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The best things to do in Astoria, Queens

The best things to do in Astoria, Queens include noshing on greek food, drinking at a historic beer garden and more

Written by
Jennifer Picht
&
Time Out New York contributors
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Looking for fun things to do in Astoria, just named one of the top 10 coolest neighborhoods in the world right now? Chock-full of cultural diversity, the home of actor Christopher Walken offers plenty of pride at its local businesses and eateries. The nabe thrives with budget-friendly restaurants, new tiki bars as well as independent boutiques and record stores that make shopping small worth it. Ride the Queens-bound N/W train to discover hidden gems such as some of the best jazz in NYC, as well as one of the best Greek restaurants in all of New York.

RECOMMENDED: Full Astoria, Queens neighborhood guide

Things to do in Astoria, Queens

  • Museums
  • Movies and TV
  • Astoria

Only 15 minutes from midtown, the Museum of the Moving Image is one of the city’s most dynamic institutions. Rubbing elbows with Kaufman Astoria Studios, it includes a three-story extension that features a state-of-the-art 267-seat cinema and expanded gallery spaces. Meanwhile, the museum’s “Behind the Screen” exhibit examines every step of the filmmaking process, with artifacts from more than 1,000 different productions, and 14 classic (playable!) video games, including Asteroids, Ms. Pac-Man and Space Invaders. Muppet fans should check out the new and permanent Jim Henson exhibit, too.

  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Astoria
At this regal eatery and bar, you’ll be treated like royalty—especially on Tuesday nights, when beer, wine and well drinks are two for one. (Trivia goes down at 7pm, too.) As for the bites, you can’t go wrong with the mussels provençal or the signature bourbon BBQ burger with a side of thick—and addictive—hand-cut fries.
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The Let Love Inn
  • Bars
  • Astoria

Considerably Astoria’s best kept secret, this old-fashioned jazz bar checks off all the boxes. It boasts a great cocktail, beer and wine list, has a warm and cozy atmosphere, plus incredible live music (with no cover!). On Monday nights, jam out to tunes provided by Adam Platt Trio, get funky with the Subtonic Three on Tuesday at 9pm and get into the groove with guest DJs on Friday and Saturday evenings. In case you were wondering, the haunt gets its name from Nick Cave’s heartbreaking hit “I Let Love In,” which is one of the owner’s (Evan Rumeliotis) favorites.

  • Bars
  • Breweries
  • Astoria

Queens—a brewery hotbed for German immigrants before Prohibition—rejuvenates its sudsy past with this 5,000-square-foot microbrewery and tasting room. Sip a stein in the 25-seat taproom, handsomely appointed with mahogany walls, red oak communal tables and hanging metallic lamps. Once you've had your fill, take your favorite brew to go in a growler. A stage for live performances adjoining the tasting room features live acts, reflecting the owner's passion for music (the brewery's name references a part of a guitar's neck).

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  • Restaurants
  • Greek
  • Astoria

The Greek banter rising from the back patio ought to tip you off: This sunny spot is one of the more authentic tavernas among Astoria’s Hellenic roster. Crisp calamari, flash-fried sardines and succulent grilled scallops are as fresh and deftly cooked as those you’d find at a seaside spot. Dessert, cinnamon-dusted galaktoboureko (custard), is on the house, a gracious touch that makes this odyssey all the more worthwhile.

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Astoria

Home to the oldest and largest pool in the city, this gorgeous 59.96-acre park along the East River also boasts tennis courts, a track, walking trails, basketball courts and multiple playgrounds. For something a bit more leisurely, reading by the water is also a popualr Astorian pastime. When you go, make sure to snap a photo of what is perhaps New York's most beautiful overpass: Hellgate Bridge.

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The Highwater
  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Astoria
  • price 2 of 4

The hippest neighborhood in Queens has a literal Highwater mark. Bright and breezy, the Highwater is a tropical oasis for both the down-to-earth and the down-to-fuck. At the Highwater you feel like you’re exhaling the whole time. It’s liquid yoga.

