Most people in NYC know of Coney Island and Jones Beach. Long Beach is another popular one. My favorite is one a little less crowded but no farther and absolutely gorgeous, Rockaway Beach. It’s located in Queens, and is accessible via Jacob Riis Park or through Fort Tilden.
During the week you can count the number of visitors on your hands. Weekends are much more popular. This area of NYC was hit really hard by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Although the boardwalk has been repaired and the beach is clean and lovely, there are still some old destroyed forts and military housing that remains. Much is covered in graffiti and makes for an interesting backdrop to the pristine water.
Katharina Grosse’s spray painted dilapidated building is still standing on the grounds near Fort Tilden. I love the bizarre creativeness about it, behind in are abandoned buildings with more graffiti, these have a creep factor to them. You’re not supposed to go in them but we explored anyway.
The beach itself is wide and long. The water is clean with decent waves, which could definitely overwhelm a little one, so be prepared to brace the water if you go with young kids. Many of the beach goes choose to go topless here, which is legal in all of NYC beaches but more common here. Off the boardwalk at Jacob Riis park there are several food trucks and drink stands. There are also clean public bathrooms and a parking lot which was $10/car.
- Public transportation: Take the subway 2 or 5 to the end of the line then take the 35 bus to Jacob Riis Park.
- Driving is probably the easiest way to get around, you have to pay to park ($10/car) but there is no fee for the beach.
- Dogs are not allowed on the beach March 15th – September 15th.
- The beach is free.
- There are nice clean bathrooms at the boardwalk.
- The waves are big and pretty rough for little ones.
- Bring all beach essentials, there is no place to buy sunscreen, sun hats or towels.