Why it's so great: Simultaneously a family-friendly seaside destination and the epicenter of the gay community on Long Island, this narrow stretch of sand has a little something for everyone. Only a short ferry ride from the South Shore, Fire Island is home to beaches that rival the Hamptons in both beauty and nightlife, but with a much more inclusive attitude. There are no cars on this tiny sandbar, so the peace is unmatched among the Sunken Forest, deer roaming the dunes, and people hauling their beach supplies in little red wagons.
What to do: Let's be real, you're here for sand and sun, so arrive early enough to spend the better part of the day catching rays on Ocean Beach. For the easiest transportation, rent a bike to explore further. As the sun sets, take in the waterfront view at the Island Mermaid, a charming dockside restaurant beloved by locals and daytrippers alike.