Once known by the nickname “Little Odessa,” due to the large number of Russians and eastern Europeans that settled in the area, Brighton Beach is a delightful seaside town that has a lot to offer its residents. Take a walk through Brighton Beach and find a plethora of traditional ethnic restaurants offering Russian cuisine, as well as food markets where you can find the specialized ingredients to prepare these dishes in your own kitchen.
Brighton Beach provides a much calmer beach and boardwalk experience than nearby Coney Island, and you will find more locals than tourists at the locally owned markets, shops, attractions, and even at the ritzy nightclubs. The area was originally developed as a refuge for the wealthy, so they could flee the heat of the NYC streets. There were luxury hotels and even a racetrack at one time.
Now the area is filled with large apartment buildings, many offering ocean or boardwalk views. The area was immortalized by Neil Simon in his play, Brighton Beach Memoirs. If you walk through the neighborhood, you might get the feeling that you have been transported back to the New York of the 1930s, as the appearance of the neighborhood hasn’t changed all that much in the intervening years.
Living at or near the beach, which is free to the public, offers many opportunities for both relaxation and entertainment. City dwellers are rediscovering this little oceanside gem and are moving into the area in search of affordable housing and a more laid back pace of living. Although it might seem very far from the chaos and noise of Manhattan, there are two subways that make for an easy commute, so it is possible to work in the City and live at the beach.