97-20 Rockaway Beach Blvd
What it is: An old clam shack near the site of the old Playland amusement park that’s been turned into an art-focused hotel, and a hip post-beach bar, with a cooler-than-the-Hamptons vibe.
Why we love it: With tropical drinks and music that would feel at home in a Florida cabana, the Playland is the perfect place to chill after the beach to let your sunburn cool. The bar regularly hosts popular DJs at night to keep the beach party going. Even in the off-season, it’s a cozy place to hang by the shore, as Playland Motel is one of those places bringing surf-town prestige back to Rockaway. The adjacent Whit’s End pizza serves up finely crafted brick-oven pizzas too. And check out the hotel rooms if you get a chance: each one is designed by a different artist with varying themes, from Miami Vice to a “blood room.” Bring your sunburned beach crew, people who love to dance, anyone who wants a place to store their surfboard or beach bag while they relax and have a few tropical cocktails or beers.
What to order: The rotating selection of beers always includes standards like Goose Island and Corona; if you’re feeling more tropical, try a cocktail like the red-pepper spiced Atomic Margarita. Soak it up with some food from Bolivian Llama Party, which offers empanadas and sliders.
Regular tip: The motel is named after the old Playland amusement park, which stood near the site from 1902 to 1982. It was originally opened and owned by LeMarcus Thompson, who’s considered to be the inventor of the roller coaster.
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