Known as "The People's Beach," Jacob Riis Beach is a popular beach for New York City residents as well as tourists visiting New York City and wanting to escape for a day in the sand. Located just to the west of the Rockaways, this slightly hidden beach is one of the least crowded in the city.
The beach is run by the National Park Service and kept relatively clean. Facing the Atlantic Ocean, Jacob Riis Beach appeals to visitors who like some waves, and it attracts a diverse crowd. The Art Deco bathhouse, first opened in 1932, is a beautiful backdrop but isn't open to the public. The far east portion of the beach is unofficially clothing optional.
In 2015, new concessions opened on the Boardwalk at Jacob Riis, which has made the beach a much more popular destination. There is still plenty of space on the beach, but there are definitely bigger crowds visiting on weekends to enjoy the excellent vending options, including sandwiches from Court Street Grocery, cotton candy from Brooklyn Floss, and artisanal ice creams and ice pops. You're even allowed to buy and drink beers and alcohol in a designated area of the beach.
A Little Further Than Rockaway: Getting To Jacob Riis
While technically on the same stretch of land as the Rockaways, Jacob Riis Beach is an entirely separate destination that shares a border with Fort Tilden, a secret beach hidden behind a summer recreation park and an abandoned military fort.
To get to Jacob Riss Park, Beach, and Boardwalk, you can take the NYC Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) subway or bus from Manhattan in about an hour and a half. You can either take the 2 to Flatbush Avenue and transfer to the Q35 bus or take the A or S to Rockaway Park then the Q35 or Q22 bus to Jacob Riis Park.
Additionally, you can either take the New York Beach Ferry or the NYC Beach Bus with service from Williamsburg or the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn. You can also drive to Jacob Riis by taking Rockaway Beach Boulevard west of 149th Beach Street, and there is a large parking lot with plenty of space for everyone just a short walk away from the beach.
Jacob Riis Park Beach Basics
Located in Queens, Jacob Riis Beach offers a mile of ocean-front sun and sand. The beachfront runs from Beach 149 to Beach 169 Streets with a wide variety of facilities for visitors, including spray showers, restrooms, playgrounds, and water fountains.
Swimming is only permitted when lifeguards are on duty, which is from Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day weekend, daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Attended restrooms are available and are kept fairly clean, as are the spray showers located along the boardwalk.
As part of the Riis Park Beach Bazaar that was installed in 2015, there are now also chair and umbrella rentals available on the Boardwalk. There are also chairs, towels, and other items for sale from vendors, particularly on the weekends when the beach is busiest.
Also included in the new additions to the Riis Park Beach Bazaar, you can now buy food concessions from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
Past vendors have included Ample Hills Creamery (ice cream), Brooklyn Star (chicken and waffle cones), Court Street Grocers (sandwiches, hot dogs), Wild Feast Foods (fresh seafood), Fletcher's BBQ (smokey bbq), Bolivian Llama Party (Bolivian cuisine), and La Newyorkina (Mexican ice pops).
Alternatively, you can head just a little further back down the Rockaway Boulevard toward the Rockaway Beach Boardwalk, where you can find other great dining options and oceanfront views.