Tour Jackson Heights Queens

A Tour of Jackson Heights, Queens NY

Tour Jackson Heights Queens

The great borough of Queens is known for its polyglot ethnic neighborhoods. Often, every immigrant group in Queens has at least one representative on a single block. But one section of the Queens neighborhood of Jackson Heights is different. Seventy-fourth Street between Roosevelt Avenue and 37th Avenue and the surrounding blocks are the heart of a South Asian neighborhood.

Visiting Jackson Heights Queens is an experience like no other. Located in the city’s heart, the neighborhood offers a vibrant array of cultures, cuisines, and attractions that are sure to delight. The Jackson Heights community has something to offer everyone, from its iconic landmarks, such as the Unisphere, to exciting eateries and shops along Roosevelt Avenue.

Indians, Bangladeshis, and Pakistanis call this area home and come here to shop and eat. It’s the place for some of the highest quality Indian food in New York City; South Asian jewelry, clothes, and music; Bollywood films; and plain old people-watching. This is a great neighborhood for strolling and taking it all in.

Things to Dine in Jackson Heights

The Unisphere is perhaps the most iconic landmark located in the neighborhood. This giant stainless steel globe serves as a reminder of the 1964 World’s Fair held in nearby Flushing Meadows Park. Other popular attractions include the New York Hall Of Science, the Queens Museum, the Louis Armstrong House Museum, and more.  Here are some things you can do in Jackson Heights:

Visit the Jackson Heights Greenmarket

Held on Sundays, this market offers a variety of fresh produce and locally-made products.

Take a Food Tour

Jackson Heights is a foodie’s paradise, with many cuisines to try. Take a food tour to sample some of the best offerings in the neighborhood.

Visit the Queens Museum

This museum features exhibits on the history and culture of Queens, including the famous Panorama of the City of New York.

Take a stroll in Travers Park

This park is a great place to relax and enjoy the outdoors. There are often events and performances held here as well.

Check out the Louis Armstrong House Museum

This museum celebrates the life and legacy of the legendary jazz musician Louis Armstrong, who lived in the neighborhood for many years.

Attend the annual Jackson Heights Arts Festival

This festival features performances and exhibitions by local artists and musicians and is a great way to experience the neighborhood’s creativity.

Visit the Diversity Plaza

This public space celebrates the diversity of the neighborhood and often hosts events and performances.

Walk around the Historic District

Jackson Heights has a designated historic district with beautiful architecture and landmarks.

Take a dance class

Jackson Heights is known for its vibrant dance scene, with classes available for a variety of styles, including salsa, tango, and ballroom.

Directions to Jackson Heights

The neighborhood is well-connected by public transportation; the 7 train stops at 90th Street-Elmhurst Avenue station and 74th Street/Roosevelt Avenue station. Additionally, several bus lines run through Jackson Heights, making exploring all the area has to offer easy.

But first, you need to get there. The neighborhood is easily accessible via the Roosevelt Avenue station by subway (N, R, G, E, F, 7). The E and F are express trains —- only three stops from midtown Manhattan —- but the 7 line has a most leisurely gait. A car isn’t the best means to breach the crowded streets of Jackson Heights. If you insist on driving, the BQE and Northern Boulevard are the nearest routes. Avoid navigating (a.k.a. “getting stuck”) on Roosevelt Avenue at all costs, and try 37th Avenue for parking.

Food & Drink

No visit to Jackson Heights would be complete without sampling some of its delicious cuisine. The restaurants that line Roosevelt Avenue provide a wide range of culinary experiences – from traditional Colombian fare to delicious Indian dishes. Many of these eateries also offer outdoor seating, which is perfect for enjoying the lively atmosphere of the area.

The Jackson Diner

37-47 74th St. Jackson Heights, NY; 718-672-1232

The Jackson Diner has become a New York institution over the past ten years. But don’t let the name fool you. The Diner gained its incongruous name from its former location in what had been the neighborhood’s greasy spoon. Its current spacious digs have luckily not dampened the quality of the food.

The restaurant serves typical northern Indian dishes -— curries and tandooris -— that are filling yet relatively light, not floating in a sea of ghee, the clarified butter that is the base of much Indian cooking. I recommend whole heartily the chicken tikka and the aloe gobi. Scan the menu carefully. There are a few uncommon delights tucked away. The mustard greens, oh the mustard greens. They’re pungent and flavorful, making me stand up at attention and applaud.

The Jackson Diner only accepts cash, so come prepared. Dinner for two with appetizers and beer or mango lassis will run about $40, but you can spend much less and still walk out very pleased.

