An Unforgettable Guide To My Favorite Brooklyn Neighborhoods

brooklyn neighborhoods

Wandering the Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn

I’ve now been living in Brooklyn for two years, and am still just in love with it as I was the first day I moved here. Exploring new neighborhoods and finding truly worthwhile shops, eateries and experiences is one of my favorite ways to spend a Saturday. Here, I’ll share my finds with all of you; seven for each neighborhood as that’s my lucky number. Obviously this list is not exhaustive, but based on my own personal experiences. Got something to add? Feel free to share in the comments below.

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brooklyn neighborhoods

Street art in Bushwick

Bushwick

1. Savor a free raw chocolate sample and look through the open factory at Fine & Raw. The Bonbon, stuffed with real chocolate bonbon, is pretty fantastic.

2. Wander the outdoor street art gallery hosted by the Bushwick Collective down Troutman near Maria Hernandez Park.

3. Take a free yoga or $10 drink-and-draw class at The Living Gallery.

4. See an alternative freak show-style performance at Bizarre Bar, perfectly paired with a craft cocktail.

5. Attend the monthly Vegan Shop Up at Pine Box Rock Shop, or one of their other cool nightly events (and play Big Buck Hunter!)

6. Love boobs and board games? The Boobie Trap will quickly become your favorite bar.

7. Get off at the Morgan L subway and wander the street-art lined roads and indoor galleries before grabbing some farm-to-fork pizza at Roberta’s. I also love their communal tables — great for making new friends!

brooklyn neighborhoods

Wining and dining at Brooklyn Oenology

Williamsburg

1. Take a walk along the waterfront — East River State Park is nice — and snap a photo of the Manhattan skyline.

2. Bike the Williamsburg Bridge to the Lower East Side.

3. Immerse yourself in local art, wine and food at Brooklyn Oenology, a winery passionate about New York flavor and sustainability.

4. Peruse artisanal markets like Smorgasburg, the Brooklyn Flea and Brooklyn Baazar.

5. See a live show at Brooklyn Bowl or try your luck at bowling.

6. Savor the most creative ice cream scoop you’ve ever had at Oddfellows, where some flavors might include Miso Cherry, Grapefruit Jalapeno sorbet, Thai iced tea, Oatmeal Cookie Dough and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

7. Spend the day creating beautiful (or not so beautiful, but fun) ceramics at Baked in Brooklyn — where they have a BYO policy, too

brooklyn neighborhoods

One of the many mansions in Bay Ridge

Bay Ridge

1. Take a jog along the waterfront, where you can see the Verazanno Bridge, Staten Island and Statue of Liberty.

2. For some farm-to-table fare, the Brooklyn Beet Company is all local proteins and produce paired with house-made dumplings and accompaniments — not to mention their signature beet ketchup. Start with sweet dates stuffed with Gorgonzola and wrapped in bacon before moving on to an Organic Quinoa Trout Salad or Grass-Fed Brisket Goulash paired with an organic beer.

3. Sip crafts beers (they have flights!) and munch on artisanal sausages — I love the Chicken & Broccoli Rabe Sausage with RC Cola caramelized onions, provolone cheese and garlic mayo — at the Lock Yard.

4. Get a Peanut Butter & Jelly Cupcake, Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies or Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Bundt Cake with Nutella at Little Cupcake Bakeshop.

5. Explore Shore Road between 80th and 83rd Streets and see the swanky mansions that litter the neighborhood — like the famous Gingerbread House (8200 Narrows Avenue).

6. Owl Head Park is a great place for a nice sunny afternoon stroll.

7. Go on a Middle Eastern food crawl. This neighborhood is known for its amazing Middle Eastern fare, with some of my favorite venues being Tanoreen, Karam and Yemen Cafe & Restaurant.

brooklyn neighborhoods

Nunu Chocolate & Beer pairing in Park Slope

Park Slope/Gowanus

1. Do a beer and chocolate pairing at Nunu Chocolates Taproom, where hand-made sustainable chocolates — which you can watch being made behind the counter — are expertly paired with local beers by the chocolatiers.

2. Explore Prospect Park, designed by the same people — Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert B. Vaux — who created Central Park. There’s so much to do here: bike the loop, hike the ravine, watch performance groups on the lawn, play frisbee on the Long Meadow, ride a 1912 carousel, learn about 19th century Brooklyn at the Lefferts Historic House Museum, photograph the grand Litchfield Villa, and go fishing on The Lake, to name a few.

3. See a live music show at Union Hall, Brooklyn Lyceum or The Fifth Estate.

4. Wander the five floors of the Brooklyn Museum, with art exhibits spanning destinations and cultures from around the globe through about 1.5 million works.

