BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO
Astoria Park is an outdoor urban oasis along the banks of the East River in northwestern Queens. The nearly 60-acre park, located on 19th Street off Ditmars Boulevard, is one of the largest outdoor spaces in the borough, with splendid waterfront views of upper Manhattan, as well as both the Triboro and Hell Gate bridges.
The park is the perfect staycation destination for day trippers, tourists and neighborhood regulars. Here are our picks for the top five best summer events and activities in the western Queens green space.
This art deco, Olympic-sized swimming pool is the largest in the city, making it the perfect place for city dwellers to cool their heels on a hot summer day. Astoria Pool is free and open to the public from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. Sunbathers can soak up rays on the poolside deck while swimmers enjoy splashing around in the shadow of the Triboro Bridge. The pool offers aquatics programs and swimming lessons for youths and adults, as well as a smaller wading pool for beginners.
Special Early Bird and Night Owl swim hours are also available through the Adult Lap Swim Program, which allows swimmers to focus on fitness and swim technique. First-, second- and third-place prizes will be awarded to men and women who have completed the most lengths until Friday, Aug. 7. For more information or to register, click here.
New World Queens Festival
Astoria Park Great Lawn
Saturday, Aug. 29, noon to 9 p.m.
This free outdoor festival presented by Astoria Music and Arts will feature over 60 musical acts and visual artists with the goal of raising eco-awareness. Artists range from bossa nova, reggae, ska, R&B, rock, psychedelic, Americana, indie, funk, blue grass and Afro-Cuban bands. There will also be DJs, a pie-eating contest sponsored by Astor Bake Shop and Little Club Heads, a family dance party experience for children 1 to 12 years old, a dance tent featuring Sol Dance Studios, a puppet show by WonderSpark from Raising Astoria, and a giant Kaiju Big Battle Monster. There will also be an on-site outdoor exhibit featuring the work of over 30 visual artists, sculptors and painters. The event is family- and pet-friendly.
Pack a picnic
Escape the concrete jungle for an afternoon without ever having to leave Queens. With its jaw-dropping views of the city and the East River, Astoria Park is the perfect, picturesque picnic spot. Picnic essentials include a large blanket or quilt, sunscreen, a Frisbee, a good book, cloth napkins and trash bags for post-picnic cleanup. The key to a well-stocked picnic basket is to start with locally made, handheld favorites. Stop by Butcher Bar and pick up the “PBLT” sandwich ($10.99), featuring grilled smoked pork belly, the Philly cheese brisket ($13.49) or its saucy, braised pulled BBQ chicken ($10.99) topped with coleslaw, onions and pickles. Pair these delectable sandwiches with one of its all-natural sodas, lemonade or famous Butcher Bar iced tea.
Movies on the Waterfront
Astoria Park Great Lawn
Bring a blanket or a lawn chair and some ice cream and head over to the Great Lawn in Astoria Park this summer for the Monday night Movies on the Waterfront series organized by Central Astoria LCD. Check out “Frozen” (August 3), “How to Train Your Dragon” (Aug. 10), “Ghostbusters” (Aug. 17) and “The Incredibles” (Aug. 24) on a big screen under the stars. Movies start at 8:30 p.m. on the Great Lawn, located off Shore Boulevard between the Hell Gate Bridge and Astoria Pool. The series is sponsored by nearby Kaufman Astoria Studios and admission is free.
Pop an ollie!
Astoria Skate Plaza
Hoyt Avenue at 19th Street
This 21,500-square-foot skate park is located at the southern end of Astoria Park, directly under the Triboro Bridge. Astoria Skate Plaza features multiple levels with stairs, rails, banks and ledges of varying heights and sizes. The park was created by Who Skates, a leader in municipal, urban skate park design, and features an open design that allows for a free-form style of skating. Although an attendant will be provided during official hours of operation, skaters will need to sign a special waiver with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation before hitting the rails.
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