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Introduction

Queens is a crescent-shaped (with a tail) borough traversing the north-to-south width of Long Island and including two of the major New York City area airports, LaGuardia (LGA IATA) and John F. Kennedy International (JFK IATA). It also carries the largest ethnic diversity in its area of any region in the world, divided into small enclaves. Jackson Heights, for example, includes a huge Indian area, followed by a Colombian area, and then a Mexican area. Each offers a wide array of authentic shops, native-style cuisine, and festivals modified only slightly by the generally colder New York City experience.

The geographical center of New York City is actually in Queens and the borough is home to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, the site of the 1939 and 1964 World's Fairs. The area around the park still includes an interesting museum and some architectural and artistic relics of the events (including the Unisphere, a 300-ton spherical grid of steel, the world's largest globe, as featured in "Men In Black"). The northern end of the old fairgrounds includes Citi Field, home of the New York Mets professional baseball team, and the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, home of the U.S. Open (tennis); further north one can walk along the edge of the marina along the Long Island Sound. The park also includes a science museum, a zoo, and pedal-boats, and hosts frequent special events.

Districts

Queens has many distinct neighborhoods, some of which are ethnically diverse.

Long Island City and Astoria - Traditionally industrial, LIC is now home to a rising arts community. Astoria is known for its large Greek population. This population is accompanied by Asians, Latin Americans, and Europeans. Many trendy restaurants and shops are located in Astoria, with Steinway Street being a primary shopping district.
Jackson Heights - A large South-Asian neighborhood with numerous Indian restaurants, groceries, and shops, including a Bollywood movie theater, is centered around 74th St. and Roosevelt Av. The rest of the neighborhood is an incredibly diverse Latino community, with nationalities all the way from Mexico to Chile and Argentina represented. Other diverse communities, such as Woodside, with its famous Thai restaurants and Filipino markets, and Elmhurst, where almost every Southeast Asian community is represented, along with Chinese, Koreans, South Asians, and Latinos, are also included in this article.
Flushing-Northeast - At the end of the 7 line is a very large and diverse Chinese community; important Korean and Indian communities are also to be found, further from the subway stop.
Forest Park - A large park in the center of Queens and the surrounding neighborhoods.
Jamaica - Transportation hub, primarily Black community, King Manor Museum, and unique cultural venues geared toward African American art.
The Rockaways - A popular summer resort area since the 1830s, The Rockaways have become a mixture of lower, middle, and upper-class neighborhoods.

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Sights and Activities

Queens is quite diverse in density and character. While western Queens (closer to Manhattan) is urban, much of eastern Queens is relatively suburban. As in every borough, the closer you get to Manhattan, the rarer it is to find a stand-alone house. The more urban clusters are in the northwest: Astoria and Long Island City (LIC). LIC also contains Queens' most prominent skyscrapers, including the "other" Citibank building, located directly across the East River from the more prominent angled-roof skyscraper in Manhattan. Rising 50 stories, the building, the result of Citibank's attempt to create a new business district in LIC, is the tallest building in New York State located outside of Manhattan.

A number of museums are located in Long Island City and Astoria, including the Isamu Noguchi Sculpture Museum in Noguchi's former sculpture studio, the Museum of African Art, Sculpture Center, and the Museum of the Moving Image which includes interactive exhibits on the history of video games. The area also includes two free places to view art, Socrates Sculpture Park which overlooks the East River (next to Price Costco on Vernon Blvd.), and the Fisher Landau Center showing a private collection of contemporary art.

(A general tip on NYC Museums: if you work for a large company such as IBM, GE, or Citigroup, check to see if your company is a member --this goes for all museums in NYC; different museums have different sponsors of course.)

In Flushing Meadows Corona Park (also on the 7 line; exit at Shea Stadium), the Queens Museum offers visual art, cultural events, Worlds' Fair Memorabilia, and a sprawling scaled-down Panorama of the entire city. It's incredibly accurate, except they've yet to remove the World Trade Center.

Just off Northern Blvd in the area between Astoria and L.I.C, at 35th Avenue and 36th street, you'll find the Museum of the Moving Image, which showcases movies and the televisual arts, including video games, with revolving exhibitions. Kaufman-Astoria Studios (home of the Sesame Street, among others) stands next door; there's also a gigantic movie theater, and a nice new 24-hour diner/bar (which serves pitchers of beer) known as Cup. Take the R/V/G or the N/W line.

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Events and Festivals

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.
  • The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff, and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played during the fall season in North America, it is sometimes referred to as the Fall Classic.

