Far Rockaway, New York, is on the edge of Queens and Long Island. This location makes it easy to get a taste of both worlds. Some residents love to mix it up right in town, though. Mixes of cultures interact in this thriving city, which is in the throes of revitalization. This neighborhood is perfect for people who want the serenity of suburban life, with the excitement of New York City only a train ride away.
This coastal community was hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy. Citizens rallied together to help rebuild the city to its former glory. Celebrities like Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel literally lent a hand when it came time to help inhabitants affected by the storm. They followed this up with food distribution and comfort, especially since Far Rockaway was one of the last areas to have its power and water services restored.
This racially diverse population has a bustling Jewish population that bubbles over from Inwood and beyond. Several synagogues, various Jewish schools and even a mikveh exist alongside the public schools of the city.
Restaurants & Nightlife
Although Manhattan is only two hours away, locals don't mind grabbing food on the peninsula, and chain restaurants abound.
A local favorite, Tacos Y Mas serves authentic Mexican food in an unassuming environment and features take-out service for quick snacks. Try the ceviche and the carne asada burrito, and leave room for plantain empanadas. Fish and Dish reflects Far Rockaway's proximity to the ocean. Diners rave about the seafood, vegetables and soups.
If you crave Caribbean food, Dredsurfer Grill fills the bill. Located right along the beach, this establishment provides attractive outdoor seating and serves delectable tropical dishes that reflect the area's established Caribbean community.
Ralph's Diner and Community Coffee Shop put you face-to-face with the locals. Located in the city center, the shops feature breakfast and lunch menu items.
Nightlife in Far Rockaway may be limited to entertainment hosted by residents in the area. Most bars lie either further down the Rockaway peninsula or a train or bus ride away on Long Island.
History & Culture
During the '50s and the '60s, much of Far Rockaway's activities took place on the beach. The Beachside Bungalow Preservation Project has undertaken the task of repairing the temporary homes that were very much a part of Far Rockaway’s scene at that time. Far Rockaway had been a resort community for city residents since the 1830s. The vacation bungalows became permanent residential homes for people who did not want to live in public housing, which was cropping up.
Alumni bemoan that Far Rockaway High School, established in 1897, closed down permanently in 2011. The building does not stand dormant, and it currently houses several middle schools under one roof. The alumni group is active and has a thriving online community where former students can peruse old yearbooks and even purchase alumni merchandise.
Far Rockaway is the end of the line for train riders. When venturing into the Rockaways and beyond, visitors are careful to pick the correct A train line. They include Far Rockaway, Lefferts Boulevard and Rockaway Park extensions. The A train offers the longest one-seat ride in the New York Subway system. It is 31 miles long from Inwood to 207th Street in Manhattan.
Far Rockaway is the last stop on the Long Island Railroad as well. Slightly pricier than the city subway, it also offers a slightly more comfortable ride. The LIRR takes commuters into the city, but it also shuttles riders further out on Long Island. Inwood, Lawrence and Cedarhurst are the preliminary stops.
The MTA bus line runs further into Queens neighborhoods like Bellrose, Queens Village and even JFK International Airport. The Nassau bus line runs further into Long Island neighborhoods like Inwood, Hewlett, and Hempstead.
Far Rockaway is a mix of low-, middle- and upper-class residents. Even with this variety, the cost of living is lower than the city average. A single-bedroom apartment in the heart of city costs about $900. The closer you live to the beach, the higher the cost of a residence. A swipe of the Metro Card is all it costs to get to the city center. Because the peninsula of Far Rockaway is so compact, some people choose to walk rather than use public transportation.
Gas prices hover around $3.15 per gallon, which is 11 percent higher than the national average but typical for the state of New York.
The major shopping area clusters toward the mainland along Mott Street and Beach 20th. High-value stores monopolize the scene, but a few high-end boutiques make their homes here as well.
Jeannie's Dream, a custom-made hat shop, started a quarter century ago in the back of a small store. The boutique's namesake and owner learned how to make hats, crystal headbands and belts to sell what she loved. Using the walls of hats to make a color wave became another fun detail, and even the hair accessories now feature color waves. Jeannie uses Swarovski Crystals and special netting to make her hair clips both strong and beautiful.
The ocean has always been a place of inspiration for Blue Bungalow's founders. Located near the beach, this unique and almost hidden treasure serves as more than just a gift shop. You can find one-of-a-kind gifts here along with tasteful home decor and useful accessories, but that only scratches the surface. Stop in and see why this establishment's original designs make this more of a gallery or museum than a simple retail establishment.
Bravo and Key Foods both have a supermarket nearby, and Stop and Shop provides groceries for the beach area. Rossman Farms may be a bit of a drive, but for those in search of a reliable farmers market, a visit here makes up for the trip. For two decades, Rossman Farms has featured an impressive selection of farm-fresh fruits and vegetables at wholesale prices. You can also pick up homemade salads, hummus, appetizers and more, 24/7.
Bayswater Park in the Bayswater section of Far Rockaway offers the Urban Park Rangers program as well as the Shape UP NYC program. These programs connect users to the city, but have a small town feel. The seasons don’t escape without a hurrah. The annual fall festival in Bayswater Park rivals those of fancy suburbs, to the delight of its residents.
Grassmere Playground is connected to adjacent Grassmere Terrace, but visitors are more than welcome to use the facilities.
In a pinch, families can take their young ones to swing and slide at the local public school playgrounds during off-hours. Because of its proximity to Rockaway Beach, Far Rockaway frequent the shorelines that were ravaged by Hurricane Sandy. Repaired, they are now able to stand the mobs of tourists who used to frequent the area when it was a thriving beach community.