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There are many interesting things to do in Queens, so if you haven’t yet explored this New York City borough, I highly recommend you do so. Queens is full of parks, museums, sports venues, and other attractions where you can learn more about the history of NYC and its most diverse neighborhoods.
In addition to being quieter than Manhattan and Brooklyn, Queens is more walkable and closer to JFK and LaGuardia Airports, which are also in Queens. So, if you’re flying into New York City, Queens will probably be your first introduction to the city.
Take advantage of your time here by visiting some of the best places in Queens, like Flushing Meadows – Corona Park and Rockaway Beach. While Queens may be less crowded than other boroughs, it still has great nightclubs and bars, as well as accommodation options.
In this guide, I’ll share the top 10 places to go in Queens so you can plan a fun day out with your partner or as a family. Also, if you need another day here, I’ll share some of the best hotels where you can spend the night.
1. Museum of the Moving Image, a fun place in Queens, New York
The Museum of the Moving Image is one of the best museums in NYC, and it’s right in Queens. More specifically, it’s in Astoria Studios, a historic venue built in 1920 to accompany the nearby Theater District in Manhattan.
This museum in Queens is an awesome place to go if you’re a film or TV buff, or you’re interested in the technology and techniques behind different forms of digital media. The multimedia exhibits here explore audio-visual elements like stop-motion animation, TV and movie production, character design, and virtual reality. So, it’s a unique place to gain more insight into some of the most beloved masterpieces in cinematic history.
There are also two theaters where you can see a variety of productions and extended cuts of famous films. Also, if you’re a fan of The Muppets, you’ll love the museum’s Jim Henson exhibition. It’s a great thing to do in Astoria, Queens with kids, and the museum even has a vast collection of video games and related memorabilia.
If you’d like to visit, be aware that the museum is closed on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. Admission is $20 for adults and $12 for kids under 18.
2. Walk through Queens Botanical Garden, a romantic thing to do in Queens
For something romantic to do in Queens, check out the Queens Botanical Garden. Created in 1939 for the New York World’s Fair, the 39-acre venue has become one of the most beautiful spots in the entire borough.
Here, you’ll find gorgeous blooms and plants throughout the different specialty gardens, which include a bee garden, an herb garden, and a rose garden. There is also a children’s garden for the little ones to learn about native flora and environmentalism. If you visit the perennial garden and meadow, you can see all kinds of plants, flowers, and trees that used to grow all over the New York City area.
Without a doubt, strolling through the botanical garden is one of the best things to do in Queens as a couple. The Fragrance Walk is a beautiful outdoor walkway bordered by blossoming flowers, and the Floral Border provides the perfect photo op for you and your partner. I also recommend going to the arboretum and browsing the art gallery, which is filled with botanical paintings, drawings, and photographs.
Queens Botanical Garden is closed on Mondays and is free from November to March. Otherwise, it’s $6 for adults and $2 for children ages 4-12.
3. Flushing Meadows – Corona Park, the best park in Queens
Queens is full of lovely outdoor spaces, but one of the best is Flushing Meadows – Corona Park. It’s one of the best parks in NYC and the fourth largest in the city, so you can’t miss it.
The park was built for the 1939 New York World’s Fair and is most recognized by the Unisphere, a 140-foot-tall steel globe that symbolizes unity and peace. You’ll also find the Queens Botanical Garden here, as well as the New York Hall of Science and the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, two other famous places in Queens.
Get some fresh air and take a stroll around Meadow and Willow Lakes, then take a ride on the Flushing Meadows Carousel.
While Flushing Meadows – Corona Park is a must-see in Queens, I also recommend visiting Astoria Park, which has tennis courts, a soccer field, a playground, and a skatepark. It’s also home to the Astoria Pool and Bathhouse, which was used for the U.S. team’s Olympic Trials in 1936, 1952, and 1964. Today, the pool is free and open to the public, as is the Astoria Play Center, a rec center with various sports facilities.
Finally, Gantry Plaza State Park is another cool place in Queens along the East River in Long Island City. The park is part of a former dockyard where you can see old gantries and transfer bridges that were used to transport cars and vehicles across the river to Manhattan. There is also a playground and a waterfront promenade.
