The festering stench of rotten trash. The families of rats scampering across the sidewalk. The film of sweat that coats your entire body. The unknown liquid falling onto your head that you pray is from a sudden sun-shower but is most likely urine. Ah, it must be August in New York City.
While there are a lot of great things going on this month, it's hard to force yourself to leave the comfort of an air-conditioned apartment (or coffee shop, movie theater, or subway car) knowing how horrible the world is out there. It's hot. It's humid. There are people who are just as sweaty as you are, and they might touch you! All these skyscrapers are fun to look at, but they trap sunlight and turn it into a weapon of mass destruction.
Fear not! The easiest way to beat the heat is to hit the water. Manhattan is an island after all, which means that there's H2O everywhere. Sure, the idea of swimming in the Hudson or East River is horrendous, but those aren't your only options. If you don't associate the words "the city" with "the beach", you should start to.
Being the hub of the Northeast has its perks; you can take a train or bus to anywhere your heart desires. Want to get out of town and feel the sand between your toes? Catch a ride on the New Haven line from Grand Central and you can be at one of Connecticut's many wonderful beaches in under an hour. If you're really feeling adventurous, you can go to the eighth circle of Hell and get a chartered bus to Cape Cod, Newport, and a myriad of other day-trip worthy New England destinations. They have weird accents up there, but their waterfronts are some of the most beautiful in the country.
If heading north isn't for you, catch a PATH train to the Jersey Shore. It's much less trashy now that J-Woww and Snooki have their hands full of baby formula and diapers, and the coast is peppered with beach towns, boutiques, and boardwalks. Make a weekend out of it by checking out rentals on AirBnB. It's an affordable option for a get-away, especially if you're cool with sharing a two-bedroom bungalow with 10 people.
Maybe you're not willing to leave the state for beach day. Long Island offers more than strip malls and Starbucks, and a ticket on the LIRR can let you hit the waves in under an hour. The Hamptons become New Yorkers' playground in the summer, and boast some of the most phenomenal properties in the nation and mind-blowing parties of the season. If you still can't afford that summer share you and your friends have been talking about for ten years, no one will judge you for crashing on a rich dude's couch.
Perhaps you're made of die-hard city stock and refuse to leave your comfort zone. The five boroughs have beaches too, which are just as easy to access. City Island in the Bronx offers sun, sand, and seafood that's renowned for its sumptuousness. The Rockaways are another easy alternative. Transportation options like the Beach Bus make the trip novel in a whole new way, and the Riis Park Beach Bazaar hosts delicious food and cool designs from tons of local vendors every weekend. Brighton Beach has amazing Russian food as well as easy access to Coney Island, whose renovations post-Hurricane Sandy have turned it into a trip worth more than just a Nathan's hot dog. Each of these beaches can be reached with a metro card.
The best part about all of these destinations? You can drink on the way! No driving means no DUIs, and "no driving" is exactly why I live here. Cheers!