7 at Mets-Willets Point
Many Manhattanites know Flushing Meadows-Corona Park as the mass of grass adjacent to Citi Field's parking lot, or as the home of Arthur Ashe Stadium and the U.S. Open, or simply as the location of "that weird structure you drive by on the way to the airport"—the New York State Pavilion, a cluster of towers built for the 1964-65 World Fair, when elaborate exhibits such as Futurama and Dinoland wowed over 50 million visitors. To the area's residents—made up of predominantly Latino families—this might as well be Central Park. The 1,255-acre green space, the largest in Queens and the second largest in the city, offers just about everything you'd want from a park—BBQ pits, baseball and professional soccer fields, a petting zoo, a carousel, miniature and par-3 golf courses, playgrounds galore, a 39-acre botanical garden, and an 84-acre freshwater lake (the city's largest)—and more than a few things you'd never imagine. For instance, a granite time capsule from 1938 meant to endure 5,000 years, a model plane field, and a cricket pitch. The sheer length of the overpass connecting the elevated 7-train station to the park's main entrance—crossing a train yard, bus depot, and LIRR station—can scare off casual visitors, but there are plenty of ways for families to while away a day here. After all, the park contains the remnants of two world fairs (the first was held in 1939, after Robert Moses converted the former tidal swamp). The most prominent relic, a favorite backdrop for skateboarders and sunset canoodlers, is the Unisphere, a 350-ton, 140-foot-tall steel globe at the center of a 96-jet fountain, next to the Queens Museum of Art. Other leftovers include a Roman column from 120 A.D. donated by the king of Jordan and three dinosaur-themed playgrounds. Gas lanterns line walkways that leave more than enough room for rollerbladers, bikers, and an abundance of strollers—making nights in the park solitary and romantic, though also a bit eerie. The 120-foot-tall heliport, Terrace on the Park, is under-lit in a way that it resembles something out of 2001: Space Odyssey. The Hall of Science's technology museum, complete with rocket ships on the front lawn, looks like a top-secret government mountain installation. On Sunday mornings, apocalyptic church groups pray at a Virgin Mary shrine which the Pope once visited.New York City Building
The only remaining structure from the 1939 World's Fair hosted the United Nations before it moved to Manhattan in 1951. Today the building houses the Queens Museum of Art.
Bike and Boat Rentals
Bike rentals are available near the Fountain of Planets as you enter the park from the 7 train. Bikes, row boats, and paddle boats are available to rent on Meadow Lake (646-229-4470).