5 Reasons We Love Forest Hills

5 Reasons We Love Forest Hills

My husband and I moved from Jersey City to Forest Hills, Queens, because we thought the area was beautiful, wanted a location close to both Long Island and Manhattan; and thought it would be a great place to stroll with a baby. We've been here for a few years now, and with a toddler in tow, have etched out our own little universe here. The diversity, the friendly people, and the family-friendly vibe (strollers are everywhere!) is a big draw to this community. Some may not like the chain stores movin' into the area--a Target is expected to open soon on Austin St.--but Forest Hills is still chock-full of charm. BuzzFeed once called Queens "the greatest borough", so let's explore this little ethnic slice of the Q-borough....

Here are five reasons we love FoHi. (Yes, FoHi): 

Yummy Eats and Sweet Treats: Ok, first of all--there's a Shake Shack opening in Forest Hills really soon, so we won't have to head into Manhattan for a burger and shakes fix. In the meantime, Forest Hills is home to the NYC gem Bareburger, the baby-friendly Exo Cafe, Cabana, for those in need of a Cuban food fix, Mexican restaurants like La Coya and 5 Burros, Nick's Pizza, which draws in Manhattanites, and plenty of kid-friendly diners. It's a chain, but don't rule out Cheeburger Cheeburger, which has healthy salad, sandwich, and burger options for mama and babe. There's also the classic and famous Eddie's Sweet Shop, an authentic 1950s ice cream cafe with amazing desserts (they sell vintage candy, too!). Speaking of desserts, must-visits include: La Dolce Italia, home to Italian-inspired gelato, Martha's Country Bakery which has amazing cupcakes and homemade pies and is open late, and Aigner's (homemade!) Chocolates which will satisfy your sweet tooth. Craving some classic, comfort foods? Head on over to Knish Knosh for some authentic, kosher knishes. The neighborhood's mix of old and new eateries enhances the quaint ambiance of Forest Hills. 

Creative, specialized kid classes. For families, a major draw to Forest Hills are the plethora of classes around for kids of all ages; everything from GAALS (Girls Athletic and Life Skills) to music for kids with disabilities. You've got super kid friendly-staples such as Gymboree and Music Together in the neighborhood, as well as Hug Music, which offers Music Therapy for special needs children. You can also find Mommy & Me-type classes at the Central Queens Y, Forest Hills Jewish Center, and Bamboo Moves yoga studio, which also has private yoga sessions for children with special needs. Older kids, who are interested in cooking and painting, gravitate to Young Chefs Academy, Oliloli Arts & Crafts studio, and Plaster Party Place for a grand ol' time. There's also a classic, old-school movie theatre in Forest Hills called Cinemart that often shows the latest Pixar/Disney hit and offers special "quieter" screenings for babies and mommies.

REALTED: Check out Our Guide to Raising Kids in Queens

A large park. Forest Park is a must-visit. Lush, natural land in Queens? You've got it! Forest Park is home to 500+ plus miles of natural land, and even houses Lynne 's Riding Center for the little horse lover in your life who wants to take some horseback riding lessons. Kids will also cherish the cool carousel, tennis courts, live music, and more. It's huge. It's grandiose, in fact. Park Rangers can tell you all about the park’s rich history and the Jackson Pond Playground features a sprinkler area, climbing gym, and game tables. Another spacious playground inside Forest Park is called DeVoy and it has bridal paths, slides, swings, the typical playground works. 

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Many smaller parks. Forest Hills is so large each little sub-section within Forest Hills has it's own mini park and playground, which is great, because you don't have to travel far to let your kids run around and burn off some steam. I live near Yellowstone Park and Russell Sage playground, which have slides, jungle gyms, and baby swings as well as big-kid swings. However, there are many other local, smaller playgrounds in the area with kid-friendly amenities such as slides of all heights, climbing statues, sprinklers/sprays, jungle gyms, and more. Moms often arrange play dates at area parks, and by rotating your meet-ups or going to a different park each time, you can really explore other areas in Forest Hills. Other local playgrounds and parks include Willow Lake Playground, Ehrenreich-Austin Playground, and Annadale Playground, which is technically in Rego Park, but walking distance from Forest Hills.

A cultural and geographic mix. What makes Forest Hills such a special section of Queens is that the landscape is just as diverse and amazing as the people. Not only can you find all types of locals of various ethnicities and backgrounds on every single block, and hear various languages being spoken, you also find global foods; from Irish pubs with traditional eats (Irish Cottage/Banter) to a Kosher Pizza and Sushi restaurant (Pizza Palace Cafe). Every time I meet someone new in the neighborhood, I learn something really special about their culture, and share with them that I'm Latina and Jewish, which leads into another wonderful, diverse conversation. As for geography, just walking around Forest Hills, you'll find everything from beautiful mansions, a tennis stadium where many artists, such as The Who and Joan Jett have performed, as well as block-long apartment buildings adorned with beautiful archways dating to the 1920s, housing residents whose family has lived in that building for generations. Every block is so different; one street is all lush beautiful houses, the next is tall apartments, then smaller houses, then 3 family houses, then apartments...you literally never know what architecture is right around the corner, adding to the excitement of living in--or visiting--such a great, charming, unexpected piece of this borough.  

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Main photo by Erica Lyn.