A Beach Bum’s Guide to New York

Move over, Chagall, this is the my favorite piece of art work EVER.

Move over, Chagall, this is the my favorite piece of art work EVER.

At this point, most of you know where to go in Manhattan and Brooklyn hasn’t been off the beaten path since 2005. Do you really need another article on how The Met is not to be missed? No! Do you need another blog post about how all the cool people head to Bushwick? Probably not. Let’s face it, New York is infinite and varied and always on the go, but when it comes to travel tips, every publication on Earth has got you covered.

Which is why I’m not going to focus on the latest nightlife, exhibit, restaurant, or what-have-you. Instead, I am going to target this post to my kind of people–the kind that can’t resist going to the beach if they happen to be in a place that has one. Even if that place is the largest city in the USA and rarely considered a seaside destination. Even if that place isn’t particularly known for its sand and sun. Even if that place sends shivers to the germaphobes among you who shudder at the idea of swimming in an ocean in Queens. (It shouldn’t, though! The water is super clean.)

Over the weekend, I had the chance to indulge in all my beach bum glory while never leaving New York City limits. Feel like doing the same? It’s easy!

WHERE TO GO

Yes, this is still New York City.

Yes, this is still New York City.

Rockaway Beach in Queens gives you access to 7 miles of sea. You can easily get there by taking the A train and then transferring to the S. The ocean is quite friendly for freaks like me who love saltwater but are terrified of huge waves–I’m too short to see them as anything but aquatic monsters waiting to swallow me whole. For those who are more adventurous aka DON’T CARE ABOUT THEIR OWN MORTALITY, there are stretches of coastline that are strictly for surfers. The surrounding community is a nice mix of residential and summer shares, giving one the impression that you are hundreds of miles away from a huge urban center. And unlike a lot of things in New York, the price to enjoy all this nature is absolutely free.

WHERE TO EAT

The Rockaway Beach Surf Club is a small space with big goals.

The Rockaway Beach Surf Club is a small space with big goals.

Though I have very vocally expressed my reservations about eating Mexican food in New York City, the Rockaway Beach Surf Club is a welcome surprise. What appears to be a tiny tiki shack straight out of a Hawaiian movie set, is actually an event space, bar, community center and gallery with a taco stand in its patio. They have a great selection of crisp light beers to go with their fresh fish tacos and deliciously salty plantain chips. The Surf Club has also been very involved in the post-Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts and I’m always glad to support businesses that care about the local community.

Beer and fish tacos. One of life's greatest pleasures.

Beer and fish tacos. One of life’s greatest pleasures.

WHERE TO DRINK

It is against the law to serve liquor in anything that isn't a mason jar in Brooklyn. Fact.

It is against the law to serve liquor in anything that isn’t a mason jar in Brooklyn. Fact.

In the middle of industrial, up-and-coming Gowanus (oh wait, it gentrified about 5 seconds ago), lies the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club. This place has everything you could ever want from a retirement community: shuffleboard courts, life-sized Jenga, a plethora of board games, 14-ingredient drinks, cabanas and sensible patio furniture! The only difference is that you won’t find grandma there, but young urbanites eager to get their exercise in with some mild activity and a ton of liquor. My friends and I may or may not have become overnight International Jenga Sensations. Just sayin’.

My greatest accomplishment since 2007.

My greatest accomplishment since 2007.

My little beach day would not have been possible without the helping hand of my friend Erica, who understands my irrational need to be on a beach whenever, wherever. And if this blog post doesn’t persuade you to give Rockaway Beach a try, her photographs will.

– INES

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