Things to do in Astoria, Queens
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.
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.
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).
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.
New Yorkers adore a strong fashion statement, which is why we love that this men's and women's apparel and custom-embroidery shop lets us say whatever the hell we want. You can order a trendy bandanna or jacket featuring words of your choosing, and the store's script-stitching masters turn your message into a unique staple. The owners also carry an impressive amount of vintage wares.
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 Bunch or its mouthwatering dinner menu comprising hearty, laid-back fare (i.e. chorizo corn dogs and crispy tacos), you’re guaranteed excellent service and a good time. Make sure to check out the spot on Thursday evening to check out some live music from local talents.
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). Finger flick through HiFi’s collection, grab a fresh roast coffee and rock on.
This 1,300-square-foot lifestyle boutique certainly boosts Astoria’s budding shopping scene. And since storeowner Mackenzi Farquer is the co-creator of neighborhood blog We Heart Astoria (weheartastoria.com), she’s no stranger to the area and its charm. Inside the shop, you’ll find chic housewares, stylish handbags and trendy clothing for women sizes 2 to 20.
This authentic Czech beer garden, opened in 1910, offers plenty of mingle-friendly picnic tables, where you can sit while you sample cheap platters of sausage and a solid lineup of European and domestic beers (most pints $7, pitchers $18). Though the huge, tree-canopied garden is open year-round, summer is the prime time to soak up some rays over a pint. Prost!
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.
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.
Manhattan’s hybrid bar-shop trend crosses the bridge to Queens with this funky 1,100-square-foot curds-and-brew haven. At the marble bar, grab one of the ten seasonal, mostly local drafts. There are also more than 200 bottles and cans that can be purchased to go or opened on site. Fromage buff Mike Fisher (a Bedford Cheese Shop vet) culls more than 100 selections for the refrigerated case, some of which are worked into a sit-down menu that includes a cheddar-and-goat beer cheese and six different grilled melts. Aspiring gourmands can get schooled with the pairing plate, which matches four five-ounce pours with cheeses helpfully labeled on a slate board. Good news for Astorians who live off the Ditmars Blvd stop: Astoria Bier & Cheese operates a second location (35-11 Ditmars Blvd), which serves a different range of featured brews including Allagash 10th Anniversary Interlude, Upland Peach Sour, Blue Point Bourbon Barrel Sour Cherry Imperial Stout and more.
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!
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.
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.
The options are as varied as the borough they’re in