Let’s face it: Unless you’re a teacher, student, or unemployed, there’s really no such thing as summer vacation. The downside of this is you worked all summer with no R&R to speak of. The upside, though, is that the season doesn’t need to end for you when it does for everyone else. And even if you can’t afford a bona fide “vacation,” you can do all the things you would do on vacation—drink, eat, walk around, see a museum or two—right here in your own city. To help you feel like you’re getting out of Brooklyn, be it for a weekend or an afternoon, we’ve put together a comprehensive staycation destination: Long Island City, Queens.
This part’s easy: G or 7 train. Once you make your way onto one of those (via the R, perhaps) take the G to 21st St. – Van Alst or the 7 to either Court Square, which will let you off near the museums, or Vernon Blvd. – Jackson Ave., which will let you off closer to bars and restaurants.
Walking/biking: It’s a lovely ride or stroll across the Pulaski Bridge at Greenpoint’s northernmost tip (there’s even a relatively new bike path – big ups to the city for that one).
Bus: B32, B62, Q67 and Q103 should all get you there just fine.
The most budget-friendly option is obviously, you know, going home at the end of the night. Second to that is treating yourself to a cab or car service which can range anywhere from $10-40. But if you’re going all-out with your staycation and actually staying there, Long Island City is rife with hotel accommodations, and while they can get super snazzy ($$$) on the waterfront, they’re pretty cheap a little further inland.
The best for your budget are hostels: Q4 Hotel ($49/night as we’re writing) offers a young, fun and friendly vibe (think Keith Haring on the walls, a common area with a pool table, and group activities to sign up for). The Local NYC ($53/night) is a little more sophisticated, with a sleek-looking bar, coffee shop, and work spaces (plus, the bar has lots of local beers on tap, thumbs up emoji thumbs up emoji). Upwards from there, there’s LIC Hotel ($79/night).
After that, all the usual players hover around $100/night: Howard Johnson, Best Western, Ramada, Quality Inn, Days Inn, and so on. For something with a little more character, Hotel Vetiver ($114 at press time) boasts funky rooms, free Wi-Fi and breakfast. For the semi-splurge (it’s not waterfront, but it’s not cheap), Z NYC Hotel is about $165/night, but we can almost guarantee it’ll be interesting—the author’s boyfriend’s parents stayed there once, and reported back with tales of tequila shots and body painting.
MoMA PS1 always has something cool to see, and at such a fraction of the hassle of going to the “real” MoMA in Midtown.
Socrates Sculpture Park (32-01 Vernon Blvd.) an outdoor museum/artist residency/park on the waterfront (an area that was once an abandoned landfill and illegal dumpsite until 1986), has a variety of changing exhibits which you can learn more about here. It is awesomely open every day of the week from 9am to sunset, and it’s free!
Oh! And you can take the ferry there—according to their website, August kicked off NYC Ferry by Hornblower service, which lets you off about a five minute walk from the park at Astoria landing.
Noguchi Museum: This museum devoted to the late Japanese sculptor, Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988), who voluntarily entered an internment camp in Arizona among other fascinating experiences, offers beautiful exhibitions and programs. The museum also offers free admission and tours in English and Japanese at 2pm every first Friday of the month.
Chocolate Factory Theater: Ok, so this is a little disheartening—no chocolate is made here today—but you can buy chocolate chip cookies at the box office before the performances here, which have been deemed some of the best off-Broadway shows in the city. Nearby are also Fisher Landau Center for Art (38-27 30th Street), Dutch Kills Centraal (3840 29th Street), SPACE Gallery (29-09 39th Avenue), Vista Skylounge (27-05 39th Avenue); and our personal favorite place for self expression in the area, LIC Beer Project (39-28 23rd Street). (h/t weheartastoria.com.)
Got a green thumb, or wish you did? Brooklyn Grange offers tours at its LIC location every Saturday at 11am and 12:30pm, through October.
If you’re less about art and more into activities, there are plenty of fun ways to let loose in LIC. You could get your rock climbing on at Cliffs at LIC, where your first visit is free. Or, try your hand at bowling at the brand new Gutter LIC, the sister location to Williamsburg’s the Gutter, AKA the grungy alternative to Brooklyn Bowl which cleaned up real nice for Queens. Or keep it cashe and head to the Standing Room, a comedy club with some seriously impressive cocktails, decent beer list, and hopefully, a lineup of comedians who can make you laugh for a while. We could all use a laugh, couldn’t we?
The LIC Flea is also still going every weekend, with a few special events lined up: on October 14-15, the Second Annual Queens Beer Festival gets you tastes of beers from every brewery in Queens, along with a few from Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island.
Breweries, beer, and food
If “activities” to you translates to eating and drinking, then you’ve made it to the right place.
Breweries abound in Long Island City, which is really why we wrote this whole guide in the first place. Starting from the top: Big Alice offers big flavors in a small space (look for the neon green door); Rockaway’s lineup has evolved from English-style ales (ESB, porter) to more modern favorites (Oat IPA; Simcoe Bae, a tart Berliner Weisse with Simcoe hops); LIC Beer Project, which we mentioned before, is your best bet for versatility, offering everything from juicy, hazy IPAs to subtly funky farmhouse-style ales; and Transmitter is a must-stop for bottles to take back to your hotel room or to your apartment, which you can taste on site before buying (just make sure you get there before 8pm on Friday/Saturday or before 6pm on Sunday).
Beer and food options are aplenty, too—for sit down meals paired with craft brews, consider John Brown Smokehouse for melt-in-your-mouth bbq in a lunch-tray casual setting; Alewife for a boisterous beer hall setting (it’s a classic New York beer bar, but can also be kind of a hot mess); or Bierocracy for a more polished beer hall setting, with beer and brat/Euro-style eats.
Brunching? Woodbines, next door, offers Irish-style sustenance; and for a quirky, can’t-quite-put-your-finger-on-it cool atmosphere complete with everything from wine and cheese to internationally inspired menu items and cocktails, head to RaR Bar.
For a nightcap, the aptly named LIC Bar is a fun and relaxing way to end the night with local live music and ample back patio space. If you’re sick of beer by now, and feeling fancy, head to Dutch Kills for an upscale cocktail.
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