Your perfect Queens weekend

Eight ways to enjoy the best of Queens in two days-with art, pools, spas, parties and tacos.

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  • Panorama of New York City model at the Queens Museum of Art

  • Astoria Park Pool

  • Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival

  • MoMA PS1

  • Mr. Met

  • Spa Castle

Panorama of New York City model at the Queens Museum of Art

 

Destination tacos
As if Rockaway's sandy beach and surfable waves weren't draw enough, during the warm weather you have the added allure of one of the best fish tacos in the city at Rockaway Taco. Packed with tilapia and topped with fresh guac ($4), and paired with chips and homemade salsa ($3), this handheld meal makes New Yorkers' mouths water all the way from their cherished apartments in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Follow it up with a cup of old-fashioned lemon ice from DiCosmo's next door (dicosmos.com), and you've got yourself one delicious summer day. 95-19 Rockaway Beach Blvd at Beach 96th St, Rockaway (347-213-7466, rockawaytaco.com). Subway: A, Rockaway Park S to Beach 98th St. Open through the end of September; date TBD.

Travel the world without leaving nyc
The beauty of the Queens Museum of Art is that part of its mission is to highlight the borough's extraordinarily diverse ethnic and cultural communities. Among the current exhibitions is "The Curse of Bigness," which explores the ideas of size and scale and is inspired by the museum's Panorama of New York City model and the Unisphere right in its front yard. The QMA also hosts Target Passport Fridays in Flushing Meadows--Corona Park, an annual summer festival of international music, dance and film, this year with a World Cup theme. New York City Building, 111th St at 49th Ave, Flushing (718-592-9700, queensmuseum.org). Subway: 7 to Mets--Willets Pt. Wed--Sun noon--6pm; Sat, Sun noon--5pm. Suggested donation $2.50--$5.

One big dip
Astoria Park is home to the largest public pool in the city—its size and gratis admission have made it a hot-weather mecca. It may seem like you're entering boot camp, what with the strict rules and admission lines (a little more than 2,000 people are allowed in at a time), but Astoria Park Pool never feels overcrowded, and the pool itself is held to high standards of cleanliness. The gorgeous views don't hurt either; you'll be splashing around in the shadows of the Triborough and Hell Gate Bridges. (Be sure to bring a lock, and check the park rules on attire before heading out.) 19th St between Ditmars Blvd and Hoyt Ave, Astoria (718-626-8620, nycgovparks.org). Subway: N, Q to Astoria--Ditmars Blvd. Daily 11am--3pm, 4--7pm; free.

Dragon boat blessings
The Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival grew out of an ancient Chinese legend about Qu Yuan, an exiled patriot-poet who drowned himself in the name of his country in 278 B.C. For the 20th annual edition, more than 160 teams will race in Meadow Lake, while land-bound attendees play cheerleader and enjoy back-to-back entertainers, including the progressive rock band the Hsu-Nami and martial-arts demonstrations by the Shaolin Temple's warrior monks. Flushing Meadows--Corona Park, 111th St to Van Wyck Expwy between Flushing Bay and Grand Central Pkwy, Flushing (718-767-1776, hkdbf-ny.org). Subway: 7 to Mets--Willets Pt. Aug 7, 8 10am--5pm; free.

Art on the waterfront
At Socrates Sculpture Park, rotating exhibits examine urban issues through sculptures that you can walk right up to and touch...or picnic beneath. This week is your last chance to see "Cityscape: Surveying the Urban Biotope," which is a fancy title for sculptures that explore the way nature infiltrates our lives (though Sunday 1). Installations aren't the only thing you'll find here, though; the park has an Outdoor Cinema summer series, which showcases the various cultures of Queens each Wednesday night via film, music and food (through August 18). In addition, SSP hosts community festivals throughout the year. 32-01 Vernon Blvd at Broadway, Long Island City (718-956-1533, socratessculpturepark.org). Free. Subway: N, Q to Broadway.

Is it worth it? Let me work it
Every summer, MoMA PS1's Warm Up parties transform the former public school's courtyard into a playground for all ages: Pole Dance, this year's commissioned installation by architect duo SO-IL, features a system of interconnected poles, bungees, enormous neon rubber balls, orange hammocks outfitted with misters, and a kiddie pool for a quick ankle-deep dip. Upcoming Saturday afternoon performances include DJ sets by Animal Collective (Saturday 31) and the Roots' ?uestlove (August 14), as well as a live performance by Holy Ghost! (September 4). 22-25 Jackson Ave at 46th Ave, Long Island City (718-784-2084, momaps1.org). Subway: E, M to 23rd St--Ely Ave; G to 21st St; 7 to 45th Rd--Court House Sq. Sat 2--9pm, through Sept 4; $15.

Balls and boards
Whatever, Jeter. Underdogs are the real heroes of NYC—that's why we're sick of the Yankees and their new stadium...and why we're willing to embrace the Mets and theirs. Because a not-so-winning team (which offers a Shake Shack at its arena) tugs at our heartstrings. The Amazin's have three home games this weekend, so show them what matters in this city: the love of the sport. Just ask the kids ollying at the nearby skate park, constructed where the old Astral Fountain used to be in Flushing Meadows--Corona Park. Stadium: Roosevelt Ave at 126th St, Flushing (718-507-8499, mets.com). * Skate park: 111th St to Van Wyck Expwy between Flushing Bay and Grand Central Pkwy (nycgovparks.org). Subway:7 to Mets--Willets Pt.

A (cheap!) spa kingdom
A five-story modern bathhouse, Spa Castle has become a Queens paradise. It features dozens of hot tubs tricked out with therapeutic water jets, an outdoor oasis with bade pools and a waterfall, and sauna rooms containing healing materials (mineral salt! jade! ice! LED lights!). Not to mention, there are treatments like scrubs and full-body massages, available by reservation. You can even pass out in one of the sleeping rooms, if the pampering and hard-core relaxing leave you in need of a recharge. 131-10 11th Ave at 131st St, College Point (718-939-6300, nyspacastle.com). Travel: 7 to Flushing--Main St, then take the free Spa Castle shuttle bus. Weekdays $35, weekends $45.

 

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