Wednesday, April 11th, 2012
55

Okay, Help: What's Your Ideal Afternoon in Brooklyn for Tourists?

Say that you had two friends who had literally never been to Brooklyn. (This may actually not be impossible that you do have such friends.) And these two friends are coming to New York City this weekend, and they have blocked out Saturday morning and afternoon to Experience the Wonders of New York City's most populous borough (and the state's most populous county)!

I've been stumped for weeks about their itinerary and so I turn to you. Now, while I'm tempted to send them for a walk along the Gowanus (there are bat houses alongside the Gowanus now! I love it!), that seems unsporting and like something that people from out of town might not appreciate.

I think a must-see is the Keith Haring show at the Brooklyn Museum. And I guess the cherry blossoms will be all up and crazy at the Botanical Gardens this weekend? They're starting to hit peak bloom! With this followed by lunch somewhere wonderful—Roman's? (Yes, Battersby doesn't do lunch.) But then maybe that's a cheesy itinerary. And how do you get from place to place? And then everyone says the Brooklyn Bridge Park is a must-see, but you know, it's just a park, with a view of Manhattan. (But it could be followed by a ferry ride to Manhattan! Which: cute!) So… help. Where would you send said people! Also, if it helps, you can think "fun-loving, liberal, movie-loving, culturally Jewish, not young" when constructing said itinerary.

55 Comments / Post A Comment

Lemonnier (#14,611)

Send them to Manhattan? (BURN!)

@Lemonnier I thought they were from Manhattan?

Brooklyn Flea on the Williamsburg waterfront?

KenWheaton (#401)

I dragged a visitor along the following route last Saturday. Breakfast at Dekalb Market, walk over to Brooklyn Flea, hop on G Train to Metropolitan, down to Brooklyn Brewery, then G Train back to Park Slope for dinner at The Chip Shop. You get a pleasant mix of tourism, hipsterism, relatively cheap food and a couple stretches (Flatbush Ave Ext. and that empty stretch between Metropolitan stop and N. 11th) that at least LOOK like nasty, ungentrified city space.. That G train back would also allow exits at Bergen or Carroll in Cobble Hills/Carrol Gardens for dinner/cocktails at things like Clover Club, Chestnut, Prime Meats, Bar Tabac, etc. Or a quick drink at The Brazen Head.

Granted, you could get some of these things anywhere, but you could also can see trees or a Keith Haring print any old place. But you couldn't see, on N. 8th street, the little terrarium build in the shell of a window-unit air conditioner. It contains some trees, a stuffed gorilla and what looks like a hand-made little wild boar.

KenWheaton (#401)

@KenWheaton I was thinking Brooklyn Flea in Fort Green, just to be clear.

Daniel Sargeant (#7,340)

@KenWheaton Chestnut cloooosed.

KenWheaton (#401)

@Daniel Sargeant REALLY?!? Wow. Great for dinner and drinks I always thought. (Awful for brunch, though)

Daniel Sargeant (#7,340)

Chavella's, maybe, if they deign to brunch. And I guess the market at Grand Army?

Daniel Sargeant (#7,340)

@Daniel Sargeant Also Franny's does lunch, I just learned.

Multiphasic (#411)

@Daniel Sargeant Also, Franny's is awful. If you're down that way, just go get a sub the size of your leg from Graham Ave. Meat and Deli.

Multiphasic (#411)

@Daniel Sargeant Oops, confused Franny's and Fanny, I just realized.

KeithTalent (#2,014)

This Torontonian heading to Brooklyn for the first time the following weekend. My visual conception of Brooklyn is largely shaped by the coffee shop/stroller scenes in Bored to Death, and a couple of street scenes from The Squid and the Whale. Much as my conception of contemporary England was for many years entirely shaped by Adrian Mole books.

