Long Island City, Astoria's more industrial neighbor, gives off the vibe of a post-gentrified, pre-NYU-ified Williamsburg. Speckled with abandoned factories and just north of Greenpoint, mark my words, it's 'bout to blow up – in many ways, it already has.
In the three years that I've lived in the area, LIC has changed drastically. A new restaurant, art installation, or street fair pops up with each passing season. Its accessibility to midtown and recent development of luxury condominiums attracts a more professional breed of "hipster" than Brooklyn, which makes for a quieter feel. Sadly, because of this rapid development, one of LIC's most dynamic and beloved attractions, 5Pointz met its last days in 2013.
Despite, or perhaps because of, this neighborhood's recent controversies, it's one to check out now. Wander around, drop by an art expo (or several), and soak in its sweeping views of Manhattan (arguably the best in the city) while they're still intact.
LIC's bar and restaurant scene is on trend with the gastropubs and coffee shops of neighboring areas. However, unlike Greenpoint (with Irish and Polish roots) or Astoria (where many Greek-Americans reside), LIC never welcomed a wave of immigrants before its gentrification. Because of this it lacks an ethnic cuisine to complement its Modern American fare.
Still, LIC's causal spots are perfect for filling up on locally sourced, fresh food. You'll also be able to catch a live music or comedy act (from both near or far) for some added fun.
- LIC Market: great for everything, best for brunch.
- Casa Enrique: for dinner.
- LIC Bar and The Creek and The Cave: save either of these spots for later in the night.
Be sure to check out Gantry State Park for the chance to get up close and personal with the iconic Pepsi-Cola sign which greets passersby as they make their way over the 59th Street Bridge into Queens. The park's panoramic view of Manhattan's east side is one of my favorites; I've spent many a low-key Sunday quietly sitting here, observing the city's grandeur.
And, don't forget to visit one or all of LIC's modern art destinations, which welcome guests year round, especially:
- MoMA PS1: home to an awesome exhibit at any given time, but especially worth visiting during the summer months when its music series, Warm Up, takes place.
- Flux Factory: an artist collective that hosts weekly project presentations, seminars, film screenings, open studios and more.
- Socrates Sculpture Park: host of large-scale installations and the perfect place to spend a crisp fall day.