Located in Queens, New York, Rockaway Beach is an ideal destination for a coastal getaway. Not only does the area boast picturesque shores, it also offers your family a unique opportunity to combine a beach holiday with the unparalleled sightseeing and cultural opportunities of New York City. Whether you simply want claim a sandy spot for a relaxing beach day, or venture out to surrounding cities to explore endless activities, Rockaway Beach is a great choice for families who are looking for the best of both worlds. Find your perfect Rockaway Beach vacation rental today. To help you get started on planning the fun, here are the top 10 family-friendly things to do in and around Rockaway.

1. Play on the Beach

Soft sands make the miles of beach at Rockaway Beach the perfect place to run barefoot, play in the waves, build sand castles, or unwind with a good book. Multiple playgrounds and shady spots in parks dot the beach and help keep your little ones occupied. Remember to bring your kite to catch the winds blowing in from the Atlantic Ocean.

2. Walk or Bike the Boardwalk

Explore the neighborhood and take in the ocean views with a stroll or bike ride along the neighborhood’s boardwalk, which runs for miles along the beach. You can rent bicycles Wheel Fun Rentals, Paul Bicycle Shop, or other shops to enjoy a fun family ride from your vacation rental to spots up and down the beach.

3. Rockaway Community Park

Take a break from the beach and head inland side of the Rockaway Peninsula for a nature walk at Rockaway Community Park. In addition to walking trails, the 253-acre park has sports courts, playgrounds, and plenty of bird watching opportunities. There are even dog-friendly areas so you can bring your four-legged friend along. Anglers in the family can bring along their fishing poles to try to catch some dinner to cook up back at your vacation rental. The park also has good views overlooking Jamaica Bay.

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4. Surfing

Rockaway Beach is the only place to legally surf in New York City, and there are plenty of surf shops where you can rent boards for your family to ride the waves. Surf Shop Rockaway, Boarders of Rockaway Beach, and other shops also rent paddleboards, wet suits, and other gear for your visit to the beach. If you or your kids have never surfed before, sign up for lessons so you can safely get the hang of the sport.

5. Whale and Dolphin Watching

Venture out on the seas in search of marine life with a tour from American Princess Fleet, which operates out of Riis Landing in Rockaway. The four-hour tours are a great way to gain a new perspective on the city and for your kids to learn about the local marine life. Children can even help the crew keep tabs of animal sightings for the official dolphin and whale count.

6. Rent a Jet Ski, Kayak, or Paddleboard

Explore Jamaica Bay at high speed with a jet ski rental from Rockaway Jet Ski. Head out on the water on your own or with a guide, or enjoy the water at a slower pace with a kayak or paddleboard. Young kids can go along as passengers, while renting your teens their own vessel is bound to be a highlight of your vacation.

7. Jacob Riis Park

Mix up your beach experience when you visit Jacob Riis Park, which is located just down the peninsula from Rockaway Beach. In addition to sandy expanses to relax for the day, the park features an art deco bathhouse with a bazaar where you can get food and other items. A golf course and ball courts provide alternatives to the beach, while the Wise Clock is a favorite spot to snap a vacation family photo. A frequent breeze makes the park a good place for your kids to fly their kites, and you can catch the ferry to Manhattan for a day in the city’s core.

8. Urban Camping

A campground in New York City may be surprising, but Floyd Bennett Field, located in Jamaica Bay, lets you include a night beneath the stars in your city and beach vacation. Bring your favorite treats to cook over your campfire, then join the rangers for an astronomy stroll. During the day, you can explore the large community garden, or venture into the bay in a kayak.

9. Souvenir Shopping

Let your kids pick out a memento to remember their Rockaway Island getaway from one of the many souvenir shops near the neighborhood boardwalk. Find treasures of all sorts from shops like The Blue Bungalow or Lola Star Rockaway Beach Shop, which sell a variety of unique items and New York themed gifts for children and adults alike. While your kids hunt for their new favorite toy or shirt, pick up gifts for your friends and family back home.

10. Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

Enjoy a bit of nature in the big city with a visit to the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, which is a favorite destination for birdwatchers of all ages. The refuge also has hiking trails and a variety of programs, including sunset walks, kayak tours, boat trips, and lectures. Several kid-friendly programs help keep your youngsters engaged.

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