Sunnyside & Woodside with Kids: Top 30 Things to Do for NYC Families
Known as Sunny/Wood to us locals, adjacent Queens neighborhoods Sunnyside and Woodside are perpetually lumped together. But as a longtime Sunnyside resident, I know their differences firsthand. Sunnyside is a tiny, tight-knit community that occupies about one square mile of Western Queens while Woodside is quite vast and commercial in comparison. But they still have a lot in common.
Both neighborhoods boast quiet and relatively affordable residential housing, diverse populations and cute little ma-and-pa shops and restaurants. That's made Sunny/Wood increasingly popular with families—new ones seem to move in every day as they're priced out of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Lively local listserv Sunnymoms is a great resource for meet-ups, special events, selling/obtaining second-hand baby items and general moral support. Woodside has its own online community, Woodside Families, which offers more of the same.
Built up in the 1920s and '30s, Sunnyside has a rich Irish history. Although the area has grown more diverse over the years, there's still a very strong Irish presence, including lots of family-friendly Irish pubs and restaurants where you can catch traditional live music. Queens Boulevard and Skillman Avenue are the main commercial drags, and the historic Sunnyside Gardens—one of the first planned communities in the U.S.—is a big attraction. As you stroll its beautiful tree-lined streets and gaze at the quaint row houses, you may forget you're in NYC! And while Sunnyside Gardens Park is only open to members, if you go during one of the green space's annual public events you'll get to check it out, too.
More urban in feel, Woodside is home to the Big Six Towers apartment complex with a shopping area and playgrounds, as well as other large cooperative communities like Celtic Park. You'll find most of the neighborhood's stores and restaurants on Roosevelt Avenue and Skillman Avenue, and a few on Queens Boulevard. There's also Little Manila: a strip of Filipino businesses on Roosevelt between 63rd and 71st Streets.
Throughout October, we'll be highlighting everything Sunnyside and Woodside have to offer families. For the purposes of our posts, our geographical boundaries are the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway to the east and south, Northern Boulevard to the north and 39th Street to the west, at which point the attraction-filled Long Island City takes over. Both Sunnyside and Woodside are easily accessible via the 7 subway and the LIRR. We have lots of posts coming up about the best places to eat, play and shop in the neighborhoods but we're kicking off our coverage with the top 30 things to do with kids in Sunny/Wood.
- Pose for a pic in front of the iconic Sunnyside Arch on 46th Street and Queens Boulevard
- Stroll the lovely tree-lined streets in the Sunnyside Gardens Historic District
- Though usually off-limits to visitors, you can explore the members-only Sunnyside Gardens Park during one of its annual public events like Oktoberfest and the Memorial Day Fair
- Hungry? Hit Skillman Avenue and grab a bite at one of its many family-friendly restaurants like Claret Wine Bar, which serves up kid favorites like mac and cheese, meatballs and pizza
- Find new-to-you treasures at the many thrift shops that line Skillman and Greenpoint Avenues including Stray Vintage and Sunnyside Thrift Shop
- Sample lots of different local eats at the annual Taste of Sunnyside and Sunnyside Restaurant Week, both organized by the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District
- Or check out the organization's free family events like the annual Sunnyside Summer Strolls featuring fun for kids like arts and crafts, live performances and yoga
- Chow down on delicious homemade treats at local bakery La Marjolaine
- Hit the Lawrence Virgilio Playground, the outdoor pool or the band shell for no-cost summer concerts in the three-acre Windmuller Park
- Pack a picnic and lounge on the grass in Doughboy Plaza
- Browse stylish locally made children's clothes and accessories at Tiny You, which also hosts frequent special family events
- Pick up fruits and veggies at the seasonal Sunnyside Farmers Market on Saturdays in front of the recently renovated Torsney/Lou Lodati Playground
- Expose the kids to Hispanic culture at the Thalia Spanish Theatre, the only bilingual theater in Queens
- Catch a family-friendly musical starring local youngsters at Unity Stage Company or, if your kids are drama queens, have them audition
- Drop into the Sunnyside or Woodside branches of the Queens Library for weekly storytimes for tots
- Hit Sunnyside's Salt & Fat for out-of-this-world Asian-inspired tapas
- Put on your best green outfit and join the annual St. Pat's for All Parade, a super-kid-friendly celebration that welcomes revelers of all backgrounds—in the past I've seen a Bolivian dance troupe and Caribbean musicians
- Post-procession, hit one of the Irish pubs on the route for live music and traditional food—my family usually goes to Saints & Sinners
- Hit the annual Woodside Summer Street Fair sponsored by Woodside on the Move for local food, entertainment and vendors
- Grab a table in the spacious backyard of kid-friendly restaurant Quaint, which has weekly prix-fixe specials
- Sip free hot cocoa while hanging with Santa at the annual holiday tree lightings in Sabba Park and Sohncke Square
- Enjoy all-ages karaoke at Krystal's Cafe & Pastry Shop, one of our favorite family-friendly restaurants in all of Queens that serves yummy Filipino food and desserts
- Peruse second-hand wonders at the St. Raphael's Outdoor Flea Market on the first Sunday of the month from May to October
- Enjoy seasonal celebrations at the welcoming All Saints' Church including an annual Strawberry Fair in spring and a pumpkin fair in fall
- The Sunnyside Reformed Church sponsors great annual events, too, like the spring bazaar and a poetry slam in November
- Celebrate Filipino American History Month at the annual Bayanihan Cultural Festival in Woodside's Hart Playground
- Dine in the beautiful outdoor garden of the one of the best Thai restaurants in the city: SriPraPhai in Woodside
- Learn to swim in the Olympic-size pool at the Saint Sebastian's Parish Center—tip: members get great discounts
- Enroll your tots in dance classes at the Sunnyside Ballet Studio, where you'll also find Music for Aardvarks and City Kids Dance
- Keep an eye out for awesome street art created by locals like the Rise -n- Shine mural on the corner of 42nd Street and 48th Avenue, the Sunnyside mural on 40th Street and 47th Avenue and the large Refresh the Streets mural on 43rd Street between 47th Avenue
See all of our posts about exploring Sunnyside and Woodside, Queens with kids.
Places featured in this article:
Sunnyside Farmers Market
Lou Lodati Park