The City of Long Beach is among Long Island's most popular oceanfronts come summer.

The City of Long Beach, appropriately nicknamed “The City by the Sea,” has beckoned toocean-goers for centuries, from the generations of Long Island baymen who’ve plied their trade nearby, to beach-loving vacationers from Victorian times through today.

Shoehorned within Long Island’s westernmost South Shore barrier island, the city has grown consistently over time, and Long Beach now packs an incredibly diverse range of offerings in a tight geographic space.

“The City by the Sea has always been an oasis for visitors from all over,” says Ian Danby of the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce. “With three-and-a-half miles of beautiful white sand beaches and more than two miles of boardwalk overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, you will fall in love the minute you arrive.”

English colonists purchased Long Beach from the Rockaway Indians in 1643, but the narrow island didn’t see year-round residents until centuries years later. Much had changed though by 1880, when Brooklynite builder Austin Corbin partnered with the Long Island Rail Road to lay track from Lynbrook to Long Beach. Corbin built the Long Beach Hotel the same year — the first resort on Long Beach — and some 300,000 visitors arrived by train for the first season. Development on the island continued steadily from there, and Long Beach became a city in 1922.

Here are some of the many reasons to visit Long Beach this summer.

The City by the Sea is known for its sunsets. Photo by Matthew Clark.

THE SALT LIFE

As its name implies, the heart of Long Beach is its waterfront, so don’t miss Ocean Beach Park (300 W. Broadway, 516-431-1021, longbeachny.gov), an idyllic stretch
of sand with 2.2 miles of recently rebuilt boardwalk. Parking may be a bit tricky during peak times, so you may want to consider Pacific Boulevard Beach (Pacific Boulevard and Shore Road) as an alternate. But if you do forge ahead to the boardwalk, a rewarding excursion awaits: There are myriad ways to spend an afternoon there, whether your inclination is dining, shopping, water sports, people watching, or just enjoying a seaside stroll.

“Our shining City by the Sea has something for everyone,” says Long Beach City Council President Anthony Eramo. “After you are done surfing, swimming, or taking a bike ride, you can visit our popular food truck market, dubbed ‘The Shoregasboard,’ or try one of the great concessions along the boardwalk. After an amazing meal you can visit one of our unique shops or live music venues.”

Many of those pursuits are active, whether it be on water, land, ice or in the air. For example, one of the more unique attractions to pop up near the boardwalk is I.FLY Trapeze (Riverside Blvd., 516-640-1579, iflytrapeze.com), run by the LI flying trapeze and circus arts school of the same name. Would-be flyers ages 4 to adult, as well as all skill levels, can sign up for a session with one of I.FLY’s skilled trainers. Call ahead for reservations.

Or, test your balance on a longboard, windsurfer or paddleboard provided by Skudin Surf (1 Long Beach Ave./tents on the beach, 516-318-3993, skudinsurf.com). The company offers board rentals, private surf lessons, adult camps, summer surf camps for kids and more, staffed by professional surfers and certified lifeguards. You can also rent and learn on a stand-up paddleboard, and even store your own gear at Skudin’s Hurley Surf Club facility.

Another established beachfront instructor is Surf2Live (830 Shore Rd., 516-432-9211, surf2live.com), which runs weekly surf camps from June through August for both adults and kids, as well as surf parties and private lessons. And if you need gear, look no further than Moku Surf NY (879 W. Beech St., 516-442-6900, mokusurf.com), a virtual cornucopia of surfing swag with a collection of vintage boards available.

Perhaps all that sun and surf has you feeling a little balmy. Or you prefer your water frozen. Whatever the case, Long Beach also has one of the premier Long Island ice skating rinks — City of Long Beach Ice Arena (150 W. Bay Dr., 516-705-7385, longbeachny.gov/icearena) — which is open year-round and offers public skating, group and private lessons, youth and adult hockey programs, birthday parties and more.

And if you’re really looking to upgrade your legs, the arena is home to the Long Beach
Skating Academy (516-705-7402, longbeachny.gov), which offers professional instruction to all age groups and skill levels.

