2, 5 at Flatbush Ave.-Brooklyn College
From Brooklyn College-Flatbush Ave. subway stop, take the Q35 to Riis Park.
"The People's Beach" is the main attraction of the 26,607-acre Gateway National Recreation Area that surrounds New York Harbor. This particular mile-long stretch was the site of one of the first U.S. Naval Air Stations until 1928, and in 1937 Robert Moses opened what he hoped would be a more democratic, accessible version of Jones Beach. Jacob Riis has since been transferred to the National Park Service, and is, in effect, a continuation of neighboring Rockaway Beach. It draws the same eclectic mix of sun-seekers, but its shabbier state, crabgrass-eaten concrete boardwalk, and grand Art Deco bathhouse give it the feel of a relic akin to its other neighbor Fort Tilden. The drinking fountains look like Roman ruins, the railings seem to have been fashioned out of driftwood, the tennis courts and basketball hoops may or may not have nets, and the baseball-diamond infields are overrun with grass. The boardwalk's picturesque antique clock doesn’t even always show the right time. Still, none of this stops a steady flow of families from setting up tents and umbrellas on the beachside picnic lawns and barbecuing and boom-boxing the day away or flying kites that almost reach the over-flying airplanes. For decades the more isolated east end has been a gay sunbathing and cruising spot with a large Latino and black contingent and an unofficial nudist dress code.Golfing
Open since 1935, the Breezy Point Executive Golf Course is a modest and inexpensive 18-hole public course. Golfers, who are more likely to be off-duty cops than executives, wear tank tops and shorts as they tee off just steps from the beach. For more info, call 718-474-1623.
In the Vicinity
Bring a bike and explore the surrounding area, including Floyd Bennett Field, an abandoned air field now used by model plane and car aficionados; the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Preserve; Fort Tilden park with its picturesque abandoned military structures; and Breezy Point, the aptly named eastern tip of the Rockaway peninsula.
At Riis Beach, a lifeguard is on duty Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.