In New York, spring weather typically begins in late April, but the weather these past few weeks makes most people believe spring and summer have begun early. Because of this, several downstate New York summer staples are opening early, as soon as this weekend.
Coney Island opened as scheduled this past weekend on March 26th, although most of its traffic comes in the summer. The original Nathan’s is there near the amusement park, as well as a popular beach. To get there, take F, D, N, or Q train to the last stop in Brooklyn, or if you prefer to drive, take the Lincoln Tunnel, Battery Tunnel, Brooklyn-Queens Expy, and Belt Pkwy to exit 7.
Farther east, the Rockaways are a great string of beach communities in Queens. Even during a year like this, it’s simply not in the Rockaways’ character to open early. It would be best then to wait until May to go there, but when you do, there should be no problem getting in or out. Simply take the downtown A train to the last stop. The Rockaways are one of the more car-friendly parts of the city, so you may want to drive. Take I-95 through the Bronx to the Whitestone/Van Wyck Expy (I-678) and Belt Parkway Westbound. Take the Broad Channel Bridge at exit 17S or Marine Parkway Bridge at exit 11S. Once again, the Rockaways will most likely not open early, so go there at the end of the semester or during the summer if you are going to be in the tri-state area.
Even further east, the Long Island beaches are opening on the second weekend in April. My recommendation is Smith Point Beach. Between the fine sand, the Beach Hut resturant/bar, and the otherwise quiet and peaceful beach, Smith Point makes for a great visit. You certainly want to drive to Smith Point as there is no subway or heavy rail leading there. Take the George Washington and Whitestone Bridges to the Long Island Expy Eastbound. Take exit 47S until you get to Sunrise Highway, and then take William Floyd Pkwy Southbound to the beach. The drive is a bit complicated, but it’s worth it.
Finally, there’s Splish Splash, Suffolk County’s big water park. Most of Splish Splash’s regulars are from either Queens or Long Island, as it is too long of a drive for people from the other boroughs, especially considering the fact that no one in Manhattan or Brooklyn has a car. However, the few times they do go, most of them enjoy it. An analogy New Jersians may understand better is to think of it as a trip to Six Flags. After speaking with the Stevens Entertainment Committee, I managed to get a bus to Splish Splash along with 40 tickets. It will leave from Humphrey’s at 6:30 on April 2nd, and tickets will be given out on a first-come, first-serve basis.