We had sand in the eyes and the ears and the nose
And sand in the hair, and sand-between-the-toes.
– A. A. Milne
My family enjoys streams and swimming pools, but to me, summer doesn’t feel complete without sandy beaches. I like the feeling of the warm granules shifting beneath my feet as we walk to our spot, and the cool release of letting my toes sink in along the shoreline. Our daughter loves making countless gourmet sand cakes and pies, and our son enjoys engineering sandcastles with complicated water dynamics. When Mama needs an ocean fix, we make a day trip with our Empire Pass to Robert Moses Beach on Long Island, Field 5, which has a great lighthouse walk and a fun playground. But for our regular jaunts, here are four Hudson Valley freshwater sandy beaches that I invite you to explore, complete with play areas and concession stands.
Belleayre Beach in Pine Hill
If you’ve gone skiing at Belleayre this past winter, you’ve probably passed Belleayre Beach on your way to the slopes. Belleayre Beach at Pine Hill Lake is a treasure, with its beautiful white sand and the natural scenery surrounding it. You can use your Empire Pass to get in; otherwise it’s $2 a head or $8 per carload. The beach is a manageable size for all ages, and they offer rowboat, pedal boat and kayak rentals by the hour. This was the first place where our son swam on his own and jumped off a dock, perfecting his signature cannonball.
Belleayre is open through September 3 for swimming every day at 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on weekdays and until 7:30 p.m. on weekends. Belleayre Beach is located off Route 28 in Pine Hill. For more information, call (845) 254-5202 or visit www.belleayre.com/summer/lake.htm.
Lake Taghkanic State Park in Ancram
Lake Taghkanic State Park is another sandy beach where you can use your Empire Pass. Without an Empire Pass, the admission fee is $8 per vehicle. This beach is much larger, giving you lots of options for setting up your site, and it also offers boat rentals. Lake Taghkanic has a camping area on the other side of the Park, and the snack bar has a wider selection than other sand beach concession stands, including hot food and souvenirs. My kids have played with the toy boats that they got there longer than I ever would have expected.
Swimming is available every day through Labor Day starting at 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. weekdays and until 7 p.m. on weekends. After our time at the beach, we pack up our stuff in the car and drive over to the other end of the parking lot to the playground. It has some unique features that we don’t usually see in community play areas, and our kids especially love going on the dizzy seats there.
Lake Taghkanic State Park is located at 1528 Route 82 in Ancram. For more information, call (518) 851-3631 or visit http://nysparks.com/parks/38, which includes a video tour of the Park.
Berean Park in Highland
Berean Park is a small, quiet sand beach right in Highland. Did you know that there’s a sand beach right in Highland?! Our daughter loves using her float toys here, which are permitted in the roped-off shallow section, and our son enjoys swimming further out to the dock for his jumping adventures. I appreciate how everything is located close together, but it doesn’t feel cramped. The grassy picnic area surrounding the beach is right next to the parking lot, which makes it easy to haul gear back and forth to the car. The playground is on the other side of the beach, and the concession stand is up at the top of the hill, by the entrance.
Swimming is open daily from 12 noon to 7:30 p.m., and the park closes at 8 p.m. Admission fees are $2 for Highland residents, $4 for everyone else; children under 5 years get in free. Berean Park is located at the end of Reservoir Road in Highland. For more information, call (845) 834-3488 or visit www.townoflloyd.com.
Kingston Point Beach in East Kingston
Since we live in the Hudson Valley, how about a sand beach with some Hudson River swimming action? Just head over to Kingston Point Beach. There you can enjoy some of the same amenities as the other sandy spots I’ve mentioned, such as a snack stand and a nearby playground. But this beach occasionally gets some fantastic waves from boat wakes as they go by. On this same end of the strip, you can visit Kingston Point Park with its scenic views and enjoyable hiking trails.
Kingston Point Beach is located at 53 Delaware Avenue in East Kingston. For more information including swimming hours, call (845) 331-1682 or visit www.kingston-ny.gov.
Erica Chase-Salerno lives, loves and laughs in New Paltz with her husband Mike and their two children: the inspirations behind hudsonvalleyparents.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.