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With Brooklyn’s wealth of cultural attractions, top-notch restaurants, and lush parks, it’s no wonder that visitors are starting to take a bigger interest in this outer borough. But when it comes to actually staying in Brooklyn? Well, that’s another story. Several factors contribute to travelers’ general weariness around committing to Brooklyn as their home base. For example, suppose you plan on seeing sites in both Brooklyn and Manhattan: won’t it be difficult shuttling back and forth between the two boroughs? How will you navigate the streets without a grid system? Where are the decent hotels, and are they close to the subway?
Much like Manhattan, Brooklyn is divided into smaller neighborhoods, some of which are more ‘visitor-friendly’ than others: in Williamsburg, you’ll find trendy bars, restaurants, shops, and live music venues right at your fingertips. For many, this is an ideal introduction to Brooklyn, as it connects to lower Manhattan through the L subway line (Union Square is a ten-minute ride away), and though it doesn’t exactly mirror Manhattan’s hyper-logical grid system, the streets are indeed numbered; plus, you never have to walk more than fifteen minutes to access any of its attractions.
Meanwhile downtown Brooklyn (otherwise known as Atlantic Yards) offers a central location perfectly suited to daytime sightseers. If any of the following are on your to-do list – Barclays Center, the 9/11 Memorial, Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Chinatown – you’re actually better off staying here, as all of those sites are closer to this part of Brooklyn than, say, Times Square, where the majority of tourists usually stay. (Consider, too, that almost every subway line passes through Atlantic Terminal, making it super-easy getting in and out of Manhattan, or connecting to other parts of Brooklyn.)
Below, you’ll find recommendations on where to sleep, what to eat, and how best to spend your time during a visit to NYC’s best-loved outer borough.
Real New Yorkers know not to set foot in Times Square unless they have to. The Statue of Liberty? Who has the time? These 10 iconic NYC landmarks are unique in their ability to delight not just tourists – but locals too. From iconic diners to urban parks and everything in between, here’s an itinerary will have you navigating the city like a pro in no time. Just try not to get stuck in the turnstile on your way over.
Grand Central Terminal
New Yorkers who meet at Grand Central’s famous spherical clock know there’s only one thing to do once they arrive at the center of the Concourse: look up. The iconic sea-green ceiling is decorated with Greek-inspired line drawings and twinkling white lights that resemble the major constellations – not a bad backdrop to the daily rush hour commute! The popular Holiday Fair, which returns every November, fills Vanderbilt Hall for six weeks with more than 70 stalls of artists, craftspeople, toy-makers, and jewelers. More info here. Read more
New Yorkers had their wishes granted this past Memorial Day with the arrival of Citibike stations throughout Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn.
The long-awaited bike share program installed sturdy, easy-to-use bikes on corners throughout the city, opening up the possibility for fast and reliable transportation. While many New Yorkers use the bikes for commuting, they can also be a great way for visitors to see the city.
Here are five fun routes for seeing some of the city’s most iconic views from two wheels. Read more
You watch your favorite television show to unwind after a long day at work or to enjoy some entertainment without leaving your couch. But some people are so inspired by what’s happening on-screen that they’re motivated to travel to the place depicted in their shows. Yes, TV tourism is a real thing, and destinations like Nashville and Northern Ireland reap the benefits when shows are based or filmed there. Here are some notable TV-centric destinations where visitors are flocking this year. Read more
New York City’s financial district hasn’t exactly been a haven for travelers in years’ past. But an influx of young residents to the area, and visitors migrating (way) downtown to view the 9/11 Memorial have made this once-sleepy neighborhood a hotbed of up-and-coming cocktail lounges and gastropubs. They’re reason enough to pay this overlooked part of the city a visit – in addition to the reasonable weekend hotel rates, which crop up when the weekday business travelers disappear.
One of the latest additions to the food-and-drink scene is The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog, which offers a bible-sized drink menu, sawdust on the floor, and an old-time piano player. It brings together two historic bar cultures – that of immigrant-filled pubs (in its ground-floor tavern), and of the sporting man’s cocktail lounge (in the upstairs parlor).
Head bartender and co-owner Jack McGarry, who hails from Belfast via London, spends his time behind the bar crafting cocktails, but knows New York – both past and present – very well. We asked him about his cocktail creations and his favorite New York City haunts. Read more
May is National Bike Month, when hardcore cycling enthusiasts and newbies alike can enjoy a bevy of bike-related activities, deals, and discounts across the country (and why not make a mini-vacation out of it, with a visit to one of these top bike-friendly cities?). Here, some of our favorite offerings – saddle up and strap on your helmet for a month of fun on two wheels. Read more
According to the thermometer, it’s pretty cold out there in most the country right now. As in single digit cold. Which wouldn’t be such a big deal except for the fact that you’re the kind of person who likes to burn calories outdoors. Hiking boots, bike shorts, a life vest, climbing shoes—these are your preferred gym clothes. So what are you supposed to do when winter temperatures dip low enough to make a snowman shiver?
