In Long Island City, art can be found in unique spots, like sculpture parks on the side of buildings.

Located just across the East River from Midtown Manhattan and the Upper East Side, the Queens neighborhood of Long Island City (LIC) is known for its waterfront parks and thriving arts community. From a growing community of artists to an outdoor sculpture park, Long Island City is rich in arts and culture, which is a change from the overwhelmingly industrial epicenter LIC once was.  If you’re from New York or are just visiting, head over to the westside of Queens to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city and experience the arts and culture of Long Island City. Here’s our list of the top five must-see places.

5Pointz
This outdoor art exhibit is considered to be the world’s first “graffiti Mecca.” The 200,000-square-foot building houses artists’ studios, and it has been legally painted on by a number of graffiti artists. As 5Pointz is known as the epicenter of the graffiti scene, it has created a united culture of aerosol artists from across the world.  If you’re taking the 7 train in, look out for 5 Pointz around the Court House Square station. The building is open to the public for tours, and while there, you can bump into prominent artists, musicians, DJs, rappers and dancers, as well as filmmakers and photographers.
Where: 45-46 Davis St., Long Island City, NY 11101

MoMA PS1
One of the largest and oldest institutions in the United States, MoMA PS1 is located in Long Island City and is dedicated solely to contemporary art. It is an affiliate of the Museum of Modern Art, and the PS1 in its name comes from the former public school in which the museum is housed. The museum is used mostly for an exhibition space, rather than a collecting institution. If you’re heading to the area around the summer, be sure to check out the Warm Up summer music series. For families, enroll your children in the MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program, an annual series of competitions that allows aspiring architects the opportunity to build projects designed around MoMA PS1’s facility.
Where: 22-25 Jackson Ave., Long Island City, NY 11101

Socrates Sculpture Park
Socrates Sculpture Park has come a long way since its days as an abandoned riverside landfill. It was transformed into an open studio and exhibition space for artists, as well as a neighborhood park for locals. Today, the park is dedicated to providing artists an area to create and exhibit large-scale sculpture and multimedia installations. To see the artwork for yourself, visit the sculpture park at any time from 10 a.m. until sunset. Admission is free.
Where: 32-01 Vernon Blvd. at Broadway, Long Island City, NY 11106

Gantry Plaza State Park
Take advantage of Long Island City’s views of Manhattan at Gantry Plaza State Park, a waterfront park on the East River. The 12-acre park offers picnic tables, a playground, fishing pier, playing fields and a waterfront promenade. Take a stroll along one of the park’s four piers or through the park’s gardens and mist fountain for a relaxing afternoon. Worried about having to leave Fido at home? No worries, as Gantry Plaza allows leashed dogs in the garden area near the South Gantry.
Where: 4-09 47th Road, Long Island City, NY 11101

Hunters Point Neighborhood
When visiting Hunters Point, you’ll notice the East River waterfront, as well as the gorgeous views of the Manhattan skyline. This neighborhood is the first stop on the #7 subway when entering Queens. A few musts in Hunters Point include MoMA PS1 and 5Pointz, but if you’re looking for a great meal, head over to Lounge 47 (47-10 Vernon Blvd., Long Island, NY 11101), which is a laid-back bar and restaurant featuring vintage ‘70s décor, as well as a great backyard garden. Another thing you’ll notice when visiting Hunters Point are the 19th-centure brownstones that line 45th Avenue between 21st and 23rd Streets.

Photo Credit: iStockphoto/SeanPavonePhoto

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