For NYC-bound visitors looking to spend more time visiting, sleeping, shopping, eating, and drinking their way through Brooklyn and Queens, tracking down high-quality, up-to-date tourism info can be a challenge. Manhattan-obsessed New York City guidebooks rarely donate more than just a few pages to the boroughs, and sifting through disparate online resources can turn up mixed results and take up precious time.
Of course, while we here at BQE Tours: The Brooklyn Queens Experience are happy to show you the way through these happening boroughs on our culturally immersive Brooklyn and Queens tours, we realize that there are plenty of visitors interested in digging in deeper still. Happily, there are now three dedicated tourism organizations (BQE Tours is proudly a member of each) in place, which cater to NYC visitors interested in heading out beyond Manhattan. Here’s the lowdown on the three—NYC & Company, Explore Brooklyn, and the Queens Tourism Council:
The official marketing, tourism, and partnership organization for the entirety of New York City, NYC & Company’s missions is to promote tourism and travel throughout the five boroughs. Their website comes loaded with useful visitor information, including mini-borough guides to Brooklyn and Queens. They also back popular value-packed semiannual events like Restaurant Week and Broadway Week.
Must-Read: Attractions in Brooklyn and Queens get plenty of lovin’ on NYC & Company’s list of the 18 essential must-sees in NYC. In Brooklyn, they count the Brooklyn Bridge (let BQE Tours lead the way, on their Brooklyn Bridge crossover, with DUMBO, tour) Prospect Park, and Coney Island as musts on any visitor’s checklist. In Queens, they cite the 7 Train and Flushing Meadows Corona Park as quintessential NYC experiences. (Note that BQE Tours can bring you to any of those places—and more—on our customized private tours!)
Cool Feature: The website’s events calendar offers great one-stop shopping for all happenings going on throughout the entirety of NYC. Look out for some of the biggies on the annual events calendar—a couple of major Brooklyn and Queens events worth planning your trip around include the Cherry Blossom Festival at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (in April) or the U.S. Open for tennis in Queens (in August).
More Info: Visit NYCgo.com, where you can order a free NYC Official Visitor Guide and map, and also opt-in for a free, twice-monthly e-newsletter to stay abreast of all of NYC’s many goings-on. NYC & Company also runs several Visitor Information Centers, once you get into town—swing by to stock up on maps, guides, and expert advice (check out locations and hours).
Newcomer Explore Brooklyn (launched in May 2014) acts as the tourism arm for the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. Their website ExploreBK.com—Brooklyn’s first official tourism website—comes loaded with information on Brooklyn restaurants, hotels, shops, activities, attractions, and events. The agency recently launched a new initiative, the Explore Brooklyn Hotel Week, touting a week of promotional rates at select Brooklyn-based hotels.
Must-Read: The Explore Brooklyn blog turns out some great content—some of our favorite recent posts have covered topics like 8 great brunch spots in Brooklyn; Brooklynisms: A guide to Brooklyn slang; and 9 of the best places to get pizza in Brooklyn.
Cool Feature: If you’re looking for things to do in Brooklyn, their site hosts a helpful searchable directory. For instance, visit the “Play” section of the website, where you can search attractions and activities by type (i.e., parks, yoga, historic and protected sites), and then further refine search results by neighborhoods. You’ll get detailed listing info for each of the attractions that meet your search parameters, including photos, contact info, and maps.
More Info: Visit ExploreBK.com and sign up for their free e-newsletter to stay up-to-date with Brooklyn-themed articles and info. (Note: While Explore Brooklyn doesn’t operate a physical visitors’ center, there is one facility operated by Brooklyn Borough Hall).
The Queens Tourism Council, a consortium of local hoteliers, cultural institutions, tour operators, restauranteurs, and other tourism-minded business, was launched in 2012 to help promote tourism to the borough. Their website, ItsInQueens.com, comes loaded with tips on the best places in Queens to visit, eat, play, and stay.
Cool Feature: Multicultural Queens is famed for its outstanding ethnic eateries. The Queens Tourism Council has partnered with a Queens-focused foodie blog at ChopsticksAndMarrow.com (authored by local food journalist and guide Joe DiStefano), and the organization has also backed food-focused events in the borough like Queens Restaurant Week and Queens Taste.
More Info: Visit ItsInQueens.com, where you can sign up for a free weekly events e-newsletter. They’ll also send you a free Queens In Your Pocket visitors’ guide; sign up for one here. (Note the Queens Tourism Council doesn’t run a physical visitors’ center at this time.)