The beach that’s always been a summer staple for New York residents has cleaned up its act. The Rockaways are now full of happening places to surf, shop, get a delicious burger or cold drink and more. Treat yourself to a mini vacay and head over to the beautiful Queens coast!
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Rockaway Beach in NY
End of the A
This roving fashion truck, the brainchild of two young Rockaway natives, will roll into the peninsula for the first time on Memorial Day weekend, dispensing an eclectic array of accessories, apparel and art for fashionable beachgoers. Follow @EndOfTheA on Twitter for its current location. endofthea.com
Eat! (And drink!)
The owners of Bushwick pizza hot spot Roberta’s operate this popular boardwalk shack, where hipsters, families and locals peacefully commingle. Fill up with a grass-fed cheeseburger ($6.50) and fresh-cut fries ($5 when loaded with jalapeños and cheese) and wash it all down with a Narragansett tall boy ($4). (Rumor has it that Roberta’s will launch an outpost on Beach 96th Street this summer, but reps wouldn’t confirm as of press time. Cross those ’za-loving fingers.) Boardwalk at Beach 86th St (718-634-3035, 86badvibes.com)
Opened last year, Playland is part summerlong beach-party headquarters (DJs and bands often blast into the wee hours of the morning), part sustainability-initiative flagship (the building was restored using recycled local wood) and part art project (each of the motel rooms was specially designed by a different artist). 97-20 Rockaway Beach Blvd between Beach 97th and 98th Sts (347-954-9063, playlandmotel.com). Rooms start at $159 per night.
Locals Surf School
Rockaway Beach is really the city’s only viable surfer-dude destination. (Don’t try the East River. Trust us.) Michael Kololyan, Michael Reinhardt and Daniel Kestenbaum (all former competitive surfers) have been catching waves on these shores for years and, in 2012, opened Locals Surf School for beginner-friendly group ($80), semiprivate ($90) and private ($100) lessons. Rockaway Beach at Beach 67th St (347-752-2728, localssurfschool.com). Follow @localssurf for class announcements.
But wait—how the hell do I get there?
The A train, silly: There’s a free transfer to shuttle trains that will take you to the peninsula. We’re also big fans of the rowdy Rockabus (rockabus.com), a reconstituted yellow school bus in which the tunes blast and the liquor flows, provided you BYOB (departs from locations in Williamsburg, at Grand Army Plaza and on the Lower East Side; round trip $15). Show your Rockabus wristband at lifeguard fave Connolly’s (155 Beach 95th St between Rockaway Beach Blvd and Shore Front Pkwy, 718-318-1714) and enjoy a frozen pink hard lemonade. There’s also the Seastreak ferry (800-262-8743, seastreakusa.com), which departs from the dock at East 34th Street and FDR Drive or Pier 11 and makes a stop at Brooklyn Army Terminal. It runs eight times daily, Monday through Friday, and costs $3.50 one-way.