Now there’s another way to get to Queen’s northern-most nabe: Instead of straphanging, you can take a breezy boat ride along the East River. The newest addition to the NYC Ferry route begins service to Astoria on Tuesday, August 29. The Hornblower-operated vessel will launch from Hallets Cove (3-10 Astoria Blvd) and make stops at Roosevelt Island, Long Island City, East 34th St., and Wall Street/Pier 11. Once you dock, here are our picks for exploring the neighborhood — from park hangs, to art exhibits and, of course, where to eat and drink.
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What to do
Once you arrive, walk five minutes over to Welling Court and 30th Avenue, where you can take a (self-guided) walking tour of more than 150 street murals via the Welling Court Mural Project. About a fifteen-minute walk north or a ten-minute bike ride (reminder: you can take your bike on the NYC ferry for $1) along Shore Blvd will bring you to Astoria Park, where you can dip in the Astoria Pool (open until September 10), or have a picnic and enjoy the views of the Robert F. Kennedy and Hell Gate Bridges.
A ten minute walk south on Vernon Blvd leads you to the Socrates Sculpture Park. Open daily from 9 a.m. to sunset, the five-acre waterfront green space has epic East River views and offers plenty to do in the way of events. Catch Nari Ward: G.O.A.T., again, a six-sculpture exhibition by the Jamaican-born artist, before it closes on September 4; or see “The Challenge,” the final Rooftop Film of the summer season, screening Wednesday, August 30. One block away, there’s also the Noguchi Museum, which houses selected works by the Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi.
Where to eat and drink
Now you’re thirsty. For cocktails, craft beers and satisfying bar grub, head straight down 30 Ave. to neighborhood gastropub Sweet Afton, (happy hour weekdays until 7 p.m., live music every Monday night). There’s always the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden, a favorite hang during Oktoberfest and football season, or any time of the year to gather with friends over steins of Czech beer, bratwurst and fries. For a date night, try the more intimate Sparrow Tavern, with upscale comfort food and cocktails. For cheap beers and sandwiches paired with live comedy and storytelling, stop in at Q.E.D., a scrappy performance space on 23rd Ave. A bit farther out, Singlecut Beersmiths, a brewery and taproom, is worth a visit for the tasty rotating beers on tap and epic boardgame selection (we recommend the British game Pucket).
For a full-on Greek seafood feast, hit Taverna Kyclades on Ditmars. Expect to wait a bit: the busy eatery doesn’t take reservations, but they will give you a complimentary glass of wine while you wait, or get in some quick shopping on the avenue, at the excellent Ditmars Thrift Shop or the clothing boutique the Brass Owl. For your go-to Neapolitan pizza spot, look no further than Milkflower on 31st Ave.