Gazette Ceases Publication: Donates Archives to LHS

In 2010, the Larchmont Gazette ceased publication. In 2011 the publishers donated all contents to the Larchmont Historical Society, which will continue to make the Gazette archives available online.

All inquiries should be addressed to the Larchmont Historical Society.

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Stay-cation: Larchmont to Jones Beach in Less Than an Hour

Larchmont living has a fantastic perk we tend to ignore: that the Atlantic Ocean is nearer (and much more affordable) to us than a Broadway show.

In under an hour you can kick off sandals and savor the clear blue water at Jones Beach State Park. With an $8 vehicle use fee, there’s no greater bargain.

Choose from six beaches, each with its distinctive atmosphere and amenities.  Here’s a quick guide:

Jones Beach State Park

Ocean Parkway

Wantagh, New York 11793


web info

Majestic Horizon

When the dramatic water tower comes into view, you’re here: 6.5 miles of ocean front and soft, clean white sand, a half mile of bay beach, two miles of boardwalk, and an Olympic-size swimming pool.

Living the Great Life

The 1929 masterpiece of Long Island State Park Commissioner Robert Moses thrives, replicating all the amenities and activities of a private beach club. This is a well-run, clean, attentive, gorgeously designed and massive park.  Changing rooms, hot showers and foot showers are all in perfect order.

Sure, there’s shuffleboard, basketball, golf, a bike path, and more. But it’s about one thing: the beach. And before that, it’s just the one thing: parking, which can make or break your day in the sun.

Rise and Drive

We tested four road trips, pulling out of the driveway twice at 7 am, twice at 9. Roads were clear: I-95 S to: the Throgs Neck Bridge; I-295; Cross Island Parkway South; Southern State Parkway East; Meadowbrook Parkway South; to Ocean Parkway. To put it to the test, one trip was July 4th, with 253,000 attendance.

There are fields for young families and others for swinging singles.

There are fields for young families and others for swinging singles.


Travel light: every walk back feels like crossing the Sahara. Bring cash, for the vehicle use fee, for ice cream and incidentals. Extra sunscreen. Water bottle. Fruit. Food stations have breakfast sandwiches, burgers, fried shrimp, clams and fish.

Stay Between the Green

There’s a reason Jones Beach Lifeguards are some of the best in the world: rip tides and undertows are powerful here. Swim only between the green flags.

Driving Home

By 2 pm, Ocean Parkway West is a parking lot for miles making you smile big as you sail the opposite direction. July 12th, exiting at 3 pm. we had a two-and-a-half-hour return.

Which Beach For You?

Remember:  Beaches are called fields and start with Field 2 running east to Field 6. (Field 1 is closed due to budget cuts.) You’ll only want to park once, so use this field guide to make your pick.

Field 2

Time and Parking: The fastest drive from Larchmont, 40 minutes. “It’s the second field to fill up, with 1,316 spaces right on the beach,” provides Susan Precker of New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

Con: 1/4-mile hike to the water. Driving home you must first circle east in piled-up traffic.

Who: Families with young children.

Atmosphere: Tame and serene. Dunes and beach grasses.

Lifeguard POV: “Years ago it was the quiet beach,” says 12-year lifeguard Cary Epstein, 29, who during the year is a high school teacher, swim coach, and EMT. “It’s re-emerging as the beach for families who don’t want to be packed like sardines at Field 6.”

Field 3

Time and Parking: 50 minutes. Only open on busy days (1,660 spaces) so use Parking Field 4.

Con: It’s a trek to the main mall.

Who: Diverse groups of extended families who prefer some zip to their people watching. More crowded than Field 2.

Atmosphere: Higher energy, a little more crowded than Field 2. Soft radio playing allowed.

Lifeguard POV: Favorite with camp and school trips.

Sand to Surf: At one part, a two-foot high ledge separates the water base from the sand. Looks interesting until a wave slams a boogie board onto it — no room to coast.

Amenities: Use West Bathhouse.

Field 4

Follow the lifeguards tips to stay safe and find the right beach for you.

Follow the lifeguards tips to stay safe and find the right beach for you.

Time and Parking: 45 minutes. Biggest: 4,212 spaces north of Ocean Parkway. This is the trek everyone talks about:  through the tunnel to the Central Mall flag pole.

Con: If you get stuck with a remote space, you’ll wish you had a canteen and burro, so pack light.

Who: Groups of groups. Public trans drops together the young of  NYC and LI.

Scene: Known as Central Mall,  Muscle Beach. Bikini Beach. If you don’t own one, honey don’t even bother. Mother of all melting pots. That’s not a peninsula: that’s hundreds of bodies screaming side by side in crashing, zinging waves.  Yo, this is Mr. Epstein’s beach.

Lifeguard POV: “It’s the hot, single, young crazy beach!” says Mr. Epstein of the surfdom he protects. “We get everyone mostly from ages from 14 to 35 strutting their stuff. It’s the closest thing you get to MTV spring break. That’s why I love it here.” His crew made 96 rescues July 12th, “all due to rip currents.”

Atmosphere: Like the  L.I.E., bodies bumper to bumper. Ladies room has three FAA-qualified attendants. On deck, promoters can barely squeeze a booth in to hand out skinny frisbees. Somehow everything flows easily.

Field 4 is also known as Bikini Beach.

Field 4 is also known as Bikini Beach.

Field 5

Time and Parking: 50 minutes. North of Ocean Parkway, 3,867 spaces.

Con: East Bathhouse and its swimming pool are closed due to budget cuts.

Who: Overflow from Field 6. Families.

Atmosphere: A little edgier than Field 2, less than Field 3, with volleyball nets. A little looser than Field 6 since soft radio playing is allowed.

