QNS Weekender: Seven things to do in Queens

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Participate in a coastal scavenger hunt at Rockaway Beach this weekend.
Photo by Mike Shain

Although weekends may not look like they used to before the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still plenty of  things for Queens residents to do around the borough. Whether its an outdoor cleanup event or a virtual workshop teaching plant enthusiasts to cultivate their green thumbs, there’s sure to be something for everyone.


To slow the spread of COVID-19, the New York City Department of Health suggests getting tested often. Here are several places where you can get tested this weekend:


The Winter Escape at Queens County Farm: Head to Queens County Farm to get one last taste of the holiday season. The Winter Escape by The Floral Escape offers families some festive favorites combined with a “multi-sensory floral experience.” Check out Santa’s Workshop to visit the man himself,  promenade through the Gingerbread Village, or stop and smell the Candy Cane Rose Garden. 73-50 Little Neck Pkwy., Floral Park. queensfarm.org. $24 for ages 11 and older; $15 for ages 10 and under; free for kids under 1. Times vary. Thursday-Sunday until Jan. 10. 


It’s My Park at Forest Park: Put on some long pants, boots and a mask and join volunteers from Kew Kids Forest School to beautify Forest Park. On the second Saturday of each month, volunteers help to clean and maintain the trails, which includes planting, brush clearing, raking and litter cleanup. Due to COVID restrictions, all volunteers must register to participate and only the first 25 registrants will be confirmed on Friday. Those under 18 must be accompanied by a chaperone. Myrtle Avenue, Union Turnpike, Park Ln S. nycgovparks.org. Free. 9:30 a.m. Jan. 9. Register.

Mulchfest Cleanup: Following Mulchfest, which the Department of Sanitation facilitates each year to upcycle Christmas trees, volunteers are invited to spread mulch around young trees in Astoria to provide insulation and protection during the winter. Volunteers should dress in clothes that can get dirty and wear close-toed shoes and a mask. Space is limited, so those interested must register. Volunteers under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Hoyt Ave North and 23rd Street. nycgovparks.org. Free. 10 a.m. Jan. 9. Register.

Coastal Scavenger Hunt: The Urban Park Rangers invite participants to Rockaway Beach for a scavenger hunt to “explore the ecological diversity” of the coastal shoreline. Guides will help to identify “clues” left behind by species native to the area. Beach 86th Street. nycgovparks.org. Free. 1 p.m. Jan 9. 

Under the Microscope Part 2: Microhabitats in Your Backyard: This virtual event hosted by the Queens Public Library will let participants create their own digital microscopes. The tutorial will be led by Jay Holmes, president of the New York Microscopical Society and an educator at the American Museum of Natural History. Following the tutorial, Holmes will give participants a peek at East River Plankton and show how to use the DIY microscope to examine specimen at home. Virtual. YouTube.com. Free. 2 p.m. Jan. 9.


Houseplants 101: For those who developed a green thumb during the past year or for others hoping to cultivate new skills — tune into this virtual workshop. The Zoom is led by Jocelyn Perez-Blanco, founder of Herban Garden, who will conduct the event at Alley Pond Environmental Center. Participants will learn how to pick the right plant for their needs and the steps to properly take care of their new leafy friends. Virtual, Zoom link to be provided. alleypond.org. $10 per household. 11:30 a.m., Jan 10. Register.

Monthly Walking Tour Series: Animals in the Winter Garden: The Queens Botanical Garden is hosting its monthly walking tour, Animals in the Winter Garden. Participants will get the opportunity to explore and discover the signs of various animals, insects and the habitats in which they live. Registration is required. 43-50 Main St. queensbotanical.org. $8 for members; $10 for non-members; free with Urban Advantage Student +3 Vouchers. 2 p.m., Jan. 10. Register.

To submit an event for The Weekender, email [email protected].