Astoria is an incredibly overlooked part of New York City. It’s not as eclectic as Brooklyn and you will even hear Brooklynites say Astoria is not worth visiting – but they are wrong.
First, it’s probably the best place in the city to get a reasonably priced hotel and not be far away. The N line runs all weekend (I hope someone told you trains are 24-hours!) and the Q runs here on the weekdays until 11pm-ish. It’s a very easy trip to 59th and Lex, which is where you want to go if you’re interested in Bloomingdales, Madison Ave, etc etc.
The scale of Astoria is one that is a fine vacation from the high-rises of Manhattan. Maybe not to the weekend warrior, but to spend a long time in Manhattan is overwhelming even to the biggest extrovert. The buildings in Astoria do not tower above you making you feel like a spec on the pavement. It is also well laid-out in terms of subway stops. Getting off at Broadway, 30th, Astoria Blvd and Ditmars Blvd you will find yourself in generally busy, high traffic (pedestrian and vehicular) with lots of shops, cafes, and restaurants. In between each stop stretch street upon street of square, building block style brick houses, each with it’s very unique character. It’s worth a slow walk through and you might stumble upon an ice cream shop that makes its own ice cream including some with alcohol! or you might walk past a tattoo parlor with old dentist chairs and a vintage vibe.
Astoria boasts of over 140 different represented countries within our tiny neighborhood. Almost all of these ethnicities have opened a restaurant, catering to their ilk with promises of home cooking they can’t find anywhere else. Lucky for me, I’m invited too! If there is a line of Indians outside of an Indian restaurant, you can be sure they make a mean tikka masala.
Astoria also claims the largest pool in all 5 boroughs and it’s within easy walking distance from the Astoria Blvd stop. Just walk in the direction of Manhattan and you’d hit a disjointed park underneath an overpass that curves its way across the water to Roosevelt Island and continues towards The Bronx. The pool opened this year on June 29th and takes a 1 hour break around 3pm. It’s required that you get a locker, so bring a lock. You will wait in line for a long time to get in and you will be very disappointed that they won’t let you in without a lock! Speaking from experience, yes.