Should You Stay in Queens?
I love New York. It’s an exciting city filled with possibilities and high energy with a seemingly unending list of great things to do. Which is probably why I’ve visited so often. With such a big city there are countless restaurants, shops, attractions, parks, and, of course, neighbourhoods and hotels. Choosing where to stay in New York can be one of the toughest decisions you’ll make when planning a trip to the Big Apple.
A lot of first time visitors like to stay near Times Square, but I have a different favourite for my visits now: Queens. It wasn’t that long ago that Queens wasn’t on anybody’s travel radar but these days it’s thriving. I think this borough is one of the best kept secrets and makes a great base for any visit to New York.
With multiple subway lines connecting the borough to Manhattan you’re also never far away from the buzz and bright lights if that’s your jam. So now you may be asking yourself, “Is it ok to stay in Queens when visiting New York?”
Table of Contents
- Quick Queens Neighbourhood Guide
- Pros of Staying in Queen
- Cons of Staying in Queens
- Queens Neighbourhoods
- How to Get To Manhattan from Queens
Quick Queens Neighbourhood Guide
- Where to stay in Queens for your first time – Long Island City
- Where to stay in Queens on a budget – Long Island City
- The best area to stay in Queens for nightlife – Astoria
- Best neighbourhood in Queens for families – Forest Hills
Should you stay in Queens on your next trip to New York? Here are my thoughts…
Pros of Staying in Queen
Queens is a diverse and vibrant borough of New York City that offers a lot for tourists to explore. It is known for its ethnic neighborhoods, such as Astoria, Flushing, and Jackson Heights, which offer a wide range of delicious and authentic food options. Visitors can also explore cultural attractions such as the Museum of the Moving Image, the Queens Museum, or catch a show at the Kupferberg Center for the Arts. Queens also has many parks and outdoor spaces to enjoy, including Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, the second-largest park in New York City, and the scenic Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City. Overall, Queens offers a unique and authentic New York experience for tourists looking to explore beyond the typical Manhattan destinations.
Hotels and vacation rentals in Queens are often cheaper than those in Manhattan, so you can save money on accommodations. One of my favourite New York hostels is in Queens and you get so much more than similar places in Manhattan. So I have more money to spend on entertainment and experiences, like a Mets game.
Access to JFK and LaGuardia airports
Queens is home to both JFK and LaGuardia airports, making it a convenient choice if you’re flying in and out of New York City. Unlike Newark, you can take public transit right to the airport.
Compared to the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, Queens offers a more relaxed and quieter atmosphere, making it a great place to retreat to after a long day of exploring the city.
Queens is known for its diverse population, and as a result, you’ll find a wide range of cultural experiences and cuisine options to explore.
Access to attractions
Queens is home to several popular attractions, including Citi Field (home of the New York Mets), the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (home of the US Open), and the Museum of the Moving Image, among others.
Cons of Staying in Queens
Longer commute times
Queens is further from many of the popular tourist attractions in Manhattan, so you may have longer commute times to get to your destinations.
Fewer options for entertainment
While Queens has plenty of its own attractions, it may have fewer options for entertainment compared to Manhattan, which has an abundance of theaters, museums, and other attractions.
While there are certainly plenty of great bars and restaurants in Queens, the nightlife scene may be more subdued than in Manhattan, which is known for its vibrant nightlife.
Less of a “touristy” feel
If you’re looking for the classic New York City experience with all the iconic tourist attractions, you may feel like you’re missing out by staying in Queens instead of Manhattan. Depending on what you’re looking for in your vacation this could also be seen as a pro.
First thing to know is that Queens is big. Like, really big. It’s 280 km² in landmass and home to over 2.2 million people. With dozens of named neighbourhoods in the borough, each with its own character, it can be intimidating to even begin narrowing your hotel search down. I’ve picked out a few of what I think are the best neighbourhoods in Queens for tourists.
Long Island City
Located just across the East River from Midtown Manhattan, Long Island City is a trendy and rapidly developing neighborhood that offers stunning skyline views and easy access to many of the city’s top attractions. Long Island City is home to several world-class museums and cultural institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art’s PS1, the Noguchi Museum, and the SculptureCenter. Long Island City offers more affordable accommodations than many parts of Manhattan, making it a great option for budget-conscious travelers.
Known for its lively nightlife, excellent food scene, and strong Greek community, Astoria is a great choice for those looking to experience the multicultural vibe of Queens. It has a diverse range of restaurants, bars, and cafes, which can provide a unique and authentic cultural experience. Additionally, Astoria is located near several subway lines, making it easy to access other parts of the city. Astoria also has several parks and outdoor spaces, such as Astoria Park, which can provide a relaxing break from the hustle and bustle of the city.
A historic neighborhood with a strong Latin American influence, Jackson Heights is home to vibrant street life, amazing food, and colorful architecture. Jackson Heights is known for its multiculturalism, lively street life, and authentic ethnic cuisine. It has more affordable accommodation option than Manhattan while being easily accessible to other parts of New York City by subway or bus. Jackson Heights also has a vibrant arts scene, with many galleries and performance spaces showcasing the work of local artists.
Forest Hills is a peaceful residential neighborhood in Queens, with plenty of green spaces and a suburban feel, making it an excellent option for those who want to stay away from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. It is also home to several restaurants, cafes, and boutique shops, making it an excellent option for foodies and shoppers. Additionally, it has easy access to public transportation, making it convenient for visitors to explore the city.
Flushing is a bustling and diverse neighborhood in Queens with plenty to offer visitors, including great food, cultural attractions, and easy access to public transportation. Flushing is home to a number of popular tourist destinations, including the Queens Botanical Garden, Flushing Meadows Corona Park (which includes the Queens Museum and the New York Hall of Science), and the Louis Armstrong House Museum. Flushing is also known for its diverse and delicious food scene, with everything from Chinese dumplings and Korean barbecue to Greek gyros and Colombian arepas. It’s well-connected to other parts of Queens and Manhattan via the subway (with multiple lines stopping at the Main Street station), buses, and the Long Island Rail Road.
How to Get To Manhattan from Queens
If you’re staying in Long Island City, you’re going to become very familiar with the E or M train that connects to 53red Street. For instance, it’s a 5 minute ride from Court Square-23 Street Station to Lexington/53rd close to Rockefeller Centre.
If you’re staying in Astoria, you’ll want the N or W trains. And if you’re heading to a Mets game, look for the 7 Train.
Several bus routes run between Queens and Manhattan, including the Q32, Q60, Q101, and Q104.
The NYC Ferry operates several routes connecting Queens to Manhattan, including the Astoria and Long Island City routes.
- East River Route: between East 34th St and Hunters Point South
- Astoria Route: between East 90th St, Astoria, Roosevelt Island, and Gantry Plaza State Park
There is one bridge and tunnel that connect Manhattan and Queens:
- Queens Midtown Tunnel: 37th and 2nd to Borden Ave
- Queensboro Bridge: 59th and 2nd to Queens Blvd
What’s your favourite New York neighbourhood?