All the way at the bottom of the city, to the West of the quaint Rockaways, are Riis Beach and Fort Tilden, where New Yorkers of all stripes come to let loose in the summer. At Riis you'll hear lots of festive music blasting from old boom boxes, see young families playing in the surf and hipsters catching some sun. Over at Fort Tilden the vibe is a little more relaxed, and the crowd is decidedly younger.
For history buffs, both beaches are dotted with ruined buildings: art deco bathhouses, gutted service stations and even an abandoned asylum. Both Riis and Fort Tilden can be reached by public transportation on the Q35 bus, but there are also several bus lines, such as NYC Beach Bus (www.nycbeachbus.com); or Alexis Van Lines (www.alexisvanlines.com) and water taxi options (from the New York Beach Ferry; www.newyorkbeachferry.com) available. If you're looking for a unique place to spot New Yorkers in the wild, there's no better place to be.