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© NYC & Company/Julienne Schaer
© NYC & Company/Julienne Schaer
Flushing Meadows Corona Park

The most diverse county in the United States is preparing for another summer season of prosperous tourism and outdoor recreation.

A study published by NYU School of Professional Studies Jonathan M. Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism late last year said tourism brought $5.3 billion into Queens in 2015. Further, it supported one in 16 Queens-based jobs and generated roughly $753 million in state and local taxes.

According to Rob MacKay, director of public relations, marketing & tourism at the Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC), it’s not showing any signs of slowing down.

“Tourism in Queens is booming like it never has before,” MacKay said. “Every single day, the growth surprises me; but I have to say, I don’t see it ending.”

Attention was brought to the borough as a destination in 2015 when Lonely Planet named Queens the best spot to vacation in the country. Two years later, MacKay said, it still rings true.

Though the peak of Queens tourism comes in September and October, MacKay explained, both international and domestic tourists continue to flock to the borough during the warmer months for the diverse recreational, dining, shopping and cultural opportunities only found here.

“Queens has been discovered by foodies, people who want to take guided walking tours, who want to take in art culture,” MacKay said. “It’s being discovered in so many different ways.”

An iconic, summer-months favorite for locals and tourists alike, the new and improved Rockaway Boardwalk was unveiled last month after a $341 million post-Sandy rebuild project.

“Rockaway got hit really hard during Hurricane Sandy, but Rockaway has bounced back,” MacKay said. “I think it’s gonna be a really strong summer for Rockaway.”

Attracting millions of visitors each year, Rockaway Beach is not just a place for sun and sand. New York City’s largest beach is now home to a diverse selection of food and drink vendors, shops and fun outdoor events.

Photo courtesy of Riis Park Beach Bazaar/Dylan Johnson

Photo courtesy of Riis Park Beach Bazaar/Dylan Johnson

A huge draw for foodies is Rockaway’s Riis Park Beach Bazaar. Located at 167-02 Rockaway Beach Blvd., the mile-long food and drink hub is home to diverse bites including wood-fired pizza, Moroccan hummus, shrimp and clam rolls, Oaxaca-style tacos and Bolivian sliders. Those feeling thirsty can also visit a “BarZaar” station to pick up a cold brew, wine or cocktail.

The beach will also host a series of great events, including outdoor music performances, yoga and fitness classes and Rockstock and Barrels, an annual skate, surf and music festival.

Other parts of the borough which host great warmer-weather events are Flushing, western Queens and Forest Hills, MacKay continued.

In Flushing, not to be missed are the events held in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, including this weekend’s Only In Queens Summer Festival, July’s Shakespeare in the Park performance and August’s Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival and U.S. Open tennis matches. Baseball fans can catch a game at Citi Field, or those looking for a bite to eat can choose one the neighborhood’s hundreds of restaurants and bars featuring flavors from around the world.

© NYC & Company/Laura Miller

© NYC & Company/Laura Miller

The summertime schedule of concerts at the historic outdoor Forest Hills Stadium features something for everyone, MacKay pointed out. This weekend, contemporary DJ duo The Chainsmokers take the stage; in July, John Mellencamp and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers; and in September, Interpol and Deerhunter.

Photo courtesy of Forest Hills Stadium

Photo courtesy of Forest Hills Stadium

In western Queens, waterfront Gantry Plaza State Park and Hunters Point South Park will host concerts, dance classes and community events. The area is also home to a variety of outdoor food and drink venues, including the Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden, Studio Square NYC and Penthouse 808.

© NYC & Company/Julienne Schaer

© NYC & Company/Julienne Schaer

“Almost anywhere you go in the world, the number one contributor to the local economy is tourism,” MacKay said. “And that’s true here in Queens.”

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