REMEMBER old New York, where immigrants strived, cultures collided, grit outshined glamour and ethnic restaurants were filled with ethnic crowds, not Instagramming foodies? Before Manhattan commerce was diluted with H&M and Starbucks, and Brooklyn became half hipster playground, half suburb substitute? That city lives on in Queens, where the forces of gentrification have barely nipped at the edges of the city's most expansive borough, home to 2.2 million people, from (it seems) 2.2 million backgrounds. Though its coastal areas have only just begun to recover from the destruction of Hurricane Sandy, most of the borough's vast territory was untouched by the storm, and is full of sights and sounds unlike anything you'll find a short subway ride away in "The City."
5 p.m.1. TINSELTOWN, ASTORIA
Hollywood gets all the P.R., but one of Queens's most energetic neighborhoods is home to Kaufman Astoria Studios, where the Marx Brothers shot "Animal Crackers" in 1930 and where Big Bird still resides. One building is now the separately run and recently renovated Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35th Avenue; 718-777-6888; movingimage.us), which is free on Fridays from 4 to 8 p.m. (admission at other times is $12). The recently overhauled museum features not just television (Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable's sweater and Mork from Ork's spacesuit) and film (telegraphs sent by Orson Welles, Winona Ryder's prosthetic legs from "Black Swan"), but also digital entertainment, including functioning Donkey Kong, Space Invaders and Ms. Pac Man machines, and, until March 3, the exhibition "Spacewar! Video Games Blast Off," celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first video game.
8 p.m.2. LITTLE EGYPT
Long known as a Greek neighborhood, Astoria is now wildly diverse, with Colombians, Brazilians and Slavs, and a big Middle Eastern commercial district at the north end of Steinway Street known as Little Egypt. You are unlikely to find better, more simply prepared fish than at Sabry's Seafood (24-25 Steinway Street; 718-721-9010), an informal, popular seafood spot where whole snapper, bronzini or tilapia are grilled, fried or barbecued Egypt style. Start with the grilled calamari, and try an Egyptian lemonade. (No alcohol is served.) Dinner for two is around $50.
10 p.m.3. HOOKAH TIME
Little Egypt is filled with informal shisha bars, but for a more posh experience, head up the stairs to Layali Dubai (24-17 Steinway Street; 718-728-1492; layali-dubai.com), a lavish version of the hookah lounges on street level. The dress code for the mostly Muslim crowd is shocking in its range, from conservative to the near scandalous. Groups of men and women (often separated) sip mint tea ($3) and fruit juice ($5), smoke hookahs ($10 to $25) and take in live music and belly-dancing ($10 cover) until late.
Midnight4. DECISIONS, DECISIONS
Drink like a hipster or dance like a Dominican? Here are two choices for late-night partying. Option 1: Head to Dutch Kills (27-24 Jackson Avenue; 718-383-2724; dutchkillsbar.com), a fashionable cocktail hideaway in Long Island City, for a Rum Buck, Bloody Knuckle or -- why not? -- a Manhattan. (At $8 to $11, the specialty drinks are at least $4 cheaper than you'd find at similar Manhattan joints.) Option 2: Dance to feverish merengue and bachata rhythms at Jubilee (23-04 94th Street; 718-335-1700; granrancho.com), a restaurant and club housed in a structure resembling a roadside Caribbean restaurant. Choose between the more informal live band in the restaurant (free entry) or the young crowd in the nightclub below ($10 cover).
10:30 a.m.5. EAT, DRINK, SHOP
Walk out of the subway at Roosevelt Avenue-Jackson Heights, and you have entered a land of diversity you previously assumed was metaphorical. How else to explain a pharmacy sign that reads "Bangladesh Farmacia" (to appeal to South Asian and South American constituencies) or a place where a Guatemalan shop closes and is fast-replaced by a Russian deli? Head north up 74th Street, stopping in Patel Brothers supermarket to ogle exotic produce; India Sari Palace to shop for saris; and Al Naimat to buy South Asian sweets. Take a right on 37th Avenue, Jackson Heights's main thoroughfare. Pick up a Colombian salpicón, halfway between fruit salad and juice, at La Paisa Bakery (37-03 82nd Street; 718-779-2784) to tide you over until you reach La Gran Uruguaya (85-06 37th Avenue; 718-505-0404) for coffee and Uruguayan-Colombian pastries. (Don't miss the plain-looking finger-shaped "vigilantes," sweet and buttery soft and only 75 cents.)
