Formerly a hub of manufacturing and industry, Long Island City has morphed into one of New York's coolest neighborhoods, and it offers a long list of things to see and do. Its waterfront parks are ideally suited to strolling, but if you're looking for a more strenuous workout, the neighborhood is also home to some of the city's best indoor climbing gyms. Restaurant choices range from cozy brewpubs to Michelin-star Mexican, and while you're here, you can't miss the opportunity to tour the many contemporary art museums and perhaps catch an Off-Off-Broadway show at the Secret Theatre.
1.Gantry Plaza State Park
Encompassing 12 acres on the banks of the East River, Gantry Plaza State Park offers some incredible views of the Manhattan skyline, including the iconic Empire State Building. The area was formerly a dockyard, and the park features a collection of restored gantries that were used to load rail car barges, which serve as a striking reminder of the past. However, there are plenty of modern amenities and facilities for visitors to enjoy as well, including a children's playground, basketball courts, and a fishing pier with a cleaning table. Food trucks can often be found here as well.
4-09 47th Rd, Long Island City, NY 11101, Phone: 718-786-6385
© Noguchi Museum
Open to the public since 1985, the Noguchi Museum was designed and established by artist Isamu Noguchi, who wanted a place to display a representative sample of his life's work. Many of his best pieces are displayed throughout the museum's twelve indoor galleries, and there's also a peaceful outdoor sculpture garden just around the corner from the museum building. A small cafe serves food and drink during the museum's opening hours, and if you want to bring a piece of Noguchi's work into your own home, there's also an on-site gift shop that sells furniture and light fixtures created according to the artist's original designs.
9 - 01 33rd Rd, Long Island City, NY 11106
© MoMA PS1
Dedicated entirely to contemporary art, MoMA PS1 is a non-profit arts center that displays a variety of thought-provoking experimental art. The exhibitions are changed on a regular basis, and the space is also home to a number of long-term installations that can be found dotted throughout the building. Admission is free for all New York City residents, and the center is affiliated with the Museum of Modern Art, which offers discounted admission for visitors who show their MoMA PS1 tickets. Every Saturday between July and early September, the center also hosts an exciting multi-sensory music experience inside an architectural installation created by an emerging architect.
22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City, NY 11101, Phone: 718-784-2084
4.The Cliffs at LIC
Housed inside an old warehouse, The Cliffs at LIC is a welcoming climbing gym with 30,000 square feet of climbing walls and fitness facilities. The climbing area features both rope climbing and bouldering sections, and if you're climbing on your own, some of the routes have autobelays. Classes are offered for beginner and intermediate climbers, and guests who have a membership also receive complimentary access to weekly clinics and yoga and fitness classes designed specifically for climbers. High-quality climbing shoes and other equipment are available for rent, and there's also an on-site gear shop staffed by friendly, knowledgeable staff.
11-11 44th Dr, Long Island City, NY 11101, Phone: 718-729-7625
5.Socrates Sculpture Park
© Socrates Sculpture Park
Formerly an abandoned landfill, Socrates Sculpture Park is a five-acre property that has been transformed into a beautiful riverside space dedicated to displaying the works of both emerging and established sculptors. Visitors will easily recognize the park by the large billboard that hangs over the main entrance, the text of which is changed several times a year in order to set the tone for the current exhibition. The park is open to visitors every day of the year between 9 a.m. and sunset, and public events like yoga classes and movie screenings are often held here in the summer.
32-01 Vernon Blvd, Long Island City, NY 11106, Phone: 718-956-1819
6.The Secret Theatre
Hidden away in the heart of Long Island City's artists' quarter, the Secret Theatre is an experimental Off-Off-Broadway venue with just under fifty seats. It was originally established to present Off-Broadway shows with affordable prices, and it holds an average of nine main stage shows each year, although outside parties often rent the space for dance shows, film screenings, and other special events. Musical theater classes are offered for kids between the ages of 6 and 17, and if you want to do dinner and a show, you can present your ticket at IL Falco to receive a discount on their delicious Italian food.
4402 23rd St, Long Island City, NY 11101, Phone: 718-392-0722
One of several locations dotted throughout the country, Brooklyn Boulders in Queensbridge is a 25,000-square-foot climbing gym with something for climbers of all ages and abilities. There are state-of-the-art facilities for both bouldering and rope climbing, and members also have access to fitness classes and amenities like saunas, strength equipment, and a coworking space with complimentary Wi-Fi. Climbing classes are available for all skill levels, and if you want to get outside and practice your newfound skills on rock, the gym offers an excellent selection of multi- and single-day outdoor adventure trips led by experienced guides.
