, guess what, it always pays off. Our Zipcar rental began at 6:00AM, so, after a 5:40 wakeup, my husband headed out to get the car, leaving most of our bags with our doorman, while I made our turkey sandwiches, and woke up the kids. I kept them in PJs and just prompted the toddler to go potty before we put on shoes, strapped the two-month old in the carseat, and headed out the door. By 6:30AM, both kids were in carseats, the car was packed, and we were on the road!
By leaving so early, we missed all of the rush hour traffic that is common in any direction you turn in New York City. We arrived at the Laurel Diner, in Long Beach, at 7:45AM, which was perfect since our toddler’s breakfast time is at 8:00AM! (I didn’t feed her anything prior, especially milk, because she suffers from motion sickness.) At breakfast, we relaxed, filled our bellies, and hydrated for our long day in the hot sun. The Laurel Diner was super cute and accommodating, with typical kid-friendly diner food and crayons and placemats to color. We indulged in pancakes, bacon, coffee, omelets, and orange juice. We also got some great local tips regarding where to park ourselves. Once finished with our meals, we all used the restrooms and changed the kiddos into their suits.
The drive to the actual beach from the Laurel Diner lasted about a minute. We arrived to completely empty parking bays, and got a prime spot right in front of the boardwalk entrance. The free, all-day parking was a huge bonus, and we managed to carry everything and both kids all in one trip. We chose to park at the West Broadway and Layfayette entrance, since we were advised that it’s quieter than toward the town center and right next to a bathroom (which we made a mad dash for multiple times because toddler’s are terrible at forethought.) You can purchase the day’s beach pass at each entrance point. Children under 13 are free, and, despite the website offering a reduced resident fee, we were charged $15 each. Perhaps they mean Long Beach specific residents, and not residents of New York, in general? Either way, the girl at the booth seemed to have no idea. So $30, a $100 Zipcar, a diner breakfast, a Vacation Day from my husband’s work, and we were at the beach!
It was so quiet when we arrived at 9:30AM, a half hour after the beach opened. We had our pick of the beach, and found a lovely spot to set up our L.L. Bean Sunbuster Folding Shelter. The sun shelter is the greatest contraption in the entire world, and was so comfortable for a baby that is not rated for the sun yet, my beach chair, all our supplies and at some points, all four of us!
We spent the early part of the day building sandcastles, walking along the water (my toddler was too afraid to go in), laying out of the tent on towels, listening to music, and eating snacks. The chair was a really nice addition to our beach shelter for added comfort while breastfeeding, and to look out at my family when I was on baby duty. The beach started to fill up around noon, but nothing too overwhelming.
At noon, our frozen waters we used as ice packs had thawed in the sun, and we enjoyed the fruit salad of sliced strawberries, watermelon, halved cherries and grapes that I put together the night before, and that morning’s turkey, cheese, mustard, lettuce, and salt and pepper on whole wheat sandwiches for a tasty, basic, no-fuss beach lunch! We brought paper plates, disposable cutlery and cups, AND a garbage bag to make cleanup a breeze. We also brought a second garbage bag to store all of the dirty/wet laundry we went through that day. (My daughter took off her wet suit from all her sandcastle making for lunch and changed into our dry back-up.)
After lunch, we kept our music going with or solar-powered phone charger, by Power Monkey, and pulled our beach tent back about 20 feet to save ourselves from the rising tide. At around 2:00PM, the beach really started to fill up, but we were ready to go anyway! The sand was getting too warm for toddler tootsies, and, with the sea, sun, and no naps that day, we were all pretty wiped out! By the time we changed into dry/sand-free clothes, changed a diaper, packed up, and used the facilities, the 3:00PM departure would have been perfect to avoid rush hour and get home in time for the 5:00PM toddler dinner, baths for all, and bed! The universe had different ideas, though, when we got to a car that wouldn’t start. It’s a story for another day, but I will say that it all worked out. We still avoided rush hour, just leaving later, at 6:30PM, and after another positive visit, this time walking, to the Laurel Diner. Most of us got baths, and we all slept like rocks! Also worth noting that Zipcar really took care of us!
So, if you too are looking for an escape from the concrete jungle this summer, head to Long Beach, New York! Perfect for families, friends, singletons–anyone craving the sand, sun, and sea!
Questions and comments welcome! Happy Summer!