Long before its current incarnation as one of New York City’s top destinations for family fun, Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens welcomed nearly 100 million visitors from all over the globe as the site of the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs. That legacy endures in the form of the park’s most recognizable feature—the magnificent and extremely Instagrammable steel globe known as the Unisphere—and a slew of repurposed buildings that house some of the borough’s most cherished institutions.
Overlapping two of the City’s most diverse and vibrant neighborhoods, Flushing and Corona, and easily accessible from Manhattan via the 7 subway line, this 898-acre park, the fourth-largest in New York City, continues to draw people for all kinds of activities. The green space provides opportunities for skating, hiking, fishing and barbecuing, as well as enough cultural attractions to fill a day and then some. It is also a premier destination for spectator sports: Citi Field, home to the New York Mets, is located within the park, as is the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, site of the prestigious US Open.
47-01 111th St., Corona
With some 450 exhibits that introduce children to a variety of scientific disciplines, the New York Hall of Science easily warrants a full day of exploration. Hands-on stations allow young visitors to blow giant bubbles, use their creativity to build structures out of basic materials and discover the neuroscience behind that feeling we call “happiness.” There’s also a 3-D theater that screens educational films. From April to November, patrons can learn about the laws of motion while playing mini golf and marveling at two authentic NASA rockets from the 1960s in the background. Note: the Hall of Science is undergoing renovations and will reopen October 15.
New York Hall of Science, Corona, Queens
Foodies, take note: on Saturday nights from April to October, the park hosts Queens Night Market, a family-friendly open-air food and art market. More than 100 vendors from all over the City set up shop outside the New York Hall of Science, giving you a chance to sample dishes from around the globe for a just a few dollars each. Think: Korean tornado potatoes, Jamaican jerk chicken and Romanian chimney cakes. Enjoy live music and peruse the art for sale while you feast.
New York City Building, Flushing Meadows Corona Park
The must-see attraction at the Queens Museum is the Panorama of the City of New York, a 10,000-square-foot scaled architectural model of the City. Since its debut at the 1964 World’s Fair, it has since been updated to reflect changes to the City’s urban infrastructure and displays every building in the five boroughs built before 1992 (that’s 895,000 buildings)—plus a few constructed since. Also on long-term display is a stunning collection of Tiffany glass lamps and windows and some 900 objects from the two world’s fairs. Rotating exhibitions give you the perfect excuse to return.
53-51 111th St., Corona
The animals that reside at the Queens Zoo are native to the Americas. Start your visit by interacting with domesticated animals like sheep and alpacas before moving on to the zoo’s main exhibit, Wild Side, home to animals that range in size from Andean bears and American bison to the pudu, the world’s smallest deer. Trumpeter swans await at the Waterfowl Marsh, and you can walk among brightly colored parrots and macaws in the aviary, housed in one of the buildings constructed for the 1964 World’s Fair. Don’t miss the sea lion feedings, which take place three times a day.
111th Street and 55th Avenue., Corona
Let the kids loose at Fantasy Forest Amusement Park within Flushing Meadows Corona Park, which offers a number of rides, including the borough’s only roller coaster. The carousel here, the largest in all of Queens, is a historic treasure: it was built for—you guessed it—the 1964 World’s Fair, with parts of carousels from Coney Island in Brooklyn.
43-50 Main St., Flushing
Situated on 39 acres, the Queens Botanical Garden is a scenic spot for the whole family to relax and commune with the natural world. Indulge in the delectable scents of the Rose Garden and the Fragrance Walk, rest on a bench under the shade of majestic pin oaks or grab a meal to go from the QBG Store or one of the many restaurants on Main Street and picnic in the Arboretum. There’s also an herb garden, as well as a bee garden devoted to all things pollination and honey making.
Meadow Lake Road West, Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Flushing Meadows Corona Park’s many amenities include New York City’s largest lake, the man-made Meadow Lake, which spans 93 acres and is open for fishing. Wheel Fun Rentals, on the north side of the lake, has paddleboats and double and single kayaks for rent by the hour, allowing you to enjoy views of the Unisphere from the water.
131-04 Meridian Rd., Flushing
Housed in the park’s Aquatic Center, the World Ice Arena offers public ice-skating sessions for all ages seven days a week, as well as ice-skating and hockey lessons for more serious skaters. Skate rentals are available on-site, so no need to pack your own.
Astral Fountain, Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Designed by professional skateboarders, the 16,000-square-foot Maloof Skate Park has a range of stairs, ledges, pyramids and banks for skaters of various skill levels to practice their tricks and stunts. Helmets, elbow pads and knee pads are required to use the facility, and skaters under the age of 18 must also wear wrist guards, so come prepared.
52-02 108th St., Corona
End your trip to the park on a sweet note with an Italian ice—a classic New York City street snack—from the Lemon Ice King of Corona. This beloved Queens institution located just outside the perimeter of the park goes back more than 60 years. If more than 40 flavors of Italian ices to choose from aren’t enough for you, they also have candy apples for sale.