89° Good Evening
89° Good Evening
Things to Do

What to do and eat in Rockaway, Queens: How to spend the perfect day at the beach

More New Yorkers are discovering what their Rockaway neighbors have known all along: eating, playing and working in the beachfront community is a pretty good way to live.

The popular peninsula was on the way to regaining its former status as a top city resort destination when it was ravaged by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Homes were lost to fire and floods and swaths of the beloved boardwalk were torn from their foundations.

But Rockaway’s fighting spirit prevailed. While more reconstruction is needed, a new wave of restaurants and shops — and of course the beach — is luring millions of visitors. This weekend, the rebuilt boardwalk opens in its entirety as well.

If you can’t hitch a ride, hop on the A train or try out the new NYC Ferry to get to Rockaway, where a newly rebuilt boardwalk awaits. Here are some places to check out:

Watch the surfers and take a lesson with the pros

Start your day at the beach. Surfers hit

Start your day at the beach. Surfers hit the waves in Rockaway before the sun rises. By 7 a.m., the jetty around Beach 92nd Street is a busy spot. Surfing is also allowed between Beach 68 and Beach 71, Beach 87 to Beach 92 and Beach 110 to Beach 111 streets. If you want to do more than just enjoy the view, Locals Surf School, offers group and private lessons from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The two hour classes cost about $85. Appointments are strongly suggested, as they only accommodate walk-ins if there is room.

Enjoy a hearty croissant or tasty pastry

Head over to the Rockaway Beach Bakery (87-10
Photo Credit: Rockaway Beach Bakery via Instagram

Head over to the Rockaway Beach Bakery (87-10 Rockaway Beach Blvd.), a new shop helmed by popular pastry chef Tracy Obolsky. Along with La Colombe coffee, teas and other beverages, the bakery offers a mouthwatering variety of cookies and pastries. There is a quiche-of-the-day, in addition to the popular everything-ham-and-cheese croissant.

Rent a bike at Riis Park

Ready for a spin on a bicycle built
Photo Credit: Riis Park Beach Bazaar / Dylan Johnson

Ready for a spin on a bicycle built for two (or more)? Go to Riis Park, part of the Gateway National Recreation area, where Wheel Fun Rentals (157 Rockaway Beach Blvd.) offers bicycles ranging from the double surrey to a chopper and everything in between. You can also rent beach chairs, umbrellas and boogie boards.

The centerpiece of Riis Park is the Robert Moses-era bathhouse. Down the boardwalk find the Park's Beach Bazaar -- an eclectic mix of food, music, drinks and vendors. New events are listed on its website.

Check out old buildings and new art at Fort Tilden

Stroll through the decommissioned military site with its
Photo Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin / Flying Dog Photos

Stroll through the decommissioned military site with its beaches, dunes and abandoned buildings. Two local arts groups, the Rockaway Artists Alliance and the Rockaway Theater Company, have set up shop in the old military buildings.

The theater hosts live performances, while the alliance has exhibitions and art classes for all ages. In "You Are Here, a show set to open on June 9, artists will give their creative takes on sites around the peninsula in the "You Are Here" show set to open on June 9.

Eat lunch on the boardwalk or the beach

Once you're ready for lunch, head to the
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Once you're ready for lunch, head to the Rockaway boardwalk where the refurbished, old-school concessions offer a dizzying variety of eats.

Caracas at Beach 106th Street features arepas and empanadas; Brothers offers fresh smoothies and juices. The busy stalls at Beach 97th Street are home to more than 10 stands featuring beer and wine, natural ice pops, lobster rolls, BBQ, central Asian cuisine and burritos.

Beer, burgers and fries can be found a few blocks down at Rippers, in the Beach 86th Street concession. If Caribbean food is more your style, the Dredsurfer Grill at Beach 17th Street serves up a large Caribbean menu.

Shop for hand crafted made in Rockaway gifts

For shopping, hit Beach 116th Street: a commercial
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

For shopping, hit Beach 116th Street: a commercial strip that includes delis, variety stores and some boutique shops like The Blue Bungalow (165 Beach 116th St.). Step inside this beachy oasis of blue-and-white to find everything from handcrafted jewelry and painted wineglasses to driftwood art and hand painted oil prints. The store is known for its customized beach writings that are perfect for commemorating weddings, birthdays and other life events.

Owners Liz Smith-Breslin and Jeanne Jamin, both born-and-raised in Rockaway, make many of the items themselves. Staffers also are more than happy to help you find just the right gift.

Take a boot camp class on the beach

Former North American Muay Thai champion Chris Romulo
Photo Credit: CROM Physical Culture

Former North American Muay Thai champion Chris Romulo brought his expertise to Rockaway several years ago and opened a gym. After Hurricane Sandy, Romulo and his wife, Sarah, rebuilt the new CROM Physical Culture at 217 Beach 92nd St. where they offer CrossFit, Muay Thai and fitness programs "in a friendly community and family driven environment."

CROM offers an $18 Shred boot camp class on the beach that includes a stand up paddle boarding lesson or a trip to the Tarzan Boat, an outdoor jungle gym known as the Tarzan Boa.

Return to the sand

Late afternoon is the perfect time for the
Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

Late afternoon is the perfect time for the beach. The crowds have thinned and the sun is not as strong. Lifeguards are on duty from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., but waves can be strong so always beware of riptides. And don't even think of venturing into the mighty Atlantic unless a lifeguard is present.

Sip a frosty beverage and watch the sun set

Bungalow Bar is one of the best places
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Bungalow Bar is one of the best places to catch a sunset in Rockaway (377 Beach 92nd St.). The bar and restaurant, located on the shore of Jamaica Bay, offers indoor and outdoor seating as well as live entertainment.

Check out the specialty cocktails which include Huckleberry Lemonade and the Pineapple Express -- rum, Coco López and pineapple juice served in a frozen pineapple shell with rum soaked pineapple skewers.

The large menu includes a raw bar and as well as burgers, steak and chicken dishes. The impressive Seafood Tower stacks Maine lobster, east and west oysters, clams, shrimp and crab.

"We always say come for the sunset and stay until sunrise," said co-owner Sean Tubridy. "We really focus on the customer experience."


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

Things to Do Photos & Videos