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Photo via Getty Images
The New York State Pavilion soars above the cherry blossoms at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in this 2014 photo.

BY MORGAN CHITTUM

This Wednesday marks the first day of spring, and Queens has some of the finest places to celebrate the new season.

According to the NYC Parks and Recreation Department, New York City has over 1,700 parks, playgrounds and recreation facilities across the five boroughs. These range from parks, swimming pools, wetlands and skating rinks. Out of the thousands of options the city has to offer, QNS narrowed down the list to some of the most popular places for spring activities in Queens.

During the winter months, Queens offers a wide-ranging list of indoor activities. Astoria has the Museum of the Moving Image. Corona has the New York Hall of Science. And Flushing has the Queens Museum of Art.

What does Queens have when the flowers begin to bloom and the winter coats come off?

1) Socrates Sculpture Park

Open everyday with free admission, kick off spring at the Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City. Originally an abandoned riverside landfill, local artists and workers cleaned the 5-acre area and created a mesmerizing waterfront park where visitors can view local art by members of the community. Recognized now as a New York City public park, Socrates Sculpture Park is an internationally renowned outdoor museum, presenting more than 1,000 artists. According to the park’s website, their upcoming spring exhibit, Chronos Cosmos: Deep Time, Open Space, will transform the riverside park “into a gateway to the universe, presenting artworks that consider space, time, and matter in relationship to celestial entities and earth-bound processes.”

Address: 32-01 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City

Contact: 718-956-1819

Website: socratessculpturepark.org

 

2) Alley Pond Environmental Center

In the concrete jungle, New York City residents have limited exposure to nature. Alley Pond Environmental Center gives visitors the chance to explore marshlands, large bodies of water and other nature trails. APEC offers a variety environmental education programs this spring. They offer weekly children’s programs, where kids as young as 1 can play with animals, and morning bird walks for adults as well. As spring approaches, APEC has something to offer people of all ages.

Address: 22806 Northern Blvd., Little Neck

Contact: 718-229-4000

Website: alleypond.com

 

3) Nowadays

Spring calls for tasty outdoor eatery. Gather indoors or outdoors at Nowadays, a place with food, drink and frequent events in Ridgewood. Bordering Bushwick, this seasonal outdoor bar and restaurant hosts summer-hang outs with large parties and popular DJs. Nowadays has a bocce ball set, chess, checkers backgammon sets and ping-pong tables for customers to use.

Address: 56-06 Cooper Ave. #1, Ridgewood

Contact: 347-523-8535

Website: nowadays.nyc

 

4) Queens Botanical Garden

Queens Botanical Garden offers daily activities, educational programs and real-world applications of environmental stewardship for visitors. Although they have indoor events for colder weather, QBG is especially breathtaking in the spring when the flowers have started to bloom. From their evening cocktail and craft events to the children’s garden open house, QBG has something to offer people of all ages. Walk through the gardens or bask in the sun at this urban oasis in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

Address: 43-50 Main St., Flushing

Contact: 718-886-3800

Website: queensbotanical.org

 

5) Queens Zoo

Every year, millions of visitors flock to Queens Zoo for the wide array of animals and exhibits. The zoo even gives visitors the chance to watch the seals feeding like they are in their natural habitat. During the warmer months, the zoo offers several children’s summer camps including: KinderZoo, Toddler Time Camp and Week of Wildlife. The zoo is one of five zoos in New York City to exhibit Andean bears and they currently have over 75 species of animals that are native to the Americas.

Address: 53-51 111th St., Corona

Contact: 718-220-5100

Website: queenszoo.com

 

6) A+ Roof Bar

Spring is the time for sipping your favorite cocktails on rooftop bars. Do exactly this at A+ Roof Bar on top of the Parc Hotel. The bar offers a variety of cocktails and beer. The comfortable lounging chairs and stools gives customers a chance to marvel at the NYC skyline and Citi Field.

Address: 39-16 College Point Blvd., Flushing

Contact: 718-869-1691

Website: theparchotel.com

 

7) Due Ponti

Due Ponti in Whitestone has the perfect spot for a romantic and charming spring date. Overlooking the East River, the restaurant serves authentic Italian cuisine, made from homemade bread, along with farm to table produce and hand selected seafood. Since 2009, Whitestone has given customers an opportunity to experience a casual yet fine dining experience.

Address: 154-11 Powells Cove Blvd., Whitestone

Contact: 718-767-3100

Website: facebook.com/duepontiitalian

 

8) Jamaica Wildlife Refuge

During the winter months, kayaking, trail exploration and outdoor walking tours, are less than enjoyable due to frigid temperatures. However, once spring arrives the Jamaica Wildlife Refuge offers all of these activities, along with the comfort of warm weather. With over 9,000 acres and 300 species of birds, the refuge is one of Queen’s most prime locations to bird watch and observe other facets of nature.

Address: Far Rockaway, NY

Contact: 718-318-4340

Website: nycaudubon.org/queens-birding/jamaica-bay-wildlife-refuge

 

9) Flushing Meadows Corona Park

The remnants of two World’s Fairs left Flushing Meadows Corona Park, an 897-acre park with a 12-story globe and an UFO-shaped pavilion. As spring brings warmer weather, visitors can explore this urban oasis, which lies beside notable tourist attractions such as Citi Field, New York Hall of Science and Queens Museum.

Address: Grand Central Pkwy., Whitestone Expwy. between 111th Street and College Point Boulevard

Contact: N/A

Website: nycgovparks.org/parks/flushing-meadows-corona-park

 

10) Gantry Plaza State Park

Gantry Plaza State Park sits along the East River in the Hunters Point section of Long Island City. Previously a dockyard, the 12 acre riverside oasis showcases amazing views of the Manhattan skyline. The park offers four piers, a series of manicured gardens and fountains.

Address: 4-09 47th Rd., Long Island City,

Contact: 718-786-6385

Website: parks.ny.gov/parks/149/details.aspx

 

11) Bocaito Cafe and Wine Bar

Enjoy a spring dining experience at Bocaito Cafe and Wine Bar in Jackson Heights. This Italian restaurant offers happy hour specials with signature cocktails and brunch. This family owned and operated restaurant offers a wide array of dishes such as grilled chorizo, empanada and ribeye steaks.

Address: 81-15 Northern Blvd., Jackson Heights

Contact: 347-617-1606

Website: bocaitony.com

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