Eccles (#193,071)

Basically the best thing that has ever happened to me in Brooklyn was walking innocently out into the misty green of Prospect Park at 5am on a sleepless Sunday morning. I thought I would sit and meditate and watch the sun come up. I had no idea about the dogs. The rising sea of overjoyed, leashless, romping dogz. DOGZ!!!

Also, I think Coney Island is important. It's basically the same thing on a sunny day, but with all the humans of the world, in swimming trunks.

C_Webb (#855)

@Eccles Coney Island scares the mother loving crap out of many tourists — from the thin line between amusement park and post apocalyptic neighborhood, to the laughing evil clown logo. So I would consider a) are they the sort to appreciate this, and b) maybe you don't like them so much?

Eccles (#193,071)

@C_Webb It's only awful if you don't do it right!

The best thing about showing people NYC is touring a place they've heard about and seen in movies a thousand times, and then peeling back the layers. Show them things WITHIN the banal locations that they couldn't find on their own. You can get good hot chocolate anywhere, see lovely cherry blossoms most anywhere, but why are they BROOKLYN, why are they MEANINGFUL? The dry-as-toast Blue Guides are extremely helpful for quick lookup of all the dirt on any area you might visit (http://www.amazon.com/New-York-Map-Blue-Guide/dp/0393319857) and they're standard curriculum for becoming a licensed NYC tour guide. They give you the brief synopsis of the things that happened in each neighborhood, year after unbelievable year. The tour guide's job is to make those dry little nuggets shine. (/The Cruise/, the Timothy Speed Levitch documentary is required and wonderful viewing for this.)

Coney Island is intense but it's ESSENTIAL if you're talking Brooklyn. It's one of the most emotionally layered places in New York.

Astigmatism (#1,950)

How are they getting around? If moving between neighborhoods by something other than foot or subway is an option, (1) Tanoreen for an early lunch, (2) cherry blossoms, (3) goddammitI'msopissedthattheydidtheKeithHaringshowafterImoved, (4) walk down to Beer Table for a late-afternoon pre-dinner drink, (5) Lucali for dinner. But Tanoreen in particular is definitely a bit of a schlep if you don't have a car and are coming from Manhattan.

Romans never fails to be delicious (and impress out-of-towners). It also has the advantage (if you could call it that) of somewhat small brunch portions, so they'll have room for nibbles at the flea market or wherever later.

gumplr (#66)

Oh but what I would give for a plate of Bonita's fish tacos…

Do not miss DUMBO (take the A/C to High St. or the or F train to York St.)
Start at Jacques Torres for hot chocolate
Check out Brooklyn Bridge Park/Jane's Carousel

Take the C train at High St. to Lafayette Ave. and go to Roman's (no lunch, only weekend brunch)

Check out the Brooklyn Flea

Hop on the 69 Bus on Vanderbilt Ave. to Grand Army Plaza and walk up Eastern Parkway past the Brooklyn Public Library to the Museum & Botanic Garden

Anything else?

@With Love from BK@twitter If you are in DUMBO, there's a great photo op at Front/Washington. The buildings perfectly frame the Manhattan Bridge, and if it's a clear day, the Chrysler Building (or Empire State, I forget) if framed within the bridge.

mishaps (#5,779)

@With Love from BK@twitter The B69 doesn't run on weekends. But DUMBO is totally missable – it's the Disneyland version of Brooklyn. Take them to the Promenade in Brooklyn Heights instead for a view they'll recognize from a hundred movies.

I second the Haring/BBG idea, and would also take them out to DiFara's for the best pizza of their lives and a taste of non-hipster Brooklyn.

