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Guide to Orchard Beach, NYC, Flickr: wengs

Orchard Beach!

When you think of New York City, what beaches come to mind? Perhaps you’re thinking about taking a weekend getaway in the Jersey Shore, or even Long Island. Did you know that Orchard Beach was originally planned to be the "Riviera of New York?" The Bronx's only beach has been a part of NYC history for years and is still an easy beach getaway for many New Yorkers.

The History: Did you know the area around Orchard Beach is filled with natural forest? You'd think you were out in the Poconos, but you're really still in one of the five boroughs. What were once marshlands and coastlines was made into a man-made beach by urban planner, Robert Moses. The sand on Orchard Beach is actually from Sandy Hook beach in New Jersey and the Rockaways in Queens.

The Pavilion: Besides catching some sun and waves at the beach, you can also enjoy the famous Orchard Beach Pavilion. This massive structure was introduced in the 1930s as an entry portal to Orchard Beach. It was the place where you changed, bathed and got a snack before hitting the sand. This area eventually closed for no reason in particular and became an abandoned monument for Orchard Beach. What resembles Greek-like architecture just became part of the uninhibited area of Orchard Beach.

It’s Comeback: The future of Orchard Beach looks promising. Though today it is still a popular beach for New Yorkers, it will soon attract many more visitors. Opening day in 2012 for Orchard Beach was a grand celebration for the summer season. This year introduced new concession stands being run by Havana Cafe. Life is being brought back to the area that should be more than just a beach, but an overall destination. Coney Island has its amusement park, but Orchard Beach has that summer vibe, where you can relax, or get some drinks and enjoy the party!

Must See: Summer Music Series: If you're a fan of live Latin music, you can't miss the Summer Music series at Orchard Beach. Sponsored by the Bronx Tourism Council, you can hear live Spanish music every weekend to truly put you in some kind of Caribbean vibe. There is even the new Salsa Fest, a 4-day celebration of music and fun for the entire family.

Beach Tip: Get there early to avoid crowds; this isn't New York’s best kept secret. It’s easy to get to Orchard Beach without driving. Take the 6 train to the last stop in the Bronx: Pelham Bay Park. From there, you can catch the BX12 bus that will take you directly to the beach without any problems! Note that admission is free, so this will be a crowded beach. Find less crowded areas in Section 5 and beyond. Please note Section 1 is the nude beach area if you're brave!

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photo: wengs

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