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What to eat and do in Flushing: 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).

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. 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 $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. (135-18 Roosevelt Ave.)

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. 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. (37-25 Main St.)

Tour the Voelker Orth Museum

This historic gem has stood on the corner
Photo Credit: Colter Hettich

This historic gem has stood on the corner of what is now 38th Avenue and 149th Place 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, a traditional Dutch grapevine and a thriving bee colony whose honey is harvested ritually once a year. Before you visit, call ahead to 718-359-6227 so that you can get the guided tour. (149-19 38th Ave.)

You want dumplings? White Bear has them, including
Photo Credit: Colter Hettich

You want dumplings? White Bear has them, including the No. 6 - pork dumplings with mildly spicy pepper sauce.

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 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? (41-09 150th St.)

Nature up at 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. Of course you can wander the hundreds of varieties of flowers and trees, but you can also tour the farm on Wednesdays from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., the garden hosts a farmers market with produce from all over the state. Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for students and $2 for kids ages 4 to 12. (43-50 Main St.)

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, make the jaunt across the Van Wyck Expressway. The open fields are beautiful and your selfie at the World's Fair Unisphere 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 (917-231-5519) 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.

Survey your options at New World Mall

Before you settle on a restaurant for dinner,
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Before you settle on a restaurant for dinner, the food court at New World Mall, with more than 30 vendors, is worth a browse. 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. (136-20 Roosevelt Ave.)

Dumpling redux, at Shanghai You Garden

After a long day of walking, end the
Photo Credit: Colter Hettich

After a long day of walking, end the evening at Shanghai You Garden Dumpling House. For every person who knows the best dumpling spot in Flushing, there are two more who know a better place. With that said - we found the best. No single dumpling is rolled until you order it. The moment you walk in, 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 the soup-filled dumpling. (Think: chili in a bread bowl, except delicious broth in a giant dumpling). (135-33 40th Rd.)

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