If they're already doing the Brooklyn Museum and Botanical Garden right next door then they should walk down to Vanderbilt ave for many yummy brunch/lunch options, I like Branded Saloon personally (customize-your-own bloody mary!). And ice cream at Ample Hills (Vanderbilt) and/or Blue Marble on Washington Ave for sure.

thesnugglefactory (#231,756)

The Flea is VERY Brooklyn and allows for snacking. Also, Brooklyn Heights promenade, Joralemon St (between Court St and the water).

violet.jelinek (#231,760)

Definitely Kaz au Nou from dinner, it is a very cosy, very Brooklyn Martinique/French BYOB restaurant on the Prospect Heights/Ft. Greene border, not walking distance from BAM–which could be showing something good– and Saffron, which boasts Brooklyn's best Japanese flower arrangements along with vintage clothes, kimonos, and kitchenware. Away from Ft. Greene and Prospect Heights, you could encourage them to take a walk through Brooklyn Heights, the cul de sacs with names like "Love Lane" are especially beautiful, Iris Cafe on Columbia place is nearby should they want something lite, as are Atlantic Avenues many Middle Eastern restaurants (Yemeni, Syrian, and Lebanese amongst them); Henry Public for a cocktail. Brooklyn Heights Cinema is also in the area and while their movie selection isn't always the best it is charmingly mom n pop, complete with homemade Italian sodas and popcorn with real, melted butter.

Multiphasic (#411)

English Kills, Famous Accountants, Storefront, Nurture, and, why the fuck not, Luhring Augustine in Bushwick. (I don't know if 319 Scholes has anything up right now, but when they do, it's TOTALLY THE NEW AESTHETIC, BOOM.)

An evening reading at Greenlight (if available).

Bookthugnation had an associated supersupersuperindie cinema, but I can't remember what the hell they were called so I can't confirm they're still open. Still, there's BTN and the Arts Library and Radegast on N. 3rd.

Maybe they want to walk the Wburg bridge? The Reliquary is often worth the weird, if it's still open. Fete Sau isn't amazing barbecue, but if they're from somewhere with less-amazing barbecue, it's still pretty good.

Around Prospect Park, yes, Prospect Heights for all your edgy-yet-still-boojie; I would add Bark and Upscale Hotdogs to the must-do list. Greenwood is a helluva thing, but it's an all-day deal.

Multiphasic (#411)

ALSO, roti, which I'd never heard of 'ere Brooklyn. Yes, this involves taking them into Crown Heights. WORTH IT.

C_Webb (#855)

@Multiphasic Go to the Bark in Brooklyn Bridge Park (if it's open yet) and kill two seagulls with one stone.

flossy (#1,402)

@Multiphasic My head is actually spinning at the thought of taking someone who has never been to Brooklyn to see the Luhring Augustine project space in Bushwick. I honestly can't tell if that's beyond terrible or totally brilliant.

I heard Kokie's is closed so basically nothing.

camps (#4,692)

Ken's itinerary is close to what I'd recommend, with the caveat that you can never really count on the G train to be running on the weekend.

I think DeKalb Market wins for food (+ lots of tables to sit down and drink a beer in the sun), but the Flea has better and more traditional merch. I would counter-offer Dino's to Roman's, a similar spot basically across the street. Weather pending, it could also be nice to just hang out in Fort Greene Park with a bottle of wine from Thirst (also on DeKalb) and potentially snacks from Brooklyn Fare (in the other direction, on Schermerhorn, but the closest most of us will ever get to eating at the Chef's Table).

A good walk would be: arrive at Borough Hall via subway, then go up Court, cross to Smith Street around Carroll Park, come down Smith, hang a right on Atlantic, left on Bond, and you're basically at Dekalb Market and then have all of Fort Greene ahead of you. You could do the reverse route starting at the DeKalb B/R/Q station but I'd end it at Prime Meats (up on Court) which is magical during the late afternoon/early evening and always a visitor favorite. A table in the patio of Frankie's would be the ultimate jam but the stars would really have to align for that to happen.

mr frosted (#5,308)

@camps Sure enough, the G train is not running north of Bedford-Nostrand this weekend.

KenWheaton (#401)

@mr frosted I was wondering if I'd won some sort of G Train lottery this weekend. No wait in either direction!

