Memorial Day weekend marks the commercial start to summer, and if you were too confused about the difference between this holiday and Labor Day to make plans, there’s still time to line yourself up with a cheap 3-day weekend getaway to beaches you can reach via public transit. Even if the beach is a little overrated with all that sand and salt crawling into all the wrong crevices, a house on (or near) the shore with your buds and some beers is a reasonable trade-off for the summer kick-off. We’ve tracked down some reasonably cheap trips and scouted out some still-available deals, so get ready to show off your six-pack. (Beer or abs, we don’t judge!)
Long before an MTV cameraman set foot here, New Jersey’s long stretch of coast attracted thousands of sun-loving party people each year. It’s still a near perfect place to catch rays, waves and of course, excellent people watching. Some of the state’s more famous beaches are on Seaside Heights and the preserved Island Beach State Park, but getting there is somewhat challenging without a car. Point Pleasant Beach, 20 miles up the coast from the infamous “Jersey Shore,” is a closer alternative accessible by train where you might even be spared from sharing sand with an Ed Hardy aficionado. Be prepared for the $5 daily individual beach pass.
Where to stay: AirBnB.com has several nearby beach town accommodations still available for the weekend, including a three-bedroom house on Point Pleasant Beach for $425 a night. If you can round up at least six of your friends, you’ll only be forking over $212 for your entire three night stay on a private section of the shore. Booking details here.
How to get there: Take the North Jersey Coast Line train from Penn Station all the way to the Point Pleasant Beach stop, which will drop you a few short blocks from the shore. A one-way trip will cost you a $15 train fare and less than three hours of precious tan time.
Local car service: Briggs Taxi in Point Pleasant Beach (732-892-0465)
LONG BEACH, NY
One of your best and quickest bets for some solid sand strutting is on Long Island’s Long Beach. The town is just an hour and fifteen minutes out of Manhattan and boasts a wide display of summery spirit from surfing to biking to boardwalk boogy-ing. The only downside is the $12 fee for daily beach access.
Where to stay: With its extra close proximity to the city, a day trip is easy to pull off. But if you decide to make it an overnight getaway, you can still find some impressive rental houses if you’re willing to dig deep in your wallet for the extra space and beachfront luxury. This three-bedroom, 2500 square foot house is still open for the weekend and includes a grill and deck facing the water, fireplace, jacuzzi and a steam shower for $500 a night. However, the ad mentions the rate is negotiable and with the place still up for grabs, you might be able to swing a sweet deal.
Google “Connecticut beaches” and you’ll see a map that’s as pockmarked as a middle-schooler. Luckily, this profusion of red spots means only good things for your weekend getaway. You’ve got your pick of quiet beaches and seaside towns equipped with quaint names like Mystic, Old Saybrook, and New London. Entry to the beaches are free, but you’ll need to pay up if you’re parking a car.
Where to stay: Day trips from Brooklyn are manageable but there are still options available for overnight stays. Many of the beach houses are booked for the weekend but we found an apartment within walking distance to the boardwalk located in the Lordship of Stratford along the peninsula (sounds fancy, right?). The apartment is still available for $125/night and sleeps two but welcomes more for no charge. If you’ve got the gear to go rustic, rent a site at a beach campground in nearby Hammonasset Beach State Park for $20-30 depending on your out-of-state status.
How to get there: The Metro North Railroad will take you from Grand Central Terminal to Stratford in 2.5 hours. From here you’ll have your pick of lakeshore, riverfront or seashore beaches, but you’ll need a taxi or bike to get you there (about 2.5 miles away).
It’s just over a two-hour drive to Hammonasset Park if you can borrow or rent a car, though the holiday weekend means a higher daily price and ghastly traffic. Other options: Amtrak is offering round trip fares to New Haven for as low as $63, and you can hop a local bus ($9) the rest of the way to the beach to beat most of the holiday traffic.
Local car service: Yellow Cab Co. in Stratford (203-334-2121)