It's a toss-up.
I'm nearer Orchard Beach than the nicer Long Island beaches, so I've been here more than a few times. I certainly wouldn't call it clean, but it's okay for a beach fix. If you're just looking to stick your feet in the water and sit on the sand, it's fine for a weekday. Being only a half mile long, Summer weekends are wall-to-wall people.
There is no street parking, so there's an unavoidable parking fee. You can do public transit during the Summer, but the shuttle bus is ghastly. There are restrooms (somewhat icky), and during the Summer season, there is a food and drink stand.
Like Coney Island and other city beaches, you get street storm drain runoff washing up on the beach here, and you're going to find wrappers, twigs, leaves, and general junk washing up on the shore and in the water. If there's been a recent rain storm, I wouldn't go.
With a wide boardwalk, I think of it as a dirtier Coney Island without the carnival rides and amusements.
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