New York City itineraries

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Where to Go From NYC: Rockaway Beach

by Berit Baugher

Fathom assistant editor and Rockaway resident, Berit Baugher, compiles a list of awesome things to do and places to eat and drink in post-Sandy Rockaway Beach, New York City's up-and-coming (or totally retro) urban beach. You can also check out a version of this walkabout on the new Kamino app.

THE SCENE

The beach comes alive during summer months as surfers, young creative types, and old-school New Yorkers frolic on one of America's largest urban beaches. This south shore enclave is in the midst of a renaissance after a few decades of economic decline and the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy. The Victorian resort town — once loved for its amusement park, Olympic-size pool, and ocean-front hotels — began catering to the local surfing scene a few years ago. One thing lead to the next, and now the neighborhood has a design motel, DJ dance parties, and a new spin on traditional beach concessions (think Venezuelan arepas, Mexican street food, and artisanal ice pops). It's safe to say that Rockaway is — what else? — riding the wave.

Playland Motel's back deck and the Rawlins Calderone room. Photo: Courtesy of Playland Motel

WHERE TO SLEEP

Playland Motel
97-20 Rockaway Beach Blvd.; +1-718-318-1035
The peninsula is now complete with the addition of a 12-room boutique motel and diner combo with a backyard built for hipster dance parties and post-beach cocktails.

Rockaway Taco

Rockaway Taco's famous Fish taco. Photo: Courtesy of Rockaway Beach Club

WHERE TO EAT

Bon Appetit
418 Beach 129th St.; +1-718-634-6399
This small deli in the village of Rockaway Park is a local favorite. An iced coffee, caprese pasta salad, and sandwich from the extra large chalkboard menu make an ideal beach picnic.

DiCosmo's Italian Ices
95-19 Rockaway Beach Blvd.
Real-deal Italian ices from a recipe dating back to 1915. Stick with the original lemon or spice it up with papaya, pina colada, or the Peterstown special (orange-pineapple).

Rockaway Taco
Beach 96th St. and Rockaway Beach Blvd.; +1-347-213-7466
This colorful beach hut brought cool to the Rockaways years ago and has been drawing crowds ever since. The surfers come for the fish tacos, but we like the Mexican corn and plantain chips with fresh guacamole.

The spicy homemade meatballs at Sayra's.

Sayra’s
91-11 Rockaway Beach Blvd.; +1-718-945-9463
The area's first wine bar is doing it right with a cute back garden, picnic tables and a movie screen for Saturday cinema nights. Small plates range from BBQ pulled pork sliders to spicy homemade meatballs and wine is sourced from around the world.

Thai Rock
375 Beach 92nd St.; +1-646-455-3991
Live music, waterfront seating, good food, and strong drinks. The perfect way to end a day at the beach. The pan-fried chicken dumplings are delicious, the Duck Pad Kee Maow is super spicy, and it's all oh-so-good.

Veggie Island
95-19 Rockaway Beach Blvd.; +1-347-213-7466
Organic veggie and fruit shop with freshly pressed juices, smoothies, assorted baked good, and locally made natural beauty products.

Uma’s
92-07 Rockaway Beach Blvd.; +1-917-865-6261
Delicious artisanal Central Asian vegetable patties and shish kabobs marinated and grilled with Uzbek spices served in a newly designed space with an industrial feel and surfboard stand out front.

Caracas

Photo: Courtesy of Caracas

Beach Concessions
Foodies have reclaimed the boardwalk concession stands again this summer, resulting in beachside outposts of some of New York City's best eats.

Beach 106th St.
- Caracas: Homemade Venezuelan arepas and empanadas. 
- Conchos Rockaway: Smoothies, juices, milkshakes, ice cream, and innovative ice pops with flavors like black grape kiwi and blueberry lemonade.

Beach 96th St.
- The Bolivian Llama Party: Bolivian comfort food from a trio of brothers who routinely have one of the longest lines at Smorgasbord. Ty the quinoa nachos topped with creamy hauncania queso and llajua.
- La Fruteria: Baked goods, coffee, and fruit smoothies and juices blended before your eyes. 
- Lobster Joint: The Brooklyn favorite set up an outpost serving fresh lobster, shrimp, and crab rolls.
- Low Tide Bar: Beachside bar and beer garden.
- Motorboat & The Big Banana: We’ve heard good things about the fish po’ boy, but our staple is the frozen chocolate dipped banana.

Beach 86th St.
- Rippers: The usual snack bar fare with the added bonus of a fresh juice bar. Peach and basil is our favorite.

Photo: Courtesy of Boarders Surf Shop

WHAT TO DO

Boarders Surf Shop
192 Beach 92nd St.; +1-718-318-7997
Locally owned surf shop with shower, changing room, and bathroom facilities. Lockers are available for regulars who want to store boards for the season and they have surfboards for rent.

H20 Generation
+1-212-427-5600
Locally owned retro-style stand-up paddleboard maker.

Locals Surf School
+1-718-869-9803
Group, semi-private, and private surf lessons.

Hot Yoga Rockaway Beach
81 Beach 116th St. 2nd Floor; +1-718-945-9642
Start off your day with a hot yoga class and some good vibes.

Rockabus

Photo: Courtesy of Rockabus

HOW TO GET THERE

Subway
From Manhattan:
A train to Far Rockaway. Transfer at Broad Channel to the S shuttle. Get off at 90th, 98th, 105th, or 116th.

From Brooklyn:
L or J trains to Broadway Junction. Transfer to the A train to Far Rockaway. Get off at 90th, 98th, 105th, or 116th.

Rockabus
Shuttle from the Lower East Side, Williamsburg, and Grand Army Plaza to Rockaway in a big yellow school bus with playlists curated by local DJs every Saturday & Sunday. 

Ferry
Rockaway Beach Ferry goes from Pier 11 at Wall Street to Jacob Riis Park Beach in Rockaway. Make a day of it with the boat and bike combo.

Bike
From North Brooklyn go south on Wythe to Flatbush. Cross the Marine Parkway Bridge and then go east past Jacob Riis Park to the Rockaways. Approximate travel time is 1.5 hours from Williamsburg or Greenpoint.


LOCAL COLOR

The Wave
Rockawayist

HIKE IT

Take a version of this walk around Rockaway using the Kamino app.

READ MORE ON FATHOM

Where to Go from Here: Day Trips from NYC
Where to Go from Here: NYC Weekend
U.S. Road Trips: The Northeast

Berit Baugher

Berit is an assistant editor at Fathom. You can follower her on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. She travels for sweets and beautiful design.

-Get to know her better: Fathom Questionnaire
-Read more: Fathom articles

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