4. MoMA PS1, one of the best museums in Queens
Another museum in Queens I highly recommend is MoMA PS1. It’s affiliated with the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), so if you don’t have time to get over to Manhattan, MoMA PS1 is a great alternative.
This huge contemporary art center is full of paintings, drawings, sculptures, and photographs, not to mention a rotating roster of temporary exhibits. You’ll also find multimedia installations ranging from murals and textiles to architectural projects from artists around the world.
The themes of these pieces vary, touching on things like city life, politics, social issues, different cultures, nature, science, and more. The museum holds regular panel discussions with the artists, as well as a weekly performance series called Sunday Sessions. If you visit from June to August, you can catch the summer music series.
So, if you’re into art and you’re looking for a rainy day activity in Queens, a visit to MoMA PS1 is a great idea. Admission is $10 for adults, although it’s also included in the New York Pass, one of the best attraction passes in NYC. Just remember that the museum is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
5. Go to the Queens Museum, a free thing to do in Queens, NY
The Queens Museum may be the most famous museum in the borough, and for good reason. It’s one of the most interesting places in Queens, thanks to its vast collection of historical artifacts, art exhibits, and community events.
The museum is part of Flushing Meadows – Corona Park and contains thousands of relics from the 1939 and 1964 New York World’s Fairs. Looking through the collection is like finding a time capsule from decades gone by and provides insight into how life in the city was back then.
Another part of the permanent collection is the Panorama of the City of New York, a room-sized scale model of NYC’s five boroughs. You can also find intriguing paintings by Salvador Dalí, photographs from Robert Moses, and several Tiffany Glass objects.
The Queens Museum also hosts public film screenings, dance performances, and concerts, so there is always something to see here. For all these reasons, visiting the museum is considered to be one of the best free things to do in NYC. Plus, it’s close to other top attractions in Queens, New York, so you can make the most of your day.
While admission is free, the museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, so plan accordingly.
6. Visit the Noguchi Museum & Socrates Sculpture Park, something to do in Queens as a couple
If you’re looking for more free things to do in Queens, check out the Noguchi Museum. This is another free museum in NYC, specifically in Long Island City, and it’s named after its founder, Isamu Noguchi. Noguchi was a Japanese-American artist, sculptor, and landscape architect with a career that spanned six decades.
He created the Noguchi Museum to put some of his most prized pieces on full display for the public, including outdoor sculptures, stage and furniture designs, drawings, and architectural models. His work often explored subterranean landscapes, humans’ place in nature, and the relationship between visible and invisible forces, so they’re very thought-provoking.
Also, just a block from the museum, you’ll find the Socrates Sculpture Park, another cool place in Queens to visit. Located along the East River, the park is full of decorative plants and contemporary sculptures by Noguchi and other artists. Not only can you see beautiful works of art, but the views from the park are lovely.
Socrates Sculpture Park is open daily from 9 a.m. to dusk, and admission is free. The Noguchi Museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, and general admission costs $12.
7. Rockaway Beach, a beautiful place in Queens, New York
You may be surprised to hear that you can go to the beach in NYC, but it’s true! Over on the Rockaway Peninsula, you can visit Rockaway Beach, one of the few surfing beaches in the city.
In addition to surfing and swimming, Rockaway Beach offers other activities in Queens, including basketball, handball, and roller hockey. There is also a skatepark and a boardwalk, as well as several parks and playgrounds, so this is a fun thing to do in Queens with family.
Don’t forget to check out the Rockaway Beach Surf Shop, the oldest surf shop in the country. It sells all kinds of surfing gear, and you can even book a lesson if you’re new to the sport.
For something more laid-back, go to Jacob Riis Park Beach on the southwestern edge of the Rockaway Peninsula. This beautiful place in Queens boasts a delightful swimming beach as well as a boardwalk, restrooms, and outdoor showers. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer, and there are playgrounds, sports fields, and mini-golf for the kiddos.
