New York City does have it all. From skyscrapers and shops to historic sights and even beaches. It's no surprise that Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York, attracts over 1 million visitors each year—the beach is beautiful, with clean, soft stretches of sand, nice waves, and some of the best beach food found anywhere.
The most popular stretch of beach runs from the mid-80s to the mid-100s, which correlates to the street numbers where the services are the most concentrated. Head east or west if you want a quieter stretch of sand. The beach has fun surf for splashing, swimming, and surfing (though there can be a strong undertow) and great sand for building sandcastles or just relaxing.
Where's the Whale?
Whaleamina, the iconic whale statue that welcomed visitors to Rockaway Beach at the boardwalk entrance at Beach 95th Street, was destroyed in 2012 by Hurricane Sandy. A group of supporters and artists are holding a fundraiser to construct several new Whaleaminas for a project to... promote environmental awareness. The whale sculpture was originally part of the Children's Zoo in Central Park.
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Grab a Bite
Concession stands at the Rockaway boardwalk feature some top-notch beach fare. Located at Beach 86, Beach 96, and Beach 106, you can find great choices from local New York City food vendors, such as the Caracas Arepa Bar, ice cream, and popsicles from CitySticks and central Asian cuisine from Uma's.
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Good to Know
The Rockaway Beach and boardwalk offers beach-goers 170 acres of ocean-front sun and sand. The beachfront runs from Beach 9 to Beach 149 with a wide variety of facilities for visitors, including spray showers, restrooms, playgrounds, and water fountains.
Restrooms and spray showers are available on the boardwalk at 116 Beach, 97 Beach, and the playground at Beach 59. Additional showers are available at 102 Beach and the playground at Beach 17.
Although no one rents chairs and umbrellas along the beach, many stores at 116 Beach (near the subway) sell them relatively inexpensively.
Rockaway is New York City's only surfing beach, with two stretches for surfing between 67 and 69 streets and between 87 and 92 streets.
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Getting to Rockaway Beach
You can get to the beach by subway, bus, or car. Travel by bus or subway is about one hour and 15 minutes from Manhattan. And, if you travel by car, there are free parking lots near the beach.
By train, if you want to head to the more popular section of Rockaway Beach, change from the A train at Broad Channel to the S train. There are several stops from 90 to 116 Beach streets. Alternatively, you can take the J or Z to Woodhaven Blvd and take the Q53 or Q21 bus to 108 Street. The A train (Far Rockaway/Mott Avenue Branch) also serves Rockaway Beach, with stops from Beach 67 Street to Beach 36 Street. Beach 44 Street has the shortest walk.
If you plan to drive, you can access Rockaway Beach at the end of Flatbush Avenue or by taking the Belt Parkway. In addition to street parking near the beach, there is a free parking area located between Beach 94 and Beach 95 streets from Rockaway Beach Boulevard to Shore Front Parkway. There is another free parking lot from Beach 11th to 15th streets.
You... can also take a special shuttle to the beach from several New York City locations on the NYC Beach Bus. For just $10 one way ($15 round-trip) you can enjoy convenient bus service with chair and umbrella rentals available. This option is a great way for out-of-towners to enjoy the unique New York City beach culture without a lot of the hassle.