Best things to do in Queens
The city’s second-biggest park gives the more famous green stomping grounds (ahem, Central Park) a run for its money when it comes to housing iconic and important cultural institutions. As the home of the Queens Museum, Queens Botanical Garden, New York Hall of Science, Citi Field and a certain little sporting event called the U.S. Open, the park offers endless entertainment. There’s also plenty of fun to be had with boating, bike riding and trails for exploring, including the remaining World’s Fair classic, the Unisphere.
Since 1971, this sleek, ultramodern museum has elevated its home borough by celebrating its residents. Recent exhibits—like “Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk,” “Mother Tongues: Endangered Languages in NYC and Beyond” and the biennial exhibit of artists living and working in Queens—exemplify the rich, diverse examinations the cultural institution offers. One exhibit on permanent display is a must-see: the 1964 World’s Fair showstopper “Panorama of New York,” a 9,335-square-foot scale model of the five boroughs.
For anyone who’s ever had an interest in filmmaking, television and all forms of video, this is your opportunity to really see how it all gets made. There are exhibits featuring artifacts from the early filmmaking process right next to exhibits exploring viral internet videos and computer-made films, making for an experience that’s as educational as it is mesmerizing. Hand-on components, like the playable classic arcade games and the museum’s in-house theater showing classic, experimental and modern family-friendly hits, make this the kind of place just begging to be revisited.
Whether you want to root, root, root for the home team or dance at the concert of a huge diva, this state-of-the-art stadium, which opened in 2009, is not only convenient to get to, it’s a home-run experience. The food options—including Shake Shack, Fuku and El Verano Taqueria—make you completely rethink your greasy hot dog go-to, while fun touches like the iconic apple that rises in the outfield whenever the Mets hit a homer make you want to come back all summer long.
The contemporary wing of the Museum of Modern Art housed in Long Island City is the premier location for seeing groundbreaking work. Whether you’re hoping for a bind-bending piece of performance art, photography that incorporates the latest technologies or installations that make you rethink what constitutes art, this collection has it all. And best of all, on Saturdays during the summer, the space hosts outdoor dance parties that make the museum one of the most happening places to be.
As part of the Gateway National Recreation Area maintained by the National Park Service, Riis Park is one of the most pristine and pleasant beaches in the city. On weekends, hitch a ride to this Far Rockaways beach—it’s only accessible by bus, car or bike—for the entertainment and the tasty food options organized by the same folks behind Brooklyn Night Bazaar. Every Saturday and Sunday all summer long, bands from near and far come to get you jumping for more than just the waves.
This refuge covers more than 9,000 acres, and is the home to some 300 species of birds, making it one of the best bird-watching areas in the city. There are many trails, and the park offers kayaking and walking tours.
Flushing is a bustling urban center that’s home to beautiful parks, plenty of cultural attractions and one of the city’s three major Chinatowns (arguably, the best of the lot). Stroll through planted environments like the coniferous Pinetum and the Korean-themed Circle Garden, or find yourself a peaceful patch of grass in the Meadow. Post-stroll, grab a bite at soup-dumpling favorite Joe's Shanghai.
The serene space consists of 25 gardens where yoga is allowed but biking and blading are strictly forbidden. This month you'll spot brightly colored Mexican sunflowers and bushes of purple Russian sage. Let your kids use their olfactory sense on the Fragrance Walk; the essential oils of the shrubs and flowers there are particularly strong. Make a stop at the Bee Garden, whose plants attract those hardworking, colonizing insects.
It’s hard to believe this waterside outdoor museum and public park was a landfill as recently as 1986. Today, the four-and-a-half-acre space hosts a rotating collection of large-scale sculptures, many created specifically with the park in mind. Stop by the Greenmarket on Saturdays (June through November) for fresh fruits, veggies and baked goods, and check out the free yoga and tai chi classes at this peaceful spot overlooking Manhattan’s skyline.
Besides the spectacular views of Manhattan and the East River, this 12-acre Long Island City spot boasts an interesting piece of history. The manicured waterfront stretch is built around restored gantries, which were formerly used for loading and unloading barges. Families can also check out basketball courts and fishing pier.
There’s street food, and then there’s the Arepa Lady, which serves the cheesy Colombian cornmeal cakes that would seem more likely to found on the gold-paved streets of heaven than in Elmhurst. The Arepa Lady’s cult following of inebriated hungry masses has grown so much over the years that her sons opened a brick-and-mortar location a couple years ago, but you can still find the elderly woman grilling up her buttery, overflowing-with-mozzarella goodness in front of a sports bar on Roosevelt Avenue.
Tucked away in an unassuming two-story house far out in the quiet neighborhood of Corona, this is the home that famed musician Louis Armstrong and his wife shared during the last three decades of his life. There’s a tour that includes plenty of recordings of Armstrong playing along with reflection on the trumpet player’s legacy and insight into his suburban home life—which also included some rather bold and fabulous wallpaper choices by his wife.
From an auto repair shop to one of the coolest spots in the already-hip Long Island City, this steakhouse from restaurateur power couple Hugue Dufour and Sarah Obraitis is fine dining at its meatiest. Waiters wearing black ties deliver courses of well-prepared seafood and cuts of steak grilled to perfection. Come with an empty stomach to really get the most out of your meal.