During your New York visit, you may get a hankering for some surf and sand. Cue the Rockaways in Queens, a laid-back, beachy neighborhood, less than an hour’s subway ride from Manhattan. In addition, the NYC Beach Bus offers direct runs from Union Square, Williamsburg and Downtown Brooklyn to Far Rockaway and nearby Jacob Riis Park for $15 round-trip. They’ll even give you a complimentary beer to enjoy during the trip and rent out beach chairs and umbrellas for a small fee.
Things to Do in Rockaway, Queens
There are two separate areas that draw beachgoers to the Rockaways, and they are about five miles apart, so you’ll want to pick one to set up camp for the day. On the southwestern end of Rockaway Peninsula sits Jacob Riis Park, an isolated horseshoe-shaped strip of shoreline that boasts the Riis Park Beach Bazaar, a pavilion that hosts food vendors imported from Brooklyn and Manhattan, a pop-up flea market and music on summer weekends.
Farther east, off the boardwalk that runs between Beach 86th and 105th sts., you’ll find a long stretch of beach, which boasts surf shops, notable foodie destinations and lots of spots to escape the heat and nurse a cold drink.
Where to Shop in Rockaway, Queens
The Riis Bazaar and the boardwalk north of Beach 98th St. have a collection of vendors who set up tables on weekends to sell items like statement jewelry, on-trend sunglasses and boho-inspired caftans. Lola Star Surf Shop is a good bet for colorful Rockaway-themed tees, hoodies, trucker hats and the like.
Where to Drink in Rockaway, Queens
Check out Connolly’s Bar (155 Cross Bay Parkway, 718.474.2374), an old-school dive bar that excels in piña coladas. For a good beer and surfer-watching, it’s the Low Tide Bar (Beach 96th St.) on the boardwalk. At the adults-only Playland Motel, enjoy Happy Hour, complete with bean bag toss, dancing and great cocktails.
Where to Eat in Rockaway, Queens
This summer there are some 20 different food stands on hand at the Beach Bazaar at Riis Park, where you can score a pulled pork sandwich from Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbeque or chicken shawarma from Samesa. It’s also worth walking a few blocks inland to eat.
Try a fish taco from Tacoway Beach, which is housed within the Rockaway Beach Surf Club, the über-cool indoor/outdoor hangout spot, where hipsters and surfers congregate. Whit’s End makes delicious pizza pies with high-end ingredients like fior di latte and dinosaur kale, and Uma’s (92-07 Rockaway Beach Blvd., 718.318.9100) offers an unusual Central Asian menu (be sure to try the manti dumplings, filled with meat).