15 Best Things to Do in Queens County, NY
Queens County in New York City is one of the most diverse areas in the city and the world.
Located in Long Island and adjacent to the equally beautiful Brooklyn, its borough Queens is known to be the largest ethnically varied metropolitan where about 138 languages are spoken across its locale.
It has over 2.4 million residents as of 2023, making it the second-largest populated county in The Big Apple next to Kings County.
Queens houses two major airports in the city, namely JFK International and LaGuardia, and is also where you can find the historic and spacious Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
As a melting pot of multiple cultures and rich history, Queens is a destination with many things to offer. You will find a dozen unique neighborhoods in the borough, each with its own uniqueness they are proud of, bustling with significant influence from communities that have thrived in the area for decades.
From famous art museums and entertainment hubs to wide nature parks and interesting culinary explorations tucked in its different corners, one will always have ideas for discovery in this borough.
Here are the best things to do in Queens County, New York City, that you should include in your bucket list.
Explore Flushing Meadows-Corona Park
If you are in need of a place to unwind and learn about the Queens' history and culture, then a visit to the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park should be on top of your list.
This 1,255 acres public park located between Grand Central Parkway and Van Wyck opened in 1939 and has been a major attraction for locals and tourists of the borough.
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park houses attractions like the Queens Museum and the New York Hall of Science.
It is also home to soccer fields and a boating lake, which serves as one of the best outdoor leisure getaways for locals of Queens.
When you are in the area, don't forget to see the grand display of the iconic monument called Unisphere, a 140 feet stainless steel that depicts the Earth, which was mounted for the 1964 World's Fair.
Take an Afternoon Stroll at Rockaway Beach Boardwalk
Queens is an ideal place to hang out because it gives a good mix of an active urban feel while being close to nature.
A visit to Rockaway Beach Boardwalk, located at Beach 9th Street to Beach 149th Street in Neponsit, proves that it offers you plenty of entertainment and dining choices and easy access to Rockaway Beach.
Opened in 1931, the boardwalk stretches to 5.5 miles, giving you a perfect spot for a morning jog or an afternoon stroll with your furry pets.
While wandering Rockaway Beach Boardwalk, the lengthy concrete pavement provides a good view of people enjoying water sports such as surfing and kayaking or a calming moment of admiration for the serene Atlantic Ocean.
View Manhattan Skyline at Astoria Park
In 1913, Astoria Park opened to the public as a 59.96-acre hub at 19th Street for Astoria residents.
Strolling through the park's southern portion, you are treated to a striking panoramic view of midtown Manhattan and its skyline across the East River.
On the north, you'll catch views of the Hell Gate channel that separates the neighborhood from Randall's and Wards Islands.
Aside from walking through Astoria Park's walkways, you can find pleasure by just sitting on its benches or playing on its game tables.
Explore the Beauty of Queens Botanical Garden
If you love seeing myriad flora in Queens, then a couple of hours spent at Queens Botanical Garden is worth the visit.
Located in Flushing at 43-50 Main Street, this 39-acre site was built in 1939 as an oasis for people seeking nature refuge within the bustling New York City.
You can appreciate walking in solitude around Queens Botanical Garden's enormous orchard of roses and herbs or spend a memorable bonding experience with your family as you explore various sustainably-managed crop beds and exhibits.
Aside from the lush plantation, you'll also find an arboretum and an art gallery within its vicinity, giving you many choices for indoor and outdoor locations for any event.
Check Out Nightlife at L.I.C Bar in Long Island City
After a full day of roaming the busy borough, it's time to hit the bars at Long Island City, an industrial hub beside East River.
A famous watering hole is L.I.C Bar, an antique wood bar that has been standing for close to 100 years and has been a historic hangout place for residents of Queens who would love to catch some booze.
Drink a few draft beers with your friends as you revel in its lovely interiors composed of exposed-brick walls and tin ceilings, which have been preserved since it was built.
L.I.C Bar is also an ideal spot for the local music scene, with various artists playing every week.
Try Authentic Chinese Cuisine at Flushing Chinatown
Touring around Queens will definitely make your tummy crave—this gives you the perfect opportunity to head to Flushing Chinatown for a great gastronomic experience.
Flushing Chinatown, which boomed in the 1970s thanks to Taiwanese and Korean immigrants, is New York City's second-largest Chinatown next to downtown Manhattan.
It is also known worldwide as one of the fast-booming Chinatowns.
It is distinctly a diverse haven for authentic Chinese cuisine but is also infused with a good mix of American and Southeast Asian fare.
Head to this center if you are craving mouthwatering Chinese dishes such as Chongqing-style chicken, dumplings, cream-filled buns, and hand-pulled noodles.
Whatever suits your taste, you'll definitely find something to satisfy your hunger at Flushing Chinatown.
Learn About Different Forms of Media at the Museum of the Moving Image
Movie and film enthusiasts will love a day trip at the Museum of the Moving Image on 35th Avenue.
Opened in 1988, the place houses a massive collection of over 130,000 objects that have been a part of film, television, and digital media history.
Another highlight of this museum is its permanent exhibition titled "Behind the Screen," an immersive experience that occupies 15,000 square feet of the museum's second and third floors.
It also shows a detailed history of the moving image and explains the crucial process of creating films and TV shows.
Visiting the Museum of the Moving Image also takes you to different exhibitions, educational screenings and tours, and workshops that celebrate the form of art.
Get Close to Nature at Forest Park
Sitting in the heart of Queens is a large urban park that boasts plenty of nature-tripping activities to choose from.
