Traveler: Danielle Gervalis
When: August 2017
Overall Experience: The secret is out on Brooklyn, it’s a cool, chic and cheaper borough than downtown Manhattan with cultural monuments, tasty foodstuffs and lively nightlife! So if you are planning a trip to the Big Apple, consider trekking across the bridge to this sweet neighborhood.
Getting there and around
Good ol’ Amtrak will get you there in just over three hours from DC. Union Station is architecturally stunning and has multiple places to get coffee and snacks before you get on your train. There’s also a few clothing stores (H&M, Ann Taylor, etc.) in case you need to pick something up before you leave.
I love traveling by train but Amtrak can get pricey if you don’t buy the tickets early. You can get a discount if you book two months in advance. They also offer discounts for students, triple A members, and retirees. Don’t forget to sign up for Amtrak rewards and collect your train points for future trips! The best part of the train is that you can show up 10 minutes before you’re scheduled to leave instead of getting to the airport two hours early.
Aloft Hotel in Brooklyn Heights was a great location to take advantage of all that Brooklyn had to offer! The hotel rooms were modern and comfortable, the designers did an excellent job making use of every inch of space. At around $200 a night, the Aloft was the best deal and enabled us to walk everywhere we wanted.
Things to Do:
It was a 15 minute walk on a beautiful Saturday afternoon to get to the start of the bridge walkway. However, you can also get on the pedestrian walkway at Old Futon and Prospect St. The iconic Brooklyn Bridge was designed by John Augustus Roebling. Construction began in 1869 and was completed 14 years later. It’s been labeled as a National Historic Landmark and once held a parade of 21 elephants from the P.T. Barnum circus to stem any fears about the stability of, what was at the time, the world’s longest suspension bridge.
Walking through the hybrid cable/suspension bridge, guarantees amazing views of the lower Manhattan skyline, the Statue of Liberty, the Manhattan bridge, and of course Brooklyn! Take it all in, but mind the other pedestrians and bikers! Over 7,000 people traverse the bridge each day. It’s a mob scene on the weekend so I do not recommend riding a bike through the hoards of people, it’s more enjoyable to walk around and stop and take photos.
This funky, gentrified neighborhood is one of the most popular in the borough. It has a thriving arts and music scene, great restaurants and has revived the proud history of craft breweries.
- Breweries – My favorite summer beer is Brooklyn Summer Ale by the Brooklyn Brewery so I was incredibly excited to check the place out! Unfortunately, there was a huge line out the door. Since I have less patience than a toddler throwing an epic tantrum when hungry, I looked down the street to find another option and there were many! However, if you are willing to wait, they have an excellent selection of beers and you can do a free tour from 12:30-6:00pm!
- Brooklyn Bowl – Right around the corner from Brooklyn Brewery, this cushy locale is more than just your regular bowling alley! It has a popular food menu, full bar, featuring locally brewed beers, and a live music venue. Stop by here for late night fun or with a group, the bowling lanes host up to eight people.
- Williamsburg Hotel – This boutique hotel is in a perfect location for views of Manhattan and easy access to all things fun in Brooklyn! Newly opened in late 2016, the hotel has two swanky bars open now with plans to open a roof deck and other areas in the future. They also host high tea and pop up events, including a Vintage Market for unique shopping!
“Great Art and Great Art Experiences”
I realize that you can find world-renowned art and culture on every block in this city but if you choose to visit this borough then do yourself a favor and go to the Brooklyn Museum! It’s one of the oldest and largest museums in the country, with its origins dating back to 1823. It was initially the Brooklyn Apprentices’ Library (Walt Whitman was once a librarian here) and expanded its reach exponentially from there, including a physical expansion and remodeling of the building.
Admission is free for those age 19 and under! Tickets run $16 for adults (suggested donation amount), but the museum offers discounts for students and retirees. Additionally, for $25 you can purchase a museum and botanical garden ticket which is right next door. That’s quite the deal. I suggest arriving hungry as the museum has a Michelin chef led restaurant, The Norm, on site with a range of cuisine types.
While the museum features rotating exhibits, it also has impressive permanent works including American art, period rooms and pieces, and an incredible collection of Ancient Egyptian art, including authentic sarcophaguses.
Finally, in the Elizabeth A Sackler Center for Feminist Art, you’ll find the famous “The Dinner Party” by Judy Chicago, which was recently featured in Aziz Ansari’s “Master of None”. The exhibit consists of a massive triangular-shaped banquet table with a thirty-nine place settings, each commemorating an important woman from history.
Places to Eat and Drink:
Initially I planned to go to Cafe Luluac for brunch because I heard about their amazing menu. Unfortunately, they don’t take reservations and there was a huge line. Fortunately, a few doors down was Clover Club. While also busy, we were able to sit right down near the front wide open windows and keep an eye on the happenings outside. We tried the Duck Confit Hash, which was crispy, savory and came topped with a spicy sauce, the Fried Chicken Sandwich, where you could taste the honey in the breading, and the tomato salad with peaches, which was fresh and delicious and hiding a ball of mozzarella under the mountain of fruit. Clover Club is FANTASTIC!
This romantic french bistro has a lovely quiet outdoor garden, which was hosting a wedding when we came for dinner. The menu features popular french dishes and has an extensive, affordable wine list. The service was great, even being busy with a wedding party, but the food was mediocre. We tried the foire gras, which would have been fine but it was adorned with a runny egg. Dinner consisted of soggy potato strings and stringy asparagus. I’ve heard great things about this place so I hope we just came on an off night.
Kent Ale House is a sports pub with a lengthy list of draft beers for the craft brew aficionado. Additionally, they serve superb bar food in the middle of Williamsburg with outdoor seating and a series of TVs to catch-all your favorite sporting events!
As long as you expect northern charm from the servers, you’ll enjoy this bar. The cocktail menu is creative and enjoyable. The bar has a a nonfunctioning old school jukebox and a narrow private outdoor patio where you can sip your drink and enjoy the summer night.
Hands down my favorite place in Brooklyn! Their summer cocktail menu was named after Gilmore Girls episodes! How do you compete with that? The dimly lit ambiance is enhanced by the framed ET photo atop the mantle. The knowledgable bartenders are happy to make suggestions and the bar menu, while shellfish heavy, has satisfying snacks for any palate.
This downtown spot is a very popular evening locale! Another great cocktail menu and lots of local beers can be found here. Attentive service, booming music and lots of happy, sassy New Yorkers to hang with! We had a great time here and met some really nice people who gave us even more recommendations for our next trip to NYC!