Every so often I have a craving to escape the city for a day without the patience or planning necessary to go very far. When the walls of my Brooklyn apartment seem to be closing in and the AC is reluctantly humming without much progress, it's usually time to hit the beach. While anyone who's anyone is probably in the Hamptons—and trust me the double-decker Montauk train was plenty crowded as well—I seek an escape a little closer to home. 

Yesterday brought me to Long Beach in Long Island, NY, where I took full advantage of the LIRR's "Beach Getaway" deal. A beach pass ($12 when purchased individually) and a round trip train ticket are included for a surprisingly modest $21 cost. The beach is about five blocks from the train station and any local will be able to point you in the right direction. The sand is clean, the water is swimmable and I've never seen it unbearably crowded. It may not have the glitz and glamour of the Hamptons, but some sunshine is good for the soul, and sometimes that's all the glitz I need.