Astoria Park: Beyond the Pool
Astoria Park, located in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens, New York, contains over 56 acres of sprawling lawns, walking trails, extensive facilities, and exquisite views.
The land was acquired by the City of New York as parkland in 1913. Rich in history and splendor, Astoria Park is an oasis in the busy city of New York providing plenty of activities and relaxation.
The southwest corner of the park boasts a beautiful quarter-mile (400m) all-weather track. Located directly adjacent to the RFK Bridge (formerly, and still commonly, known as the Triborough Bridge), the track is a haven for runners, walkers, and fitness gurus alike. Soccer games often take place in the grassy center of the track, and mothers can be seen pushing strollers as they stroll around the bright red loop.
Surrounding the track are fitness bars, each station with instructions on how to achieve the best results from your workout.
Walk NYC is a free program brought to public parks throughout the five boroughs that is funded by Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield and is intended to encourage New Yorkers of all ages to get out and walk in the city’s parks. Astoria Park hosts Walk NYC at the Astoria Park Track on Wednesday afternoons from 1:30-3:30. For more information about the Walk NYC program please visit: http://www.nycgovparks.org/programs/recreation/walk-nyc.
Get your tennis shoes and rackets ready for Astoria Park’s 14 hard-surfacetennis courts located in the southeast area of the park.
Permits are required to play, and there is a small cost, however single-play or season-long (April 7th - November 18th this year) passes are available for purchase through the mail or in person at one of the city’s Parks Department Permit Offices. For a full list of Permit Offices and permit information please visit: https://www.nycgovparks.org/permits/tennis-permits.
Built in 1936, along with the park’s pool, Charybdis Playground (formerly known as Astoria Park Lower Playground) is nestled between the RFK Bridge and the Hell’s Gate Bridge in the northern section of the park. The playground’s new name is taken from ancient Green mythology – Charybdis was the daughter of Poseidon, and Zeus turned her into a monster after she flooded her father’s kingdom. The atmosphere of the playground feels about as magical as its name. Bright purple, pink and blue equipment encourages children to play and use their imagination as they swing from monkey bars and slide down slides while overlooking the East River.
Directly north of the Astoria Park Track and underneath the RFK Bridge is the Astoria Park Skate Park. A haven for skateboarders, inline skaters, and cyclists, the Skate Park provides smoothly paved surfaces, ramps, rails, boxes, and lips for the skater of any level. A great place to learn a new skill or hone a favorite pastime, the Astoria Park Skate Park attracts skaters from all over the city. The RFK Bridge provides a bit of protection from inclement weather, and the views of the East River, the running track, the pool, the rolling grasslands of the park, Ward’s Island and the Hell’s Gate Bridge are impeccable.
Dog owners rejoice over Bugsy’s Dog Run, just across Shore Blvd. from the main parkland at the southwest corner of the park. A small dirt lot where dogs can play off-leash,
Bugsy’s brings pet-owners and their furry friends together with beautiful views of the East River. The rules are simple: clean up after your dog, and have fun!
If you’re looking for a more low-key experience in Astoria Park there are plenty of walking trails of every difficulty, grassy lawns for picnics, and stunning views from almost every park bench (which there are hundreds of). Whether you’re looking for an afternoon stroll, a nice place to read a book, or a romantic spot to watch the sunset over the water, Astoria Park is the place to go. There is also plenty of history to indulge any New York City enthusiast.
Astoria Park is famous for its outdoor 330’ x 165’ public swimming pool, which opened July 4th, 1936, and was used for the diving and swimming trials for the U.S. Olympic Swim Team in 1936 and 1964. With the pool closed for the season, there are still many activities and facilities that make Astoria Park a great location for fun for the whole family.
Astoria Park is easily accessible by taking the N or Q trains to the Astoria Boulevard stop (about 20 minutes from midtown Manhattan), and walking west on Hoyt Avenue South approximately 10 blocks, where you meet directly with the park. Street parking is also available around the park. Restrooms and water fountains spot the park for public use.
Photographs by Kacey Herlihy.
Appalachian Trail Conservancy to Celebrate 2nd Annual Family Hiking Day
Built over the course of 15 years, the Appalachian Trail was completed on Aug. 14, 1937. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the completion of the trail, and what better way to celebrate than joining the Appalachian Trail Conservancy for the 2nd Annual Family Hiking Day!
Stretching from Maine to Georgia, the Appalachian Trail measures approximately 2,180 miles in length. On September 29, the ATC will be hosting volunteer-led hikes, many of which are family friendly, as well as trail-related games and activities to promote their 2nd annual Family Hiking Day.
The ATC developed Family Hiking Day in order to introduce families to the Appalachian Trail, as well as promote physical exercise and encourage families to spend time outdoors. With hikes ranging from easy to strenuous, there is something for every level of outdoors enthusiast.
Seven guided hikes have been arranged for participants; Woody Gap to Dockery Lake in Suches, Georgia, various hikes from Standing Ground Indian Campground in Frankin, North Carolina, Firescald Ridge in Hot Springs, North Carolina, Clingman’s Dome to Silers Bald in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Cornelius Creek in Bedford, Virginia, Bulls Bridge to Ten Mile Hill in Kent, Connecticut, and Little Wilson Falls in Elliottsville, Maine. For complete details on each of the guided hikes, including difficultly level, mileage, and registration information, visit the Guided Hike page on the ATC’s website.
If your state is not holding a guided hike, the ATC has plenty of trail recommendations for all skill levels to insure that you and your family have a safe and enjoyable time on the Appalachian Trail.
Image: A portion of the Appalachian Trail. Source: National Park Service.