Being a Tourist in Brooklyn

Living in New York City is indescribable. It’s the city that never sleeps, always loud and alive — regardless of the hour. It’s a concrete jungle, skyscrapers as far as the eye can see. And, it’s full of passionate, driven, fast and furious — and sometimes rude — New Yorkers who know exactly what they want. There truly is no other place like New York City.

Whether you’re visiting for the first or fifteenth time, New York City has something to offer for everyone. It’s my favorite city to play tourist, and I always find myself getting lost in a new neighborhood, discovering hidden gems. As the weather is finally getting nice (Hello, Spring!!!), I felt this was the perfect time to write about my favorite spots in Brooklyn! (Which, if you’re anything like my friends or family, you haven’t spent much time here! And, don’t worry! I’ll be writing about how to be a tourist in Manhattan very, very soon!)

DUMBO & The Brooklyn Waterfront
For years, Brooklyn has been overshadowed by Manhattan, and the selfish part of me loves this — there are far fewer crowds, less waiting times at restaurants, underrated bars that have yet to been discovered by the rest of the world, and more of a neighborhood feeling that you really can’t find in Manhattan.

You definitely can’t be a tourist without walking the Brooklyn Bridge and visiting DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). The Manhattan skyline is breathtaking — from One World Trade to the Empire State Building. Not to mention the views of Lady Liberty…

DUMBO is one of the most picturesque neighborhoods in all of New York City — from the cobblestone streets to old Brooklyn warehouses, to Brooklyn Bridge Park and the historic Jane’s Carousel. If you find yourself in DUMBO, do not miss the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory and Juliana’s Pizza.

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset

The Manhattan skyline from Brooklyn Bridge Park

UNDERSTANDING art installation at Brooklyn Bridge Park

Brooklyn Navy Yard
Okay, I’ll be the first to admit, there isn’t much to do in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, besides, well…drink. Two of my most favorite bars are located here, and you absolutely CANNOT miss them! (Especially if you’re visiting when the sun’s out!)

As for history — the Brooklyn Navy Yard was a shipyard along the East River responsible for the production of warships for the U.S. Navy. The shipyard was decommissioned in 1966, but it’s experienced a revival in the past several years — especially for non-maritime industries.

First, Rooftop Reds. Nearly impossible to find, and you’ll probably question why you’ve come here after climbing 5 flights of stairs.  But once you get to the top, wine oasis awaits. From hammocks to lawn games, to bottles of red, white and rose, this is the place to be this summer. Plus, this is the very first viable urban rooftop vineyard in New York City! Rooftop Reds has partnered with industry leaders from Finger Lakes and Cornell University to produce its very own wine. Make sure you make a reservation online prior to visiting. (There is still security at the Navy Yard, so simply show them your ticket to enter! Reservations are free of charge.)

If, after leaving Rooftop Reds, you decide you need a nightcap, or just simply a glass of moonshine, stop by Kings County Distillery. This is New York City’s oldest operating whiskey distillery, producing handmade moonshine and bourbon. The interior is swoon-worthy, and the backyard patio makes for the perfect place to gather with friends.

Wine drinking, hammock hanging, and game playing at Rooftop Reds

Sunset at Rooftop Reds

Kings County Distillery — the cutest interior!

Carroll Gardens
If you’re in the mood for shopping at local, independent shops, head to Court and Smith streets. Some of my favorite small retailers are located here — including Modern Anthology, Regular Visitors, and Rivet. You can also find some adorable French cafes, serving great wine and small bites.

Gowanus is probably the most unique neighborhood in all of New York City — I’m not even sure how to accurately describe it! Located in a former industrial zone along the Gowanus Canal, its a mix of classic row houses (worth millions and millions of dollars) and converted warehouses turned apartments. Ugly Baby, an upscale Thai restaurant, just opened here and I’m dying to go. Too bad everyone else in Brooklyn is thinking the same thing…

You can’t visit Gowanus without stopping at Pig Beach — a laid-back outdoor eatery and drinkery offering some of the best BBQ you’ve ever tasted.

Enjoying beers and BBQ at Pig Beach for Alex’s birthday!

Park Slope
If you’re dreaming of buying a million dollar row house, look no further! Park Slope is the perfect neighborhood for an afternoon stroll down 5th or 7th Aves. Plus, there are so many cute cafes to stop for a cup of coffee or tea!

If you happen to be in Park Slope on a Sunday, wander over to Prospect Park, where you can find another Smorgasburg location! Prospect Park is often overshadowed by Central Park, but to be completely honest, Prospect Park is my favorite — it has more of a neighborhood, family feel and there are not as many tourists, so you can enjoy the beauty without all the noise! Similar to Central Park, there’s a long meadow, picnic house, boat house, a zoo, and a bandshell hosting free outdoor concerts in the summer.

Grand Army Plaza 

Sunset in Prospect Park

Movie night in Prospect Park

Crown Heights
Okay, I can’t right a blog post about Brooklyn without mentioning our neighborhood! Franklin Ave. has so much to offer in terms of restaurants and bars. From pizza (Barboncino) to Mexican (Chavela’s), to beer gardens (Franklin Park and Berg’n) and $5 happy hour (Crown Inn), you can’t go wrong! Plus, you absolutely cannot miss Butter & Scotch! Make sure to try the birthday cake, it’s to die for!

Birthday cake at Butter & Scotch! We loved it so much, it was our wedding cake 🙂

Oh, Williamsburg, I love you. This is perhaps the most trendy, hipster neighborhood is all of New York City. From bars to restaurants, to popup boutique shopping and street art, this is the place to be.

If you find yourself in Williamsburg on a Saturday, check out Smorgasburg — the largest open air food market in America. There are over 100 different food vendors, live music, and an outdoor beer garden. Plus, the views from the East River Park are pretty darn spectacular.

(P.S. Can’t recommend Williamsburg without mentioning the Brooklyn Winery — our wedding venue! The Brooklyn Winery has a killer happy hour every day of the week, and each time we visit, I fall in love again and again.

Smorgasburg in Williamsburg

Enjoying delicious wine at the Brooklyn Winery

I hope this post has you itching to visit Brooklyn next time you’re in New York City! What are some of your favorite neighborhoods in Brooklyn? I would love to hear from you!


1 thought on “Being a Tourist in Brooklyn

  1. It’s awesome that you make the time to explore your city & and discover so many fun, & unique places. It seems like there are so many occasions where people miss out on the treasures in their own backyards. Never stop exploring!

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