Lifeguard POV: Laid-back families.

Sand to Surf: a slight drop from sand to water, with an ok entry to the water.

Zach’s Bay

Field and Parking: 50 minutes. Parking Fields 5 or 6.

Where: North of Ocean Highway, East of Parking Field 5

Lifeguard POV: still-water bay ideal for toddlers and anyone who doesn’t want waves. Many public transit NYC families.

Atmosphere: Weekends, stay-all-day festival. Families  bring portable barbecue pits, soccer balls, tables, and music. Around-the-world food fest.

Sand to Surf: Step off the grass and you’re pretty much standing on it.

Amenities: Use Central Mall.

Field 6

The soft white sand is a draw for two Westchesterites, MIchael Lombardi, 6, of Bronxville and his aunt Marina Vandenbergh from Pleasantville.

The soft white sand is a draw for two Westchesterites, MIchael Lombardi, 6, of Bronxville and his aunt Marina Vandenbergh from Pleasantville.

Field and Parking: 50 minutes. The smallest, with 1,308 spaces, “It’s the first field to fill up,” says Mr. Precker. Right on the beach, it’s the easiest walk with a pavement to surf boardwalk.

Con: By 9 am, sleepy head, fuhgeddaboudit. 

Who: Families from Long Island, Westchester and north with every imaginable type of gear and beach tent. Couples and solo beach goers fold in.

Atmosphere: “No radio playing” says it all.  Easy reading. Eastern-most, big swaths of space between groups seems surreal. Kite flying. Surf casting for blues and stripers.

Lifeguard POV: Lots of “Sandinistas”- those who stay on the sand all day with coolers of fresh food, activities, and books.

Swimming Pools

Yes, it's accurate, West Bathhouse Pool

Yes, it's accurate, West Bathhouse Pool

West Bathhouse (west of the Central Mall), has a wading pool and an Olympic-size pool with two open-to-the-public diving boards minus much bounce but still a nostalgic thrill. For a child to stay all day? $1. Showers, changing rooms, lockers.  M-F 10-6. Weekend and  Holidays, 10-8.

Katherine Ann Samon lives in Larchmont . Her work has appeared in Travel & Leisure and New York Magazine.

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12 comments to Stay-cation: Larchmont to Jones Beach in Less Than an Hour

  • Rodman Reef

    There is a small error in the directions. The name “Cross County Parkway” should be “Cross Island Parkway”. The Cross County is in Westchester and goes East/West. The Cross Island is on the border of Queens and Nassau and goes, in part, East/West and, for the rest of the way, North/South or across the island of Long Island.

    Incidentally, thanks for a nice, thoughtful and timely article.

  • Judy Silberstein

    Sharp eyes! Thanks for the feedback – correction made.

  • Be Prepared

    Although great places to go, now that the Throgs is a mess expect a three hour trip to get home, make sure your tank is gassed up!

  • Skip Whitten

    What about West End 2? I remember that as a great beach, too.

  • Katherine Samon

    It is indeed Cross Island–thank you for the correx. My apologies.

    West End 2 I would have loved to explore and report, but it’s closed due to budget cuts, as is Field 1 and East Bathhouse. All of which is a shame to be closed in this economy not only regarding our access, but employment at the park. Would love to hear about West End 2 from anyone who’s been.

  • Andra Fertig

    I loved the article about Jones Beach, fun and informative, Thank you.

  • Sugar Pie Honey

    West End 2 was always the Beach/Field that we went to in High School – especially for “Senior Cut Day” way back in
    time…. Personally, my favorite Robert Moses Beach is Gilgo Beach in the township of Oyster Bay. Definitely a BIG hit with Larchmont families of yesteryear. And of course, let’s not forget Fire Island – Robert Moses was a genius in his day and literally, you could walk from these public beaches out to Fire Island if you had the desire. There was a nude sunbathing beach there at one time too. Ah…the memories of the dog days of summer…

  • Dorothy Rainier

    I like to go to Jones beach in the afternoon, like after 3 o’clock, on a weekday. People are leaving beach 6, and you can usually get a space. The rays of the sun are not as damaging as at midday, and one can walk for 7 miles without seeing a building. The sky at sunset is spectacular, and there’s not apt to be much traffic after 9 PM.

  • susan

    thanks for the info on jones beach. is shade and/or umbrellas provided?

  • Katherine Samon

    Dear Susan, You’re very welcome.
    * I inquired about umbrella rentals at Robert Moses this weekend. Since it’s the same park system, with identical umbrellas, I’ll pass along what I learned in hopes that it applies to Jones Beach: $10 rental, plus $10 deposit, $20 total, all cash; refund with the original receipt. I’ll look into this my next visit to Jones Beach. (p.s. you’ll need cash for the $8 vehicle use fee, too).
    * Shaded concrete sitting areas with benches run along the boardwalk.

  • kristen

    Great Article! So cool to get the lowdown on each Field! I printed this out and put it in my glove compartment…now I am armed and ready for the beach! I think this would be a great article for Westchester Magazine so more people can read it. Thanks Katherine!!!! Are you going to cover the other beaches so we can have a complete beach guide? I hope so and look forward to it. By the way I love the pictures! Especially the one with all the lifeguards! Great eye!

  • Sushi Says

    It is a great article – the NY Post ran something very similiar a few years ago – but it’s nice to have perspective on it from someone from Westchester/Larchmont area. This way, the writer is more intune/intouch with what the area residents may enjoy more than a City slicker from the NY Post editorial staff. Let’s face it: we’ve got a bit of a discerning eye….what with all the beautiful local beach clubs we’re used to here. Westchesterites -specifically Larchmonters – are a selective bunch.