kite day in the park in dumbo, with a great view of downtown manhattan in the background
“you know where i make my money?” the cab driver asked me as i sped to jfk, with williamsburg in the rearview mirror: “brooklyn.”
after several friends moved to brooklyn from manhattan a few years ago, i realized something must be up. after all of the years of carrie bradshaw scoffing at the idea of brooklyn, and cabs intent on never crossing that bridge, i figured it was just a place for new families escaping the manhattan crowds and artists in search of cheaper rents. while it does have a healthy dose of both, it also has – as i found on my short weekend trip a few weeks ago – action, vibrancy, and some pretty cool unique spaces.
mast brothers chocolate in williamsburg
the first thing that surprised me about brooklyn is that there are people everywhere. obviously normal in manhattan, but for some reason i didn’t expect this in brooklyn. there are also skyscrapers, fourth floor walk-ups, hole-in-the-wall restaurants and large, commercial bars. also, brooklyn is big. like, really big. like, i can’t walk across it like i can manhattan big. so where to even start? too overwhelming for one short weekend, i decided to narrow my trip to something i knew a lot about my from days in los feliz, los angeles: hipsterville. so, williamsburg it was!
a few resources i used for suggestions:
my husband and i started the trip by renting an apartment in the heart of northern williamsburg off of airbnb.com. for about half of what an area hotel would cost, we were closer to the action and had an entire apartment to ourselves. it was also really interesting to see how people live in new york. having a three bedroom house in dallas has separate issues (e.g. the need to purchase lawn equipment) than having a fourth-floor walkup in williamsburg (e.g. how to store your clothes when your unit has no closets). after leaving our things and changing clothes, we headed to spuyten duyvil’s backyard for beers and friends. when we started to want some food, we ended up at berry park, where i got a kick out of all of the skateboards parked inside.
beers in the garden at spuyten duyvil in williamsburg
saturday was spent reveling in the fall air (hello, city trench!) and covering a lot of ground. walking shoes were a necessity! after a delicious french-press brunch at egg (cash only, like many places in brooklyn), we took the east river ferry (it’s a boat, people) south to dumbo (district under the manhattan bridge overpass), where we strolled around checking out jane’s carousel, powerHouse books, and the loft dan humphrey grew up in before moving into the van der woodsen penthouse on the upper east side. brooklyn heights – with its brownstones, lush gardens, and great views of manhattan – is just south of dumbo, so we walked down the brooklyn heights promenade, enjoying the views of downtown new york and the crisp fall air.
the humphreys (dan, jenny, rufus – the whole bunch) lived here before moving in with the van der woodsens. if you don’t know what i’m talking about, then you’re not doing it right.
after lunch at superfine, it was back up to williamsburg, where we checked out the sketchbrook project, which was one of my favorite finds of the entire trip (check out my previous post on it here), and mast brothers chocolate (see photo above), which i had read about in kinfolk and lived up to its reputation. i was extremely surprised and excited to find mast brothers chocolate bars being sold at poketo in little tokyo, los angeles, just one week later. a rest was in order to watch some college football (it is that time of year), at which point i saw roger sterling walk by. apparently celebrities aren’t just in la.
the baby soda jazz band playing in the delightfully intimate cafe moto
c’est christine mentioned great live jazz at cafe moto, and if there is one thing to know about me, it is that i like live jazz. so a few of us walked over and planted ourselves at a table next to the baby soda jazz band, where we stayed for about four hours. fantastic jazz, excellent food, wonderful company; the night could not have been better. we purchased two cds, called for encores, and had a generally merry time. would absolutely return.
baby soda jazz at cafe moto
with only one day left, we knew we had to cover a lot of ground. thankfully we had some friends to help. starting out with breakfast donuts at dough in bed-stuy, we savored lemon poppyseed and chocolate caramel sea salt donuts (hello, delicious), and then attempted to walk it off by crossing south into crown heights and then prospect park and park slope. the walk down eastern parkway was spectacular with leafy promenades, the botanical gardens, the brooklyn museum, the magestic brooklyn library, and finally into prospect park. the size of the buildings was completely unexpected as i did not realize just how large brooklyn was. i instantly fell in love. i can totally see why people move here and stay, and find it to have enough city while still being home at the same time. and since now the secret of brooklyn is out, you better get there fast. but you can rest assured that the cabs will be there, too.
donuts at dough in bed-stuy – with flavors that were too difficult to choose between!
who should go: indie music lovers, book worms, readers of kinfolk
what to read: motherless brooklyn by jonathan lethem
what to pack: comfortable flats or kicks for walking, light jackets for fall to take you from cool mornings and evenings into warm days
strolling through brooklyn heights reminded me of watching sesame street
dancing in front of the majestic brooklyn public library