Also, I forgot to mention, Dekalb had $1 Mimosas this past weekend. That's not only cheap for New York, but cheap for anywhere.

zidaane (#373)

Take them to Lucali's to see the pizza guy that got stabbed.

C_Webb (#855)

@zidaane The go to the Farmacy for an inexplicably expensive yummy ironic sundae!

Daniel Sargeant (#7,340)

Oh, and bring cash.

Maevemealone (#968)

Everyone has given great ideas, but do not discount Jane's Carousel at night! It is magnificant and glowing! Which makes a lovely pairing for a glass of champagne at the River Cafe. Also, the movie theater at ReBar is down the street and plenty quirky. Dumbo makes for a lovely evening stroll along the waterfront for out of towners. Noodle Pudding is an easy recommendation if you do a stroll of the Heights and then do Dumbo after dinner.

Joon Kang@facebook (#231,765)

taro sushi. still good even after the move. the cheap drinks at the alibi on dekalb. next day- dim sum in sunset park (east harbour seafood palace). then russian banya in brighton

flossy (#1,402)

Make sure they get to see Lena Dunham in her natural habitat!

flossy (#1,402)

@flossy only feed her the provided food pellets though

stuffisthings (#1,352)

Hey, asshole, cherry blossoms are OUR thing. Don't take that away from us! (Actually, you can have all the tourists.)

Maevemealone (#968)

@stuffisthings I'm conflicted about that, too. Those are all MIIIINNNNE. No Sharing, but then I go and tell everyone about it anyway, so…

stuffisthings (#1,352)

@Maevemealone I'm saying that as a resident of DC, which is famous for its cherry blossoms(as opposed to New York which is famous for its everything else).

We had out-of-town friends-with-kids in last weekend and hit BOTH the Pierrepont Playground and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Playground. Jealous?

But! If you are down this way, don't forget ice cream at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, as well as maybe lobster rolls if they're doing that again already.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

If you live in Brooklyn, the dumbest thing you could possibly do is take your visitors to some damn place just because somebody said that's a good place to take visitors. I'm not taking my friends where I don't go, and I'm not pointlessly telling you to take yours where I do.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@Niko Bellic Why can't we edit posts any more? Anyway, I was going to add that I fell in love with NYC years ago when, for the first time after several visits as a tourist, I came to stay with a friend's sister. She constantly had guests sleeping on the floor of her apt and a big crew of local friends to hang out with, so I just went along with everyone and nobody knew I was visiting or paid any special attention to me. Half the time I had no fucking clue where I even was. The best time of my life.

Don't Panic (#12,659)

Greenwood Cemetery is beautiful in the Spring time and much cheaper than going to the botanical gardens; plus, there is a flock of wild parrots that hang out on the entry gates. And the promenade at night is pure New York magic.

hman (#53)

@Don't Panic Also, taco proximity.

Senor_Wences (#2,234)

If it was Sunday, I'd say Junior's for lunch. Junior's when the church folk let out is great. Often a lot of ladies in them churchy hats of theirs.

brooklyn_house_love (#231,779)

We have friends visit Brooklyn for the first time, a lot. We have it down to a science. We start by taking them to Sunset Bagels on 49th street and 5th avenue in Sunset Park. Nothing like an Everything Bagel with Vegetable Cream Cheese and an Iced Coffee to get the day started. We drive to Park Slope and walk along 7th avenue, admiring the brownstone houses and sometimes will detour into the park. After all that walking, we'll take a drive through Greenwood Cemetery which is gorgeous literally any time of year! Of course, they have to sample pizza! We tend to go to different places but Smiling's on 7th avenue in Slope is always a favorite, or Elegante's in Bay Ridge, or Charlie's in Sunset Park or L&B's in Bensonhurst! You can't go wrong with any of these.

