New guide to Rockaway beaches: How to get there, who to bring, and where to eat

Where to go for your next beach escape? There are lots of guides to finding the right Queens beach for a weekend getaway — Queens Mamas lists great beaches for kids, Huff Post lists a number of restaurants and activities on the peninsula, and Gothamist’s 2011 guide is rich with photos of good eats, architecture, and local dives. We’ll tell you how to get there, what to bring, and where to eat once you’ve made enough sandcastles to work up an appetite.

Rockaway Beach and Boardwalk – This beach is the easiest to access via subway. That means it’s where everyone else is headed too, which has its benefits — especially in the form of yummy goodness at Rockaway Taco and Veggie Island, and from the Shore Fruit bike kabob ladies. The masses generally pack in between Beach 85th and Beach 110th Streets, so if you want more peace and less party, we recommend either the swimming beach at Beach 60th Street or the end of the boardwalk past Beach 115th Street. The city-owned Rockaway Beach is super long, so take advantage of that fact to find your own spot to enjoy for the day. (GMAP)

What to bring – All you really need is your towel and your suit; you can pick up lunch, snacks, surfboards, and more in the neighborhood

Who to take – Everyone you know, including your foodie friends and your boogie-boarding kids

How to get there – 

  • A train to Beach 57 St or beyond
  • A train to Broad Channel; transfer to S (shuttle) train to Beach 90 St or beyond
  • Q52/Q53 bus from Woodside, Elmhurst, or Forest Hills
  • Rockabus shuttle from Williamsburg

Veggie Island near Rockaway Beach


Jacob Riis Park – This beach is a little less crowded than Rockaway, and smaller. It’s a family-friendly national park with a parking lot, restrooms, picnic area, snack bar, lifeguards, and pitch-and-putt golf course. Riis park was created by NYC planning mogul Robert Moses, who envisioned the park as a “Jones Beach for poor immigrants, a destination accessible by public transportation and closer to the city.” But the natural beauty has made the park a destination for many, even monied Manhattanites. Though most beachgoers drive here, but there are plenty of other ways to make the trek, including a $20 ferry from Manhattan. (GMAP)

What to bring – Pack a picnic if you want more than typical concession stand fare

Who to take – The whole family

How to get there –

  • Q52/Q53 bus from Woodside, Elmhurst, or Forest Hills to Beach 116th Street; transfer to Q22 bus
  • Q35 bus from Flatbush, Brooklyn
  • Bike from one of the last few stops of the A or S train
  • New York Beach Ferry from Manhattan
  • Rockabus shuttle from Williamsburg

Jacob Riis Park

Image source: Flickr Creative Commons – user Padriac


Fort Tilden – This beach is further southwest and even less crowded because it’s a little less accessible—but it’s really just beyond Jacob Riis Park so it takes almost the same amount of time to get there. It’s just a calm, clean stretch of sand behind Rockaway Artist Alliance and the Rockaway Theatre Company. There are no restrooms or other public facilities available at this beach, adding to the secluded feel. Hip young people abound, and the water is litter-free. (GMAP)

What to bring – BYO food, water, and frisbee, as there are no nearby food vendors, shops, or recreation facilities (like Riis Park, this is a national park so rangers patrol and will fine you for alcohol or glass)

Who to take – Your significant other or a few of your more laid-back (or cyclist) friends

How to get there –

  • Q52/Q53 bus from Woodside, Elmhurst, or Forest Hills to Beach 116th Street; transfer to Q22 bus
  • Q35 bus from Flatbush, Brooklyn
  • Bike from one of the last few stops of the A or S train; there’s a nice paved path to the bridge that takes you right to the beach
  • New York Beach Ferry from Manhattan to Riis Landing; then bike or walk southwest
  • Rockabus shuttle from Williamsburg

fort tilden

Image source: Flickr Creative Commons – user rachel in wonderland


Joanna Eng is a Sunnyside-based writer covering arts, culture, and all things green. She loves biking, books, public parks, and Southeast Asian vegetarian food.