Queens ranked top US tourist destination

Long known to New York visitors as a backdrop for the ride from the airport, Queens is now getting tourist recognition of its own.

New York's largest borough by area won the top spot in Lonely Planet's annual ranking of best places in the U.S. to visit. The list praised Queens' microbreweries, beaches, global food offerings and "world-class" art scene—all attractions that perennial tourist destination Brooklyn also boasts.

Queens New York subway
Franz Marc Frei | Getty Images

"I have always argued that we have the best hotels, restaurants, cultural organizations, parks, sporting events, and residents in the world and that our prices are very competitive for tourists," Seth Bornstein, executive director of the Queens Economic Development Corporation, said in a statement. "It's simply wonderful that Lonely Planet agrees, and our hospitality industry is waiting with open arms for all visitors. Come, you'll like it."

But not everyone in New York is so sure that Queens deserved the top spot.

Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Carlo Scissura said he thought the rankings were funny, although he was happy for Queens.

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"It was nice to see that our next door neighbor got a little love, but I think we all know there is still no place like Brooklyn," he told CNBC, adding, "We're still the coolest, hottest place in the world."

Lonely Planet tapped Brooklyn for the top spot on its 2007 list.

Scissura emphasized his belief that Brooklyn outpaced Queens on nearly every metric cited by Lonely Planet—culinary and visual arts included—but that the most obvious category is beer, as his borough's microbreweries "led the way for them to open in Queens." He also lauded the diversity of food options that have resulted from a wide array of communities calling Brooklyn home.

Still, in its report on an emerging Queens, Lonely Planet wrote that the area is "New York's meltiest melting pot." Although it is tough to measure just how interwoven different communities are, that assertion may well be true: Queens had the most foreign-born residents of any borough, according to a 2011 study.

While residents of Manhattan may scoff at the notion that their internationally famous landmarks did not land them Lonely Planet's top spot, Queens residents highlighted the benefits of their own neighborhoods.

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"I think if you want a more immersive local experience when you visit New York City, then coming [to Queens] would give that to you," said Sylvia Frys, a student at Hunter College who lives in Astoria, a neighborhood in the borough famous for its Greek restaurants. "Everyone else who comes to New York would just be getting the generic, touristy experience."

Still, the added attention from the Lonely Planet list might not be a good thing: "I don't know if we want all these people coming here," Frys said when first told of the ranking.

New York City saw more than 54 million tourists in 2013, according to NYC & Company.