“Queens, across the East River from Midtown Manhattan, has become a top cultural destination. In Long Island City, you’ll find P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, housed in a former elementary school. The center includes sculpture, a theater and an array of modern installations. Socrates Sculpture Park is an open-air park with free exhibits of large sculpture with the Manhattan skyline as its backdrop. The Noguchi Museum, meanwhile, displays many sculptures and works of design created by the famed Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi. Long Island City is the first stop out of Manhattan off the 59th Street (Queensborough) Bridge and the E and V subways, and is also accessible via the 7 train and the G train (the latter of which stops in Queens and Brooklyn only).
Movie fans will want to make sure that the Museum of the Moving Image is on the itinerary. Located in Astoria,home to a large Greek population and many Greek restaurants,the Museum of the Moving Image educates the public about the art, history and technology of film, television and digital media and examines their impact on culture and society. Located in the former Paramount Pictures studio complex, the museum has more than 70,000 items in its permanent collection and offers more than 300 special programs a year.
From Ireland to India in a Subway Stop
Queens is the most ethnically diverse 115 square miles on earth. The 7 subway line, dubbed the International Express, has even been designated a part of the National Millennium Trail for its representation of the immigrant experience.
In addition to Greek Astoria, Jackson Heights has a fantastic Little India, with great restaurants, food markets and shopping, and Peruvians swear this is where you can get the only decent grilled chicken outside of Lima. Flushing has a large Chinese and Korean population and is home to the 1862 Romanesque Revival Flushing Town Hall, where the Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts organizes art exhibits and jazz and classical music performances throughout the year. In Sunnyside, you can spend an evening at a Spanish theater or a Romanian nightclub; in Woodside, rent a Thai video or hear traditional music at an Irish pub. Italians, Japanese, Colombians, Asian Indians, Puerto Ricans, Israelis, Maltese and many other groups add diversity and flavor to Queens.
The Great Outdoors
Flushing Meadow-Corona Park’s 1,255 acres was the site of two World’s Fairs (1939 and 1964), and visitors need look no further than the great steel Unisphere to recall that era of history. Nearby is the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, which hosts the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament each year in August. (At one time the tennis center was called Louis Armstrong Stadium, honoring the jazz trumpeter whose home in Corona is a national landmark.)
Also in the park is the New York Hall of Science, a kid-friendly place known for its interactive, hands-on exhibits; the Queens Museum of Art; Shea Stadium, home of the New York Mets; the Queens Zoo; and the Queens Botanical Garden. And coming soon: the Willets Point Redevelopment, an adjacent area to the Park, which promises to bring a hotel, convention center, retail stores and public spaces to an area that had, until recently, been written off.
Elsewhere in Queens, nature lovers will enjoy the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (718/318-4340), a 9,000-acre preserve with more than 325 species of birds, salt marshes, upland fields and woods, freshwater ponds and an open expanse of bay and islands. For sun lovers there’s Rockaway Beach, America’s longest municipal beach. The Alley Pond Environmental Center, in Douglaston, boasts the only working windmill in New York City. With an extensive system of nature trails on the grounds, the center offers a wide range of educational programs related to the environment.
Queens Historical Sites
Queens has many historical sites, including the Queens County Farm Museum in Floral Park, which offers free educational and recreational programs year-round. Bowne House, in Flushing, was built in 1661; considered the birthplace of religious freedom in America, it has since been designated a National Historic Landmark. The Quaker Meeting House, also in Flushing, is New York City’s oldest house of worship and has been in continuous use since 1694. The King Manor Museum in Jamaica is the former home of antislavery stalwart Rufus King; the circa-1800 house is surrounded by 11 acres of original farmland. Kingsland House, in Flushing, was built for Charles Doughty in 1785.”