The US Open is held in Queens, one of New York City’s five boroughs and home to the most culturally and ethnically diverse communities in the United States. If you’re attending the US Open and you’re not from New York, you might wonder what there is to see and do in the neighborhoods that whiz past you as you take the 7 train to the Mets-Willets Point station.
Though few tourists and visitors venture into Queens, favoring Manhattan and Brooklyn over the other boroughs, there are lots of “only in New York” experiences you can have in this under-visited borough.
Here are five things to do in Queens while you’re in town for the US Open, or really any time when you want to check out the cool attractions in this region of NYC:
1. Time travel in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
You won’t have to wander from the US Open grounds to act on this tip, as the tennis stadiums are located in the park’s boundaries. The park–New York City’s second largest–was host of two New York World’s Fairs (1939-1940 and 1964-1965); several relics from those fairs remain on display today. The large Unisphere sculpture is the most visible and photogenic of these relics, but the most interesting (and the ones that are closest to the US Open venue) are the mosaics and time capsule that serve as snapshots of mid-century pop culture.
And those snapshots aren’t without controversy. Read this interesting article from local radio station, WNYC, to learn about the “mosaic mystery.”
2. Eat your way through Flushing’s Chinatown.
One stop beyond the US Open on the 7 train is Flushing, home to New York City’s lesser-known Chinatown. As busy and bustling as Manhattan’s Chinatown, Flushing is, well, flush with Chinese restaurants specializing in most regional cuisines, though locals in the know tend to visit Flushing for dim sum.
Get off the 7 train at Main Street, come to street level, close your eyes, spin around, and wherever you’re facing when your eyes open, head in that direction to find an authentic Chinese restaurant.
Image: Terry Ballard
3. Walk Flushing’s Freedom Trail.
Barely familiar even to New Yorkers who consider themselves connoisseurs of the little-known, Flushing’s Freedom Trail is a walking path with historically significant sites that offer important insights into both New York’s and America’s past.
Along the path, you’ll find the home of the man who invented the carbon filament light bulb and New York City’s first public high school, as well as the oldest house of worship in the city.
Image: Francisco Collazo
4. Visit the Louis Armstrong House Museum.
Harlem and Greenwich Village are more famous for their roles in musical history, but Queens is a surprisingly rich repository, too. For almost 30 years, Louis Armstrong lived in a modest house in the Corona neighborhood; today, the house is a museum that is open to the public.
Though it’s a bit out of the way, it’s a must-visit for serious Armstrong fans, as the house has been preserved as it was when he and his wife lived there.
Image: Paul Lowry
5. Watch the sunset from Gantry Plaza State Park.
Long Island City, one of Queens’ neighborhoods and the closest one to Manhattan, sits on the East River and has perfect, unobstructed views of Manhattan, best seen at sunset. Take the 7 train to Vernon-Jackson, walk west on 50th Avenue all the way to the water, and enjoy the view from the end of one of the piers or from your own hammock at the northern end of the park.
Image: Francisco Collazo