Opened in 1895, Forest Park at Myrtle Avenue is the third largest park in the borough, spanning 538 acres.
It is a retreat for sports enthusiasts and outdoor junkies who love to get a dose of nature's beauty amid city life.
Forest Park's several trails are accessible at different points, offering unique nature experiences within century-old pine groves, large continuous oak forests, notable sites, and various flora and fauna found within the area.
View Art Installations at Socrates Sculpture Park
When done with indoor museums, it's time to try getting around an interesting art haven at Socrates Sculpture Park.
This 5-acres outdoor garden at Vernon Boulevard has showcased sculptures and numerous multimedia art installations made by contemporary artists in the borough since 1986.
Aside from viewing these superb artworks, you'll also like other activities at Socrates Sculpture Park, such as film showings, concerts, and cultural events that give you more opportunities to learn about sculpture as an art form.
Taste Multiple Cuisines at Jackson Heights
Another spot for good food is Jackson Heights—a lively neighborhood that houses a countless of small businesses offering various cuisines from around the world.
Strolling by its 74th Street is Little India, where you can taste traditional Indian servings such as curries.
Other restaurants and eateries also offer delightful food culinary choices from Nepal, Ecuador, the Middle East, and Latin America.
If dining is not your thing and you'd like to just stroll around Jackson Heights with a snack in your hand, then food carts are for you.
Be on the lookout for vendors who sell street food, such as Greek souvlaki, homemade tamales, South American sweet churros, and Thai steamed chicken, among others.
Enjoy a Concert at Forest Hills Stadium
Standing in the neighborhood of Forest Hills for over a century now is Forest Hills Stadium,
Queens' significant outdoor music site.
For over 100 years since it was built in 1923, it served as one of NYC's most prominent venues, starting as the location for US Open tennis tournaments.
In the 1960s, Forest Hills Stadium opened its doors to concertgoers, boasting a capacity of 13,000 attendees who can appreciate an unobstructed view.
It has since accommodated concerts from iconic musicians such as The Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra, and Bob Dylan.
Forest Hills Stadium also takes pride in having advanced technology, providing attendees of concerts of modern-day artists such as Ed Sheeran, The Alabama Shakes, and Drake with a better and more enjoyable experience.
Birdwatch at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
In the midst of the bustling urban hub, you'll find solitude with nature at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, a 9,000-acre open area at Cross Bay Boulevard.
Opened in 1951 as part of the grand Gateway National Recreation Area, this refuge has been home to about 332 bird species recorded for the past 25 years.
Considered one of the best places to go birdwatching on this side of the United States, you'll enjoy common sightings of many wintering waterfowls, Brant, Cooper's Hawks, and Peregrine Falcon, among others.
While birdwatching, you'll also be amazed by the stunning beauty of nature that surrounds Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, which consists of an elevated field, mudflats, and busy woods, as well as several wetlands.
Play Sports at Gantry Plaza State Park
A huge land of greens frequented by sports lovers, Gantry Plaza State Park is another must-see place in the borough.
Running alongside the East River, this state park spans 12 acres at Long Island City that had served as a former dockyard and industrial hub when it opened in 1988.
But today, it is now a popular place to play sports such as basketball and handball courts. It is complete with amenities such as a playground, benches, and picnic fields.
Another distinct feature of Gantry Plaza State Park is a gigantic 120-foot-long Pepsi-Cola sign which is designated as one of New York City's landmarks.
On top of it all, the waterfront offers you a picturesque view of Manhattan's east side while you relish a day of getting active.
Discover Farm Life at Queens County Farm Museum
In a city of continuous development, there is a place where you can find a calming experience in the midst of undisturbed farmland.
Take a look at New York City's rich farm history at Queens County Farm Museum, a 47-acre site that offers plenty of opportunities to learn and have fun.
The vast farmland located at 73-50 Little Neck Parkway dates back its beginnings to 1697, making it a New York City Landmark that houses a greenhouse complex, farm buildings, planting fields, an herb garden, and a collection of farm vehicles.
Apart from its wooded area with diverse wildlife, the farm keeps a variety of livestock, including hens, steers, alpacas, sheep, goats, and pigs.
A visit to Queens County Farm Museum offers experiences such as self-guided tours and exciting talks about agriculture, biodiversity, and local historic preservation.
Admire Contemporary Art at MoMA PS1
Art enthusiasts seeking modern and contemporary creations will surely love visiting MoMA PS1 in Long Island City.
Founded in 1971 by Alanna Heiss and formerly known as the Institute for Art and Urban Resources Inc., MoMA PS1 is one of the oldest contemporary art hubs in the United States.
It has been affiliated with the Museum of Modern Art in Midtown Manhattan since 2000 and has displayed hundreds of artist creations and exhibitions worldwide.
Across the 125,000 square feet vicinity features an outdoor gallery, an entryway, and a project space. You'll find various long-term installations inside the building and in its outdoor area.
Queens County is undoubtedly a vibrant destination for those visiting New York.
From the spectacular views of the waterfront to the bustling neighborhoods filled with eclectic restaurants and shops, there is no shortage of things to see and do.
The borough is also home to several museums and cultural institutions that showcase its rich history and varied communities.
Whether you're looking for a relaxing day at one of its wide parks or a gastronomic adventure to satisfy your cravings, or you just want to check out its exciting nightlife, Queens has something for everyone.
So, next time you're in New York, make sure to add these best things to do in Queens County to your itinerary and experience its unique beauty firsthand.