Trust the (totally unbiased) opinion of someone who once lived there, Astoria, Queens is a must-visit during any trip to New York. My husband and I called Astoria home for two out of the five years we lived in New York City. While we are now glad to be away from the hustle and bustle of the big apple, we are nostalgic for all the amazing things to do and places to eat in this amazing slice of the city.
NYC is known to be a melting pot, and Astoria is a true epicenter of cultures coming together. It’s not unusual to find authentic Middle Eastern cuisine next to a mom-and-pop Italian bakery. I used to pass by a local church offering service in at least five different languages. Astoria unites all of these diverse heritages as one, welcoming community, making you feel as though you’ve been dropped both in another country and a charming, small town in the midst of the sprawling city.
So what are you waiting for? With endless options for things to do, there’s no time to waste! Hop on the W train just a few stops over the Queensboro Bridge, and get ready to navigate the neighborhood like a true local. Discover my insider’s guide to fun things to do, must-visit restaurants, and best hotels in Astoria, Queens.
Things to Do in Astoria
1. Go for a walk in Astoria Park.
Eat your heart out Central Park, Queens has the best green space in New York City. Sitting on the edge of the East River between the Triborough Bridge and Hell Gate Bridge, Astoria Park is the perfect spot to find a bench and soak in the views of the New York City skyline. At the heart of the park is the pool, where the Olympic Trials for the U.S. Swim and Diving Teams took place in the summer of 1936. Today it remains one of the few operating public pools in the city.
2. Grab a pint at Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden.
An iconic Astoria institution, Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden serves as an unofficial community center. In the summer, grab a picnic table in the garden and pass a sun-soaked day enjoying Pilsners, bratwursts, and performances ranging from live music, silent disco parties, and even local dance troupes. In the winter, cozy up indoors where you’ll find fooz ball, board games, and an extensive, rotating list of beers on tap.
3. Step into the director’s seat at Museum of the Moving Image.
I come from a family of film buffs, so the Museum of the Moving Image was a must-visit any time they were in town. It’s located in a former building of the historic Astoria Studios, the East Coast production facility of Paramount. With a number of interactive displays, you can challenge your friends at one of their many vintage arcade and videos games, try your hand at stop-motion animation, and insert your voice-over into iconic films.
4. Lounge over board games and beers at SingleCut Beersmiths.
SingleCut Beersmiths sits just on the edge of town and has a laid back vibe to match. Go on a brewery tour, dance along to live music, or just settle into a board game. Did you know? The brewery is named after a body style of guitar that makes it easier for musicians to reach the upper frets. To honor the brewery’s name, all of the taps look like guitars, and beers are named for songs.
5. Stroll through Socrates Sculpture Park.
Socrates Sculpture Park is named after the great Greek philosopher as a tribute to Astoria’s large Greek population. A former landfill on the edge of the East River, it’s now a space for up-and-coming artists to display their work. It also serves as a community gathering space with tons of free events that are fun for the whole family.
6. Settle into a good read at The Astoria Bookshop.
The space may be small, but you’re guaranteed to find your next favorite read at The Astoria Bookshop. Peruse a carefully-curated selection of titles (including special, signed copies), ask for a recommendation, or stop in when they’re hosting one of their author talks or book club nights.
7. Grab a bouquet at Petals and Roots.
Drool over the beautiful arrangements and succulents at Petals and Roots. If you’re lucky enough, catch one of their events. I’ve done both a terrarium making workshop and a calligraphy class. At the very least, stop in for a snuggle with Lucy, their rescue cat who spends her days snoozing in the sun-soaked front window.
8. Find your center at TONE Pilates Studio.
After a weekend of eating and drinking, reset your system with a pilates class at TONE Pilates Studio. This super intimate studio offers reformer and mat private and small group classes. You’ll leave feeling energized and ready to tackle a busy day filled with all your new-found favorite Astoria activities!
Best Restaurants & Bars in Astoria
Astoria is known for having the city’s greatest Greek food. But this extremely diverse neighborhood is also home to so many other delicious, authentic ethnic cuisines. You can eat your way around the world without ever leaving a few blocks radius. It’s hard to narrow it down, but here are a few of my personal favorite places to eat and drink in Astoria, NY.
