Flushing Meadows Corona Park has hosted two World Fairs and been home to the New York Mets for over five decades. It’s perhaps most well-known as the site of the US Open, which attracts thousands of visitors to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center each year. With the world-class tennis tournament running from August 27 through September 9 in 2018, discover what else there is to do in Flushing Meadows, and turn your next visit to the largest park in Queens into a whole day affair.
The child-friendly New York Hall of Science is fun and educational for all ages. A leading science museum in the US, it was founded, as so much in Flushing Meadows was, during the 1964-65 World’s Fair. The public museum offers programming that focuses on design and creation, and permanent exhibits cover climate change, perception, and the physics of sports. Outside the architectural wonder of the Great Hall, you can explore the permanent Rocket Park exhibit, where some of the first rockets that launched the space race stand. You can also enjoy a round of mini golf and test the same laws of motion and gravity that guide rocket ships by the arc of a golf ball.
The only surviving building from New York’s first World’s Fair in 1939, the museum was used to display the Panorama of the City of New York by Robert Moses for the World’s Fair in 1964. Today, the Panorama, which features small-scale versions of every building in all five boroughs of New York City, is still on view in a special exhibition room of Queens Museum. As you wind your way through its airy galleries and glass staircases, get your hands dirty at their free Family Art Workshop series on Sunday afternoons, or catch one of their live music performances on the lawn. Don’t forget to snap a selfie in front of the iconic Unisphere on your way out!
This zoo’s most popular attractions are the historical aviary, home to birds from all over the Western Hemisphere, and the sea lion pool where the marine mammals frolic over boulders and under waterfalls. The zoo also offers a wide range of social and educational programs for kids and families of all ages throughout the year.
Bring or rent skates to practice your triple axels any time of year at the indoor World Ice Arena located inside the state-of-the-art Aquatic Center (upstairs, an Olympic-sized pool is available to those with an NYC recreation center membership). Also home to the only speed skating club in the city, World Ice Arena offers youth and adult hockey programs, as well as a slew of figure skating programs to the public. Free skate hours are available all year, but be sure to check the schedule on their website ahead of time, as these hours change seasonally.
Just when you thought you’d seen everything there was to see in the park, Flushing Meadows Golf Center comes into view as you drive through its northwestern corner. Consisting of an 18-hole “Pitch & Putt” course, as well as a mini-golf course complete with waterfalls and bridges, the center caters to both serious and novice golfers. Clubs for the Pitch & Putt green are available for rent. Both courses are fully lit for night play, making it an attractive spot to bring a date after a tennis match or baseball game nearby.
The biggest hidden secret of Flushing Meadows Corona Park is the huge lake in the middle of it! Far from the subway, and perhaps why it remains such a hidden gem, it is a quiet respite from the city south of the Long Island Expressway, best reached by car via the Van Wyck Expressway. Once there, you can rent kayaks, paddleboats, or even take a class to learn how to sail on the lake! Wheel Fun Rentals offers most of these rental services (plus bikes) from their stand on the beautifully renovated Erdele Terrace, where you can grab a bite to eat at a small café on the promenade before setting sail.
If all that physical activity has kicked up an appetite, head over to the Queens International Night Market off of 111th Street. Inspired by the night markets of Taiwan, this open-air food market has vendors serving street food from all over the world. Visitors can try everything from Bengali jhal muri (a spicy puffed rice trail mix-type of snack) to Ethiopian injera (flatbread), reflecting the varied cuisine that can be found all across the borough. Local artisans also set up tables selling knits and crafts, and the market has reserved space for live performances of everything from magic to music to folk dance. Originally an attraction only open on Saturdays during the summer, the Night Market has since become such a success that they’ve extended their schedule into late autumn.
One of the first sights to greet you as you enter the park from the 7 train at Mets-Willets Point, Citi Field replaced Shea Stadium in 2009 as the home of the New York Mets. Modeled after the Dodgers’ old Ebbets Field, there’s not a bad seat in the house. Citi Field offers a wide range of quality food options in the stadium, from Shake Shack to Fuku to Mister Softee (yes, the iconic ice cream truck has its first-ever brick-and-mortar outpost here!). Be sure to check out the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum within the stadium, as this provides fans an up-close look at memorabilia, including the 1969 and 1985 World Series trophies.
Located near the iconic observation towers and New York State Pavilion is the Queens Theatre, one of the most vibrant performing arts venues in the borough, promoting diversity and cultural appreciation through its programming. Consisting of three stages (a massive main stage, a more intimate studio, and a cozy cabaret-style cocktail bar), the theatre is one of the few in Queens that develops new work, most notably through its New American Voices initiative (formerly the Immigrant Voices Project). Offering programs for children, teens, and adults, people of all ages can not only can take in a show here, but participate in one of its many drama, dance, and music educational programs.
The first East Coast outpost of the Danish brewing company, Mikkeller NYC opened in 2018 after a successful season selling their craft beer inside Citi Field. So successful, in fact, that they decided to open up production right there in the stadium! Accessed by walking down 126th Street, the brewery is located between the Bullpen and Right Field gates (no need to buy a ticket, as the brewery is separate from the stadium and open to the public all year). With beer, wine, and a hyper-local food menu, including Queens chicken wing darlings UFC, Mikkeller is a great way to cap off a day spent at Flushing Meadows before hopping back on the 7 train home.