Despite having over two million residents and being one of the most ethnically diverse areas on earth, the borough of Queens has long been underestimated as a vacation destination. That is until 2015, when Lonely Planet named the borough the top place to visit in the US. If you’re looking to travel to New York but hesitant about venturing outside of Manhattan, or you’re a local wanting to experience the city beyond your borough, here are a few reasons why the train ride to Queens is totally worth it.
Queens is a premier sporting destination.
Aside from being the home of Citi Field (the official stadium of the Mets baseball team), Queens hosts the U.S. Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. The borough also offers a few golf courses and other sporting events throughout the year. A personal favorite? The Annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in August, which highlights dragon boat races on Meadow Lake for an entire weekend.
Queens has world class museums (and they’re less crowded).
Yes, Manhattan and Brooklyn are full of fantastic museums – but so is Queens. The new media-focused, contemporary outpost of the Museum of Modern Art, known as MoMA PS1, is located in Long Island City, and the Museum of the Moving Image and the Queens Museum also feature must-see exhibits. For the music history buff in your group, you can visit jazz legend Louis Armstrong’s house (an official museum) and view permanent collections on his music and personal life.
The borough is booming with hotels.
New hotels are sprouting just as fast as owners can fill them. According to this article in the NY Times, there were 47 Queens-based hotels in the planning or construction stage as of 2015, and that’s not even including the accommodations on Airbnb. As this is New York, a lot of the hotels offer unique experiences you can’t find elsewhere. The Paper Factory Hotel is a property that’s been converted from, you guessed it, a paper factory, while the Z New York Hotel is well-known for its amazing rooftop view of the Manhattan skyline.
4. It has the biggest and best Chinatown in NYC.
Yes, the Chinatown in Flushing, Queens is better than the NYC neighborhood that’s just known as “Chinatown.” Aside from being one of the fastest growing Asian communities in the United States, it is chock-full of some of the best restaurants in NYC. White Bear (135-02 Roosevelt Ave) is the definition of a hole-in-the-wall hidden gem, and once you’ve eaten your fill, you can walk to the Flushing Mall and other nearby boutiques for Flushing-specific trinkets. Regardless of whether you want to explore Chinese, Korean, or a different Asian culture – you can find it in Flushing.
5. Queens is “real” New York.
One of the great things about visiting the borough is that you get to see how other NYC residents live. Not all of us New Yorkers live in Manhattan high-rises, and when you’re in Queens, you’ll realize that there’s a different kind of day-to-day living that you might not have seen elsewhere. Parts of the borough are more residential than Manhattan, but still have the culture and uniqueness of New York City. Even if you visit for just a day, Queens is totally worth the trip.
7 train line photo by Daniel Schwen; Queens Museum photo by Leo Chiou; Paper Factory Hotel guest room from the website, Flushing photo by Epic Genius.