New York City has five boroughs: Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Queens. “Sex and the City” as well as most “New York” films in recent memory have been shot on the island of Manhattan, which for many New Yorkers is New York.
But there are millions of intelligent, productive, creative and cultured New Yorkers who don’t live anywhere near Central Park or Broadway.
Take the subway out to Queens and you’ll visit a number of modest neighborhoods that Ugly Betty would have called home, a place where immigrants from The Middle East, Eastern Europe, Asia and even California can mix amidst exotic smells and wares. Kids scurrying up the street may be wearing Catholic school uniforms on one block, Orthodox Jewish garb and yarmulkas on the next.
And there’s even a Bohemian Beer Garden in Astoria.
- The Amazing Corn Maize Maze is happening as we speak in Queens but closes tomorrow evening, Sun. Oct. 26. Warning: don’t drink before challenging yourself or you’ll never get out.
- Long Island City: With waterfront parks and a thriving cultural and performing arts scene, you’ll fall in love with LIC. An added plus: if you ever decide to trade LA for NY, housing is far more affordable here. Just hop on the G, N, R, V or W from various points. The G, for example, runs from Brooklyn to Queens. (See bottom for complete subway map and schedule.) The 7 and F trains will also get you there, and if you happen to have been in Bryant Park (steps away from Grand Central Terminal) in Midtown Manhattan, the F train is the best choice because it’s on the park. Numerous neighborhoods flourish within LIC including Hunter’s Point and Astoria. Also make sure to tour Steinway & Sons, the legendary late 19th c. piano maker.
- The Other Baseball Team If you go in spring, do check out a Mets game – even if your Uncle Joe is a diehard Yankees fan. It’s fun to go at least once because, if nothing else, the Mets need your support. They play at Citi Field in Flushing, Corona, Queens, fairly close to where you can also see another sport a few months later …
- The U.S. Open is how many Americans have gotten to know Queens – from those glorious overhead cam shots. But why not see for yourself? One can now reserve tickets for the 2015 matches, which begin with Opening Night ceremonies Aug. 31 and cap off with the Men’s Final, Sun. Sept. 13. It’s $200 for the deposit. Details on the website. Location: USTA Billie Jean King Tennis Center, which includes the 23,200-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium, also in Flushing.
The two New York airports, LaGuardia and JFK, are both located in Queens, so if you want to quickly become educated about this neighborhood, take a city subway ride into Manhattan (if that’s where you are staying). For more information on the city’s subways, Long Island Railroad and Metro North (which will take you into Connecticut and/or Westchester Co.), please vist www.mta.info.
To book: Go online to Expedia or just cut to the chase and choose the best airline in the business, Virgin.
- Learn the lingo. In LA you ladies call that big sack around your shoulders a “purse”. New Yorkers call it a “pocketbook”; New Yorkers wait “on line”, not “in line”; and you’re wearing “sneakers”, not “tennis shoes” in the Big Apple.
- Understand that brash doesn’t mean rude. One problem Californians have with New Yorkers is that the latter are construed to be rude. This is not the case. New Yorkers are simply in a hurry. Trust me, a little time in Queens and you’ll appreciate the cut-to-the-chase, tell-it-like-it-is vibe you’re enjoying. New Yorkers never say they’ll “do lunch” unless they mean it.
- Look out for unmarked cabs at LGA or JFK. Although everyone deserves to make a buck, you don’t want to get stuck in an unmarked cab. This examiner did once, and while she didn’t end up with her head on a pogo stick, it was undoubtedly more costly than it should have been. Make sure to wait on (or in!) the line for taxis at the airport. Or if you are so inclined, take the bus or subway. From LGA the no. 33 bus will pick up near where the taxis are (look for the signs for the bus) and take you into Queens or all the way into Manhattan for just 2.50. Warning: you must buy your Metro North ticket first and then get a receipt for this to show the driver. Information inside, alongside baggage claim and near the bus pickup area. There is also a Limited Express bus, the new Q70, that makes some stops in Queens, and also connects directly to LIRR.
- Click here to plan your travel, but know the address of your destination first (See trip planner, right column).
- Click here for a complete subway map. Easy–just click on any line and find out where it goes and how often it runs.
- One more thing: if you are ratphobic, make sure to keep your eyes open. Rats are to subway tracks what hot dogs are to New York streets – ubiquitous.