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Getting There

By Train

The Long Island Rail Road makes several stops in Queens: the main line runs through central Queens and the Port Washington line runs along the north shore (including a stop in Flushing).

By Subway

A lot of Queens can be seen by subway. A trip on the 7 train, made nationally famous by the contempt of former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker, is a cultural experience in and of itself. The 7 runs elevated through most of Queens, so you'll be able to get a good sense of much of the borough through its windows. A good tour of Queens should include at least three meals in three different ethnic enclaves.

Other subways for getting around (and in and out of) Queens include the A, E, F, G, J, M, N, Q, R, and Z.

By Car

Sadly, most Queens visitors spend their visit on a bus to or from LaGuardia Airport or JFK Airport. A proper tour of Queens is worthwhile. It can be conducted by a stalwart driver; others may find the roads tough to navigate.

By Bus

Express buses stop in places in eastern Queens and the Rockaways, usually in places where the subway doesn't stop. Main arteries for express buses (that are closer to Manhattan) are Queens Boulevard and Woodhaven Boulevard.

Local buses that go into Midtown Manhattan include the Q32, Q60, and Q101. The M60 goes to upper Manhattan from LaGuardia Airport.

The Q48 is a great bus for going to eastern Queens from LaGuardia Airport. It leaves you at the Flushing-Main Street station. Other buses from LaGuardia Airport include the Q33 and Q47 to the Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue subway station, the and the Q72 to the Rego Park and Junction Boulevard subway stations.

The Q10 and Q3 go from JFK Airport. The Q10 goes to Lefferts Boulevard and serves the A train, J/Z trains, and E/F train subway stations. The Q3 goes out towards eastern Queens and goes into Northern Jamaica to the 179th Street F station.

By Foot and Bicycle

For information on how to walk or bicycle to and from Queens, check out the Transportation Alternatives website. Except for the Whitestone and Throgs Neck bridges, all the bridges can be crossed by pedestrians and bicycles. Be prepared, however, for long walks, and don't forget that Queens is very big and not well-designed for a walking tour. A map is necessary, and one of the best is available for free at any bike shop.

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Eat

The snobby feel of Manhattan may not always make it to Queens, which is one of its great appeals for those who live there. There are a few top-notch bars in Queens, but it's the restaurants that really shine, for a simple reason: If Manhattan food is Yuppie food, Queens food is created by and aimed towards genuine ethnic inhabitants. To put it another way, come here if you like spicy food. If you want a real taste of Hong Kong--or Tibet, Indonesia, Colombia, Peru, India, Argentina, or just about anyplace (including France)--you'll find it in Queens.

Suggested general areas for culinary roving:

