The Game Plan
What to do
They say Astoria is where you go to have it all: great food, more space, cheaper rent. But it’s the Astoria pool that really seals the deal.
This gem sandwiched between Astoria Park and the East River offers that lovely, lazy, classic day-at-the-pool day, right here in New York.
Kids scream playfully in Spanish and English as they fail to escape in games of tag. Adults splash gently through the lap swim lane. A rainbow of towels brightens the pool’s edge.
And the pool din is punctuated by short, reprimanding whistles of orange-clad lifeguards keeping a watchful eye as their off-duty colleagues flirt on the sideline.
It’s a vision of summer. (Yes, I get paid to do this.)
Even the snack bar is the stuff of memories: Get hot dogs or hamburgers made to order, or go straight to the ice cream case for a rock-hard ice-cream cookie sandwich or the pink-pebbled Strawberry Shortcake bar. There’s also coffee — phew.
Good thing they’ve got all the goodies because you can’t bring in your own food. That’s high on the long list of rules on what you must and must not carry with you when visiting any city pool.
Musts include a bathing suit, to be shown at entry, and a combination lock to secure your other belongings within the vast, dank changing rooms. For the unprepared, locks, suits and more are available to buy at a stand outside.
The list of contraband includes glass bottles, newspapers (we broke this rule) and, amazingly, phones and other electronic devices.
The technology-free zone forces you to keep track of your people analog-style. Inevitably this leads to intercom announcements like: “Laura, please come meet your boyfriend under the clock. He’s waiting for you.”
You know what else is waiting for you? Summer. And it won’t stick around for long.
Off you go.
All public outdoor pools open for the season on June 27. The Astoria pool will then be open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. (That hour is a closure for cleaning.) Sign up for extended lap swim hours here.
Use our Google Map to get directions to the Astoria pool.
Where to eat
You’re in Astoria, so eat well: For a dinner of perfectly fried summer vegetables, Greek-style dips, slabs of fried Kefalograviera cheese and maybe a whole grilled fish (if you’ve still got a little room), go to Telly’s Taverna.
If you’ve come with a group, you can strategically order the family-style barbecue meals at Salt & Bone. If not, go à la carte with half birds, smoked brisket sausages and peppery beef ribs.
We’ve been eating a lot of pizza this summer, in a lot of boroughs, and that’s exactly how things should be. So add another location to your list: Milkflower. Its bubbly, beautifully charred wood-fired pies come scattered with what’s in season.
See the restaurants on our Google Map.
Where to drink
There’s good reason that Bohemian Hall, built by Czech and Slovak immigrants more than 100 years ago, may be the most well-known beer garden in the city. (Read all about the history in its walled courtyard of maple and sycamore trees here.)
An alternative location to drink those beers outside is Judy & Punch, which has a $5 happy hour with big bowls of popcorn and tables that can fit large groups on its back patio.
What to check out nearby
• The Socrates Sculpture Park, right on the water, is an eccentric open-air museum and park where artists create sculptural works in an outdoor studio. The park also offers loads of free programming, including yoga, kayaking and tai chi.
• Across the street from the park is Château le Woof. With treats for humans on one side and a play space for dogs on the other (equipped with equally fancy canine treats), you might call this cafe your happy place. There’s also a table with children’s books — what have they not thought of?
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