Rockaway Beach and Boardwalk is 170-acre summertime destination known for its variety of recreational offerings. During the summer, visitors flock to this beach in Queens to enjoy views of the Atlantic Ocean, swimming, strolling the boardwalk, and the playground.
A century ago, visitors flocked to the Rockaway Peninsula and its ocean-side amusement park. Today, it's one of the most popular places to enjoy the beach while in New York City; it's also one of the largest urban beaches in all of America, stretching from Beach 73 to Beach 109 streets.
With a 40-foot-wide boardwalk, ocean access, handball courts, roller hockey space, and volleyball courts, this park beach in Queens is so much more than a place to swim. It's one of the few places in the city to go surfing along the south shore of Long Island, while Anglers line up to catch bluefish, striped bass, and others.
Three snack bars, at Beach 86th, 97th, and 106th Streets, ensure that visitors have everything they need for lunch, an afternoon pick-me-up, or a cooling drink. Access to Rockaway Beach is available to everyone, including people in wheelchairs and those with unsure footing, thanks to the addition of specially made beach mats at several entrances.
One of the distinguishing features of Rockaway Beach New York is found right at the entrance to the boardwalk. The charming statue "Whaleamena" once was part of the Children's Zoo in Central Park. Once it was donated and moved to Rockaway, volunteers restored the statue to its original glory. In 1999, a multimillion-dollar improvement project at Rockaway Beach brought the addition of new playground equipment, showers, and bus shelters with murals depicting water themes. A veterans memorial, added in 1927, is another example of public art in the park.
Keeping the environment in mind, Rockaway Beach is the site of a glass and plastic recycling program on the boardwalk. Much of the worn-out wood that makes up the boardwalk has been replaced with synthetic materials that did not come tropical rainforests.
Those making plans to visit Rockaway Beach New York will be happy to know that it's free to enter. A variety of New York beach hotels are located nearby. Also nearby is Jamaica, the home of JFK airport, so the options for hotels really open up. As with the other New York beaches managed by the city, lifeguards are on duty from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the season that stretches from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Swimming is not allowed at other times, but the park can be visited all year.
The fourteen miles of city beaches includes this beach in Queens, in addition to Orchard Beach in the Bronx and Brooklyn's iconic Coney Island and Manhattan Beach. On Staten Island, South Beach, Midland Beach, and Wolfe's Pond Beach all are city beaches.
At the end of July, many vacationers and city residents make plans to visit Rockaway Beach New York for the annual sandcastle-building contest. Adults and children are welcome, and prizes are awarded for several age levels. No experience is necessary, only buckets, shovels, and some enthusiasm.
Rockaway Beach also hosts movie nights, surfing contests, fitness classes, and a fall festival. This end to the season combines time at this beach in Queens with pony rides, a pumpkin patch, and other fun events. Visitors also can enjoy the fall scenery with hayrides, entertainment, and refreshments during the annual harvest festival in October.