Flushing for Taiwanese, Chinese and Korean (Fay Da on Main St., among others, offers reliably good Dim Sum). (The 7 line ends in Flushing - Main St., and you'll think you've gone all the way to Hong Kong). If you're driving, you'll notice an endless selection of Korean restaurants along Northern Blvd as you move in the direction of Nassau County. For more recommendations, see the Flushing guide.
Woodside near 61st St is home to the Thai restaurant widely considered the best in New York, Sripraphai, 6413 39th Av. near Roosevelt Av. and 65 St, (718) 899-9599. You can access it via the 7 local or express at 61 St. or the Long Island Railroad's Woodside station in the same location. Also in Woodside is the Filipino barbecue restaurant Ihawan, 40-98 70th St near Roosevelt Av., (718) 205-1480. Quite popular with Filipinos & non-Filipinos alike for pork BBQ. Can be especially busy during holiday weekends.
Jackson Heights near 74th street for Indian and Afghan. There are more than a dozen South Asian restaurants in the Little India section of Jackson Heights. Try the Jackson Diner or India Taj a few feet north on 74th from Roosevelt Ave. (E and F express trains as well as concurrent lines stop there, as does the 7 local).
Jackson Heights near 82nd and 90th Sts. (take the 7 local to either of those stops) for Colombian, Peruvian, Ecuadorian, and Mexican. Pollos A La Brasa Mario has branches in many Queens locations, and two here (one is at 83rd and 37th Ave; there's also a flagship closer to 81st street on Roosevelt).
Elmhurst offers great Chinese, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Thai, and Indonesian food. Try Pho Bang if you like Vietnamese (there are also other Queens branches, including one in Flushing on Kissena Blvd). Penang (Malaysian), which has branches in many U.S. cities, is located in the same complex on Broadway, just beside the LIRR bridge.
In the Middle Village/Ridgewood/Maspeth region (near the end of the M line) you'll find Rosa's Pizza (one is at Fresh Pond Rd. and Metropolitan Ave.; another is down Metropolitan Ave. at the end of the Middle Village strip). This is one of the great undiscovered pizza parlors of Queens. It also has branches in several locations.
Fancier food can be found in Forest Hills, including Nick's Pizza on Austin St, which is fine brick oven-style chow. In the basement of the hotel at station square (right in front of a LIRR stop) you'll find Bartini's, a small lounge offering 1000 different martinis (although I suggest stopping at two). Take the E or F express trains to 71st-Continental Av.
Astoria offers great Greek and Czech food, as well as some of the hipper bars and diners in Queens, (you're right next to the movie studios). Kabab Cafe at 25-12 Steinway St is a great spot to go for Egyptian food. Mombar Egyptian Restaurant is an Astorian institution. Remember the address 25-22 Steinway St as there is no sign. Then again, a sign isn't necessary when you can recognize a stunning and ornate tile work framing the door. It was completed by Mombassa himself. His brother owns Kabab Cafe. Also along Steinway Street's Egyptian corridor near Astoria Boulevard is Sabry's, which serves some of the most delicious and fresh fish and shellfish in the entire area, all at a fraction of Manhattan prices. Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden is somewhere to definitely check out during the summer. This Czech beer garden and cultural center is swarmed over the summer with crowds enjoying the huge back patio filled with picnic tables. There is food served until about midnight. During the year, the center also holds various cultural events.Tokyo 1 located at 3105 24th Avenue (near 31st street) is a Japanese restaurant that has good and cheap sushi. Los Amigos is a Mexican restaurant just beneath the Ditmars Avenue stop on the N train. It's on 31st Street. They have very good food and drinks.
If you just want a hamburger, you'll find the Jackson Hole Diner along Astoria Blvd between Jackson Heights and Astoria, just west of LaGuardia airport. This is a real diner (formerly the Airport Diner as seen in "GoodFellas") converted to suit Jackson Hole (another NYC-only chain). Jackson Hole burgers are good, although they need salt. Imagine a half-pound hockey-puck-shaped meatloaf and you're pretty close. But unlike a hockey puck would taste, this tastes good.
There's some fine dining to be had in Hunters Point, or so it's said, just southwest of Long Island City. Spacious riverfront restaurants appear here and there in the warehouse zone. It would be wise to drive or take a taxi.
Along Cross Bay Blvd in Howard Beach you'll find Captain Mike's, what appears to be a converted yacht now selling crabs, shrimp, and beer (dine at the bar or take it home; summertime only).
Corona is home to an Italian and Hispanic community and the famous "Lemon Ice King of Corona". A favorite place for Mets fans to stop after the game, the corner shop offers over 20 flavors of ices including cantaloupe, watermelon, rum raisin, licorice, pistachio, pina colada and peanut butter.

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Drink

If you like bubble tea with sago and tapioca, there are several good spots within a few blocks of the Flushing-Main St stop on the 7 train. One of the best is on the corner of Main St. and 39th Av.

Queens is home to one of the most entertaining and pleasant places to sip a brew, the Bohemian Hall (known citywide simply as "The Beer Garden"), near the Astoria Boulevard subway stop. This bar, popular in the summer, covers an entire city block, is walled and filled with trees, indoor and outdoor picnic tables and a cool crowd, and serves great Czech and German beer. Drink ales by the pitcher at wooden picnic tables under leafy canopy, surrounded by hundreds. 29-19 24th Avenue, just west of 31st Street. N/W to Astoria Blvd.

Woodside is home to an Irish population and is loaded with bars and cheap happy hours, as well as drinking festivities before a Mets baseball game. There are several Irish pubs by the Woodside train station. Check out the burger at Donovan's.

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Sleep

There are a number of hotels in Flushing that serve LaGuardia Airport, including a Sheraton. There are also many hotels near Kennedy Airport in Jamaica, but the location is generally considered undesirable for visitors, except for its proximity to the airport. Some hotels in Jamaica are listed as three stars but are nevertheless poorly kept. Other hotels are scattered through Kew Gardens, Forest Hills, Elmhurst, Long Island City, and various other neighborhoods.

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Safety

Queens has no really dangerous neighborhoods anymore, though of course you should not put down your guard completely and should continue to do sensible things like use only your front pocket for valuables and keep your wits about yourself.

But that said, the most dangerous thing you may do is cross Queens Boulevard, nicknamed the Boulevard of Death because of the number of people who've been killed trying to cross this broad thoroughfare, which though not a controlled-access highway is a major artery where drivers tend to drive fast. Some measures have been taken in the 2010s to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists on this boulevard, but you should still exercise special caution when crossing.

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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This is version 1. Last edited at 13:31 on Sep 20, 19 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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