  • Bars
  • Gastropubs
  • Astoria
  • price 2 of 4

Searching for the perfect date-night spot? This magical, brick-and-wood gastropub is a great choice. Whether you’re interested in plowing through the joint’s artisan cocktail list including fruity sips like the Bonnie Punch or its dinner menu comprising hearty, laid-back fare (try the dry-aged burger topped with with crispy pork belly), you’re guaranteed a good time. Make sure to check out the spot on Thursday evening to check out some live music from local talents.

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The Noguchi Museum
  • Museums
  • Art and design
  • Astoria
  • price 1 of 4

When sculptor (and landscape architect, and theatrical-set and furniture designer) Isamu Noguchi opened his Queens museum in 1985, he was the first living artist in the U.S. to establish such an institution. It occupies a former photo-engraving plant across the street from the studio he had occupied since the 1960s to be closer to stone and metal suppliers along Vernon Boulevard. The entire building was designed by Noguchi to be a meditative oasis amid its gritty, industrial setting. Twelve galleries and a garden are populated with Noguchi’s sculptures; also on display are drawn, painted and collaged studies, architectural models, and stage and furniture designs.

HiFi Records
  • Shopping
  • Astoria

If you enjoy listening to albums from start to finish (with a little break to flip it over in between), then a trip to this record shop is a must. The store carries a solid selection of new and used vinyl from various decades, and carries all the tools and equipment necessary for listening to music the way it was meant to be heard at home (turntables and home audio equipment abound in-store). 

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Socrates Sculpture Park
  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Astoria

In 1986, artists and activists created this 4.5-acre city park over a landfill. Now, it hosts large-scale sculpture exhibits year-round, and is one of the few locations in the city specifically designated for artists to create outdoor works. The splendid Queens space looks out over the Manhattan skyline and is open 365 days a year, offering music and dance performances, movie screenings, yoga and more.

  • Shopping
  • Boutiques
  • Astoria

Shopping addicts, beware: It will be impossible to leave this trendy store without splurging on new duds for fall. Currently, the modern boutique is hawking vegan-leather Matt & Nat bags, cozy sweaters, and Queens-branded baseball caps and hoodies with slogans like astoria vibes only.

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  • Bars
  • Beer bars
  • Astoria

New York’s oldest beer garden still has it, serving a variety of brews on tap and Czech and Slovak cuisine  that’s worth licking your plate. Order a massive stein and a grilled bratwurst in honor of Oktoberfest or swing by for events like the Vinyl Revolution Record Show on September 30, when a $5 cover fee grants you access to some great, rare LPs.

Brass Owl
  • Shopping
  • Boutiques
  • Astoria

Shop owner Nicole Panettieri chic boutique is filled with cute accessories, some ready-to-wear and small gifts, but she also hosts awesome workshops, pop-up shops with other local brands and artists as well as sales. Whether you need to nab a present for your girlfriend's birthday or have the urge to treat yourself to a little retail therapy, this shop is your go-to.

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The Ditty
  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Astoria

This Astoria haunt is self-described as “your friendly neighborhood cocktail bar,” but it’s actually more than that. It doubles as a rustic and relaxed dinner and brunch spot, and moonlights as a lively bar where game-playing fiends congregate to play classics from your childhood like Guess Who?, Uno and Scrabble. The spot is also known to host the occasional free, throwback movie night (recent flicks include The Breakfast Club and The Mask) in its backyard.

  • Comedy
  • Astoria

Need a laugh? You'll have plenty at this Astoria venue, which offers primarily comedy events as well as the occasional storytelling and poetry night. If you're interested in learning a new skill, the versatile spot is known to host unique classes like how to take the perfect selfie? Apparently it requires more effort than point and shoot!

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Astoria Bookshop
  • Shopping
  • Bookstores
  • Astoria

Independent bookstores are sadly rare in Queens, but Astoria Bookshop, which opened in 2013, comes to the rescue to deliver a much-needed dose of lit to the neighborhood. Though on the small side, there’s a solid selection of fiction, non-fiction and children’s books, and staffers are happy to hunt down anything you can’t find. Events like readings, storytelling sessions and book clubs—many of which highlight local writers–prove that Queens is an artsy borough, too.

Getting hungry?

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