5. Dig into a pie from Four & Twenty Blackbirds, seriously the best in NYC (not just Brooklyn). Some flavors include Black Bottom Oatmeal, Salted Caramel Apple, Sweet Potato Apple Crumble and a bourbon-infused Chocolate Julep. Burn off the calories with a climb at the Brooklyn Boulders rock gym.

6. Take a class at Bend & Bloom Yoga, who offer a variety of classes, including pay-what-you-wish for those on a budget.

7. Gowanus is known for its thought-provoking murals, littered around 3rd and 4th Avenues between President and Baltic Streets. You can find more information by clicking here.

brooklyn neighborhoods

Brownie Sundae topped with a brandied cherry with a “Cafe Lou,” part coffee part dark hot chocolate, at The Chocolate Room

Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill/Boerum Hill

1. Get a cacao and caffeine boost at The Chocolate Room, an adorable cafe that reminds me of something you’d find in Paris. Admire whimsical chocolate-themed artwork — like paintings of pets with cake on their head — and order home-made ice creams, truffles, cakes and chocolate drinks. Booze is also part of the fun.

2. Get lost in literature at the expansive BookCourt, known for its strong sections ranging from poetry to discounted bestsellers to New York-inspired options. Events like book clubs, live readings and book signings are also part of the fun.

3. Brunch at Buttermilk Channel — serving up scramble with house-cured lox, spicy heirloom bean stew and the most amazing apple, bacon, cheddar grilled cheese, not to mention an impressive Bloody Mary menu — is an experience to be had. Just make sure to make a reservation a few days in advance, as it’s not uncommon to show up to an hour+ wait.

4. Peruse the numerous vintage shops, some of which include Olive’s Very Vintage, Shop Our Closet and Buffalo Exchange.

5. This area is known for its French culture, and French restaurants like Bar Tabac (great French bistro feel) and Chez Moi allow you to explore this.

6. While small, Cobble Hill Park is clean and quiet, with picnic tables for having an al fresco lunch on a nice day.

7. Take a class at the Salsa Salsa Dance Studio, or one of their events like women’s styling workshops to promote confidence or dance socials with discount drinks.

cacao prieto

Photo courtesy of Cacao Prieto

Red Hook

1. If it’s the weekend, take a complimentary New York Water Taxi ride to Lower Manhattan, where Manhattan as we know it began.

2. Visit Cacao Prieto, where single origin Dominican cacao and antioxidant-rich spirits are served side-by-side and sometimes intermixed. Because the beans aren’t fumigated the chocolate is one of the only 100% Pesticide-free chocolate bars on the market. Their liquor is also innovative, especially as they’re kept at 80 proof (40% alcohol) — twice as high as the average liqueur.

3. The Red Hook Winery is a cool spot, working with 15 different New York vineyards to craft small-batch wines that provide a true taste of the state.

4. For a historical drink on the water, Sunny’s Bar has been serving drinks since 1890.

5. The Van Brunt Stillhouse is an artisan distillery — yes, there’s a lot to drink in Red Hook — offering, tours, cocktails and tastings.

6. Get a dose of culture at the Waterfront Barge Museum, a 1914 floating barge listed on the National Register of Historic Places you can board that hosts live entertainment (everything from vaudeville to bluegrass), classes and local history exhibits.

7. Check Pioneer Works’ calendar to see what exhibitions, events and films they’re putting on, as there’s always something interesting.

brooklyn neighborhoods

Beautiful views from Dumbo

Dumbo

1. Walk or bike the Brooklyn Bridge — constructed in the 70’s and 80’s as one of the USA’s first suspension bridges — connecting Dumbo and the Financial District. You’ll get some exercise paired with beautiful skyline views no matter which way you walk. Just be aware, there are A LOT of tourists on the bridge.

2. Wander the waterfront Brooklyn Bridge Park, sitting on the East River and featuring a playground, sports fields and courts, a carousel, ferry landings, fishing, bird watching, public art, fitness classes and more. Also check their calendar to see what’s going on.

3. Do a pizza comparison tasting at Grimaldi’s Pizzeria and Juliana’s Pizza.  These two establishments are in a long-standing feud — you can read about it here — and both arguably have amazing coal-fire oven pizza.

4. Dumbo is known for its arts scene, so check out some of the local galleries — most located on Front Street — like Land Gallery, Mighty Tanaka and Spring.

5. Attend a craft night or tech talk at the Etsy Labs.

6. Savor a small-batch scoop paired with vistas of the Manhattan skyline at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, located in a former fireboat house. The Chocolate Chocolate Chunk is delicious.

7. Front General Store is a little slice of vintage shopping heaven on Earth — and not just clothes, accessories and housewares, too!

There are so so so many amazing Brooklyn experiences to be had — not to mention other neighborhoods not mentioned above that are worth exploring. Would love any suggestions in the comments about what you would add to this list!

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