Queens may play second fiddle to Brooklyn in the battle of New York City’s outer boroughs, but perhaps not for long.
There’s a reason growing numbers of microbreweries and boutique hotels are popping up to serve visitors throughout the borough. Though it may feel like our backyard, there’s plenty for Long Island “tourists” to explore, starting with these attractions.
MoMA PS1 in Long Island City
Queens in the vanguard of contemporary art? It may be so. The borough has an art institution dedicated to displaying the most experimental art in the world -- housed in a century-old Romanesque Revival public school building. MoMA PS1, which became affiliated with the Museum of Modern Art in 2000, has no permanent collection, but does have several long-term installations by such renowned artists as Julia Phillips, Walter Price and Fernando Palma Rodríguez. Suggested admission: $10; ages 16 and younger in free. INFO 22-25 Jackson Ave., Long Island City; 718-784-2084, momaps1.org
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park
The largest park in Queens is also one of the borough's more popular attractions, in part due to picturesque relics from the 1964 World's Fair (the Unisphere, pictured, and the New York State Pavilion). However, a stroll through the 898-acre Flushing Meadows-Corona Park reveals plenty of other sights.
The Queens Zoo (53-51 111th St., Corona; 718-220-5100, queenszoo.com) is on 18 acres with more than 75 species of animals, most native to the Americas. (Zoo admission: $9.95, $6.95 ages three-12, two and under in free.)
The Queens Botanical Garden (43-50 Main St., Flushing; 718-886-3800, queensbotanical.org) is a 39-acre oasis offering about 28 gardens, including a Victorian-style wedding garden, a bee garden and a compost demo garden. (Garden admission: $6, $2 ages four-12, three and under are free.) INFO 718-760-6565, nycgovparks.org
The New York Hall of Science (pictured, 47-01 111th St., Corona; 718-699-0005, nyscience.org), established as part of the 1964 exposition, has 450 exhibits and is the city's only hands-on science and technology museum focusing on biology, chemistry and physics dedicated to educating children. Admission: $16; $13 ages two-17.
The nearby Queens Museum (Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Flushing; 718-592-9700, queensmuseum.org) holds one of the city's most alluring sights: a panorama of the City of New York, a 9,335-square-foot model of the five boroughs, initially created for the 1964 fair. Suggested admission $8, free ages 18 and younger.
Billie Jean King National Tennis Center
The Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, pictured, in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park has been home to the U.S. Open since 1978, which this year runs from Aug. 27 to Sept. 9. The tennis complex is situated on more than 45 acres of land and offers 12 indoor DecoTurf courts with seating areas and even more field courts. There are also three stadium courts including Arthur Ashe Stadium, the largest tennis stadium in the world, able to seat more than 23,700 people. INFO 718-760-6200, ustanew2.gotennissource.com
Louis Armstrong House Museum in Corona
A founding father of jazz, Louis Armstrong and his wife, Lucille Wilson, lived in a two-story house at 34-56 107th St. in Corona from 1943 until his death in 1971. The Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation gave the house to the City of New York, and it has been designated a National Historic Landmark and a New York City landmark. INFO Admission $12; 718-478-8274, louisarmstronghouse.org
Noguchi Museum in Long Island City
The Noguchi Museum in Long Island City displays the works of the eminent Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi. Formerly a gas station and a photogravure plant, the museum was founded and designed by Noguchi in 1985, kicking off the metamorphosis of Long Island City into an arts district. The museum now displays the artist's architectural models, drawings, furniture designs and sculptures. Noguchi designed the museum as an open-air sculpture garden tucked within a building with galleries. The ground floor displays Noguchi's permanent exhibits, and the second floor displays permanent works and temporary exhibits, such as the curated collection of Ymer & Malta ("Akari Unfolded;" through January 27, 2019).INFO Admission $10; 718-204-7088, noguchi.org
Rockaway Beach and boardwalk
Catch some waves at "Rock, Rock, Rockaway Beach," the strip of sand on Beach Third Street saluted by the Ramones. With a 5 1/2-mile boardwalk, the largest urban beach in the country is going strong with more surfers, swimmers and day-trippers than ever. INFO nycgovparks.org
The area has become popular with scuba divers who want to view sunken ships at the so-called Wreck Valley or explore a sunken ship from Pier Five. There are also a variety of concessions, playgrounds and other outdoor activities. Check out Rockaway Beach Surf Club: 302 Beach 87th St., 718-350-7860; rockawaybeachsurfclub.com)
Himalayan Cuisine in Jackson Heights
Long a magnet for South Asian immigrants, particularly from India, Jackson Heights has gained renown for its dizzying array of curry restaurants and shops for saris and Indian bridal jewelry. But over the past decade, an influx of Himalayan peoples into the area has made the cuisine of Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan ascendant. At Dhaulagiri Kitchen (37-38 72nd St.), try Nepalese specialties such as sukuti (a dried jerky of beef, buffalo or goat) or goat stomach curry. There's also Thakali Kitchen (pictured, 74-14 37th Ave.; 718-898-5088, mustangthakalikitchennyc.com), a Nepalese and Tibetan restaurant.
Try the momos (pictured, steamed Tibetan dumplings filled with meat or vegetables) and dropa khatsa (beef tripe in fiery chili sauce) at Phayul (37-65 74th St.; 718-424-1869). Down your food with a rich butter tea. Himalayan Yak (72-20 Roosevelt Ave.; 718-779-1119) serves Tibetan, Nepalese and Bhutanese foods, including dishes featuring the animal from which the restaurant takes its name. Order up yak sausage (filled with ground meat and yak blood), sliced sauteed yak or grilled yak served with boiled broccoli and noodles. The eatery also occasionally serves a seasonal tea made with yarsagumba (a fungus that sprouts out of caterpillars that it kills with parasitic spores).
Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City
A group of art enthusiasts led by artist Mark di Suvero created Socrates Sculpture Park, a nearly 5-acre spot on an abandoned riverside dump in Long Island City in 1986. Now, it's an internationally renowned outdoor space for the exhibition of monumental works of sculpture. Open year-round, it has lush open spaces, pathways and stunning Manhattan skyline views as a backdrop to the giant sculptural and multimedia installations, while also offering a greenmarket, yoga and tai chi classes and more. Free. INFO 32-01 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City; 718-956-1819, socratessculpturepark.org
Identifying Flushing as a Chinatown is a bit of a mischaracterization: It has a diverse Chinese population, along with Koreans, Taiwanese, Malaysians, Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese. Around every corner and in every niche are different Asian traditions and customs to experience, including Chinese herbalists, table tennis clubs, Asian art galleries, Japanese comic-book stores, bubble-milk tea cafes, dim sum restaurants and Asian mega-markets. The area's nerve center is the intersection of Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue, but it's now sprawled north of Northern Boulevard and southeast down Kissena Boulevard as well. The New World Mall at 136-20 Roosevelt Ave. -- billing itself as the largest East Coast Asian mall -- is a place to shop, then visit the food court to watch fresh Chinese noodles being pulled. INFO 136-20 Roosevelt Ave., 718-353-0551, newworldmallny.com
Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria
The Museum of the Moving Image is the highlight for tourists in the 24-block Kaufman Arts District in Astoria. The museum screens more than 400 films annually and maintains the country's most comprehensive collection of artifacts pertaining to the art, history and technology of moving pictures. It's just across the street from Kaufman Astoria Studios, around since the early 20th century during the silent-film era, providing the filming locale for the Marx Brothers' first feature-length films. INFO $15, $9 ages three-17; free for kids under three and for members (Admission is free Fridays 4 p.m.-8 p.m.); 718-784-0077, movingimage.us