From Vintage Shops To Tasty Food Options, This Lovely New York Beach Town Has It All

Despite the crowds, the most captivating places in New York City are not those Times Square tourist traps or sinister empty subway cars. If you are looking for authentic charm in NYC, you'll find it in the local spots brimming with character and creativity. Located in Queens, Rockaway Beach (also called Rockaway or the Rockaways) is full of such delights. While the beach may be the primary draw for New York residents and visitors to the city, the town's charming shops, eclectic restaurants, and bustling entertainment scene elevate its appeal.


As the city's sole legal surf beach (permitted on designated stretches), the Rockaways is a hot destination for anyone looking to ride some waves. Each beach area has its pros, depending on what you're looking for. The boardwalk, located along 90th to 98th streets, has some great spots to grab a bite. Although the beach tends to be busier in the summer, Rockaway's warmer weather still makes it ideal for a seasonal visit, although if congestion is a concern, try this simple beach hack to avoid crowds. The good news is you can easily get to Rockaway Beach by taking the ferry, subway, or bus. Aside from delicious food, an agreeable climate, and the joys of convenience, this delightful neighborhood has tons of perks.


Explore local gems in Rockaway Beach

Local businesses make up the bulk of Rockaway's shopping scene. Widely regarded as New York City's oldest surf shop, the iconic Rockaway Beach Surf Shop sells handmade surfboards, while Zingara Vintage serves up a collection of distinctive attire made from terry cloth. Lu Bella Boutique (which has several locations in New York City) features fashionable, feminine clothing and accessories. Unique pop-up stores also make Rockaway Beach a fun summer destination. Situated on the Boardwalk, Lola Star specializes in destination-themed apparel designed and hand-printed by a New York-based artist.


When it comes to water adventures, you can learn and improve your surfing skills at Locals Surf School. Open year-round, the center offers individual, partner, and group lessons for a range of skill levels. Rockaway Beach and Boardwalk also boasts a number of athletic facilities, including volleyball courts, skate parks, playgrounds, and handball courts. If a laid-back day is more your speed, there's no shame in just taking a dip or sunbathing, and you can also take a break from the sun and treat yourself to a luxurious spa day at The Rockaway Hotel.

Rockaway Beach's vibrant food and entertainment scene

There are an abundance of delicious spots in the Rockaways. Uma's, which holds a 4.5-star Tripadvisor rating, is one of the area's most unique restaurants. At this family-owned eatery, you can order traditional Uzbek dishes like butternut squash manti (handmade dumplings) and meat kebabs. Another popular spot is Tacoway Beach, situated inside Rockaway Beach Surf Club. This casual eatery has been lauded for its incredible fried fish tacos. Tacoway's fresh watermelon and pineapple mint juices might hit the spot after an active day at the beach. In addition, beat the heat with a cone or milkshake at Mara's Ice Cream Parlor, which offers a variety of decadent flavors.


In the summer, beachgoers can enjoy a food-filled day exploring the various vendors at Rockaway Bazaar. From late May to September, the events and concessions company also presents a free music series. Other budget-friendly summer activities at Rockaway Beach include free fitness classes, such as Zumba under the stars. Despite larger crowds, the array of activities and events is a major perk of this destination's on-season. The Rockaway Hotel is a nightlife hotspot, hosting concerts and DJ sets on its scenic rooftop. Rockaway Beach is a brilliant way to escape the chaos of the city.