Cunningham Park is 358 acres of woods, paths, and playing fields stretched along busy roads in eastern Queens, New York. The park has no center, but is criss-crossed by highways and the roads that link the surrounding neighborhoods of Fresh Meadows, Jamaica Estates, Holliswood, Hollis Hills, and Oakland Gardens. Though there are forest trails, Cunningham Park is best known for its ball fields, playgrounds, and events, especially the Big Apple Circus.
Cunningham Park - Fields and Facilities:
Baseball, softball, soccer, basketball, football, bocce courts, cricket, volleyball
Cunningham Tennis Center - indoor (196-00 Union Tpke, 718-740-6800), also outdoor at Union Tpke and 193rd St
Dog run (193rd St between Aberdeen Rd / Radnor Rd)
Mountain biking trails - North area of park
Big Apple Circus and More Events - Cunningham Park:
The Big Apple Circus
is the real deal -- a cool, fun one-ring circus with horses, acrobats, and clowns. It's small enough for you to feel the action, and great enough to make your kid's summer. Cunningham Park hosts the Big Apple Circus every spring, usually in May, for a two-week run. This is one of the best public events held in eastern Queens. It is highly recommended for families.
The NYC Parks department regularly hosts events at the park, like exploring for wildlife. "Wildman" Steve Brill leads foraging tours of the park every year.
Directions - Cunningham Park:
There is no single entrance to the park. The main area is along Union Turnpike, west of Francis Lewis Boulevard.
The closest subway is at 168th Street at Hillside Boulevard. It's a long walk. LIRR at Hollis? Better option for public transportation is the bus. The Q46 travels along Union Turnpike and the Q76 along Francis Lewis Boulevard.
- Clearview Expressway - Union Turnpike exit is best (west to main park)
- Grand Central Parkway - exit north on Francis Lewis Boulevard
- Long Island Expressway (LIE) - Francis Lewis Boulevard exit (eastbound only), or the LIE to the Clearview and then to Union Turnpike
History - Cunningham Park:
The Vanderbilt Motor Parkway, one of the first highways built in the U.S., started in what's now Cunningham Park. You can uncover a bit of the highway as a tree-lined bike path today near Francis Lewis Boulevard.
Support the Park - Friends of Cunningham Park
What We Like / Don't Like About Cunningham Park:
It's big, it's varied, and for most park, it's is generally well-maintained, though some corners are neglected. The quick access to the highways is very convenient, as is the quick access to local restaurants.
There's no central path and little connection between parts of the park. Parking, therefore, for any major event or even a popular day for team play, can mean a long frustrating search.
Meeting friends? Going to a softball game? Make sure you get good directions to your spot; the criss-crossing roads and park can be confusing.