We then take them to Brooklyn Heights, park the car, and walk the promenade. In the warm weather there is an ice cream truck outside and it's great to pick up some dessert. Finally, we take people back to Bay Ridge and drive around Colonial Road, Narrows and Shore Road so they can see the beautiful detached homes, with front lawns and two car garages. Sometimes we will walk down to the Shore Road Promenade and take a stroll by the water with a gorgeous view of the Verrazzano.

Dinner options are ample all along third avenue in Bay Ridge, fifth avenue in Sunset Park, or 7th avenue in Park Slope. You can really take your pic of the litter.

Recently, we've discovered a new pie shop (new for us) in the Gowanus – Four and Twenty Blackbird. It's a great place for a cup of coffee, a slice of pie and good conversation. The night can end there, OR if the crowd wants to keep going – Lowlands on 3rd avenue in the Gowanus is a cool, chill laid back bar and if beer is your thing then Draft Barn's selection of beers and beer croutons will amaze you.

Obviously, with all that food and drink you will be sleeping in the next morning and having sweet dreams of the wonderful times you had that Brooklyn day.

JPND (#9,550)

Brooklyn is not amazing as a tourist destination. Especially for a single day. It is too spread out. There are pockets of interest here and there but they are separated by vast swathes of nothing special, or actual yuck. Disregarding that, there are reasonable suggestions above, but I have a feeling you will go to the Haring exhibit, then wonder WTF you are doing out there, think how the hell do we get to Romans? Then after getting bummed out by Romans, which is average, try to figure out how to get back to Manhattan. Half the day will be spent in transport.

I'd seriously do this: get a day pass for the ferry, get off at East River Park, get coffee at blue bottle, walk up to Spoonbill, browse books. Maybe look at a furniture store or something? Smorgasburg is running, perhaps have a popsicle or $12 beef jerky, or pre-lunch? Get back on ferry, get off at next stop, have lunch at Marlow & Son. Go back to ferry. Get off at Dumbo. Walk over to Brooklyn Bridge Park. Hang around, then take the boat back to Manhattan. You're on the ferry a lot. But you're on a boat, in NYC, instead of the G train, or a car service, or whatever. Sure, you just took them to the silliest parts of Brooklyn, but that's a vacation. The rest of Brooklyn is not vacation material.

Senor_Wences (#2,234)

Am a little baffled by the multiple mentions of Smorgasburg. A gravel lot in the shadow of behemoth condo nonsense, grit blowing in your eyes, Port-a-Potties, and crowds of idiots lining up for expensive thimbles of gourmet food truck bullshit? I'd be one angry tourist if someone took me there.

I mean, every once in awhile I'll waltz through to see if there's some bottle of hot sauce or something I want to bring home, but screw the rest of that noise.

nomorecrackpipes (#8,243)

My wife & I visited Brooklyn last May during our NYC trip. I wanted to see hipsters and bicycles, and that's what I got (in addition to Jews).

We got off the "subway" (which was in the air at that point) in the Jewish section to check out the Jews. We then wandered up Bedford, stopped in some thrift shops, saw the wares and walked to whatever filthy park is on the East River (great view, filthy park). That's it, just took it all in.

We also were there one night at the Brooklyn Bowl for ?uestlove's DJ set and were invited to a burlesque show.

JPND (#9,550)

@senor
I'm the only one who mentioned Smorgasburg.

If you take the ferry, Smorgasburg is right there. So… you can just walk through it, and if you hate it, you can just keep walking. Or get back on the ferry. It's very noncommittal if you take the water route. Plus East River Park is a good view of Manhattan.

I agree with nomorecrackpipes recommendations, too. Personally I think that deeper Brooklyn is a bore for out of towers. I would be livid if someone made me spend a third of my weekend on the G train.

Coney Island for sure. And it's a good weekend for it! The Congress of Curious Peoples starts tomorrow night. spectacularium.org/congress-of-curious-peoples/

Bike along the NY Greenway bike path to Wallabout and check out Building 92 museum in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Hell, take a tour of the Navy Yard (so cool) with Urban Oyster either on bikes or bus.

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