Brooklyn beyond Williamsburg

March 04, 2015
Jessica Festa

Headed to Brooklyn? While the popular Williamsburg area has much to offer, there are many other great New York neighbourhoods nearby, each with their own personalities, to explore. Here are some suggestions to help you plan an unforgettable alternate Brooklyn itinerary.

red and white graffiti on a wall


One of New York City’s most experimental art hubs, Bushwick is perfect for those wanting to get in touch with their creative side. Have a farm-to-table meal at the social 983 – Bushwick’s Living Room, home to craft mason jar cocktails and local art work on the walls. From there, you can walk to Fine & Raw for some raw chocolate samples and a caffeine boost in an open factory setting. The highlight of a visit to this ‘hood is the colourful street art, particularly prevalent near the Morgan L subway stop and the Bushwick Collective’s open air art gallery on Troutman between Wycoff and St. Nicholas. End your day with an avantgarde show and absinthe cocktail at Bizarre Bar or a class at The Living Gallery, from drink-n-draw to yoga.

plate of chilaquiles

Fort Greene

Home to Brooklyn’s first park — Fort Greene Park — this Brooklyn ‘hood is full of history, especially in terms of the Revolutionary War. Wander the Fort Greene Historic District, full of 19th-century townhouses fusing Greek Revival, Italianate, Second Empire, and Neo-Grec architecture. Fort Greene is also a cultural hub, with the longest continuously operating performing arts centre in the US, the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Explore markets like the Fort Greene Park Greenmarket, Brooklyn Flea, and the Fort Greene Artisan Market. Have some creative American fare at Lulu & Po (the pizza dough topped with ricotta and olive oil is delicious) before grabbing a red velvet cupcake at Piece of Velvet, or doing a dessert and booze pairing at The Chocolate Room and perusing the interesting selection at BookCourt in nearby Cobble Hill.


Here, art and beautiful views fuse together seamlessly, as you can walk the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan into Dumbo’s Brooklyn Bridge Park to play sports, go boating or fishing, ride the carousel, photograph public art, or enjoy skyline vistas. Near the park is Brooklyn’s most famous pizzeria, Grimaldi’s, home to made-to-perfection brick oven pies (word on the street is Frank Sinatra used to have them flown in to Las Vegas for him to savour). Art galleries abound, most clustered around the Manhattan Bridge, and there’s even a First Thursday ArtWalk each month. If you have a sweet tooth, Dumbo is home to potentially NYC’s best chocolatier, Jacques Torres Chocolate, with spicy hot chocolate, Champagne truffles, creme brulée crunch, and made-from-scratch bars.

Brooklyn Bridge view over water with skyline

Park Slope

Located near Brooklyn’s most famous natural attraction, Prospect Park, Park Slope is a must visit. The neighbuorhood stands out with its expansive green spaces and beautiful brownstones, and is one of the borough’s safest areas. Stroll through the Park Slope Historic District, full of lovely late 19th and early 20th-century townhouses and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. If you enjoy live music, Park Slope is packed with great venues: The Rock Shop for rock music and delicious burgers and fries; the Fifth Estate for jazz, retro decor, and pinball; and Union Hall with comfy couches, a fireplace, bocce, and great bands. In terms of food, there is a diverse mix of ethnic fare, like Mariella (Italian), Surfish Peruvian Bistro (Peruvian), Bogota Latin Bistro (Colombian), Song (Thai), Der Kommissar (Austrian), and Olivier Bistro (French), to name a few. Stop in the brand-new Nunu Chocolates taproom for a structured craft beer pairing with homemade artisanal chocolates, with cacao sustainably sourced from a Colombia family farm.

flight of beers

Bay Ridge

Not many people head to Bay Ridge, most likely because it’s not yet full of hipsters and young artists escaping high rents. Instead, you’ll find an old school Brooklyn feel, some of the borough’s best restaurants for taste, and a scenic waterfront path with views of the Verrazano–Narrows Bridge. Oh yes, and did we mention the mansions? Start your walk at the famous Gingerbread House (8220 Narrows Avenue) and wander the surrounding streets to be immersed in true Brooklyn architectural beauty. Bay Ridge is also home to a deliciously diverse culinary scene — especially for Italian and Middle Eastern — with restaurants like Petit Oven (French), Tanoreen (Middle Eastern), Vesuvio (Italian), and Casablanca Restaurant (Moroccan). During the warmer months, you can cycle the waterfront path to nearby Coney Island, known for its beachfront boardwalk, amusement park rides, and eccentric entertainment.

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