New York City is one of the most visited places in the world, and for good reason. What most visitors don’t realize, though, is how much the outer boroughs have to offer beyond Manhattan. Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island are some of the most culturally diverse places in the world with amazing food, arts and even nature.
After living in Queens for 8+ years, I’ve barely scratched the surface of this borough. So today, I’m going to take you on a little tour of what I know and love best: my own neighborhood. Here are my top things to do in Astoria, Queens.
Eat Around the World
Hands down the best thing to do in Astoria is eating! There are so many cultures and backgrounds in Astoria. At any given street corner you’ll overhear multiple languages. The diversity is one of the things I love most about this neighborhood. Known primarily as a Greek enclave, there are also many people from the Balkan countries, Brazil, Colombia, Lebanon, Morocco and more. And the one thing they all brought with them? Amazing food.
Here are a few of my favorite spots for a mini food tour around the world, all here in Astoria:
Modern Greek at Ovelia
Traditional Cypriot/Greek (and celebrity favorite) at Taverna Kyclades
Casual Middle Eastern at Duzan
Pho, street food and craft cocktails at District Saigon
Authentic Thai at Arharn Thai
Seasonal, market-inspired Italian at Vesta
Southern Cajun at Sugar Freak
New American and cocktails at Sweet Afton
Authentic Venezuelan at Arepas Cafe
Bosnian sausages at Cevabdzinica Sarajevo
Traditional pours and outdoors at Bohemian Beer Garden
Local craft brews at Singlecut
Get Cultured at Museums
There are two standout museums in Astoria, and both are well worth a visit. The Noguchi Museum features the work of Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi. The stunning, zen space will transport you to another (calmer) world.
Known for its association with Kaufman Astoria Studios (the original “Hollywood” and movie epicenter of the 1920s and current day movie and TV studio), the Museum of the Moving Image (MOMI) attracts movie buffs from far and wide. Come for the new Jim Henson exhibit and the cinematic history, stay for one of their film screenings or events.
Explore the Parks
The best thing about parks in Astoria? The views of Manhattan! It’s so nice to soak up the sun on a warm day and see the city skyline. Astoria Park is the biggest park in the neighborhood. Locals love running, sunbathing, swimming at the public pool and hanging out at festivals and events throughout the year.
Meanwhile, farther south Socrates Sculpture Park boasts an outdoor museum where artists exhibit unique works and multimedia installations, all with a Manhattan backdrop. In the summer and fall, you can also jump in a yoga class, catch an outdoor movie screening or shop at the greenmarket.
Until fairly recently, the shopping scene in Astoria was quite dire. Thankfully we now have some great boutiques around the neighborhood, including:
Lockwood. Three stores on the same block dedicated to unique home goods and gifts, paper and stationery, and clothing and style.
The Brass Owl. Cool boutique featuring shoes, gifts, accessories and lots of Astoria-love.
Chateau Le Woof. A cafe and market for dogs and their people.
The Geekery. All things games and geekery.
Astoria Bookshop. Independent bookstore with friendly staff always willing to offer help and suggestions.
Believe it or not, there’s more to do in Astoria than eat and take in the culture. A crop of fitness studios, coworking spaces, event centers and workshops have popped up in recent years. Here are just a few places worth checking out:
QED. A place for taking classes and being entertained, whether it’s comedy, poetry, arts and crafts, tastings and more.
Yoga Agora. Affordable (and some donation-based) yoga classes and workshops.
Wild Heart Dance Studio. High-quality dance classes for adults and children.
Locked Escape Room. Astoria’s own escape the room game with two themed rooms.
There’s a reason so many Astorians are passionate about their neighborhood. The vibrant mix of cultures, food and fun means there’s always something new to explore. The convergence of old world immigrants, young Manhattan and Brooklyn escapees and city newbies looking for their big break in showbiz make Astoria a unique stop that can’t be missed. Just not everyone at once now—we’re not Manhattan, and we like it that way. 😉
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