Summer unleashes a fervent need to escape the sweltering city for coastal breezes and open air. But who wants to trade crowded streets and overpriced drinks for jam-packed beaches and restaurants catering to the ultra-rich? Trust us, there are much better options out east than fighting for elbow room on a crowded Jitney. For a real change of pace, skip the Hamptons and head to one of these underrated Long Island towns.
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Why it's so great: Only 45 minutes from Manhattan, this skinny barrier sandbar houses one of the Island's oldest beachside communities, despite being only half-a-mile wide at its thickest. That means you're never more than a few steps from the water, surrounded by both bay and oceanside views. The iconic boardwalk has been an institution here for more than 100 years -- not even Superstorm Sandy could permanently shut it down.
What to do: Stretch out on the sand or walk the boardwalk to soak up the seaside vibe. For dinner, don't flee back to city with the other daytrippers. Swingbellys on Beech St churns out real-deal slow-smoked barbecue, including the best ribs this side of St. Louis. For dessert (or breakfast... no judgement), check out Dough Hut for handmade donuts in flavors to rival far-trendier (read: more expensive) bakeries, like maple bacon and s'mores. Or visit the Diner by the Sea for crazy, multicolored milkshake concoctions you don't have to wait hours in line for.