Visitors to New York City are spoilt for choice for things to do and places to visit, but there are few things that feel more ‘New York local’ than getting out of the city for a morning to spend some time across the water in Brooklyn.
It’s the perfect change of pace from the madness of Manhattan and is arguably New York’s prettiest borough with the famous tree-lined streets and brownstone buildings making a walk around the neighbourhoods wonderfully scenic. Though it may not be heavy on the tourist attractions like Manhattan is, Brooklyn has a hipster charm that cannot be paralleled.
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How to get to Brooklyn
Brooklyn can be accessed in a few ways, depending on where you are staying in New York City. From the tourist centres of midtown, I’d recommend the subway: take the F train from 42nd Street station and ride it all the way to York Street subway station to jump out at the Brooklyn side of the East River and be greeted with great views back across to Manhattan. The trip will take you around 25 mins.
Drive or Rideshare
Driving to Brooklyn is also possible, but timing for this is obviously quite dependent on traffic. A clear run could take as little as 20 mins from Midtown, but in peak hour this can blow out to an hour or so, so I would recommend braving the NYC subway system over hopping in a car.
On a bike, the trip would take just under 30 mins, so for the more energetic among you, a bike rental may be a good option. If you’re not confident riding in the city, though, the subway is my preferred option.
With that said, riding your bike around lower Manhattan is pretty awesome and is much less stress than trying to brave the Midtown traffic. Bike rentals for tourists can be located there and booked in advance to avoid missing out.
It is also possible to take a guided bike tour across the Brooklyn Bridge.
The Best Photo Spot In Brooklyn
If you’ve been doing your research on Instagram-worthy spots in New York City and surrounds, then you’ve probably seen some epic photos of Brooklyn featuring in those snaps. For my money, the best spot for Brooklyn photos is the rather unfortunately acronymed DUMBO (short for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass).
This area is a short walk from the York Street Subway Station to the tune of about 4 mins and features great views of the Manhattan Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge and back over to the New York City CBD. On a clear day with blue sky, even in winter, this area is absolutely stunning with cobblestone streets and Victorian era industrial buildings. There’s no wonder this area has fast become popular with art galleries and tech startups and New York’s most expensive neighbourhood.
Brooklyn Pizza Scene
The Brooklyn pizza scene is huge and the Italian cum American favourite is never far away in this borough. Pizzerias abound here and the quality, I think, puts Manhattan pizza to shame. Grimaldi’s and Juliana’s are often the tourist choices with enormous lines to match, so I’d suggest venturing a little further to my choice for great pizza: Dellarocco’s. This pizzeria is friendly, casual and feels very local and their pizzas are exceptional.
Dellarocco’s feature in loads of ‘best pizza in Brooklyn’ lists, so you can be sure you’re on a winner. Their pizzas are woodfired in a brick oven and they don’t have any of the grease and oil overload that some US pizza slices can overwhelm with. My favourite pizza on their menu is the Buratina which is topped with prosciutto, burata, shaved pecorino, rocket and white truffle oil.
Brooklyn Bridge Walk
To close out a well-spent morning in Brooklyn, and to work off the hearty pizza lunch, a Brooklyn Bridge walk is definitely in order. The famous suspension bridge connecting Brooklyn to Downtown Manhattan was a world first when it was opened in 1883, and is to this day one of the oldest roadway bridges in the United States of America.
A walk across the Brooklyn Bridge is a rite of passage for visitors to New York, but be warned that on a nice day the crowds can be a little overwhelming. I walked it in winter, which probably afforded me a little more room than in the peak season, but it was still packed out with throngs of people enjoying the experience and taking photos. Still, it is one of my favourite things to do in Brooklyn and the architecture of the bridge is undeniably gorgeous.
Brooklyn Walking Tour in Williamsburg
If you’re feeling a little apprehensive about exploring Brooklyn on your own, or you want to learn more about this beautiful borough of New York City, then a walking tour is a great way to familiarise yourself with the neighbourhood.
Williamsburg is an awesome and very trendy hipster district with plenty of people watching opportunities and great architecture and this walking tour gets visitors right in the thick of things.
The Brooklyn Museum
The Brooklyn Museum is perfect for art lovers wanting to spend a little extra time checking out the culture in this Borough. The museum features collections of Contemporary and American art as well as some Ancient Egyptian and European Art. To avoid any lines, make sure you book your entry pass in advance.
The building itself is beautiful, featuring grecian columns and plenty of outdoor steps to sit and take a break on. It is actually one of the largest and oldest art museums in the United States, dating all the way back to 1823.
Brooklyn is always a fun time. Come for the hipster vibes, amazing views and classic brownstone buildings and stay for the pizza, art galleries and microbreweries that are popping up all over the borough. Finish the day with a spectacular walk across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge to cap off the morning and enjoy those relaxed vibes before you get back to the madness of New York City.
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