With the warm weather fully upon us and the phased reopening from coronavirus in full swing, it’s a great time to get outdoors (with your mask) and blow off some steam. For visitors and native New Yorkers alike, a day trip to some awesome parks, museums, markets and other hidden gems around the city may feel long overdue.
Among the top excursions on your list should be Long Island City. Known as Queen’s “mini city,” Long Island City is full of art, culture, food and fun. This booming neighborhood on the western edge of Queens with panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline has something for everyone. Following are some of the area’s top highlights:
Gantry Plaza State Park
4-09 47th Road
Located on a former dockyard and manufacturing district in the Hunters Point section of Long Island City with a stunning view of the Manhattan skyline, Gantry Plaza State Park boasts 12-acres of beautiful park grounds, including well-preserved remnants of the area’s past. The most notable of these are the huge iconic Pepsi Cola sign and the gantry cranes for which the park was named. The park sits adjacent to Hunters Point South Park, which adds another 5.5 acres of park grounds with pedestrian and bike paths, a playground, picnic terraces, wooden seating areas, and a 30-foot-high cantilevered platform to this must-see destination.
LIC Flea & Food
5-25 46th Avenue
Just one block from the famed Pepsi-Cola sign is Queens’ largest outdoor market. LIC Flea & Food is a premier weekend destination with an incredible selection of internationally inspired food and drink, local craft beer, antiques, art, furniture, fashion, jewelry, arts and crafts, and much more. LIC Flea and Food is a great way to spend quality time outdoors with friends and family while supporting great local vendors!
9-01 33rd Road (at Vernon Boulevard)
This inspired museum houses thirteen galleries and an outdoor sculpture garden featuring a wide collection of artwork by Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988). The museum itself is Noguchi’s actual workspace in then-industrial Long Island City, a wonderful treat that allows you to feel how he integrated his work with his natural surroundings. Special exhibits explain aspects of his life, work against the World War II detention of Japanese-Americans, and his development of specific artistic projects, such as paper lamps.
Socrates Sculpture Park
32-01 Vernon Blvd
Just one block away from Noguchi is another sculpture hotspot. Built on a former landfill, Socrates Sculpture Park is an outdoor museum and public park where artists can create and exhibit sculptures and multimedia installations. Socrates Sculpture Park is home to over 1,000 artists’ pieces stretched over 5 acres of land.
2225 Jackson Avenue
MoMA PS1 is one of the oldest and largest nonprofit contemporary art institutions in the United States. An affiliate of The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA PS1 is dedicated to exhibiting the most provocative and challenging art from around the world. The museum is literally housed in an old school, and when you walk the halls you cannot help but be brought back to your own grade school memories of buildings just like this one. The art here is very modern/contemporary and often quite provocative.
Hunters Point Historic District
45th Avenue between 21st and 23rd Street
The Landmarks Preservation Commission’s (LPC) 1968 designation report describes the Hunters Point Historic District as a “notable residential area … which retains, on both sides of the street, a feeling of unity and repose, little changed since it was first built” that “serves as a microcosm of the domestic architecture of the last quarter of the Nineteenth Century.”
Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge
There are 16 bridges that connect the island of Manhattan to the outer boroughs, and at least a dozen of them offer pedestrian lanes. Among them is the world famous Queensboro Bridge (also known as the 59th Street Bridge and now officially Ed Koch Bridge). A walk across this iconic, century old structure will give you a great view of Long Island City, the East River, and the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
With so much to see and do, Long Island City is quickly becoming one of New York’s most popular destinations.