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Where to eat and what to do in Flushing, Queens: Chinatown, Queens Botanical Garden, more

When you think of Flushing, you probably think of dim sum -- and for good reason. However, the diverse neighborhood has much more to offer than just delectable dumplings. (Although we’ll recommend a couple of places for good measure -- Flushing is, after all, home to Queens' Chinatown.)

When you step off the last Queens stop on the No. 7 train, you might, for a brief moment, think you teleported to a Hong Kong neighborhood.

But Flushing has hosted a wide range of groups over the centuries: the Matinecock Indians once lived there, then later in the 1600s the area became home to a Dutch settlement called Vlissingen (“Flushing” comes from a mispronunciation of the name by the English).

Now, the area is one of the most diverse in the city and walking down its streets is proof. Before you head out, here’s some of what you shouldn’t miss in one of New York City’s iconic neighborhoods.

Get caffeinated at Ten Ren Tea

Start your day off with a swift and
Photo Credit: Natan Dvir

Start your day off with a swift and caffeinated kick in the pants. Ten Ren & Ginseng Co. (135-18 Roosevelt Ave.) has dozens of hot and iced teas -- including tea with milk and black sugar, traditional iced tea tapioca, and green apple black tea, pictured -- to choose from. A large "King's Tea" will set you back about $4, but it will last you the entire morning. While you're there you can also grab some freshly dried ginseng. Ten Ren has beautiful Chinese tea sets for sale, if you're in the market for a thoughtful housewarming gift.

Pair that tea with a Tai Pan pastry

Once you have your morning tea in hand
Photo Credit: Colter Hettich

Once you have your morning tea in hand and before you set off to explore the neighborhood, make a quick stop at Tai Pan Bakery (37-25 Main St.). This local favorite has plenty of sweets, but the savory section in the back offers daily baked items. In case you are in the mood for something sweet, try the Preserved Yolk Puff. This flaky pastry houses a single egg yolk lathered with lotus seed and jujube paste.

Take a shopping spree at Daiso

New in town, Daiso at The Shops at
Photo Credit: Daiso

New in town, Daiso at The Shops at Skyview Center (40-24 College Point Blvd.) is a favorite for beauty products, holiday decor, clothing, electronic accessories, gifts, snacks, home goods and sundries, all priced at or around $1.99. The best part is that many of its products are super cute, like its stuffed animal pencil cases, doggy snout coffee mugs, colorful stamp pens and more. The popular store has 2,800 locations in Japan and more than 600 worldwide, including more than 60 in California, Washington and Texas.

Tour the Voelker Orth Museum

This historic gem at 149-19 38th Ave. has
Photo Credit: Colter Hettich

This historic gem at 149-19 38th Ave. has been around since the 1890s. The house was initially home to the Voelkers, a middle-class immigrant family from Germany. After Conrad Voelker's granddaughter Elisabetha died, she left the estate to establish a museum. The property is now home to a bird sanctuary, traditional Dutch grapevine and thriving bee colony,whose honey is harvested ritually once a year. Before you visit, call ahead (718-359-6227) so that you can get the guided tour.

Reconnect with nature at the Queens Botanical Garden

Nestled between Flushing Meadows and Kissena Park is
Photo Credit: Colter Hettich

Nestled between Flushing Meadows and Kissena Park is the luscious Queens Botanical Garden at 43-50 Main St. Of course you can wander the hundreds of varieties of flowers and trees, but you can also tour the farm (Wednesdays from 3:30 to 5 p.m.) and shop produce from all over the state at the garden's farmers market (Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for students and $2 for kids ages 4 to 12.

Treat yourself to the Queens Museum

The Queens Museum is one of the more
Photo Credit: Bruce Gilbert

The Queens Museum is one of the more underrated museums in the city. Head to Flushing Meadows Corona Park to find a treasure trove of information and fun catered primarily to NYC and Queens residents. There's always something on at the museum, which only charges $8 admission, from its long-term collections like the famous Panorama of the City of New York, pictured, to its rotating exhibits like " Tiffany's Iridescence: Glass in Rainbow Hues" and the "Queens International" biennial exhibition that showcases artists living or working in Queens.

Feed your Instagram at the Unisphere

After perusing the pansies in Queens Botanical Garden
Photo Credit: Colter Hettich

After perusing the pansies in Queens Botanical Garden or learning more about the borough, make a jaunt over to the open fields at the World's Fair Unisphere, which is guaranteed to get you your Insta-likes quota for the day.

If you're in the mood for some cycling around, there are bicycles built for two -- or four -- here. Wheel Fun Rentals on North Meadow Lake offers tandem bikes for $20 an hour; it also has double surreys and traditional styles. You can rent kayaks and pedal boats to cruise around Meadow Lake, one of the waterways built for the 1964-65 World's Fair. The park is also home to a miniature golf course.

Go to dumpling heaven at Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao

Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao (59-16 Main St.)
Photo Credit: Shaye Weaver

Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao (59-16 Main St.) is one of those small restaurants that makes you realize you have so much more to discover about your city. After a long day, head to this modest Chinese eatery, which serves Shanghai-style dishes like dim sum, but its soup dumplings are a favorite across Queens. Get an order of scallion pancakes, chicken dumplings and, finally, the Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao, which almost always have a perfect droop because they are so full of delicious soup. And don't skip the Nutella banana dumplings at the end. You'll thank us.

Or try Shanghai You Garden

Here, no single dumpling is rolled until you
Photo Credit: Colter Hettich

Here, no single dumpling is rolled until you order it. The moment you walk in at 135-33 40th Rd., you'll see steam baskets stacked to the ceiling and cooks working feverishly to keep up with orders. Close your eyes, point to the menu and let fate decide your dish. You can't go wrong. If you're feeling adventurous, try these soup-filled dumplings.

Survey your options at New World Mall

If you're feeling a more laidback food court
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

If you're feeling a more laidback food court vibe, head to New World Mall (136-20 Roosevelt Ave.), which has more than 30 vendors. Regulars will tell you that there's not an Asian dish in the world that's not served here in some form or fashion. Whether you're in the mood for hand-pulled noodles, Taiwanese rice balls, hot pot, bibimbap, taro balls, stir fry, or just a sweet bubble tea, they've got it. Plus, you can't beat the atmosphere of locals sharing meals at crowded tables together.

Drink like a local at Paradise Alley

You may ask yourself -- why would I
Photo Credit: Colter Hettich

You may ask yourself -- why would I make the schlep to Flushing just to go to an Irish Pub? The answer: You can't miss it. Paradise Alley (41-09 150th St.) is a local staple, complete with a covered outdoor patio -- a spot to kick up your heels and sip a shandy for a few minutes. The walls are covered with classic bar fodder, but take a closer look and you'll find century-old photographs of when the building was built. An Irish pub in the Korean heart of Flushing -- what could be more New York?

Catch some culture at Flushing Town Hall

Once an abandoned building during the 1970s and
Photo Credit: Flushing Town Hall

Once an abandoned building during the 1970s and 80s, Flushing Town Hall at 137-35 Northern Blvd. has become a major hub for cultural programming in Queens. On any given night, the center is busy, from live jazz to Global Mashup nights that pair two very different music groups together, to art exhibits and traditional dance performances from a number of different cultures found in Queens and much, much more. Catch a show or a workshop before you leave the neighborhood.


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