With more than a little help from the expert on all things New York, Tryphavana Cross, ITTN finds and falls hard for Astoria in Queens. Shane Cullen has travelled to New York with NYC & Company and United Airways for a weekend in Queens in the lead-up to the holiday season.
Full of Charm, More Chilled & Cheaper than its Neighbour
Tryphavana Cross unveils a hidden gem in the form of the neighbourhood of Astoria in Queens, just across the East River from Midtown Manhattan. This is a multicultural neighbourhood commonly known as “Little Egypt” and also has a longstanding Greek presence – we even passed the cake shop, Omonia Café from the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”. Combine this with a host of very trendy and hip establishments from bars, shops and eateries lining the streets, you can see the attraction.
Great Value and Great Vibe
What’s more, it’s significantly easier on the wallet. I got a burger & chips in a nice gastro-bar which cost just $16 with a beer $9-$12. My top tip is to splash out on a New York cocktail for $12-$14. Cocktails in New York are not a standard affair and are packed with fabulous flavours.
Getting Around Astoria
It is worth noting that Astoria is just 15 minutes out from Manhattan by Subway (a 7-day unlimited pass will cost you just $33 and can be used on the subway and local buses). You’ll find it’s easy to head in for the headline tourist attractions such as Rockefeller Centre and then return to a local neighbourhood to get a real feel for the locality.
This is My Kind of Place – Museum of the Moving Image
As an avid movie-lover, wandering the streets that were filmed for the big screen is a big draw. Couple this with a museum dedicated to the moving picture, and it’s easy to see why I fell for this place. Astoria is home to the Museum of the Moving Image. Learn about cinema and get up close with film exhibits here.
Iconic Past & Present
Just over a century ago, Astoria was the backdrop of almost 100 silent films. Today, Kaufman Astoria Studios is based here where TV shows such as New Amsterdam, Orange is the New Black and Sesame Street are created.
Reminisce Through the Decades
Furthermore, the museum has everything from Star Trek figurines, gruesome props from Freddie Krugger, the mechanical puppet for the unforgettable head-spinning scene in The Exorcist, costumes worn by Robin Williams from Mork & Mindy and Mrs Doubtfire as well as Eddie Murphy from Beverly Hills Cop.
For something chilling, check out the “Living with The Walking Dead” exhibition which runs till 22nd January 2023. For something more family-friendly there is “Laika: Life in Stop Motion”, an exhibition celebrating the studio that created Coraline, ParaNorman, and The Boxtrolls to name a few. This exhibition runs until 27 August 2023.
Unique Exhibitions for All Ages
There is a whole exhibition dedicated to Jim Henson covering his life’s work including puppets from The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, Labyrinth and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and so, so much more.
Discover this magical wonderland especially suited for anyone of my vintage (eighties kid) and equally fun for the whole family.
Admission is $20 for adults and $10 for 3 to 17-year-olds. In addition, you can pre-book tickets on their website but it is not essential. Remember, it is generally free admission on a Thursday afternoon – https://movingimage.us/.
Big Apple Greeter Explained
Big Apple Greeter is a free welcome-visitor service from NYC volunteers. Founded by Lynn Brooks thirty years ago, she wanted to share her experience as a New Yorker with visitors to the city, particularly those overwhelmed by its scale. The organisation has expanded to almost 300 volunteers. These help circa 5,000 visitors per annum across 100 neighbourhoods in New York showing the way to little stores, local eateries and unique places of interest. In other words, how to do New York like a New Yorker. Check it out or request a greeter on their website – https://www.bigapplegreeter.org/.
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
You may not think you know Corona Park but the iconic globe sculpture has been featured in many a movie over the years (Iron Man 2 and Captain America immediately come to mind). The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is here and where the US Open is hosted. It is also home to the Mets and their baseball stadium, Citi Field.
This was the site of World Fairs (or in Marvel movie land – The Stark World Expo)and has ample activities to keep visitors entertained all year round from hiking trails, barbeque areas, ice skating rinks, paddle boat rentals and much more – https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/flushing-meadows-corona-park
Queens Museum in Corona Park
Queens Museum is in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens. It was previously home to New York World’s Fairs plus home to the United Nations from 1946 to 1950. It showcases Queen’s links with the past and, in particular, the diverse ethnic, cultural and international community of the borough. Find out more on their website for the latest details on exhibitions, educational initiatives and public events – https://queensmuseum.org/. Opening hours are Wed, Thurs, Fri from 12 to 5 pm and Sat/Sun from 11-5 pm. Adult admission is $8 and those under 18 go free.
New York Hall of Science
This is also where the New York Hall of Science is based, a wonderland for kids with Rocket Park Mini Golf, a 60,000 sqft Science Playground and Design Lab to wow little creative minds.
NYC & Company
As always, to find out more about how to do Queens like a New Yorker, or any of the five boroughs of New York, check out NYC & Company’s website for details on where to stay, what to do, where to eat and drink and more – https://www.nycgo.com and there is a dedicated travel agent section too – https://business.nycgo.com/travel-trade/.