Get Your Cool On

From free cookouts to urban beaches, the best in New York's summer scenes

photo: Ira McCrudden

New Yorkers looking for a true beach getaway head to the Russian community of Brighton Beach, or Little Odessa, in Brooklyn, where the chances of hearing much English in the shops, knisheries, and restaurants throughout the neighborhood are thrillingly slim. Have a beer at Tatyana Cafe (3145 Brighton 4th Street) on the Reigelmann Boardwalk and consider what constitutes "clean" at New York City beaches. It's a relative term, but Brighton has the spiffy sands and debris-free water to make it one of the most swimmable. Beachgoers are an eclectic mix of rotund Slavic men in tiny bathing suits, sprawling families, and savvy sunbathers looking to escape the crowds. Although Coney Island is within walking distance, the impending demolition of Astroland amusement park warrants a separate day trip. Have a Nathan's hot dog, take in one last freak show, and try not to think about the soulless Six Flags the place is about to become.

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