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Visiting Flushing Meadows Corona Park
The best of Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Travel to this sprawling park in northeast Queens and feel like you're on the set of a movie. Bizarre, towering objects in Flushing Meadows Corona Park — leftovers from a World's Fair — were the refuge sought by a villainous, cockroach-like alien at the climax of the 1997 hit Men in Black.
The weird towers still stand. But they don't draw as much attention as another nearby (and more picturesque) World's Fair remnant: a giant, landmark globe. In the springtime, it's flanked by brilliantly pink blooming trees.
Flushing Meadows Corona Park is also home to the New York Mets at Citi Field, the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and the Queens Museum of Art.
Everyday visitors are attracted just as much by the open fields of the park. It's a place for picnics, $1 empanadas and endless games of fútbol.
The worst of Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Busy highways surround and cut through the park. Road noise is ever present, and pedestrian entrances are limited to a few overpasses.
Flushing Meadows Corona Park is prone to flooding. Much of the land the park was built on was once swamp. Rainstorms still leaves pools of standing water, and at times, the puddles block walkways within the park.
It's no place to find a private nook. The park is flat, and it is nowhere near as landscaped or wooded as, say, Central Park. It's easy enough to find a park bench or a spot for a picnic blanket, but you'll have many neighbors. On summer weekends, the park can be packed, and every open field end up devoted to a game or two of soccer.
What's near Flushing Meadows Corona Park
- The new home of the New York Mets opened in 2009. It's an attractive, clean stadium. Edible food can be had for under $10. Even if you're no baseball fan, the cheap(ish) seats are a decent place to watch a hazy New York sunset.
Queens Botanical Garden
- A pedestrian bridge on the east side of the park leads to Queens Botanical Garden in Flushing. The Queens Botanical Garden hits its peak in late spring.
La Guardia Airport
- No need to wonder why there are so many low-flying planes passing overhead. La Guardia Airport is only about 15 minutes away on side streets. Catch the Q48 bus to the airport right at the north end of the park.
Budget fitness in Flushing Meadows Corona Park
The Al Oerter Recreation Center is an indoor fitness center at the northeast corner of the park off College Point Boulevard. It's a New York City Parks and Recreation facility, and $50 buys a year's worth of access to the building.
It would be a nicer facility if it were less popular. It's a basic fitness center and none too large.
The indoor track is minuscule, as it only encircles a basketball court on a raised platform. There are often ten-minute waits for treadmills or stationary bikes, with a rather hodge-podge system for securing a place in line.
Also note that the air conditioning at the recreation center rarely keeps up with the number of sweating bodies inside.
Compared with many park facilities, though, the place has a lot going for it. The building is new and it's clean.
Food in Flushing Meadows Corona Park
In the summer, hot dogs sell for a $2 at a cart near the tennis center. Wander out past the numerous soccer fields, and you'll find vendors selling empanadas for $1.
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