The Brooklyn Guide
At this point, Brooklyn is really a city unto itself. The transformation started with Williamsburg, which is what put Brooklyn on the map for this generation of New Yorkers, though each neighborhood has its own little personality and ecosystem—Cobble Hill and Park Slope are great residential neighborhoods for young families, Boerum Hill (which has some excellent shopping) offers beautiful walks among the brownstones, and Bushwick still has a plenty of reliable mom-and-pop type stores nestled in with the trendier businesses. Needless to say, this is a guide that will continue to evolve and expand, as new, exciting spots are popping up at lightning speed.
Baby’s All Right146 Broadway, Williamsburg | 718.599.5800
Tucked away in South Williamsburg, this is one of the best places to see up-and-coming indie bands. It's always a fun night out, particularly because there’s food (including lots of vegan and vegetarian options) by way of Bouley and Acme vet, chef Ronald Murray. Much to the joy of locals, they've recently introduced weekend brunch.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden990 Washington Ave., Prospect Heights | 718.623.7200
The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens are covered in acres of gorgeous plants and flowers. From the Japanese Tea Garden to the Lily-Pad exhibit, this is a great place to stroll or spend a day with the kids (there are lots of pit-stops for snacks throughout). Hours change seasonally, so check the site just in case.
Brooklyn Bowl61 Wythe Ave., Williamsburg | 718.963.3369
This adults-only bowling alley turned concert venue provides an entertainment trifecta, guaranteeing a pretty great night out, especially in a group. You can bowl to great music (Questlove, for one, DJs on Thursdays), dine on Blue Ribbon’s fried chicken and spiked milkshakes, and see the occasional big-name group.
Music Hall of Williamsburg66 N. 6th St., Williamsburg | 718.486.5400
This gritty Williamsburg concert hall has debuted many an indie and new wave band. It's one of our favorite venues in the city, second only to the Bowery Ballroom (it's from the same family), as the sound is great and it's nice and intimate. You can stand and watch on the ground floor, but there's more low-key, tiered standing areas upstairs for those inclined to claustrophobia. Fall highlights: Julien Baker, Bastille, Shovels & Rope, Bon Iver, and more.
Pioneer Works159 Pioneer St., Red Hook | 718.596.3001
Artist Dustin Yellin opened this non-profit contemporary arts center, located in a large, brick and timber 19th-century warehouse in Red Hook, a few years back. It feels a bit like a young PS1, with one of the largest uninterrupted exhibition spaces in New York City, both indoor and outdoor exhibition areas, public programs, artists residencies, and a magazine, Intercourse. You can also rent the space for private events.
Prospect Park| 718.965.8951
Designed in the late 1800's by the same duo behind Manhattan's Central Park (Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux), Prospect Park, although not quite as large, is still massive at 580-plus acres, spanning multiple neighborhoods in Brooklyn, and offering plenty of outdoor fun. If you want to picnic and chill, head to Long Meadow near the top of the park (you can enter at the Grand Army Plaza or one of the openings along Prospect Park West)—which is touted as the longest green stretch in any U.S. park, at nearly a mile long. South of Long Meadow is the Ravine, an expansive woodland and waterway landscape. Further east, there's the Prospect Park Zoo and carousel. Water activities (including Prospect Park's Splash Pad) are housed at Le Frak Center at Lakeside near the southeast corner of the park. Also nearby, check out Drummer's Grove.
Syndicated40 Bogart St., Bushwick | 718.386.3399
Think of Syndicated as a one-stop-shop for the dinner-and-a-movie date. In the front, there's a restaurant and bar area for old-fashioned eating and drinking (with a great seasonal menu to match) with a fun, buzzy atmosphere. In the back, there's a movie theater (also with an excellent food and drink menu) that plays an awesomely curated selection of movies at a $3 ticket price, including everything from old black-and-whites to documentaries to cult classics. The whole operation is undeniably fun.
The Brooklyn Museum200 Eastern Pkwy., Prospect Heights | 718.638.5000
One of the largest and oldest art museums in the country, the Brooklyn Museum is housed in a gorgeous Beaux-Arts building at the top of Prospect Park. Besides being one of our favorite Brooklyn landmarks, the exhibitions are great (and sometimes quite splashy). The colorful African exhibitions rooms and American design galleries are pretty spectacular. Don't miss Judy Chicago's classic 70's feminist installation, "The Dinner Party."