Saturday, April 11, 2015

Top 6 Things To Do in Long Island City in the Springtime

Spring is in the air... finally! This morning,  New Yorkers crawled out of their winter dens, stripping themselves of snow boots, misery and wool coats, slapped on a (temporary) smile and ventured outdoors for what seems like the first time in ages to enjoy the balmy 65-degree Fahrenheit, sunny weather we've been blessed with on a weekend day. Hallelujiah! Spring is here!

With the better weather comes a responsibility that most weekend warriors will understand. On the two days a week you're not stuck indoors at your office, if it's nice outside, you darn well better be outside enjoying it. Let's be clear, though. You shouldn't ditch the black boots and long sleeves yet. We're still in New York and it's April, and it could very well snow tomorrow ... so don't get too excited.

An old friend we met in Argentina, but just so happens to also live in NYC, came over today and we set out to enjoy the best of what LIC (that's Long Island City....which, while technically geographically located on Long Island, is very much part of New York City and one Subway stop away from Manhattan on the 7, E or M trains - sorry to blow your mind) has to offer.

So, we took her out to enjoy our favorite weekend rituals for good weather in Long Island City. What are those, you ask? I'm so glad you did!

Here are my Top 6 Favorite Things To Do in LIC in The Springtime:

1.  Visit the LIC Flea & Food

Inaugurating the unofficial delayed start to the season this weekend was the grand reopening of the LIC Flea & Food, a celebrated local food and artisan fair held every Saturday and Sunday during the spring and summer outdoors at the corner of 46th Avenue and 5th Street, just one block from Center Boulevard in Long Island City, Queens.  

Tons of food options, tons of artists and craftsmen - making for a few hours of fun at the Flea
Keep your eyes out for a detailed post about the "Flea" in the coming days.

For more on the LIC Flea & Food, visit .

2.  Enjoy Gantry State Park

Iconic Pepsi-Cola sign? Check.

Amazing, unobstructed views of the New York City skyline? Check.

Ample room to sit, lounge, stroll and enjoy the waterfront? Check.

Dog park with (what I think is) the best view you can get? Check.

Ferry landing, where you can grab the East River ferry to Manhattan or to various parts of Brooklyn? Check.

Trouble finding the park? Walk straight from Center Boulevard towards the skyline. Stop before you fall in the East River. Easy peasy.

3.  Visit Rockaway Brewing Company for a Tour and Beer Tastings

The tasting room ("Growler Room") AND brewing facilities of this local brewery have been completely revamped since I first visited (and since this old pic - new ones to come!) but they provide tours, tastings and even growlers to go. Rockaway Brewing Company is also one of three breweries participating in the brand-spanking-new beer garten (or biergarten, of course) at the Flea (refer to #1 above), where full size beers are sold for $6, but the sunshine and atmosphere come free.

Rockaway Brewing Company - Tasting Flight
For more about Rockaway Brewing Company, visit their official website here.

4.  Grab a Coffee at Sweetleaf Espresso & Cocktail Bar

It's nice to see a not-Starbucks in a developing area and I love this particular Sweetleaf location (there are 3, total) because it a) recently started offering brunch, b) has a full bar and turns into a cocktail lounge at night and c) makes delicious coffee drinks. My favorite? The Voodoo Child -a Vietnamese-style cold brew with high ratings on the delicious scale.  Stroll up from the park, cross the street and enter into the coffee-scented haven for an afternoon pick-me-up.

Sweet Leaf

This Sweetleaf is located at 4615 Center Blvd. Check out their details here.

5.  Eat Dinner On the Patio at Casa Enrique or Indoors at Jora

There are a few great restaurants in LIC, but in warmer weather I just want some spicy Latin food. The courtyard patio at Casa Enrique is a perfect spot to finish out the daylight hours, enjoying guacamole made-to-order, three kinds of salsa, delicious enchiladas or perfect street tacos. Wash it all down with a selection from their voluminous drink list, including daily drink specials like mango mojitos, for example. They also make a mean Michelada.

More on Casa Enrique here. Oh yeah, and it won a Michelin star in 2015. So, don't take it from just me. This place is seriously buenisimo.

If we're in the mood for something a bit more southern, we'll head to Jora, the long-awaited, never-disappointing Peruvian spot with delicious ceviches, more than a couple Pisco Sours and variations thereupon, some seriously spicy Peruvian stuffed peppers and delicious, creamy ají de gallina amarillo all on the menu.

Ceviche mixto and Pisco Sour at Jora

Visit Jora's (limited) website here.

6. Have A Nightcap In the Back Garden at LIC Bar

Feeling thirsty after dinner? Head down Vernon Boulevard (north - towards Astoria) and check out LIC Bar, on the corner of Vernon Boulevard and 46th Avenue.  Mingle with folks from the neighborhood in this old-school, unpretentious spot and enjoy some seriously reasonably-priced pints of draft or bottled beers, friendly bartenders, live music, and life outside of the hustle and bustle of Manhattan for a night.

Find LIC Bar's schedule of live music gigs and other information right here.

There you have it!

What are YOUR favorite things to do in Long Island City? Leave a comment and let me know!

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