The "place where tourists wound up only if they got on the wrong subway in Manhattan," as the New York Times puts it, has now ascended to the opposite end of the spectrum. Queens was anointed the top travel destination in the US in December by travel guide publisher Lonely Planet, beating out New Orleans, Indianapolis, and other contenders that made the top 10. "With microbreweries springing up, new boutique hotels, a reinvented seaside at Rockaway, a world-class art scene, and a truly global food culture, 2015 is the year to try Queens," the Lonely Planet description of its top pick reads. And now that the borough's most ardent advocates have had time to let the news of this honor sink in, they're ready to explain to the world why Queens—not Brooklyn, not the Bronx, not even Manhattan—is deserving of the No. 1 slot.
"We're on the verge of crossing the Rubicon and instead of being a joke, with Archie Bunker and aluminum siding, we're actually becoming a fascinating place to visit," the PR director for the Queens Economic Development Corporation tells the Times, which cites some of the cultural venues that make the borough a must-see, including the Queens Zoo, the Mets' home of Citi Field, the museums of Long Island City, and the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, where the US Open is held. There's also the borough's ethnic diversity, which the Times calls one of its "biggest selling points." The numbers seem to indicate Lonely Planet's onto something: The number of visitors to Queens jumped 12% between 2012 and 2013, while neighbors Brooklyn and Manhattan only saw 8% and 4% increases, respectively, during that same year, the Times notes. (Never mind this passenger who freaked out on a Queens subway.)