For those looking to escape the city without leaving it completely behind, Forest Hills is perfect.
This Queens neighborhood is quiet enough to raise a family, but close enough to Manhattan (about a 30-minute subway ride from midtown) to raise a ruckus.
While its name is often associated with Forest Hills Gardens, a collection of streets that boast sprawling homes where street parking is reserved for permit-holders, Madeleine Realty agent Jacques Ambron said greater Forest Hills is still an “undervalued area, with a lot of bang for your buck.”
The neighborhood is divided down the middle by two main thoroughfares: the busy Queens Boulevard and the more pedestrian-friendly Austin Street.
The latter is lined with small restaurants, shops and bars. It is where resident and teacher Theresa Collalto, 27, said the charm of Forest Hills shines.
“[Austin Street] is basically like our Main Street and it has anything you’d ever want,” Collalto said. “You could spend a day walking up and down it.”
A block south of the bustling Austin Street is the Gardens, an affluent section with single-family, Tudor-style, $1 million-plus homes, which lend it a distinctly suburban feel.
The other side of Queens Boulevard offers more urban living options. This area, which spans up to the Grand Central Parkway, is filled mostly with apartment complexes and small homes. One-bedroom rentals there range from around $1,600 to $2,000 and two-bedrooms from $2,100 to $2,800.
Forest Hills also has a collection of new developments in its northern half, including the recently-completed luxury condo buildings the Aston and the Windsor.
These buildings, and others like them, are representative of the neighborhood’s ongoing demographic shift. Like many parts of Queens, Forest Hills has historically been a haven for immigrants — particularly a Bukharian Jewish community—and the wealthier residents of the Gardens, though it’s an increasingly popular home for young professionals, too, Ambron said.
“We’re getting a lot of people moving in from Brooklyn and Manhattan who are being priced out,” Ambron said. “Young couples who are looking to move into a single-bedroom apartment” are eyeing Forest Hills.
That the area borders Forest Park, one of Queens’ biggest green spaces, only adds to the draw.
In the midst of this shift, however, resident David Grebe, 44, said the neighborhood has found ways to adapt and hold on to its old character.
“I was just walking down the street and there was a band that was playing a Hanukkah song to the tune of Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off,’” Grebe said. “I don’t think you’d see that in too many other places.”
Forest Hills sits between the Long Island Expressway to the north and the Union Turnpike to the south and is bound by Grand Central Parkway to the east and 102nd Street, 67th Avenue and Selfridge Street to the west.
108-26 Ascan Ave.
This popular pizzeria is known for its slightly-charred, thin-crust pizza. 718-263-1126
5 Burro Cafe
7205 Austin St.
Along with serving delicious Mexican food, this spot doubles as a local hangout thanks to its full-service bar and 4 a.m. closing time. 5burrocafe.com
Jack and Nellie’s
108-25 Ascan Ave.
Check out this restaurant for its wide selection of wines and craft beers or its crowd-pleasing weekend brunch menu. Jacknellies.com
70-28 Austin St.
This gastropub and bar is a local favorite, offering good food and a wide selection of drinks. Austinpublicforesthills.com
106-11 71st Ave.
Tucked behind the LIRR station, this relatively new bar boasts one of the biggest selections of whiskeys in Queens and an extensive craft beer menu that rotates seasonally.
72-07 Austin St.
If you’re looking for a simple, no-frills sports bar, head to the Tap House for its sports packages and cheap happy hour drinks. 718-997-0500
72-20 Austin St.
This tiny second-hand store is the kind of place where you can find a great deal, but only if you know how to dig a little. 718-544-3556
71-43 Austin St.
A home-goods, clothing and accessories boutique with a wide selection and reasonable prices. If you’re looking for a coffee table and a dress, and only want to hit one store, come here. 718-520-8419
96-01 Metropolitan Ave.
For comics — including those that feature Forest Hills-native Spider-Man — look no further than this self-described “friendly neighborhood comic shop.” Royalcomicsnyc.com
Forest Hills Stadium
1 Tennis Place
Home of the U.S. Open until 1978, this recently-renovated stadium is now used as a 14,000-seat venue for an annual summer concert series, which last year drew acts like The Who and D’Angelo. Foresthillsstadium.com
106-03 Metropolitan Ave.
See the latest art house and indie movies and grab an espresso in the adjacent cafe. Cinemartcinemas.com
Union Turnpike and Myrtle Avenue
For an escape, take a trip to this sprawling greenspace that offers such attractions as a carousel and a 110-acre golf course. Nycgovparks.org
Forest Hills market data as of Jan. 4:
Median sales price: $335,000
Number of units on market: 835
Median rental price: $2,100
Number of rentals on market: 1,599
Q&A with Steve Elkins: Co-owner of the Station House
Elkins and his co-owners opened the Station House at 106-11 71st Ave. in 2013, bringing hundreds of craft beers and a wide whiskey selection to a neighborhood not usually known for its nightlife.
Why did you start a business in Forest Hills?
I actually am from the area. I’ve lived in the neighborhood many years. I have a family [in neighboring Rego Park], and I basically just kind of saw a need for a different type of place that would cater to a wider demographic of people.
What distinguishes Forest Hills?
I think what’s unique about Forest Hills and what I originally loved about it is its location, its proximity to things. There’s four subway lines right here in Forest Hills, you’re nine miles from Manhattan and there’s the Long Island Rail Road right here.
How is the neighborhood changing?
I’m finding now that a lot of people are coming here now and they’re staying. I think it’s always been a destination neighborhood. Now it’s a destination for a more diverse group of people.
Trains and subways to Forest Hills
E and F to 71st Avenue, Forest Hills-75th Avenue
M, R to 67th Avenue, Forest Hills-71st Avenue
LIRR to Forest Hills Station