Astoria’s known for its beer gardens and Greek restaurants, and Long Island City for its industrial warehouses and factories. Not so much for their compelling fitness profile. But through the eyes of a wellness-obsessed New Yorker, these neighborhoods, with a rooftop farm, an Olympic-training pool, and a couple of great yoga studios, take on the rosier, healthier glow of a runner.
In Astoria, that runner’s more apt to be sporting Old Navy than Lululemon (although the Euro crowd loves Ed Hardy) and is less likely to be lapping you with a stroller or a NYC marathon time to beat. Everyone—from Latino weight-lifters and young, Midtown-working joggers to clutches of Greek and Italian men playing Bocce—is just doing their own thing.
And while waterfront LIC can’t do much about its giant industrial spaces, it’s good to know that in some of them Organic Avenue cold-presses its green juice, and Nu-Kitchen preps and portion-controls its plates. Here’s what else you need to know about being healthy in these ‘hoods, and where to go for wellness. Our good-for-you guide to Astoria and LIC—and a bulleted map of Well+Good’s healthy picks in Astoria-Long Island City.
Astoria Park. It has amazing Manhattan views, scores of runners, and the city’s biggest public pool that was originally built for Olympic training. On weekends, the pool turns into a playground—but it’s big enough to get some laps in, too. (Because you can’t book lanes, weekdays are best for a workout.) And it pays to know the pool rules before you go and are schooled by the stern staff: Bring a lock and nothing else. No phone, sunscreen, or cover-up beyond the locker room, and only rubber flip-flops. Got it? Pool entrance is on the eastern side of the park, off 19th St., between 23rd and 24th Aves., Astoria, www.nycgovparks.org
Brooklyn Grange. This 40,000 square-foot working rooftop farm is on top of the old Standard Motor Products building in LIC (yes, we know the name is confusing). It’s worth witnessing an acre of vegetables flourishing on an industrial roof with the New York City skyline backdrop, and the swat team of dedicated urban farmer at work. The produce—kale, beans, tomatoes, and more—is all organic and sold in lobby market Tuesday and Thursday afternoons—and to neighborhood restaurants like Vesta Trattoria. The Brooklyn Grange, 37-18 Northern Boulevard, LIC, 917-204-5644, www.brooklyngrangefarm.com
Vesta Trattoria & Wine Bar. “Inspired by Italy, the local greenmarket, and a commitment to a menu without boundaries.” That’s the motto of this neighborhood favorite that also draws Manhattan foodies. Vesta taps the nearby Brooklyn Grange for nearly all of its produce, and serves only grass-fed and antibiotic-free meat. The menu specials are often uber-seasonal, but I’m having a love affair with the Perciatelli with summer squash, goat cheese, spinach, and toasted walnuts. It’s worth the trade-off: scrumptious and seasonal for a smidge of extra calories. Vesta Trattoria & Wine Bar, 21-02 30th Ave., Astoria, 718-545-5550, www.vestavino.com
The Yoga Room. With popular sibling studios in Astoria and LIC, the Yoga Room rules the Queens yoga scene. Forgive the Astoria location’s un-yoga-like block, which it shares with an Applebee’s and a Cineplex. Once you’re inside the newly renovated four-room studio, it all melts away. Teachers like Anya Porter and Carlos Rodriguez represent yoga’s new wave. Also forward-thinking: free summer classes in Gantry Plaza State Park and $10 classes throughout the week. The Yoga Room 38-01 35th Ave, Astoria, 718-274-0255; 10-14 47th Road, LIC, 718-786-7962, www.the-yoga-room.com
Astoria Natural Market. After yoga class, I like to stop by this organic market and café, and grab a drink from the organic juice bar or a delicious vegan sandwich, even according to non-vegans. (Favorite: mozzarella on pumpernickel). Locals also stock up on all natural foods, organic produce, and vitamins, and it’s one of the only places around with a mini Whole Foods-style salad bar. Astoria Natural Market, 46-03 Broadway, Astoria, 718-777-8477, www.marketon46.com
Socrates Sculpture Park. You’d never know the outdoor museum was an abandoned landfill and illegal dumpsite until 1986, when artists and local residents resurrected it as a 4.5-acre waterfront park. Now the (often outsize) sculptures rise from the destruction of what was there before, and a few gardens and flowerbeds dot the otherwise not terribly lush landscape. On Saturday and Sunday, the park hosts free fitness classes hatha yoga, capoeira, Pilates, tai chi, and kayaking in Hallets Cove. Socrates Sculpture Park, 32-01 Vernon Boulevard, LIC, 718-956-1819, www.socratessculpturepark.org
Rejuvenate Spa. We can’t vouch for the treatments at this spa just yet. (It’s been closed for a summer vacation.) But based on its “holistic and conscious approach to skin care” and the selection of hard-to-find natural beauty product lines such as Trilogy, Afterglow Cosmetics, and Coola Suncare, we really want to. Rejuvenate Spa, 26-17 23rd Ave, Astoria, 718-626-4434, www.rejuvenatenyc.com —Lisa Elaine Held
Did we miss your favorite wellness destination in Astoria and Long Island City? Tell us, in the Comments, below.