23-10 41st Ave, Long Island City, NY 11101, Phone: 718-482-7078
Originally established in 1928, SculptureCenter is a long-standing part of New York's cultural community, and it's dedicated to giving artists a space to innovate, interpret ideas, and explore diverse viewpoints. The exhibits are primarily dedicated to contemporary art, and rather than developing a collection of pieces, the museum puts on three different exhibits each year. Both emerging and established artists are represented, and the center sometimes hosts artist talks and other special events. The museum is open Thursday through Monday, and once a month, it's open late on a Thursday and an evening tour is offered.
44-19 Purves St, Long Island City, NY 11101, Phone: 718-361-1750
9.Greater Astoria Historical Society
© Greater Astoria Historical Society
Long Island City and its neighborhoods have a rich, multi-faceted history, and the Greater Astoria Historical Society was established to preserve the city's past and promote its future. The society has a collection of more than 10,000 historical items, many of which are housed in a small museum, and the same museum hosts rotating temporary exhibits about different aspects of the city's heritage as well. The museum is open to visitors by appointment, and the organization also sometimes holds special walking tours, book signings, educational lectures, and other events and programs that are open to the public.
44-02 23rd St #219, Long Island City, NY 11101, Phone: 718-278-0700
, Michigan beaches
10.Kanga's Indoor Playground
© Kanga's Indoor Playground
Boasting more than 10,000 square feet of play space, Kanga's Indoor Playground is one of the best places in Long Island City for kids. Much of the space is taken up by a massive multi-level playground, but there are plenty of other attractions as well, including ball pits, merry-go-rounds, and an inflatable bouncy house. Parents are welcome to join in the fun, but if you'd rather relax with a cup of coffee, there's an on-site cafe conveniently overlooking the play area. The center is open seven days a week, and private rooms are available for birthday parties and other special events.
32-15 37th Ave, Long Island City, NY 11101, Phone: 718-606-2216
© Casa Enrique
Owned and operated by a classically trained chef who grew up in Chiapas, Mexico, Casa Enrique is a casual Mexican restaurant that has received several Michelin stars over the years. The menu emphasizes dishes made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients, and many of the recipes have been passed down through the chef's family for generations. An extensive cocktail menu is available to complement your meal, and although the restaurant is only open for dinner during the week, it also serves lunch on the weekends. Due to the restaurant's small size and popularity, reservations are recommended if you want to ensure there will be space.
5-48 49th Ave, Long Island City, NY 11101, Phone: 347-448-6040
12.Dutch Kills Centraal
© Dutch Kills Centraal
Located inside a beautiful building with an Art Deco mahogany bar, Dutch Kills Centraal has been a Long Island City fixture for decades. The business has changed hands several times over the years, even closing for a period of time, but it's now a welcoming gastropub with a communal table. The menu offers dishes made with grass fed beef, free range chicken, and seasonal produce, and local craft beer is available on tap. Lunch is served Monday through Friday, and on the weekends, there's a special brunch menu offering bellinis, bloody marys, and a delicious assortment of traditional brunch dishes.
3840 29th St, Long Island City, NY 11101, Phone: 718-606-8651
13.Bella Via Restaurant
© Bella Via Restaurant
One of the first Italian restaurants in Long Island City, Bella Via Restaurant is a family-run joint known for its consistent quality. Coal-fired pizzas are their specialty, but the menu also offers a wide variety of salads, pasta dishes, and meat entrees, and there are plenty of delicious Italian desserts to choose from as well. Take-out is available, and the culinary team can also do catering for private events of almost any size. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Friday, and on the weekends, it opens at 11 a.m. for brunch.
47-46 Vernon Blvd, Long Island City, NY 11101, Phone: 718-361-7510
12 Best Things to Do in Long Island City, NY
- Gantry Plaza State Park, Photo: Luis/stock.adobe.com
- Noguchi Museum, Photo: Noguchi Museum
- MoMA PS1, Photo: MoMA PS1
- The Cliffs at LIC, Photo: xartproduction/stock.adobe.com
- Socrates Sculpture Park, Photo: Socrates Sculpture Park
- The Secret Theatre, Photo: aerogondo/stock.adobe.com
- Brooklyn Boulders, Photo: herraez/stock.adobe.com
- SculptureCenter, Photo: SculptureCenter
- Greater Astoria Historical Society, Photo: Greater Astoria Historical Society
- Kanga's Indoor Playground, Photo: Kanga's Indoor Playground
- Casa Enrique, Photo: Casa Enrique
- Dutch Kills Centraal, Photo: Dutch Kills Centraal
- Bella Via Restaurant, Photo: Bella Via Restaurant
- Cover Photo: Ken/stock.adobe.com