Okay, before you shake your head “no” and click away from this blog post, hear me out — Queens, New York is AMAZING. Yes, those caps are intentional; I use all caps when I mean it. I have lived in New York City for almost 11 years, and more than half of that time has been spent in the diverse, underrated borough of Queens. While everyone is going on and on about how hip Brooklyn is — and I agree, it is very hip — the borough north of the BK is also worth checking out. Still don’t believe me? Here are five reasons why Queens is — wait for it — AMAZING.
1. So Much Good Food, All in One Borough
Isn’t it always about the food? At least it is for me. I love some good eats, and Queens is overflowing with delicious food, from the Michelin-starred danny brown Wine Bar & Kitchen, to the auto body shop turned hidden restaurant M. Wells Steakhouse, to the budget-friendly Lan Zhou Handmade Noodles; Queens has pretty much everything your stomach desires. When I think about my favorite foods, so many of them can be found in Queens. Favorite Greek restaurant? Taverna Kyclades in Astoria. Favorite French bakery? Boulangerie in Forest Hills (tip: try the baguettes). Favorite bagel? Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company in Astoria (don’t ask me why this place isn’t in Brooklyn. Clearly they can’t stay away from Queens!). Favorite taco? Tacoway Beach (formerly known as Rockaway Taco) in Rockaway Beach. And those are just a few examples. I could keep going. I spend my weekends hopping from neighborhood to neighborhood, sampling the world with the help of my metro card. It’s a wonderful thing, being in Queens.
2. It's Unbelievably Diverse
We all know New York City is diverse, but did you know that Queens is one of the most diverse areas in the country and arguably the world? You can explore the globe in Queens; it’s part of what makes this borough so spectacular. Stop in Jackson Heights for some South Asian clothing and cuisine before heading to Richmond Hill, also known as Little Guyana. In the mood for North African and Middle Eastern desserts? Visit the two block stretch on Steinway Street full of markets and cafes selling baklava, halva and an array of other pastries. During the warmer months, men sit on the sidewalks smoking hookah as they chat with their friends about the goings-on of the neighborhood. This is one of the things I love most about Queens — the diversity of customs and traditions that accompany the multitude of ethnicities.
3. There Are Plenty of Great Attractions and Even Better Views
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention all of the great views and attractions found in Queens. There are the more well-known venues like Citi Field and the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, home to the New York Mets and the U.S. Open, but you also have lesser known attractions like the Kaufman Astoria Studios (where Orange is the New Black and Nurse Jackie are often filmed) and the New York Hall of Science. And then we have the parks; the beautiful, serene and calming parks. I love the parks in Queens because they truly offer an escape from the craziness of New York City but without the Central Park crowds. My favorite parks — Socrates Sculpture Park, Gantry Plaza State Park and Astoria Park — are all along the water with incredible views of Manhattan and Roosevelt Island. I think the parks may be one of the reasons I’ve been able to spend more than 10 years living in this city.
4. It Provides Just the Right Amount of Suburbia
Another great thing about Queens: many of the neighborhoods offer a hint of suburbia without actually being in the suburbs. I’ll admit, I hate driving. It really stresses me out, plus I’m just not a great driver, so consider this both a fun fact and a word of caution. In Queens, I don’t need a car, and yet I can still access some of the comforts of my suburban childhood, like Costco! Yes, there’s a Costco in Queens. In fact, there are two, so that’s double the food samples. There are also plenty of actual homes with backyards and porches, so if you don’t want to squeeze into an apartment, you don’t have to. But if you do want to squeeze into an apartment, Queens has plenty of those as well. It’s the best of both worlds — suburbia without the need for a car and close proximity to many of the best attributes of city living, like 24-hour bodegas (in case you need a 3 a.m. snack…).
5. It's More Affordable Than Manhattan and Brooklyn
So, up until now, you could argue that some of the reasons I listed above could also be applied to the oh-so-cool Brooklyn, but then we get to cost. Brooklyn is expensive, y’all, in some places more expensive than the already expensive Manhattan. And while Queens is not exactly super cheap living, it is overall more affordable than the BK, but with just as many great things to do and places to eat. There are so many fun activities that either cost nothing at all or very little. Factor in food, drinks and anything else you’re looking to do while in New York, and you can easily spend a great weekend in Queens without dropping a ton of money.
So, I think I’ve successfully made my case for why Queens is so AMAZING. Truth be told, you really have to see it to believe it. I only have one request: please visit but don’t move here. If you move here, my rent will continue to increase, and I’m really trying to avoid that. Thanks, much. Happy Queens exploring!