It’s officially the first weekend of summer and there’s no better relief from the New York City summer heat than a trip to the beach. Recently ranked the top NYC beach by New Yorkers for Parks, Rockaway Beach is a personal favorite. Boasting the largest urban stretch of beach in the United States, Rockaway houses the only two surf beaches in all of New York City. As I wrote in my blog post earlier this year, I prefer to hit the waves during the winter months because I have most of the beach to myself and the waves are better, but you’ll find me at Rockaway Beach all summer as well, and the place offers plenty of food, drinks, and fun in addition to top-notch surfing.
If you’re looking to catch some waves, get off the A train at 67th or 90th Street and head to one of the surf beaches. You can take lessons at the New York Surf School off of the 67th Street stop, or get off at 90th Street to rent a locker and surf board at Boarders. The 90th Street stop is also closer to beaches designated for swimming along with the various concession stands, bars, and restaurants in Rockaway Beach.
After a day of surfing, swimming, and sun, there’s nothing like a great meal and some beers to round off the day. Here are some of the best spots to kick back before heading home:
86th Street, on the Boardwalk
The folks who brought you Roberta’s and the Meat Hook run this beachside bar and grill. Although they’re famous for their burgers ($6.50) and cheese fries ($5), Rippers also offers a selection of fresh juices, craft beer draughts, and frozen cocktails along with dancing and live music.
302 Beach 87th Street
After closing the famous Rockaway Taco stand on 96th Street, Andrew Field has moved his operation to the patio of the Rockaway Beach Surf Club. You can still enjoy Field’s much-beloved tacos ($3.50), with the added benefit of ample seating and the ability to wash them down with a drink from the bar.
106-01 Shore Front Parkway, at Beach 105 St
An offshoot of the popular Williamsburg spot, Caracas Rockaway serves arepas ($6-$8) and appetizers with local beers and frozen sangria. Enjoy beachfront views on the patio, but expect a bit of a wait on weekends.
96th Street Concession
96th Street, on the Boardwalk
Here you have a rotating selection of vendors to choose from, but mainstays include Lobster Joint, La Fruiteria for fresh smoothies, and the Low Tide Bar.
155 Beach 95th Street
A favorite among Rockaway locals, this pub is hidden in the basement of a converted, seaside-style Victorian home. Connolly’s is famous for its frozen drinks and cheap beer options, and is only open from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
97-20 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, at Beach 98th Street
The newly-revamped Playland Motel has handed their bar and grill over to Daniel Cipriani, who created Lodge, Urban Rustic, and The Cookout at Rockaway Beach Surf Club. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the Playland Grill also has a selection of summer cocktails and beers. Try the Rockaway Beach Nachos with shrimp or Baja Fish Tacos to get your seafood fix.
Chicks To Go
97-02 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, at Beach 97th Street
Located just a block from the beach, this spot offers Peruvian rotisserie chicken by the quarter ($4), half ($7), or whole ($12) along with hot sauce or pepper sauce. You can also get empanadas or salchipapas – french fries with spicy hot dogs covered in cheese (trust me, it’s delicious).