Adoration 4 Adventure’s local guide for visitors to Astoria, New York, U.S.A. by A4A guest writer, Eva Casey.
Local guide posts provide recommendations for destinations from locals who are currently living or have lived in that particular place. Including information on the top places to eat, drink, stay and how to get around with an emphasis on saving money.
Overview of Astoria
Astoria is a neighborhood in the borough of Queens in New York City. While Queens may not have the name-recognition of Brooklyn, it’s a wonderfully diverse place that’s chock full of all the things that make NYC great.
Astoria is also one of the closest neighborhoods to Manhattan, making it a haven for working professionals and artists (mainly actors, which has earned Astoria the nickname ‘Actoria’). While young people are flocking to Astoria, there are also plenty of families that have been in the neighborhood for generations. Astoria is known as being traditionally Greek, however people from many nations are represented.
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Top 5 places to visit
5. Green Spaces in Astoria
Once the nice weather hits, you will find most Astorians enjoying their parks, the namesake Astoria Park and Socrates Sculpture Park. Right along the waterfront, these parks have just about anything you could ever want or need. In Astoria Park: a large running track, skateboard park, tennis courts and even a giant outdoor pool. Socrates Sculpture Garden, so-named because it plays host to a rotating display of outdoor sculptures and art installations, offers a unique outdoor experience.
In the summer, both parks feature free concerts, exercise and yoga classes, outdoor movies, farmer’s markets, fireworks, and more. Or simply grab picnic supplies from the myriad of health food stores around Astoria, lay out a blanket, and enjoy!
With all of the actors and artists in Astoria, it only makes sense that a performance space would open. QED hosts an array of comedy shows, readings, and open mics. In addition to being a performance space, QED, which calls itself an after-school space for grownups, has many different classes for adults, from swing dancing to flower arranging. Starting this month, QED will even be hosting a craft bazaar!
3. Brooklyn Grange
Ever heard of Urban Farming? Astoria has its very own Farm on a Roof, called Brooklyn Grange. Yes, the name is misleading, but I swear it is in Queens! In an unassuming coffee shop, Coffeed, you will see signs for a farm if you take the elevator up to the roof. Once on the roof, you will see produce as far as the eye can see. Stop by on Saturdays to visit the chickens and bees, buy some fresh farm produce at the farm stand, or simply enjoy your coffee with an amazing view of New York City!
2. Shop Local
With more local shops opening every week, you don’t want to miss the chance for an Astoria shopping spree. Lockwood and Lockwood Style are two of my favorites, selling quirky Queens-centric items alongside a beautifully curated selection of clothes, jewelry, and home goods. Astoria Bookshop is a wonderful independent bookstore. The Brass Owl is a women’s fashion store. The Little Soap Shop sells hand-poured soy candles and handmade soaps. Vintage and secondhand stores such as Loveday 31 and Buffalo Exchange are always fun. Hi-Fi Records and Cafe is your local record store and coffee shop all in one. Or you can even try and find the roaming Bohemian Groove boutique as it rolls around Queens in a vintage airstream.
1. Museum of the Moving Image
Perhaps the best known museum in Astoria, MoMI caters to every TV & Film lover out there. Its permanent collection, Behind the Screen, features artifacts, audio-visual material and interactive experiences from a wide range of movies and TV series. A recent popular exhibit was the Mad Men Exhibit, a tribute to the iconic TV show, with recreated sets, costumes, and more directly from the show. MoMI also hosts screenings of a diverse range of movies, from festival favorites to old classics.
Eating and drinking
Since Astoria is so diverse, you can eat virtually any cuisine you could imagine here. Obviously the Greek food in Astoria is unparalleled (except for maybe in Greece itself). Have a meal at Gregory’s 26 Corner Taverna for serious Mediterranean vibes. Another classic Astorian mainstay is the Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden, around since the early 1900’s. Grab a Czech beer and dance all night in the garden.
Astoria has seen a recent influx of coffee shops, some of my favorites being Astoria Coffee, Kinship, and OK Cafe. Brunch is a big deal in Astoria, as it is all over NYC. There are tons of places to dine al fresco all down 30th Avenue in the warmer months. Queens Comfort is a brunch destination that always has a huge line, but is worth the wait. Some other trendy restaurants and bars include: Il Bambino, The Bonnie, Kurry Qulture, and District Saigon.
Astoria is one of the larger NYC neighborhoods, but it’s still very walkable. If you don’t feel like walking, you could take the famous NYC subway. If you get a Metrocard, each trip on the subway or bus will cost you $2.75. This can quickly add up, so that’s why I recommend walking if you can. The major subway lines that run through Astoria are the N & Q trains on 31st street from 36th Avenue to Ditmars Blvd. Also the M & R trains on 36th street, Steinway Street, and 43rd Street. There are many different bus routes that stop all over Astoria, which is another option if you’re not going somewhere the train stops.
To be in the heart of the action, your best bet is to stay in an Airbnb.
There is one boutique hotel in Astoria, the Paper Factory Hotel. It got that name because, you guessed it, it was converted from a 1970s paper factory into a hotel. The hotel has 123 rooms, conference and event space, indoor and outdoor garden areas, gaming room, co-working space, health and wellness center, cafe, and an in-house bar and restaurant called Mundo. OH, and there is even a beer garden in the works! Rooms start around $149, which is a steal for NYC hotels.
There are also 3 hostels, Nesva Hotel, Q4, and The Local, nearby in Long Island City, another great neighborhood on its own. From there you can walk to Astoria in about 10-15 minutes, or take the subway one or two stops to the heart of Astoria.
Eva Casey travels around the world writing about her experiences as a solo female traveler on her blog, Eva Explores. Eva is the Blog Editor and Social Media Manager for travel company, WeTravel.com. She is also a performing artist, specializing in sketch comedy and improv.
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All photos in this article are the property of A4A guest writer, Eva Casey.
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