Read any New York City guidebook and you’ll likely see the same recommendations: the Statue of Liberty, Times Square and Top of the Rock. And while I do believe these places are worthwhile — heck, my grandparents came through Ellis Island from Italy, so sites like this mean a lot — I do think there’s a lot more to explore in terms of off the beaten path NYC.
Growing up on Long Island I was seen as an oddball being a creative without a 9-to-5 job. On weekends however, when I’d head to Bushwick for warehouse parties and barbecues, I fit right in with the plethora of artists, photographers, designers and poets. While my friends signed leases in the West Village and Midtown, I didn’t look beyond Brooklyn.
Two Worlds Collide
Fast forward four years and I’m still in that same apartment. I’ve seen the neighborhood change drastically as it’s currently experiencing gentrification, with indie coffee shops, holistic spaces, street art and funky restaurants-slash-art studios-slash-circus performance clubs. Moreover, a rich Latin culture has been present since after World War II when Puerto Ricans began settling in Brooklyn, forming enclaves such as what we see today in Bushwick and Sunset Park. Wander the streets of Bushwick on a Saturday and you’ll hear salsa blasting while you peruse tables lined with flowers, balloons and incense and carts selling arroz con pollo, bags of mango and lemon ices.
While gentrification is certainly a hot button issue in Bushwick, it is interesting to experience two very different worlds collide. For instance, NYC’s largest street gallery envelops one of the city’s best Mexican tortilla factories. Moreover, you can find historic Latin bakeries near craft beer-serving art galleries, and even a hip Venezuelan eatery crafting farm-to-fork arepas in a modern space.When visiting #NYC, make sure you leave #Manhattan for the outer boroughs, too! Click To Tweet
Since I’ve been there for awhile and am a licensed tour guide, I’ve had many readers asking me to show them the neighborhood, curious about this mysterious place but also nervous to visit on their own or just unsure of exactly where to go. After planning numerous custom itineraries, I created a walking tour that combined promotion of local businesses with historic knowledge, cultural immersion and, my favorite pastime, photography.
My tour brand is NYC Photo Journeys, and along with private, custom photo tours offering walks based on your interests with unlimited high resolution images of your group, I also created a public tour: a Bushwick Beer Bites & Street Art #InstaWalk.
The experience shows you off the beaten path NYC in this colorful, quirky neighborhood, weaving in and out of history and present. You’ll gain a better understanding of the local arts and culinary scene, how the neighborhood has changed and why, and Bushwick’s wealthy German brewing foundation. In fact, did you know 1 in 10 beers drank in the USA before Prohibition was from Bushwick? The hood was truly founded on German beer wealth.
The Little Town In The Woods
Bushwick comes from the word “Boswijk,” or “Little Town in the Woods.” This is the name given to the area by the Dutch who settled it in the 17th century.The quirkiest place in #NYC is undoubtedly #Bushwick, which is why you should visit! #travel Click To Tweet
Yes, Bushwick was once a town full of woodland. Hard to believe now, though there are certainly trees dangling teddy bears, Barbie’s and beer cans like ornaments (we visit one on the tour!).
- Learning how to make your own cappuccino
- Helping to create a piece of local artwork
- Savoring a craft beer and meat pairing (made vegan upon request)
- Chowing down tacos at an authentic Mexican tortilla factory
- Tasting your way through local raw chocolate and dips
- Photographing NYC’s largest outdoor art gallery
Well also talk about some of the local characters and frequent long standing businesses that have helped make Bushwick what it is today.
Thank you to Nikki Vargas from The Pin The Map Project for making the above video of the tour!
What’s An #InstaWalk?
Oh, you’re probably wondering what makes it an #InstaWalk. Along with myself taking unlimited photos of my groups, you’ll be provided with local business Instagram handles and tips along the way. This is my effort to promote the neighborhood and local business, as well as connect with visitors through photo taking and social media.In #NYC, photos are always included on this tour! #travel Click To Tweet
NYC Tours & Photo Safaris + Responsible Tourism
NYC Tours & Photo Safaris is a member of the Travel+SocialGood NYC Business Coalition, a network of responsible tourism-focused local businesses. Moreover, the company founder, myself, is the co-founder of the Travel+SocialGood Media Network and the Responsible Tourism + Travel Collective.
What are some other unique things to do in NYC? Any favorite Bushwick experiences? Please share in the comments below!
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