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NEW YORK CITY — Are you planning or dreaming of a trip to New York City? If so, it's hard to ignore Manhattan's appeal. Its iconic attractions such as the Statue of Liberty, Broadway and Central Park are bucket list destinations for good reason. However, those with a little extra time on their vacation schedule should consider visiting New York City's less-touristy Queens. It has a lot to offer.
Here are five reasons to add Queens to your New York City itinerary.
Save money on hotels
Sticker shock is a common feeling for visitors to New York City where hotel prices in Manhattan are often above $300 per night in the summer. A recent Conde Nast Traveler online article recommends, "Don't stay in Manhattan. Unless you’re determined to sleep at a famous spot like the Waldorf-Astoria, you can get better deals off the island."
Prices for comparable hotels in Queens can be $100 to $200 lower per night. If you'll be spending several nights in New York City, the money you can save by staying in Queens really adds up.
"We now have many high-quality hotels with great rooms, great restaurants, great amenities, and some even have swimming pools and rooftop bars," said Rob MacKay, Director of Public Relations for the Queens Economic Development Corporation.
The subway is the best way for most visitors to get around New York City and many Queens hotels are located within a short walk of a subway station. Long Island City, in Queens, is located only about 15 minutes from midtown Manhattan by subway and many of the hotels in Long Island City have skyline views.
Both JFK and LaGuardia airports are located in Queens, so you'll pay less taxi fare to get to a Queens hotel or attraction than anywhere else. A number of Queens hotels offer free airport shuttles. Queens may be an especially appealing option for drivers. If you're renting a car in New York City or driving your own, Queens is easier than Manhattan to navigate by car and find parking.
If you want to see where average New Yorkers live, visit Queens. Familiar restaurant chains, like Applebee's and familiar discount stores, like Target can be found here — and at suburban prices, not Times Square prices. For families with picky eaters and others who appreciate the comforts of home, these familiar destinations are nice to have in the shadow of New York City's skyline.
"Queens is the most diverse county in the world with more than 170 languages spoken within our borders," MacKay said.
Queens' Chinatown is the largest in New York and this is where Chinese visitors to New York City often stay. For international dining and shopping experiences, Queens is the place to be.
"As Queens is the world's most diverse county, it follows that we have the most diverse cuisine. But I would add that there's an authenticity. For example, the owner of a Greek restaurant in Astoria was probably born in Athens, just like a Thai restaurant owner was probably born in Bangkok. But we have everything from guinea pig (an Ecuadorian and Peruvian delicacy) to menus with Chinese vegetables that don't even have English names," MacKay said.
Lovers of New York's famous museums can find a number of cultural gems in Queens.
According to Conde Nast Traveler online, " The Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens, is a pop-culture fiend’s dream, with exhibits covering filmmaking history, video games and movie-related artifacts."
This is a high-tech, hands-on museum that is likely to appeal to both cinephiles and families.
Art museums in Queens include the Queens Museum, the Noguchi Museum and Socrates Sculpture Park. The Queens Museum has a permanent collection of Tiffany stained glass, the panorama of NYC and constantly changing temporary exhibits. The Noguchi Museum is the former studio of Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi. The Socrates Sculpture Park is an outdoor garden dedicated to displaying large art pieces.
"We have seven historic houses, including Louis Armstrong's former residence. The Queens County Farm Museum is a fully operational farm located within city limits. It dates back to a Dutch family in the 1600s, and visitors can milk cows, walk through corn rows, drink local wine, and learn about the borough's rural history," MacKay said.
Queens makes a great base for sports fans. The borough is home to the New York Mets, the U.S. Open tennis tournament and the Belmont Stakes. Competitive college sports can be found at St. John's University, particularly for soccer, basketball and baseball enthusiasts.
It is even possible to enjoy a beach vacation in Queens. Rockaway Beach has sandy beaches and some good waves for surfing. National surfing competitions have been held there, as well as a summer surf camp.
"Queens is a fun place to see because we offer a glimpse into the average resident's life. We're residential and affordable, plus we have some world class museums, parks and restaurants," MacKay said.
Allison Laypath is an expert on family travel and author of the family travel blog tipsforfamilytrips.com. With her family, Allison especially enjoys road trips, national parks and local field trips. Email Allison at email@example.com.