Another cool part of Jacob Riis Park is its historic bathhouse, which was built in 1932. It features Moorish and Art Deco-style elements, making it a unique landmark along the coastline.
8. Go to the Alley Pond Environmental Center, an outdoorsy thing to do in Queens
While you’re sightseeing around Queens, consider veering off the beaten path and checking out the Alley Pond Environmental Center. It’s open daily and offers free admission to kids and adults who want to learn more about the native flora and fauna and conservation efforts.
The Center educates visitors about the different plant and animal species in the area as well as how to identify and care for them. You can take a walk along one of the paved or unpaved trails or sign up for a guided forest walk. The Center also holds craft workshops and tutorials for all ages, so you can go here as a family. Among the forests and marshlands, you’ll find a playground, ballfield, and adventure course.
An alternative to the Alley Pond Environmental Center is the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. This attraction in Queens, New York is a seven-minute drive from Rockaway Beach, on Broad Channel island in Jamaica Bay.
Surrounded by open water and intertidal salt marshes, the wildlife refuge is a great spot for boating and birdwatching. In fact, a large migratory bird population passes through the area every year, including snow geese, peregrine falcons, and cooper’s hawks. Horseshoe crabs, terrapin turtles, and ospreys are also common in this area.
In addition, the refuge has a Visitors Center and several hiking and walking paths, so it’s a great place in Queens to get away from the crowds and connect with nature. The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is free and open daily.
9. New York Hall of Science, a place to go in Queens with kids
Back at Flushing Meadows – Corona Park, the New York Hall of Science is another fun place to go in Queens as a family. This museum has all kinds of hands-on exhibits designed to teach children about technology, biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics.
In addition to its permanent collection, the institute has temporary exhibitions that touch on a variety of subjects like microbes, electricity, and health. The interactive elements encourage kids to engage with the sciences and have fun while retaining information. It’s an excellent thing to do in Queens on a rainy day, and adults may learn a thing or two as well!
Along with its indoor displays, the New York Hall of Science has an outdoor Science Playground where the kids can burn off some energy. There is also Rocket Park, an outdoor attraction inspired by the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Its space-age design and interactive activities provide even more fun, so you can make a day of it.
The New York Hall of Science costs $16 for adults and $13 for kids, although it’s included in the New York Pass. Be aware that it’s closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
10. Visit the USTA National Tennis Center, another interesting thing to do in Queens
The last attraction in Queens, New York that I recommend is the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. This huge complex consists of three stadiums, 22 indoor tennis courts, and 12 outdoor courts. Also, if you’re a big fan of tennis, you’ll know that the USTA National Tennis Center hosts the US Open Grand Slam tournament, which Serena Williams won six times.
The US Open is held every year in late August and early September, so you can get tickets to see the tournament. During the rest of the year, the Tennis Center is open for rentals and lessons for children and adults. Guided tours are also available and cost $30 for adults and $15 for kids ages 5-15.
The USTA National Tennis Center is in Flushing Meadows – Corona Park, so if you needed another excuse to visit this Queens landmark, this is it.
Where to stay in Queens
Finally, if you want to experience all the best things to do in Queens, consider staying overnight. This way, you can make the most of your time and get to all the attractions you want to see. Below are three of the best places in Queens to stay:
- The Collective Paper Factory – This cozy boutique hotel in Long Island City has a fitness center, family rooms, and a convenient location near the Museum of the Moving Image.
- Ravel Hotel – Located along the East River, this hotel offers free transportation to the subway, an outdoor pool, and an on-site restaurant.
- LIC Hotel – This accommodation has the perfect location since it’s 20 minutes from Central Park and 30 minutes from LaGuardia Airport by public transit.
You can find more ideas and recommendations in our guide on where to stay in NYC.
Map of Queens, NY
I hope you enjoyed discovering all the fun things to do in Queens, NY. Before I go, here is a map of all the attractions and hotels I mentioned so you can see how close they are to Manhattan, Brooklyn, and anywhere else you want to visit.
If you have any questions or want to share your favorite places to visit in Queens, feel free to leave me a comment below. I’d love to hear from you. Until then, have an amazing time in Queens!