As a long-time freelancer, one of my favorite summer activities is to play hooky on a weekday and head to the beach. Lately I’ve been loving Long Beach; it costs $12 for a beach pass, but if you purchase a combo LIRR beach getaway package your transportation and beach pass comes to just $22.75 for the day. You can buy tickets directly from an LIRR ticket machine; just select “Deals & Getaways” and then “Beach Getaways.” Trains leave at least once an hour in both directions, and you can hop on at Penn Station, or take the 7 to Woodside and transfer to the LIRR right there–the beach is just 45 minutes away, and the train is so much nicer than your average A to the Rockaways. It’s a four or five block walk from the LIRR station to the beach, and the water is right there–you don’t have to hike a mile over hot sand like some spots. Bring snacks (the concessions are much more limited than at the Rockaways, which is good for your wallet, but requires pre-planning) or grab some ice cream or a hot dog at stands near the beach entrance, and don’t forget your water and sunscreen. For surreptitious beach sips, I highly recommend this The Hydrator, a frozen rum and coconut water punch; it’s equal parts intoxicating and revitalizing.