If you’re looking for a relaxing getaway destination in New York City that has an easy, slow pace and charm to spare, look no further than Sunnyside, Queens. This hidden gem is off the beaten path of most New York City residents, but don’t let its low-key name fool you; this area is one of the Five Boroughs’ best-kept secrets for an easy, car-free escape that’s pretty far removed from the hustle and bustle of Midtown.

The neighborhood’s name dates all the way back to 1713, when the original French purchasers of the land named it “Sunnyside Hill.” The name stuck, and once the Queensboro Bridge was built, it became a haven for immigrants that even today feels a world away from the skyscrapers of the big city.

Within Sunnyside is a planned community called Sunnyside Gardens. These picturesque private townhouses, most built between 1924 and 1928, came with their own gardens in the front and the back as well as inclusive terraces. The tree-lined streets and landscaping of this development are typically kept immaculate. Sunnyside Gardens also incorporates one of the city’s only two private parks (the other is Manhattan’s Gramercy Park). Strict rules protecting the garden areas and limiting changes to even the exterior paint colors resulted in the development staying the same for decades, and it now looks like something out of a time capsule, when buildings in the boroughs were larger, more ornate and featured much more green space. You’d be hard-pressed to find an area with more stateliness, placidity, and natural beauty this close to Manhattan. Walking down these serene streets in the northern part of Sunnyside is one of the city’s simpler pleasures. Sunnyside Gardens is now a protected historic district unto itself, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

But Sunnyside Gardens is only part of the neighborhood; many of the other attractions in the area are just as unique and come with plenty of character. Unlike other neighborhoods in the city, strong efforts have been made to preserve the tranquility, quaintness and original style of the district that the first developers instituted in the early 20th century. Cute vintage shops, caf├ęs and boutiques give the area a laid-back, small-town feeling that’s simultaneously woven into the fabric of Queens and New York City itself.

The best way to experience Sunnyside is to visit and stroll down the neighborhood’s streets like Skillman Avenue, 43rd Avenue and Greenpoint Avenue. Take a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and explore the vicinity for yourself to see a part of New York City that feels like a breath of fresh, unpolluted air.

The 7 train stops at two places in Sunnyside, and the neighborhood is just four short stops from Grand Central Station in Manhattan. The large shopping centers of Woodside and the hip cultural attractions of Long Island City are within walking distance if you want to combine your visit with art viewing or eating, even though the neighborhood has plenty of quality dining establishments of its own, including a number of wine bars and cute little Asian, Latin and Mediterranean bistros. But even with big-city connections, the neighborhood doesn’t feel at all urban or industrial (with the possible exception of Queens Boulevard, which bisects Sunnyside’s center and offers a multitude of appealing eateries).

Come see what Sunnyside has to offer. And while you’re at it, if you’re in the market for a new place to live, NoFeeRentals.com is a great place to find a home base that’s not far from quick escapes like Sunnyside. Whether you prefer Uptown, Midtown or Downtown, NoFeeRentals.com has something for everyone.

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