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Rockaway Beach: Your Ultimate Guide to New York City’s Best Beach

Welcome to Rockaway Beach, one of New York City’s beloved coastal neighborhoods in Queens. With its wide expanse of sandy beach, iconic boardwalk, and fun-filled amusement park, Rockaway Beach has been a must-visit destination for New Yorkers and visitors alike for over a century. But Rockaway Beach is more than just a summer hotspot; it’s also a vibrant community with a rich history and ongoing efforts to revitalize and thrive. Whether you’re a lifelong New Yorker or a first-time visitor to the city, Rockaway Beach is a destination that’s not to be missed. In this guide, we’ll give you all the information you need to know to explore and enjoy this unique neighborhood to the fullest.

How to Get to Rockaway Beach

Rockaway Beach is located in the southernmost part of Queens, New York City, and is easily accessible by public transportation or car. Here are the different options available to get to Rockaway Beach:

Getting to Rockaway by Ferry

The NYC Ferry runs to Rockaway Beach from various locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

  • The Rockaway route departs from Wall St in Manhattan and Sunset Park in Brooklyn once an hour and arrives at Beach 108th St in Rockaway
  • At peak times, the Rockway Rocket Express Ferry goes directly from Wall St to Rockaway and tickets can be reserved in advance

Check the NYC Ferry website and app for more information.

Detail of Ferry routes between Manhattan and Rockaway
Detail of Ferry Routes between Manhattan and Rockaway

Getting to Rockaway by Subway

The A train is the most direct way to reach Rockaway Beach by subway.

  • Take the A train to Far Rockaway-Mott Ave for stops from Beach 67th to the Northeast end of Rockaway
  • Take the A train to Broad Channel and transfer to the S shuttle train to Rockaway Park-Beach 116th St for stops from Beach 90th St to Beach 166h St
  • At peak times in the summer, some A trains go directly to Rockaway Park-Beach 116th St

These options take approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes from Midtown Manhattan.

Detail of A Train Map from Midtown Manhattan to Rockaway
Detail of A Train Map from Midtown Manhattan to Rockaway

Getting to Rockaway by Bus

The Q22 and Q53 buses run to Rockaway Beach from various parts of Queens. The Q22 bus stops at the Rockaway Beach boardwalk and the Q53 bus stops at the Beach 116th St subway station. Check the MTA website for more information on bus routes and schedules.

Getting to Rockaway by Car

If you’re driving to Rockaway Beach, take the Belt Parkway to the Rockaway Beach Boulevard exit. There are various parking lots and metered street parking available in the area, although finding a spot during peak summer season can be challenging.

Once you arrive in Rockaway Beach, getting around is relatively easy on foot or bike. The neighborhood is also serviced by local buses and taxis. Whether you’re traveling from within the city or beyond, Rockaway Beach is a destination that’s well worth the journey.

Things to Do in Rockaway Beach

Boardwalk Attractions in Rockaway Beach
Boardwalk Attractions in Rockaway Beach

Rockaway Beach is a destination that has something for everyone, from beach lovers to foodies and nature enthusiasts. Here are some of the best things to do in Rockaway Beach:

Relax on the Beach and Boardwalk

Rockaway Beach is known for its wide, sandy shores that are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and surfing. Bring a towel, grab a spot on the sand, and soak up the sun while enjoying the ocean breeze.

The Boardwalk runs from Beach 126th St to Beach 9th. Refreshments, attractions, and bathrooms can be found at

  • Beach 116th
  • Beach 106th
  • Beach 97th
  • Beach 86th
  • Beach 68th
  • Beach 17th
Beach access and public parks can be found about every ten blocks.
Map of Attractions on Rockaway Beach Boardwalk
Map of Attractions on Rockaway Beach Boardwalk

Take a Surfing Lesson

If you’re feeling adventurous, why not try your hand at surfing? Rockaway Beach is a popular spot for surfers of all levels, and there are several surf schools and rental shops in the area that offer lessons and equipment rentals.

  • Beach 92 St is the best location for experienced surfers
  • Beach 67th St is the best place for beginner surfers and those looking to rent boards or take lessons 
A Surfer at Rockaway Beach
A Surfer at Rockaway Beach

Explore Nature Reserves and Parks

Rockaway Beach is home to several beautiful parks and nature reserves such as 

  • Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
  • Marine Park
  • Gateway National Recreation Area. 

These areas are perfect for hiking, birdwatching, and enjoying scenic views.

Map of Jamaica Bay Nature Reserves
Map of Jamaica Bay Nature Reserves

Try Local Cuisine

Rockaway Beach has a thriving food scene, with a variety of restaurants, food trucks, and beachside eateries that offer everything from seafood and pizza to ice cream and funnel cakes. Don’t miss out on trying some of the local specialties, like lobster rolls and tacos.

Insider Tips for Having Fun in Rockaway Beach

  • To avoid crowds, visit Rockaway Beach on weekdays or early in the morning on weekends.
  • If you’re visiting with kids, make sure to check out the Children’s Museum of the Arts in nearby Far Rockaway.
  • Don’t forget to bring sunscreen, a hat, and a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated during your beach day.
  • For a unique experience, take a sunset or moonlit walk along the beach.

Rockaway Beach has a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural attractions, and delicious food that make it a must-visit destination in New York City. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach day or an adventure-filled outing, Rockaway Beach has something for everyone.

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A Brief History of Rockaway Beach

Rockaway Beach has a rich history that dates back to the early 19th century. Originally home to the Lenape Native American tribe, the area was first settled by European immigrants in the 1830s. The opening of the Long Island Rail Road in the late 1800s made the area easily accessible to New Yorkers, leading to a boom in tourism and the development of many of the area’s iconic buildings and attractions.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Rockaway Beach became a popular destination for New Yorkers looking to escape the city and enjoy the ocean breeze. The opening of the Rockaway Beach Amusement Park in 1901 brought even more visitors to the area, and the park quickly became a beloved institution that drew crowds of locals and tourists alike.

In the early 20th century, Rockaway Beach was also home to several important events and landmarks. The first transatlantic flight took off from Rockaway Beach in 1919, and the area was home to one of the country’s first aviation schools. The construction of the Marine Parkway Bridge in the 1930s made Rockaway Beach even more accessible and helped to further boost tourism in the area.

In the decades that followed, Rockaway Beach faced many challenges, including natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy in 2012, which caused significant damage to the area. However, the community has shown resilience and continues to thrive, with new businesses and developments popping up alongside historic landmarks like the boardwalk and amusement park.

Today, Rockaway Beach remains a beloved destination for New Yorkers and visitors alike, with its rich history and natural beauty continuing to draw crowds to this unique corner of New York City.

Rockaway Beach in 1920
Rockaway Beach in 1920

Rockaway Beach is a unique and vibrant destination that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun on the beach, explore the area’s natural beauty, or dive into its rich history and cultural attractions, there’s no shortage of things to do in Rockaway Beach.

From its early days as a summer escape for New Yorkers to its more recent history of rebuilding after natural disasters, Rockaway Beach has a story to tell that is as diverse and exciting as the area itself.

So why not plan your next visit to Rockaway Beach and discover all that this beloved destination has to offer? Whether you’re a lifelong New Yorker or a first-time visitor, you’re sure to find something to love in this vibrant and welcoming community.

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