The 5 Best Neighborhoods in Queens, NY

Benjamin Korman
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Welcome to Queens!

You’ve arrived in New York City’s largest borough (It’s “yuge,” as one very powerful Queens native might say), Queens sprawls from the south shore of Long Island to the very edge of Midtown Manhattan.

Its neighborhoods are as distinct as its residents—Queens isn’t just the most diverse borough in NYC, it’s the most statistically diverse county in the entire United States. Cultures from around the world, enormous parks, miles of waterfront, and the best cheap eats on the East Coast make Queens the perfect place for urban explorers looking to settle down.  Every one of Queens’s nearly 100 neighborhoods has something great to offer, but here’s a list of our favorites:

1. Long Island City

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Perfect for: Millenials, Artists, Party People, Techies

Long Island City is the perfect location for the wayward Manhattanite. The wall of skyscrapers along the East River and the five-minute commute to Midtown have drawn all sorts of residents to this eclectic hodge-podge of converted loft buildings, waterfront luxury condos, and traditional rowhouses and apartments.

This neighborhood is a bit of a marvel—rapid development and some very creative renovation have ensured that no two blocks are alike.  A short walk from the Court Square train station will lead you under busy train tracks, past towering office buildings, through (seemingly) empty warehouses zones, down cozy, restaurant-lined streets, and finally to the breath-taking, peaceful shoreline of Hunter’s Point Park.

But make no mistake—Long Island City is the fast-paced urban core of the borough. It’s a premier arts destination; P.S.1 (the Museum of Modern Art’s satellite location, housed in the skeleton of an 19th-century grade school) serves as a centerpiece, with galleries, comedy clubs, nightclubs, dance studios, and bars spreading out in every direction. Long Island City offers every type of living space for every type of person, but has long been a destination for creatives seeking live/work space, young professionals seeking cheap rents, and, more recently, well-to-do families seeking luxury, elegance, and an unforgettable view.

Highlights:

  • MoMA P.S. 1
  • 
The Creek and The Cave
  • Hunter’s Point Park

2. Astoria

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Perfect for: Millenials, Newlyweds, Commuters

This semi-suburban enclave is as close to Manhattan as you can get while still maintaining that “neighborhood” feel. Relatively low rents, large living spaces, and brief commutes to Midtown have long attracted young people and families on a budget to this quiet community. Riverfront views and the gorgeously curated Socrates Sculpture Park seal the deal.

But it’s not just sleepy townhouses and leafy parks; main drags like Broadway, 34th Avenue, and Steinway Street are bustling with life twenty-four hours a day. There’s lots of shopping, and plenty of roomy bars for big nights out. Astoria is well-known for its thriving Greek community– no visit to the neighborhood is complete without a stop-off at Taverna Kyclades on Ditmars Boulevard for dolmades and fresh seafood. Steinway Street houses a long stretch of mouth-watering Turkish restaurants. Check out Dandana for a night of shwarma, hookah, and live bellydancing. Astoria is also perfect for pop culture junkies—the film-centric Museum of the Moving Image and Kaufman Astoria Studios (home to Sesame Street) are both located in the neighborhood’s bustling eastern corner.

Highlights:

3. Ridgewood

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Perfect for: Artists, Hipsters, Families of any age

The hipster sprawl that began in the now-famous neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn and continued into nearby Bushwick has finally made its way to Queens. Bushwick, the place made famous by millennial sitcoms like HBO’s Girls, (or just about any movie featuring 20-somethings living in Brooklyn made in the last ten years) and Ridgewood are practically intertwined; it’s difficult to know when you’ve walked out of one and into the other.

For that reason, Ridgewood has become a popular (and slightly cheaper) destination for artists and young professionals looking to settle. While most of the area is populated with inviting rows of single-family townhouses, condos and luxury apartments are beginning to fill the gaps between the formerly industrial stretch of Wyckoff Avenue on the neighborhood’s southern edge. Lively businesses like the enormous outdoor bar Nowadays and the music venue Trans-Pecos are bringing a renewed energy to the neighborhood. To the north, the art gallery and nightclub Knockdown Center has hosted everything from international artists to rapper Cardi B.

But Ridgewood has also long been a thriving community for German, Polish, and Romanian immigrants. Fresh Pond Road, one of the area’s main drags, is home to some of the best butchers and bakeries in the city. Ridgewood Pork Store is a meat lover’s dream. For dinner, be sure to grab a kielbasa or two at Krolewoskie Jadlo and head to Sweet Jane’s for a drink and karaoke.

Highlights:

  • Knockdown Center
  • Ridgewood Pork Store

4. Flushing

Perfect for: Foodies, Adventurers, Museum and Park Lovers, Sports Fanatics

Walking through Flushing’s crowded, frenetic Main Street feels like being transported to another metropolis, far away from NYC. At the very end of the 7 Train, Flushing is a city unto itself. Block after block of markets, restaurants, cafés, and spas have long made this neighborhood—New York City’s real Chinatown—into a weekend destination for foodies.  Head to Joe’s Shanghai for their legendary soup dumplings, or Spring Shabu Shabu for an endless (and inexpensive) buffet of Japanese Hotpot.  When the sun goes down, wander into one of Downtown Flushing’s many karaoke bars for one of the wildest nights Queens has to offer. If you’re looking for a rejuvenating getaway, visit Spa Castle, a cavernous Korean water spa on the banks of the East River.

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But this neighborhood isn’t just about food. Space is easy to come by here— this is one of the few places in New York City where you can feel like an urban-dweller but live in a sizeable detached house. And there is green space galore—Flushing Meadows Park stretches for miles, and contains within it the location of the 1964 World’s Fair, The iconic Unisphere, Arthur Ashe Stadium (home to the US Open), the Queens Hall of Science, and the Queens Museum. Just north of the park is CitiField, where the Mets play (and sometimes win!), and the Louis Armstrong House Museum, the-one time home of the famed jazz trumpeter.

Highlights:

  • Chinese Food around Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue
  • CitiField
  • The Louis Armstrong House Museum
  • Flushing Meadows Park
  • The Queens Botanical Garden
  • Spa Castle

5. Rockaway Beach

Perfect For: Beach Bums, Nature Lovers

Nestled on a small strip of land between the Atlantic Ocean and the Jamaica Bay National Wildlife Refuge, this neighborhood immortalized in a song by The Ramones is slowly turning into the premier destination for oceangoing New Yorkers. Newer businesses like Tacoway Beach, Williamsburg, Brooklyn transplant Caracas Arepa Bar, and RIPPERS dot the boardwalk between the Beach 116th Street Subway stop (The very end of the A Line) and Beach 84th Street.

While it can become super crowded with visitors from the rest of the city in the summer months, the otherwise sleepy neighborhood is a year-round destination for local surfers, with surf shops spread out along the length of the Rockaway Peninsula. And Rockaway Beach is only a short distance away from Fort Tilden and Jacob Riis Park, two nature-filled options for surf, swim, and sun. And come on—who wouldn’t want to live at the beach??

Highlights:

  • Fort Tilden
  • Jacob Riis Park
  • Tacoway Beach
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on February 12, 2018 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Benjamin Korman

Benjamin is a New York City-based writer.
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The SpareFoot Blog offers tips about self-storage, information about storage auctions, advice about home organization, news about SpareFoot and much more.
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