P.T. Barnum’s circus elephants famously helped build the original Long Beach boardwalk.

OCEANFRONT ARTS & CULTURE

Folks have been flocking to Long Beach for generations, for many of the same reasons visitors head there now. For an in-depth look at Long Beach history and its artifacts, take a brief Sunday afternoon beach break and visit the Long Beach Historical & Preservation Society (226 W. Penn St., 516-432-1192, longbeachhistoricalsociety.org), a local history museum housed in one of the original Estates of Long Beach summer residence villas, circa 1909. The museum is open Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. or by appointment, and Sundays from 12 to 3 p.m. in July and August.

Continue your historical journey by driving past Cobble Villa, also known as Villa Clara (657 Laurelton Blvd.). The 2.5-story, asymmetrical Mediterranean Revival-style brick and stucco dwelling — listed on the National Register of Historic Places — is Long Beach’s first home, built in 1909 for Sen. William Reynolds. Since 1976 it has been the home of the late artist Clara Steele and her family, who still open its doors to the public every December, so guests may tour the house and enjoy Clara’s artwork and unique décor.

Long Beach is also home to Arts in the Plaza (1 W Chester St., Kennedy Plaza, 516-507-8383, artsintheplaza.com), a weekly arts festival that runs from Memorial Day through Halloween. Every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., AITP features handcrafted art by Long Island artists, live music, cultural performances and a Kids Art Station, with displays of fine art, photography, custom jewelry and unique handmade gifts.

If all of that local creativity leaves you feeling inspired, pay a visit to Earth Arts Long Beach (162 W. Park Ave., 516-432-9000, earthartslb.com), where you can paint your own pottery, take art classes, book a party or attend a summer art camp. Programs are tailored for adults, children and groups, and there are periodic special events, like its Mother Daughter Tea Party and Mother’s Day Brunch. The fairer sex can also enjoy the BYOB “Ladies Night Out” event held there two Friday evenings per month.

These are just a sampling of reasons why Long Beach remains a well-traveled LI gem, for both visitors and the roughly 33,000 residents who call the city home. As any real estate expert will tell you, it’s all about location, and Long Beach’s location — plus its many attractions — simply can’t be beat.

“Long Beach will continue to be a place where people want to raise their families because it is a fun, vibrant, and tight-knit beachside community,” says state Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach). “The Long Beach of the future must be one that is resilient in the face of severe weather and that continues to remain affordable despite the rising prices in the New York metro area. Having a dependable and safe commuter rail system is also important because it allows folks to work in the city while still living at the beach — a winning combination.”

Long Beach from the air.

WHERE TO DINE 

Grotta Di Fuoco
960 W. Beech St., 516-544-2400, grottalbny.com

Lost & Found
951 W. Beech St., 516-442-2606, facebook.com/LostandFound

Sorrento’s
255 W. Park Ave., 516-889-4800, facebook.com/pg/Sorrentos

Laurel Diner
300 W. Park Ave., 516-432-7728, laureldiner.com

Gino’s
16 W. Park Ave., 516-432-8193, ginoslongbeach.com

LB Social
62 W. Park Ave., 516-431-7846, lbsocialny.com

Swingbellys Beachside BBQ
909 W. Beech St., 516-431-3464, swingbellysbbq.com

Nagahama Sushi
169 E. Park Ave., 516-432-6446, nagahamasushi.com

WHERE TO STAY

Allegria Hotel
80 W. Broadway, 516-889-1300, allegriahotelny.com

Long Beach Hotel
405 E. Broadway, 516-544-4444, longbeachhotelny.com

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Brendan Manley is an award-winning journalist, screenwriter and content development/marketing professional. He has extensive experience in newspaper and magazine publishing, as well as digital media, covering topics including arts and entertainment, sports, lifestyle, news, technology, travel and history. He is an ongoing contributor to Military History, Hotel News Now.com and HOTELS magazine, as well as the Long Island Press, where he formerly served as Managing Editor and Lifestyle section head. He is currently developing several of his original scripts for Hollywood, and consults on various film and scripted TV projects for studios, producers and financiers. Brendan is based in upstate New York's southern Adirondacks region.