A Shore Thing

Mini guides to five waterfront neighborhoods worth your salt

There's more to Rockaway Beach than the 1977 Ramones song. A popular beach resort in the 1830s, the "Irish Riviera" was once a destination for sun worshippers from all over the country. Vacationers summered in bungalows that have since been converted into homes. Besides fishing and surfing, this secret party town is famous for its hundreds of bars, many of which dot the area around Beach 111-116th streets. New Irish Circle (101-19 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, 718-474-9002), a mega-resort in its heyday, is still swinging with live Gaelic singers, Irish bands, and pub fare. Whaleamena (Boardwalk and Beach 95th Street), a sculpture originally from Central Park Zoo, was redone in bright mosaic by local artists and marks the border of Rockaway Park, appropriate as Rockaway is referred to in Moby Dick. Five blocks down, surfers hit " The Rocks" (Beach 90th Street). Local personality and Howard Stern regular "Hook Nose Mike" says "People come from all over for the killer waves." International dining, curio shops and even more bars dot main strip, 116th Street. Belle Harbor Steaks & Seafood (268 Beach 116th Street, 718-318-5100) is the peninsula's swanky date spot, while sushi joint O'Sake (263 Beach 116th Street, 718-945-8888) has a name you've gotta love for keeping in the Irish spirit of the 'hood. LIZA MONROY

How to get there: A train to Broad Channel, change to shuttle on same platform for Beach 90th Street to Beach 116th Street.

The Carroll Street Bridge at the Gowanus Canal, built in 1889
photo: Brian Kennedy
The Carroll Street Bridge at the Gowanus Canal, built in 1889

Staten Island
Staten Island, the city's own la isla bonita, has fifty-seven miles of waterfront. To most island residents, the seafaring vessels of the Staten Island Ferry (311, for info) aren't just the cheapest (read: free) date spot in the city, but daily transport to boot. The newest ship in the fleet, downright swank for a municipal carriage, is a swell spot for watching (and making) summer's amore-inducing fireworks, with a lazy eye on the city skyline. Off the boat and onto the isle, seaside delights are so abundanza, salty dogs would do well to consult the Gateway National Recreation Area's Staten Island Unit (718-354-4606, nps.gov) to chart a course through the borough's waterside parks and beaches, which include NYC Marathon starting point Fort Wadsworth, Great Kills Park, and Miller Field. The waterfront property of Alice Austen House (2 Hylan Boulevard, 718-816-4506, aliceausten.org)—a photography museum and historical site near the Verazzano Narrows—turns one's people-watching skills to use on traveling frigates and, each June, the city's pug dog beauty pageant, too. Cap off the island-hop with catfish and wine at waterside RH Tugs (1115 Richmond Terrace, 718-447-6369, rhtugs.com). Then, at Staten Island Yankee Stadium (75 Richmond Terrace, 718-720-9265, siyanks.com), cheer the pinstripes home while watching your own ship—the ferry—come in as well. ALEXIS SOTTILE

How to get there: Take R/W to Whitehall St., 4/5 to Bowling Green, or 1 to South Ferry for the Staten Island Ferry

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