Discover your inner cheapskate in Queens, with these FREE things to see and do in the most culturally diverse borough of New York City. Here are our top recommendations for summertime or any time:
Socrates Sculpture Park — This is the only NYC park specifically dedicated to outdoor artworks, providing artists with the chance to create and exhibit large and mixed-media sculptures. This waterfront park also has a picture postcard view across the East River to the Manhattan Skyline. On Sundays between mid-May ando Labor Day, the Long Island City Community Boathouse offers FREE kayaking off the small pier. The Socrates Sculpture Park also offers art classes and FREE outdoor movies. Check the website for the full schedule.
- Subway: Take the N or W to Broadway and walk west, or toward the water if you are GPS-challenged.
Queens Botanical Garden — Smaller than its more famous siblings in Brooklyn and the Bronx, this is a family-friendly, environnmentally friendly park. Be sure to get a Green Trail Guide for an informative, self-guided walking tour. It’s also published in Spanish, Chinese and Korean. Admission from April 1st to October 31st is FREE; other times it is $4 for adults, $3 for seniors and $2 for children, and free on Wednesdays 3-6 p.m. and on Sundays 4-6 p.m.
- By subway: take the 7 to Main Street, and either walk eight blocks to the park, or take the Q 44 or Q20 bus to the park entrance.
Astoria Park and Swimming Pool — This is a 65 acre gem hugging the East River waterfront also with a drop-dead view of Manhattan and the Robert F. Kennedy/Triborough Bridge. We particularly like the specially marked “quiet zone” areas for quiet and peaceful park time. Peaceful is not the word to describe the Astoria Park Swimming Pool, one of the city’s largest and most popular, with a main pool and diving pool that meet Olympic standards.
- By subway: take the N or W to Astoria Blvd. or Ditmars Blvd. and walk west to the river.
Flushing Meadows Corona Park — This is the Queens version of Central Park, with ball fields, hiking paths, shimmering lakes for boating, and more, that originally was home to the 1939 World’s Fair. The park contains the Queens Wildlife Center, the Queens Museum of Art, Theatre in the Park, and three dinosaur theme playgrounds, among its many features. Two of our favorite spots in Flushing Meadows Corona Park are the promenade alongside Flushing Bay, and also the broad walkway showcasing the Unisphere, the huge world globe from the 1964 World’s Fair, which also was here.
- By subway: Take the 7 to Mets Stadium-Willets Point stop.
New York Hall of Science – Also located within the sprawling grounds of Flushing Meadows Corona Park, this is one of the top museums for kids in the world, where they can get hands-on with hundreds of interactive exhibits and activities that bring science, technology, engineering and math to life. Admission is FREE on Fridays, 2pm to 5pm and on Sundays, 10am to 11am. This is also where the annual Maker Faire NY is held each September.
Food — Queens is the most culturally diverse of NYC’s five boroughs, and you can taste your way around the world for the price of a MetroCard. Every neighborhood is filled with family-owned restaurants and 24-hour diners serving great food at small prices. Too many to mention. Just take the subway and walk around to find something delicious – and cheap.
What’s your favorite restaurant, park or museum in Queens? Add your comment below.
posted by Evelyn Kanter