QUEENS — Far away from the Van Wyck Expressway and the hustle and bustle of JFK airport, Jamaica offers a host of charming spots ideal for a summer date, ranging from wide open parks to intimate restaurants.
Here's where to take your companion in Jamaica:
For those who want a stroll in a park:
Rufus King Park — located at Jamaica Avenue and 153rd Street — is one of the most popular spots in downtown Jamaica, which provides opportunities for a quiet lunch, a walk and a history lesson.
The park features King Manor Museum, which was once the home of Rufus King, a politician and one of the signers of the U.S. Constitution. The manor, where couples can see a collection of 19th century furniture, music instruments and costumes, offers guided tours Thursdays through Sundays.
There is also a concert space, as well as a playground and sprinklers for kids, a soccer field, handball and basketball courts.
It can get crowded and quite noisy during the day, but usually the portion closest to Jamaica Avenue, in front of the museum, remains quiet and provides shade, tables and chairs, as well as free wireless Internet.
Captain Tilly Park, several blocks away from Rufus King Park, at Chapin Parkway and 165th Street in Jamaica Hills, couples can find another romantic spot just across the street from the old Jamaica High School building.
Parkgoers can sit on benches along the Goose Pond, which is filled with wildlife, including herons, wild ducks and geese, and watch the sun setting over the trees.
Jamaica Bay, which is also relatively close by, offers numerous hiking trails and birdwatching opportunities for couples who love nature.
For those who want a romantic dinner:
Jamaica has several intimate restaurants, which can serve as a lovely spot for a rendezvous.
Cityrib, a high-end, sit-down barbecue restaurant on Parsons Boulevard, is one of neighborhood favorites for couples, locals say. “It has a nice ambiance, and on Fridays and Saturdays they usually have events and jazz concerts,” said Valerie Stevens of the Jamaica Center Business Improvement District.
Stevens also recommended The Door, a Jamaican restaurant at the corner of Guy Brewer and Baisley boulevards, which she said has “a nice touch to it and serves a very good food."
Spicy Lanka, on Hillside Avenue, which serves Sri Lankan cuisine, is also known for its charming atmosphere, as is Pretty Toni’s Cafe, a soul food restaurant on West Merrick Rd. in nearby Valley Stream, which, according to Greg Mays of A Better Jamaica, is very cozy and elegant.
For those in the mood for a game of chance:
There is also a touch of Las Vegas in Jamaica, as the area features its own casino.
Resorts World provides gambling opportunities; it also hosts events and concerts, featuring celebrities, including 50 Cent.
A free shuttle bus picks up casino-goers from Sutphin Blvd/Archer Ave. every 20 minutes.
For those who crave culture:
Jamaica has several theaters and cultural venues that offer a variety of events. To find interesting concerts and live theater performances in the area, check the schedules of the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, the Jamaica Performing Arts Center and the African Poetry Theater.
Those seeking something a little bit different can:
— Ride the AirTrain from the Sutphin Blvd. station to JFK to watch the planes take off and land.
— Walk along Jamaica Avenue in search for historic and landmarked buildings, including King Manor Museum, the former Valencia Movie Theatre, which currently serves as the Tabernacle of Prayer church, the former Jamaica Savings Bank building or the former Queens Register of Titles and Deeds Building, which is now used by the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning.
— Go for a bike ride around the stunning homes of Jamaica Estates.