Photos courtesy of the Queens Tourism Council

Move over, Manhattan — Queens is the must-see U.S. destination of the coming year, according to a leading travel guidebook company.

The borough has made it to the top of the list of Lonely Planet’s Best in the U.S. 2015. Selected by Lonely Planet’s authors and ranked by its U.S. editors, the list consists of 10 perennial favorites, places with timely reasons to visit and understated destinations that are ready for their time in the spotlight.

“I’ve seen how Queens has transformed from one of the forgotten boroughs to one of the exciting places to visit,” said Regis St. Louis, coordinating author of Lonely Planet’s USA and New York City guidebook.

This year was the first time that Queens made the annual online list, which was released on Wednesday.  The rankings expand on Lonely Planet’s “Best in Travel 2015” guidebook, which came out in October, and chose Washington, D.C., and Rocky Mountain National Park as its top city and regional picks among world destinations.

St. Louis, a 14-year New York City resident, who currently lives in Brooklyn, was one of several authors to nominate Queens for the Best in the U.S. 2015 list.

It was clear from our passion and our feedback about Queens that it should be number one on this list,” he said.

Rounding out the top 10 are Western South Dakota,  New Orleans,  the Colorado River region, North Conway, N.H., Indianapolis, Greenville, S.C., Oakland, Calif., Duluth, Minn., and California’s Mount Shasta region.

Queens food truck

What made Queens stand out among those destinations were reasons obvious to anyone familiar with the borough, such as its diversity, Rockaway Beach and its art institutions.

As St. Louis writes on the Lonely Planet website, Queens is  “New York’s meltiest melting pot,” and that is not only reflected in the number of languages that are spoken there, but also in its culinary offerings.

“It’s something that has always been there, but it’s something that people are just beginning to discover,”  he said about the diversity.

He also highlighted Rockaway Beach’s growing trendiness and the borough’s burgeoning arts scene, noting the Queens Museum’s recent makeover and the newly christened Kaufman Arts District in Astoria.

Rockaway(7)

“You don’t have to stay in Manahattan anymore. You can come base yourself in Queens now,” St. Louis said.

That sentiment applies to both residents and tourists, as another advantage Queens has to offer is its boutique hotels, which have been growing in number.

Anyone looking for something that is not in the average guidebook should try Queens’ microbrewery scene, said St. Louis.

Microbreweries have exploded around the country, he said, and it’s surprising that so many of them have made their way to Queens.

These small-batch or nanobreweries, such as Finback Brewery and Rockaway Brewing Company, are just another example of what stands out in the borough’s food and drink scene, he explained.

Z Hotel in Queens, NY roof top

“People are looking for the next thing and there are some really interesting things happening in Queens,” St. Louis said. “There are so many great secrets … you never run out of things to do and see.”

To mark Queens topping the Best in the U.S. 2015, Lonely Planet is giving away the Queens chapter from its recently released New York City guide as a free e-book until Feb. 1, 2015. To get the free download, visit www.lonelyplanet.com/queens-ebook.

Find out more about this year’s list at www.lonelyplanet.com/best-in-the-us-2015.

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