Shaheen Sweets & Cuisine

7209 Broadway, Jackson Heights, NY; 718-639-4791

Shaheen’s is another landmark in Jackson Heights, but one little known outside the immigrant community. It’s been in its present location since 1971. You can eat lunch or dinner here, but it is best known for its Indian sweets — or more accurately, its Pakistani sweets (Shaheen’s is a Pakistani restaurant).

Indian sweets look odd, but turn away at your loss! They are always made with a butter and sugar base and may include milk, flour, nuts, or paneer (cottage cheese). Check this link for a rundown on Indian sweets, or visit this site for tasty pictures of common threats. Or better yet, walk into Shaheen’s and pick up what looks best. A small assortment of sweets costs less than five dollars.

If you stay for a meal, check the food displayed at the counter and place your order there. Take a seat and the food will be brought to you. Prices are very reasonable.

Shaheen’s is very well known in the Pakistani community. On a weekday, its clientele is almost exclusively Pakistani men.

Bollywood in Queens

Jackson Heights is a great neighborhood for stocking up on Bollywood films and music. Bollywood is the name for the Indian film industry and the many titles it produces annually. It is the second-largest motion picture industry in the world, and its masala-style films invariably include plenty of song and dance.

Palace Theater

73-7 37th Road, Jackson Heights, NY

Start out right by seeing the feature film at the Palace Theater on 37th Road. Formerly a blue venue, the shabby exterior hides a delightful local theater devoted to Bollywood films. Truly the big screen is the best place to see the whirling, all-singing, all-dancing, over-the-top drama of the Hindi movie masalas.

Melody Stop

73-9 37th Road, Jackson Heights, NY; 718-429-2578

If the shows aren’t running during your visit, step next door to the little retail shop Melody Stop, where the hits continue on video, DVD, and CD. Don’t let the crowded, too narrow shop deter you from a visit. The melodies are sweet, and the prices are sweeter. Expect to pay five dollars for truly marvelous features like Lagaan (a colonial piece), Kaante (Reservoir Dogs and The Usual Suspects gone Bollywood), or the 1970s masterpiece Sholay (Bollywood’s greatest Western, or at least curry Western). The sales staff is friendly and will recommend titles of note to novices.

Raaga Super Store

37-26 74th St. Jackson Heights, NY

For a more leisurely browse, round the corner onto 74th Street and head up the block to Raaga Super Store with its wider selection and much wider aisles. What this store makes up for in comfort, it lacks in price. In addition to the movie titles, look for its selection of bhangra, the electro-Indian pop music of the moment that has sucked a hip-hop sound into Punjabi folk music. On your way to the shop, you’ll have already heard the latest tunes pounding the concrete from cars inching their way up 74th Street.

Shopping in Jackson Heights

Backtrack a few storefronts to Butala Emporium, a perfect place to find an Indian gift. Yes, Ganesh, Durga, Shiva, and other deities are there in print and statue form, along with incense, clothes, stamps, and religious charms at decent prices. In the corner, there’s a well-stocked news rack with South Asian weeklies and monthlies and other printed matter—even comic book renditions of the Hindu epics alongside soap opera magazines. Further back, the walls are stocked with English texts on the study of the South Asian subcontinent. Downstairs, find intricately carved wooden furniture at good prices. There are also Indian instruments of top quality, like the tabla drum, dholak, sitar, and harmonium. Butala is a place where you can spend a quarter or a thousand dollars, and leave with a treasure.

Stroll down 74th Street and other shops beckon. Some brilliantly. Almost every other storefront is a jewelry shop where 22-karat gold predominates. Unlike the 14k, this rich gold is a heavy, almost dull color that makes up for its lack of shine with its beautiful dense sheen and malleability, which allows for more intricate, fantastic designs. Sona Jewelry of London and Sona Chandi seem typical of the small shops.

If you do pick up jewelry, you must get all spiffed up. Several beauty salons, such as Gulzar Beauty Salon, feature traditional henna tattooing -— called mehndi -— and hair removal by (hopefully painless) threading, not the brutal wax and strip. Can you wear a sari to go with that gold and henna? It takes impeccable posture. At least window shop for saris at regal clothing stores like Neena Sari Palace or the ISP (Indian Sari Palace).

Butala Emporium
37-46 74th St.
Jackson Heights, NY

Sona Chandi
37-14 74th St.
Jackson Heights, NY

Gulzar Beauty Salon
74-01B Roosevelt Ave.
Jackson Heights, NY

ISP (Indian Sari Palace)
37-07 74th St.
Jackson Heights, NY

Neena Sari Palace
37-23 74th St.
Jackson Heights, NY

Final Word

Whether you’re visiting for business or leisure, Jackson Heights Queens should definitely be on your radar. With so much culture, history and cuisine to enjoy, it’s no wonder that the area has become one of the most desirable neighborhoods in New York City!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *