Unless you’re one of a fortunate few, a walking tour of the Louvre in Paris may not be within your budgetary means this spring.
But don’t pick up that remote control so quickly — there are plenty of fun, fascinating and affordable tours right here in Queens.
From educational walks through historic neighborhoods, to peaceful nature strolls to tantalizing treks that allow you to stop and sample the culinary fares of Flushing, Elmhurst and beyond, springtime is the perfect time to get reaquainted with the most eclectic borough in the city.
Here are some suggestions on how to get started:
Jack Eichenbaum’s Public Walks
With a soon-to-be-launched new website and 10 Queens tours scheduled between now and June, urban geographer Jack Eichenbaum is a testament to the fact that the borough has just as much, if not more, historical and cultural clout than any other.
Eichenbaum will take you anywhere. If you’ve ever wondered about Queens Plaza in Long Island City, sign up for his Sunday, April 25 tour and learn about the many ways the plaza has rapidly changed after decades of industrial decline. If picturesque, upscale scenery is your thing, or you want to learn more about the “McMansionization” of Malba, Eichenbaum will host a three-mile walk through the lush residential neighborhoods of North Flushing, Whitestone and Malba on Saturday, May 8.
New for this year, the history buff is introducing “Interborough Bus Adventures,” which takes participants from one end of the Q44 and M60 bus lines to the other. Imagine sitting back and absorbing the many changes in signage, architecture and culture as you glide from Parkchester, the Bronx to Jamaica Center, or from Central Harlem to East Harlem — within a four- to five-hour span.
Those who would rather hit the pavement can also check out “Changing Cultures of Queens,” a series of educational tours that take place on Tuesday evenings. Each walk begins at 6 p.m. at a designated location near a subway stop and ends two hours later at a neighborhood restaurant. Choose among tours like Flushing’s Koreatown, Forest Hills to Corona, Sunnyside to Jackson Heights and South Richmond Hill.
Since all that spring walking is going to leave you famished anyway, why not take a cue from Nosh Walks and kill two birds with one stone?
Founded by world traveler and published culinary book author Maya Alperson, Nosh features off-the-beaten-track restaurants, delis and bakeries in neighborhoods as diverse as Ridgewood, Long Island City and Flushing.
Each tour last approximately three hours and makes a half dozen or more stops at eateries and participants are even encouraged to carry along a tote bag in which to store scrumptious leftovers.
In the past, Nosh has visited Elmhurst for Chinese, Korean, Thai and Indonesian food; Israeli Flushing for great falafel and horseradish ice-cream; and Ridgewood for Italian, Polish, Balkan, Dominican, Egyptian and Mexican delicacies, as well as old-world German chocolate.
On Saturday, April 15 at 1 p.m., Nosh will host a culinary walk through Astoria, which will include a trip to a Brazilian market and samplings of Venezuelan, Cuban, Mexican, Balkan — and, of course, Greek — food. The tour costs $45 per adult and $16 per child and the meeting point will be El Sitio de Astoria at 35-55 31st St. Space is limited and reservations are encouraged.
To book a tour visit noshwalks.com or call (212) 222-2243 if you have questions.
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
With more than 330 bird species, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, part of Gateway National Recreation Area, has long been an ultimate local destination for birdwatchers.
But even those nature lovers who aren’t familiar with our feathered friends can take advantage of the refuge’s 9,155 acres of salt marsh, woods and tranquil ponds. The park provides regular free tours and events.
Upcoming walks include “A Walk in the Park,” on Saturday, April 17 from 10 until 11:30 a.m., in which a National Park Service ranger leads participants on a hike of the East Pond Trail, and “Spring Bird and Wildflower Hike,” on Sunday, April 25 from 10 a.m. until noon, which features a slideshow courtesy of the New York City Audubon followed by a guided tour. To make reservations call (718) 318-4340.
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is located on Cross Bay Boulevard near Broad Channel. For a list of scheduled events at all Gateway parks, visit nyharborparks.org/visit/calendar.
Queens Art Express 2010
Whether you call it a tour, festival or just a great excuse to rekindle your appreciation of the city’s subway system, Queens Art Express 2010 is anything but typical.
Sponsored by the Queens Council on the Arts, Metropolitan Transit Authority, Queens Tourism Council and more than 30 Queens museums, theatre companies and businesses, this four-day event celebrates the diverse arts, culture and commerce that thrive beneath the 7 train.
From June 10 until June 13, participants can hop aboard the train in Long Island City and hop off along five stops in Sunnyside, Woodside, Jackson Heights, Corona and Flushing, exploring galleries and museums along the way.
Featured partners include Sunnyside Artists, LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, Thalia Spanish Theater, Dance Entropy/Green Space and Queens Botanical Garden.
For more information visit queensartexpress.com.
Victorian Richmond Hill
Believe it or not, lone wolfs can also get in on all the walking tour fun, without the bullhorns and pre-planned itineraries.
Richmond Hill Historical Society provides a free walking tour map on its website that is designed to help you not miss a single breathtaking Victorian mansion or spring blossom in Forest Park.
For more information visit richmondhillhistory.org.
Louis Armstrong Trolley Tour
The Poppenhusen Institute in College Point will host a trolley tour to the Louis Armstrong Museum in Corona on Saturday, May 1 at 11 a.m.
This museum is more than a collection of the jazz legend’s keepsakes, it is also the home where he and wife, Lucille, lived. The day will include trolley transportation to the Armstrong house, a guided tour of the museum and exhibit and a stop in the museum gift shop.
Guests are invited to bring lunch that they will be able to eat in the museum’s garden.
Tickets cost $18. Guests will meet at the Poppenhusen Institute at 114-04 14th Road, College Point. The trolley will leave at 11:30 a.m. and return to the institute at 2:30 p.m.
Reservations and payments are required by April 23.
To book the tour call (718) 358-0067 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.