12 Hours in Long Island City

Gantry Plaza

Equal turns artistic and gritty, Hunters Point—the nabe most often thought of when one speaks of Long Island City—is perhaps not the most obvious choice for a day trip. LIC’s treasures are often tucked away (like the speakeasy-esque Dutch Kills Bar) just out of sight. It’s time you brave the rumble of elevated trains and explore the wondrous offerings of LIC.

10:00am Salute the Sun at The Yoga Room
Kick off your day trip without sacrificing your workout. The LIC location of this serene Queens-based studio offers Pilates, prenatal yoga, vinyasa and hot yoga. Should you prefer to take your savasana outside in the warmer months, keep your eye on the studio’s schedule – outdoor yoga classes in Gantry State Park will be offered once a month beginning in May.

11:30am Catch Some Rays – and Perhaps Some Fish
The 12-acre waterfront refuge Gantry State Park offers gardens, playgrounds, basketball and handball courts, picnic tables, chairs for relaxing, and a fishing pier complete with its own cleaning table. On warmer days, bring your SPF 30 and a good book, enjoy a stunning view of Manhattan and take a closer look at the famed Long Island City Pepsi Cola sign.

12:30pm Fuel Up, Plug In
Should you desire tin ceilings and antique woodwork to go with your WiFi, head over to Sweetleaf Coffee & Espresso Bar, where Stumptown beans are being expertly brewed for your tasting pleasure.

1:15pm Good Eats
For outdoor seating and unlimited mimosas, drop into gastro-pub Dominie’s Hoek. You say you just want a burger? Prepare to have a fantastic one at The Burger Garage; they can even accommodate gluten-free diners.

3:00pm Get Artsy
From end to end, LIC is a playground for visual art. Check kooky outdoor museum Socrates Sculpture Park’s site for information on current exhibits, upcoming events, workshops for adults and children, and public performances. The Noguchi Museum—dedicated to the preservation and presentation of the work of Isamu Noguchi—is well worth a visit. The impressive MoMA PS1 looms large in the art landscape of LIC and is a must-see (an added bonus: their M. Wells Dinette cafeteria-style restaurant recently opened and does not require museum admission to dine). Space Womb art gallery makes for a convenient punctuation mark on your gallery crawl. As if this weren’t enough, there is always the LIC Arts Open Block Party in the spring, showcasing painting, sculpture, dance, music, theatre and more represented when 200+ local artists open their studio doors to the public.

6:00pm Cocktails & Fine Dining
Between walking and gallery hopping, you’ve probably worked up an appetite. Just a few of your dinner options: Tournesol for classic French bistro fare; LIC Market for large and small plates; Shi for elegant Asian-fusion, Bella Via for what the locals call the best pizza in town; and Tutti Matti for solid Italian cuisine.

8:00pm Catch a Show
Some of the best independent theatre in NYC today is being produced at a little place called The Secret Theatre.  Be sure to check their calendar for improv performances, remounted classics, and original works. If you’re in the mood to laugh, get thee to Laughing Devil Comedy, which regularly plays host to comedians from Letterman, HBO and Showtime. Thirsty for some live music? You don’t have to go to Manhattan. Just order a beverage and pull up a chair at LIC Bar.

10:00pm The Night is Young
You could go home…or you could check out the view from the new Z Hotel’s rooftop lounge. If mixed cocktails aren’t quite your thing, opt for a glass of vino, a bit of cheese and maybe some live jazz at Domaine Bar A Vins. Wherever and however you round out your evening in LIC, take a moment to reflect on your day in this oft-overlooked section of Queens. You might even start to plan your next visit.

How to get there: Long Island is easily accessible via the 7, E, F, G, M, N, Q and R trains. Check www.MTA.info for construction updates.

Photos: gigi_nyc, author, Emilio J Santacoloma