The answer is simple, and fortunately for the fair-weather adventurer, heated: find an indoor climbing wall. As the sport of climbing has grown in popularity, rock gyms have sprung up everywhere, especially in eastern cities where busy professionals don’t necessarily have easy access to cliffs, crags, towers, and other large rock formations. And just about every spot offers day passes, equipment rental, lessons, and the occasional discount, so you can show up for a test climb without committing to membership. Plus, they’re good places to meet other outdoor enthusiasts and a fun alternative to yet another predictable workout on the elliptical. Read more
Getting your own show on the Travel Channel? Most of us can just fuhgettaboudit! But born-and-bred Brooklynite Tony Muia has managed to do just that, with an upcoming pilot for a 2012-debut Travel Channel series, A Slice of Brooklyn, currently in the works. Owner and operator of A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours, Tony – a Bensonhurst native – turned his passion into showing people around his beloved hometown first into a bus tour, and now, a nationwide TV series.
The new show will be based on Tony’s A Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour, which he developed after hearing complaints about subpar pizza options in Manhattan, and will feature Tony and a cast of Brooklyn characters (like his cousin Paula and assorted neighborhood buddies) that help him scout out Brooklyn’s best pizzerias, movie locations, and landmarks, with an authentic, only-in-Brooklyn commentary.
Here with Tony’s two cents on just what makes the borough great, as well as on what to expect from the upcoming show:
It’s no secret that Brooklyn tourism is booming – if you’re looking to incorporate a visit to NYC’s hippest borough on your next visit to the Big Apple, first plan on bunking down at one of BK’s recently debuted hotels, then sign up for these two unique tour offerings, each affording bragging rights-worthy glimpses of the city that even most native New Yorkers are in the dark about. Whether you’re a film or history buff, each of these expertly executed tours are guaranteed to deliver a little of both, not to mention dole out some Brooklyn-savvy street cred. Read more
Since its opening on July 9, downtown Brooklyn’s trendy new Aloft, the 49th hotel to open in Starwood’s “style-at-a-steal” line of worldwide destinations, has had between 90 and 95 percent occupancy. Designed with the tech- and fashion-savvy demographic in mind, its 176 rooms and four suites have an openness that defies New York City’s notoriously cramped spaces. With retro, pastel-colored alarm clocks in each room, organic accents of Amazonian fauna, and pod-shaped swivel chairs in the re:mix lobby, guests can’t help but feel groovy, making the Aloft not only a place to spend the night, but a hip hangout that’s difficult to tear yourself away from. The 24-hour re:fuel café offers light meals, snacks, and complimentary coffee that guests can grab on their way out, while the signature w xyz bar’s back wall can be pulled out and flipped at sundown into a glass wall that reflects the galactic neon lights and creates a nightclub atmosphere. Located in a residential area of Brooklyn, this Aloft is an irresistible hideaway to return to after a day of business or leisure in tourist-packed Manhattan. Rates start at $150/night; www.alofthotels.com/brooklyn
For general trip-planning information, see our Brooklyn Travel Guide.
While Manhattan just went through a serious hotel boom (with 15 or so hotels opening in 2010), neighboring boroughs like Brooklyn and Queens are following suit. The Sheraton Brooklyn (www.sheratonbrooklyn.com) seems to have jump-started the borough trend when it opened as Brooklyn’s first new full-service hotel in 12 years last May, and four more newbies are set to debut this spring and summer. Here’s a quick rundown of the openings, the on-trend digs, and the phenomenally affordable prices that are well worth the bridge or tunnel trek. Read more
Want to save some spa pennies? Try one of the handful of co-ed bathhouse-style spas that charge a flat-fee rate of admission. Inside you’ll find a water therapy lounge filled with dry saunas, wet steam rooms, Jacuzzi baths, and exhilarating cold-water plunges. The concept is based on old-world wellness rituals – and the belief that switching up heat and cold experiences jump-starts your immune system. Because there’s no massage therapist involved, you save plenty – these typically cost $45 or less for several hours. And unlike the hushed whispers of resort and destination spas, chatting with a spa buddy is par for the course at these friendly, communal spas. Just remember to bring your bathing suit, flip-flops, and maybe a favorite face mask.
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