On my recent trip to New York, I opted to stay in Brooklyn. Because let’s face it, Manhattan is superb but accommodation is frightfully expensive. Our trip was also a pretty last minute thing that fell into place just a month or so before traveling, so all the nice and reasonable options were no longer available to us.
But like they say, everything happens for the best, because Brooklyn turned out to be pretty great!
The AirBnb apartment we stayed in was a direct subway ride and just 20 minutes away from Manhattan. And we were rewarded with a view of the stunning Manhattan skyline every morning as we crossed the Williamsburg Bridge. But the best part? Not only did I explore and fall in love with the borough of Manhattan, which you can read about here and here; but I also got the chance to explore another one of NYC’s five boroughs.
Brooklyn is New York City’s most populous borough and is located just across the East River from Manhattan. It has a completely different feel to it. The second largest borough in area (after Queens); if Brooklyn were an independent city it would be the fourth most populous city in the US. Needless to say, there is a LOT to see and do here. From Williamsburg’s Bohemian vibe and lovely historic architecture of Bed-Stuy, to fancy row houses in Brooklyn Heights, it offers something for everyone.
So in no particular order, here are a few awesome things about Brooklyn.
- Brooklyn Brownstones
Brownstone is brown sandstone which was once a popular building material, and New York is full of Brownstone row-houses. You’ll find them in Manhattan, especially in the West Village and in the Upper West Side. And you’ll also find them in almost all Brooklyn neighbourhoods. These brownstone houses are highly desired residences costing huge amounts of money, and I can see why. They are gorgeous. Walking down a tree-lined street past a row of brownstones as you hurry to catch your subway to Manhattan, is quintessential New York in my books, and I got to do this every day! 🙂
- Prospect Park
This is Brooklyn’s answer to Central Park. In the 585 acres of Public Park, there’s a 90-acre meadow to relax in, a Zoo to explore, a Boathouse, a number of nature trails, the Prospect Park Carousel, and ample sporting options including a Tennis Court, seven baseball fields, basketball courts, as well as a stable for some horse riding. And of course, running paths and bicycling paths. And as I’m sure you all know by now how much I love outdoor events, there’s also the Prospect Park Bandshell, an outdoor entertainment venue for musical performances or film screenings. I didn’t get a chance to experience this, but there’s always next time!
- Brooklyn Bridge
No list on Brooklyn can be complete without a mention of Brooklyn Bridge. Heck no trip to New York is complete without visiting this iconic bridge. It connects Brooklyn to Manhattan over the East River and is the oldest suspension bridge in the United States. The Brooklyn Bridge is so remarkable it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964. Drive over it, walk across or bike it, but don’t leave New York without admiring it.
- Brooklyn Heights Promenade and Brooklyn Bridge Park
Brooklyn Heights Promenade is a pedestrian only path near the Brooklyn Bridge, perfect for a romantic evening with a mind blowing view. A leisurely stroll while enjoying glimpses of the New York Harbour, Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge and the lower Manhattan skyline, it doesn’t get better than this.
I stand corrected, it does get better. When the same awesome Brooklyn Heights Promenade gets converted into a kickass Brooklyn Flea Food Market every Sunday throughout the summer months, it does get better! Smorgasburg comes to Brooklyn every weekend. It is hosted in Williamsburg every Saturday at East River State Park, and every Sunday in Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 5. Over 100 vendors are present and there’s a huge amount of food to be had. Bolivian Food, Ethiopian Food, Chinese and Thai Food, Pizzas and Burgers, there’s something for everyone!
- The Ides at the Wythe Hotel
I have a thing for rooftop bars. I search for the best before I travel, and plan my entire day around the particular one I intend to quench my thirst at that evening. New York boasts some of the best rooftop bars in the world. With that skyline, this is really nothing to be surprised about! But one of the best rooftop bars I have ever been to is The Ides at the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg. It is by no means the highest, it is located only on the sixth floor, but it has still become my favourite. Reasonably priced cocktails, a great crowd and a gloriously unobstructed view of Manhattan; it was the perfect way to spend my first night in New York City.
- Coney Island
Coney Island was a hundred percent on our agenda, we love us some thrills. It’s about an hour away from Manhattan, but it took considerably lesser time to get there from where we were staying, as it is located in Southwest Brooklyn. It’s like this huge seaside playground, for kids and adults alike. There’s the Beach and the Boardwalk, and for the more adventurous (like us!) there’s the amusement park. The Luna Park Theme Park is a thrilling way to spend an afternoon. There are rides like The Coney Island Cyclone, a wooden rollercoaster that dates back to 1927 and is now a historic landmark; Thunderbolt, a 115-foot-tall roller coaster with a 100-foot vertical loop that turned us completely upside down, the Sling Shot if you fancy being flung 150 feet into the air, or the Soarin’ Eagle if you want to feel like you’re flying through the skies. And don’t forget to grab a hot dog from Nathan’s Famous.
8. Smith Street
There’s a whole lot of great food in Brooklyn, and then there’s Smith Street. Slowly becoming known as Brooklyn’s Restaurant Street, I was introduced to the wonderful world of Smith Street as part of a Brooklyn Neighbourhood Eats Tour I took with Urban Oysters. Located between the areas of Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill, Smith Street is made up of mainly local mom and pop shops and restaurants with a wonderful eco-system of co-existence between them. They all support each other, supply to each other, promote each other; and churn out really delicious food while they’re at it. Stay tuned, my next post will tell you all about it!
There’s tons of other reasons to love Brooklyn – like the atmosphere in Williamsburg, SummerScreen in McCarren Park, some of the best restaurants that attract people from all over New York, the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens; but these were just a few of my favourite things.
What about you? Have you been to New York City? Did you include Brooklyn in your itinerary? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
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