1 p.m.6. CHEZ SATCHMO
When famous people's houses become museums, curators often scramble to recreate appropriate period décor. Not so at the Louis Armstrong House Museum (34-56 107th Street; 718-478-8297; satchmo.net), which was more or less frozen in time when the jazz giant died in his sleep (in the bed you'll see) in 1971. His wife, Lucille, lived there until 1982, but left most things untouched, down to the reel-to-reel tape recorders in Satchmo's office-studio, the bottle of his cologne and the gilded bathroom fixtures. Why did a celebrity like Armstrong choose to live the last three decades of his life in a modest house in the working-class Corona neighborhood? That question is explored on the guided tour ($10).
3 p.m.7. PANORAMIC VIEW
Take the No. 7 train two stops down from the museum to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and meander through the borough's biggest park, which hosts sporting events ranging from the annual United States Open tennis championships to hardscrabble immigrant cricket games. Walk toward the 12-story-high Unisphere sculpture, built for the 1964 World's Fair, and seek out the etched granite work nearby in which the artist Matt Mullican recounts the history of the park. Then head into the Queens Museum of Art (718-592-9700; queensmuseum.org), home to the Panorama of the City of New York, an astonishing scale model of the five boroughs with 895,000 houses and buildings. (There are even planes taking off from La Guardia Airport.) The museum (donation $8) is open despite construction that will double its size to 100,000 square feet, expected to be completed by next fall.
8 p.m.8. EAT UZBEK
Of course, Queens has a restaurant specializing in Bukharan Jewish cuisine from Uzbekistan -- need you even ask? Cheburechnaya (92-09 63rd Drive; 718-897-9080) is a dinerlike restaurant in Rego Park with food not like that of any diner you've ever seen. The area's "Russian" Jewish community is largely from Central Asia, and those are the specialties here, including the namesake chebureki (from $1.65), which may look like the stuffed fried pockets of countless other cultures, but the Central Asian spice blend makes it clear these are no empanadas. Even better is the samcy, flaky savory pastries filled with pumpkin ($1.65) or ribs ($2). Ask for a typical beverage and you might get "sunny lemonade," which is really Brazilian guaraná soda with a Russian label.
10 p.m.9. TASTE OF HOME
Despite its international flair, Queens is situated (did you forget?) in the United States. Two subway stops farther down Queens Boulevard is Forest Hills, a suburban-feeling neighborhood where a buzzing night-life spot is, surprisingly, an American bakery that gets as packed on late evenings as it does for weekend brunch. Martha's Country Bakery (70-30 Austin Street; 718-544-0088; marthascountrybakery.com) serves cappuccino ($4.75) and tantalizing desserts, from red velvet cheesecake to absurdly scrumptious sour cream apple pie ($5.50).
10 a.m.10. CHINESE MASSAGE
New York's most vibrant Chinatown, that of Flushing, Queens, is packed with massage parlors, some of which are fronts for more risqué businesses. Head up the stairs to the very legit Winnie Foot & Spa (135-05 40th Road, 2nd floor; 718-961-3599), where an aggressive 30-minute foot massage costs just $22, compared with the arm and a leg it would cost you in Manhattan. These reflexology practitioners know their way around the human paw, but don't expect much conversation unless you're fluent in Mandarin. Instead, listen to soothing music as you relax in old-fashioned recliners as if you were the fictional Queens resident Archie Bunker (though he may have scoffed at the Hello Kitty pillows).
11:30 a.m.11. UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS
It's difficult to spot a non-Asian customer in Grand Restaurant (136-20 Roosevelt Avenue; 718-321-8258), a mind-bogglingly huge dim sum palace on the third floor of the New World Mall, opened last year. Choose from delicate shrimp dumplings, sticky rice with chicken wrapped in lotus leaves, and tofu rolls stuffed with pork and mushroom, and you're unlikely to spend more than $15 a person. For more variety and even cheaper eats, visit the food court downstairs, where an equally Asian crowd chomps down on a continent's worth of noodles, soups and dumplings not just from mainland China but also from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea and beyond (entrees from $5).
IF YOU GO
Most Queens hotels are near the J.F.K. or La Guardia airports and far from attractions; you'd be better off staying in Midtown Manhattan and hopping the subway. But there are exceptions, including several in Long Island City, like the chic and decidedly out-of-place Z NYC Hotel (11-01 43rd Avenue; 877-256-5556; zhotelny.com). Rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the Manhattan skyline; from $170.
The Marco LaGuardia (137-07 Northern Boulevard; 718-445-3300; marcolaguardiahotel.com) is even closer to the action. Billed as an airport hotel, it's actually just a few blocks from the No. 7 train in central Flushing. Rooms from $139.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.