You would never know it when you step out of the subway, but hidden just behind the busy commercial stores of Queens Boulevard is the leafy-green neighborhood of Kew Gardens. For those who want space to breathe and a lush respite from the hustle and bustle, Kew Gardens is an amazingly affordable option.

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    How affordable, did you ask? The median asking price for sales in Kew Gardens, according to the StreetEasy Data Dashboard, is $329K as of January 2022. The median asking rent is $2,035 for the same period. For comparison, consider Manhattan’s median asking price for sales, a whopping $1.5M. The median asking rent in Manhattan is also much higher, $3,700 — Kew Gardens offers significant savings! Discover seven more affordable Queens neighborhoods.

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    Where Is Kew Gardens?

    The neighborhood is just south of Forest Hills, bordered by the Jackie Robinson Parkway and Van Wyck Expressway, Forest Park, and Jamaica and Myrtle Avenues. Richmond Hill is directly south of Kew Gardens, and Briarwood is the neighborhood to the east. Because the area was too hilly to build on, a golf course existed for many years on what is now Kew Gardens, complete with a lake. Ironically, golfers didn’t care for the uneven terrain either, and after the LIRR rerouted its tracks, the golf course was scrapped for residential development.

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    What Are the Housing Options in Kew Gardens?

    The lovely single-family homes of Kew Gardens run the gamut in styles. You will find fine examples of Dutch Colonial Revival and Beaux-Arts — not to mention the landmarked Tudor house of Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Ralph Bunche. There are also Tudor-style duplexes along Austin Street. Many stand-alone homes stay in families for generations. However, you can still find listings in the $1M range, which is a steal considering the properties’ size. “What may go for $3M on one side of the Jackie Robinson may go for $1.5M in Kew Gardens,” notes Alan Mann, an associate broker with Douglas Elliman and former resident of the neighborhood.

    Rental apartments are in medium-to-large complexes sprinkled throughout Kew Gardens. Among co-ops, the prewar Hampton Court is one of the most coveted, with its Georgian-style brick buildings, landscaped gardens, tremendously high ceilings. The building also has generously sized apartments (the average one-bedroom is 900 square feet), and it’s across from Forest Park.

    What’s the Commute Like?

    It’s a speedy 17-minute trip on the LIRR to get from Kew Gardens to Penn Station. The station’s tracks were built over the old golf course, which had graced the neighborhood until 1909. The original station building remains standing.

    The Kew Gardens–Union Turnpike subway station is on Queens Boulevard, across from the courthouse, and is served by the express E and local F trains. The average commute to Manhattan is 30 minutes, though it can be faster during rush hour. “You always get a seat in the morning,” says Mann. “I’d buy the newspaper on my way to the subway, but I’d get in quicker than I could finish reading it!”

    If you drive, not only are the Jackie Robinson and Union Turnpike readily accessible, but the Grand Central Parkway, Cross Island Parkway, and Van Wyck Expressway are also nearby. “You can be on any of them in five minutes,” says Mann.

    Kew Gardens is also a 10-minute drive to JFK, making it popular with airline personnel, who often have units in the neighborhood.

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    Parks and Green Spaces

    Kew Gardens offers residents a variety of spots for outdoor recreation, including the third-largest park in the city and a historic cemetery.

    Forest Park: It is the crowning jewel of Kew Gardens. Forest Park spans 538 acres from the western border and is the third-largest park in NYC. Conceived by brothers John Charles and Frederick Law Olmsted, it includes natural features (glacial boulders, forests, rocky terrain) and people-made ones, like the 1903 wood-carved carousel by D.C. Muller, a four-mile horse-riding track, a running track, and a golf course, among others. The park is also home to the largest continuous oak forest in Queens.

    Maple Grove Cemetery: Surprisingly, there are no tall tales about this bucolic cemetery on the northern border. It was established in 1875 before anything else was there. The rural-like cemetery encompasses 65 rolling acres, a lake, and even a labyrinth! Today, it hosts historical and cultural events.

    Forest Hills Gardens: This private community of gorgeous multimillion-dollar homes is sandwiched between Kew Gardens and Forest Hills. Take a stroll through the winding roads for a scenic walk toward Forest Hills. A small, local park with steep banks becomes the de facto sledding hill in winter.

    What’s Special About Kew Gardens?

    One of seven planned garden communities in New York City, including Sunnyside Gardens, Kew Gardens features rolling hills, winding streets, stately century-old trees, and a main thoroughfare, which Mann notes, “is a real town center. You have one of everything on Lefferts Boulevard.”

    Spacious apartment buildings — many with 10-foot ceilings — blend seamlessly with Tudor duplexes and elegant two-story houses set back from the curb by deep lawns. On summer nights, the chorus of cicadas and swaying tree branches in the breeze make it feel like another world.

    Kew Gardens also boasts a unique architectural feature — a working bridge affectionately called the “Ponte Vecchio of Queens.” It’s called a working bridge because it is home to businesses like mom-and-pop shops and eateries.

    What To Do, Eat & Drink in Kew Gardens

    The area is brimming with great places to visit.

    Kew Gardens Cinemas: The neighborhood movie theater has had a colorful history since its opening in the 1930s. Among its many makeovers, it has been a midnight show venue, a second-run double-feature theater, and an adult cinema (which was reportedly very successful). The current owners restored the theater’s original Art Deco exterior, and it now shows both independent and blockbuster movies. The open courtyard behind the theater sometimes hosts local outdoor events, like art shows and concerts.

    Dani’s House of Pizza: This Italian restaurant is among the places on the “Ponte Vecchio.” You can sit down or order a slice to go. Dani’s claims to have the sweetest pizza sauce in Kew Gardens, and it doesn’t lie. Founded in 1959, it has been a fixture in the neighborhood and remains super popular. There’s a line out the door of the takeout counter, day and night.

    Baker’s Dozen: For bagels, there’s no better place to go than this longtime café on the bridge. Customers often buy them by the bunch, along with all the fixings.

    Austin’s Ale House: Located at the other end of the bridge is the local pub. It’s always been a central spot in Kew Gardens, but ever since it expanded to the outdoor patio next to the LIRR train station, it has become the hub of the social scene.

    Homestead Gourmet Shop: Housed inside a 1919 Tudor-style building, this gourmet shop offers an assortment of savory goods. Stick with the Polish and German offerings, such as cold cuts, sausages, and condiments. “They’re also famous for their strudel, which is often sitting in the window,” notes Mann. “It’s terrific.”