1. Piccola Venezia
If I were still living in Astoria, I wouldn’t tell you about Piccola Venezia because I’d want it to remain my best-kept secret. This hidden gem represents everything that’s great about the neighborhood: great people, authentic food, and diverse culture. You can’t go wrong with anything on their extensive menu, but the Osso Bucco is a personal favorite. Extra points for ordering in Italian, or at least toasting with ‘Saluti!’ Befriend the waiters, and they may even let you try a taste of their homemade grappa.
Formerly known as Queen’s Comfort, this widely popular neighborhood institution is THE place to go for brunch. True to its name, Comfortland specializes in comfort food, which you can enjoy in a funky fun space. Plan ahead, as it’s BYOB and cash-only. And they don’t accept reservations, so go early so you can be first in the long line that forms on the weekend. If you’re like me and can’t wait in line that early without caffeine, hold your place and go around the corner to pick up coffees to go from Kinship Coffee.
3. Astoria Bier & Cheese
A one-stop neighborhood spot for local goods, Astoria Bier & Cheese started as a wine shop and grew into an all-in-one craft beer bottle shop, gourmet food store, sandwich shop and local watering hole with two locations in Astoria. Shop a carefully curated selection of craft beer, cheese, and gourmet goodies for a picnic in the park. Or sit at the counter and pair delicious grilled cheese, sandwiches, and cheese plates with an extensive selection of rotating drafts.
4. BZ Grill
We may have been biased because it was right across the street from our apartment, but BZ Grill has amazing Greek food in a neighborhood filled with great Greek food. Gyro and fries here is an absolute must.
5. Sac’s Place
Enjoy a slice of Hollywood history. Next door to the Museum of the Moving Image, the space that neighborhood favorite pizza joint Sac’s Place now occupies once served as the Paramount Pictures commissary, to which the silver screen elite flocked to dine, shoot films, and watch movie screenings.
6. Vesta Trattoria & Wine Bar
Cozy and upscale, Vesta Trattoria & Wine Bar is the perfect spot for a romantic date night. This neighborhood Italian spot is a little off the beaten path, but well worth the trek. It emphasizes local, seasonal ingredients, so the menu is never entirely the same. But you can always count on a hearty boar lasagna, just like mom used to make it – except better.
7. The Strand Smokehouse
Check out The Stand Smokehouse for the atmosphere, not necessarily the food. With long, wooden tables in a beer hall setup, it’s great for big groups. Don’t miss the lineup of live music every weekend.
8. Pink Nori
Pink Nori is one of the NYC restaurants I miss the most from my time living in Astoria. I’m not even a seafood eater, but was completely won over by their sushi. Its eat-in space is no frills, but that also means that dinner is on the more affordable side.
9. Mosaic Craft Bar & Kitchen
Mosaic will make you feel as though you’ve walked into a friend’s living room. It’s a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of other Astoria nightlife joints, and the perfect intimate spot for date night. Settle into a plush loveseat in a cozy corner and linger over a charcuterie board and craft cocktail. And don’t forget to look up – the ornate tin ceiling and decadent chandelier add the perfect touch to the inviting ambiance.
10. Seva Indian Cuisine
Seva is a tiny space that delivers a big flavor punch. Don’t miss the weekday lunch special where you can get soup and an entree for under $10 or the all-you-can-eat weekend lunch buffet for $13. Best of all, it’s BYOB!
Best Hotels near Astoria, NY
Staying near Astoria is an affordable option for the budget traveler. Hotels are much more affordable than those in Manhattan and there is easy access to public transit. Astoria is in the perfect location for out of town visitors – just 30 minutes away via bus from La Guardia Airport and another 15 minutes to midtown Manhattan via the N and Q trains. These are some of my top recommendations for hotels near Astoria.
Boro Hotel: This adorable boutique hotel offers higher-end touches, like a library curated by NYC’s Strand Bookstore and a restaurant with Negronis on tap.
Ravel Hotel: Located right next to the Queensboro Bridge, this ultra modern hotel boasts stunning views of Manhattan.
Aloft Long Island City: All of the modern comforts you’ve come to expect from this chain hotel in the heart of Queens’ hippest neighborhood. Bonus: it’s pet-friendly!
Have you lived in or visited Astoria, Queens? Share some of your favorite things to do in Astoria in the comments!
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