Queens, a New York borough that covers 109 square miles, is the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world. Its more than two million residents include immigrants from more than 100 countries; they speak more than 138 languages. The Immigration Act of 1965, which abolished a national-origin quota system, helped turn Queens’s population into this global hodgepodge of citizens. Queens neighborhoods often conjure up ethnic associations for New Yorkers — Flushing (Chinese), Jackson Heights (Indian), Astoria (Greek), Corona (Latin America). These stereotypes, however, only tell part of the story. The population within each neighborhood is diverse, complete with families who have been there for generations and twenty- and thirty-somethings who migrated from Brooklyn and Manhattan. In one trip to Queens, you can immerse yourself in dozens of different cultures.
Things to Do: Queens natives and Mets fans are justifiably proud of the Mets home stadium, Citi Field, which opened in 2009. The nearby National Tennis Center hosts the U.S. Open — one of four grand slam tennis tournaments — in late August and early September. Just to the south, Flushing Meadows Corona Park is one of the city’s largest swaths of green. It’s also home to the Unisphere — perhaps the borough’s most recognizable monument — and the hands-on, kid-friendly Hall of Science Museum. The Museum of the Moving Image, in Astoria, offers a tribute to film, television and video games.
Restaurants: The best Chinese food in New York is, arguably, served in Downtown Flushing. Around the intersection of Roosevelt Avenue and Main Street, dozens of restaurants serve regional specialties from all over China. In Jackson Heights, Indian restaurants line 74th Street between Roosevelt and 37th Avenues; nearby 37th Road contains a collection of Tibetan and Nepalese restaurants. Roosevelt Avenue’s run from eastern Jackson Heights into Corona is filled with Mexican and South American food options. Astoria and Long Island City are the best places in the neighborhood to find restaurants that follow the latest culinary trends.
Shopping: In Forest Hills — particularly Austin Street between Yellowstone Avenue and Ascan Avenue — is the borough’s best option for higher-end shopping. You’ll find both chain stores and small boutiques here. Steinway Street, on the eastern edge of Astoria, offers more affordable shopping and crowded thrift shops. In Jackson Heights, stores sell a variety of Indian goods. In Flushing, malls sell many items from China and South Korea.
Hotels: Two of New York’s three major airports are in Queens; LaGuardia is in the north and John F. Kennedy is in the south. Hotels are plentiful surrounding both. Long Island City, one stop from Manhattan on the 7 train, also has a variety of lodging options.
Theater and Nightlife: Queens’s nightlife centers are Astoria, Long Island City and Woodside. Among the many bars in Astoria, the outdoor Bohemian Beer Hall and Garden is a longstanding favorite. In Long Island City, hip bars geared to young professionals cluster around Vernon Boulevard. Woodside, on and around Roosevelt Avenue, has a startling number of Irish pubs.
Neighborhoods: Long Island City and Astoria — both on the East River, across from Manhattan — are the trendiest neighborhoods in Queens. Go further east and you’ll come to Jackson Heights, the center of Queens’s Indian community. Flushing is home to Queens’s Chinatown, which is now bigger than the one in Manhattan. Jamaica, the seat of Queens County, is a transportation hub, with a major Long Island Rail Road station and Air Train connections to JFK airport.