AddressRockaway Beach, Queens, NY, USA
"It's not hard, not far to reach...Rock Rock Rockaway Beach!" There is only one beach that the Ramones sing about, and it's in the heart of the Rockaways. The NYC Parks-run Rockaway Beach stretches from Beach 9th St, Far Rockaway, to Beach 149th St, Neponsit. It's open 6 am to 9 pm, Memorial Day to Labor Day, with lifeguards on duty from 10 am to 6 pm (Note: You can only swim when lifeguards are on duty.)
It includes NYC's only official beaches for surfers: Beach 67th to 69th Sts, and Beach 87th to 92nd Sts. And it's accessible by subway (A to Broad Channel, then shuttle train; the A has a Rockaway Park branch rush hours in the peak direction).
This mile-long stretch of the Rockaways shore is known as "the people's beach" and is named in honor of Jacob Riis, the famed New York City journalist and photographer who documented the city's poor and working class. Robert Moses designed the park's landscaped walkways, boardwalks, and courtyards. There's the Art Deco Bath House, now with exhibits about the beach's history and current events.
Part of National Park Service's Gateway Recreational Area, Jacob Riis is mostly accessed by car. Take Belt Pky to Exit 11S, then Flatbush Avenue south across the Marine Parkway Bridge to the park. Or take Woodhaven Blvd to Cross Bay Blvd, then west on Beach Channel Dr to the park.
Just west of Jacob Riis in the Rockaways, Fort Tilden is part of the Gateway Recreational Area. There are walking tours and lectures at this 1917 U.S. Army fort. No swimming (there are no lifeguards, and the tides are dangerous), no amenities, but it's good for a secluded walk. The old fort is now occupied by art and theater organizations. Go for hiking, exploring, beachcombing, and history, but not for typical "beach."
Walk from Jacob Riis to get here, since you can only park there with a fishing permit.
The westernmost tip of Rockaway Beach is an isolated peninsula on Jamaica Bay, bordering the beachy Breezy Point neighborhood. You'll find ocean beach, bay shore, dunes, marshes, fishing, and walks, but no lifeguards. Officially, there is no swimming at Breezy Point. This tip of the Rockaways is a huge sandy area and part of the Gateway Recreational Area. However, if you're not a member of the Breezy Point co-op, you'll find the permit-only parking (Beach 222nd St lot) difficult at best. You can walk the beach from Fort Tilden.