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One of my favourite places in the whole wide world is Brooklyn. Stuffed to the gills with young (and not so young) creative people, it’s a wonderland of cutting-edge restaurants, fabulous shops and insanely wonderful Manhattan views.
It’s also home to Kirsty, one of my favourite people in the entire world, which gives me one huge reason to visit.
I spent two weeks there with her last summer and, as this year’s countdown begins (I only visit in the summer – I’m a wimp who doesn’t like the NYC winter chill) I thought I’d look back – and look forward! – on my favourite things to do.
1. Watch the sun set from a rooftop bar
And what a view it is. Seeing the sun dip over that iconic skyline while you sip on something chilled and alcoholic – does it get much better than that? I think not. Which is why I did it twice the last time I was in Brooklyn. The Ides bar at the Wythe is unbeatable.
2. Get fried chicken
Nobody does fried chicken like New Yorkers. Well, they probably do in the deep south, but I’ve never been there, and trust me this is a vast improvement on British KFC. My favourite is Sweet Chick which you’ll find both in Brooklyn and Manhattan. My order? The fried chicken, with waffles, maple syrup and shoestring fries. And a BEER. Done. Again, I ate here twice in a week the last time I visited BK.
Also, try The Commodore for an authentic dive-bar feel with fried chicken n’ biscuits. The honey butter rocks.
3. Watch comedy
OK, so not strictly Brooklyn-based, but The Comedy Cellar is a quick ten dollar Uber away. I’ve seen special unannounced appearances here from Aziz Ansari and Craig Robinson, plus their G+Ts are lethal. A hilarious night out: guaranteed.
One of the best things to do in New York is quite obviously shop. I adore everything Madewell does (their basic T’s rule) and do check out CatBird jewellery if you can. The best stores are along Bedford, and popping in and out of the boutiques there is a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon. Above dress: Madewell. Pose: mine.
5. Eat Brunch
The quintessential New York Meal: brunch. I love Café Colette (above) for their terrace-based people watching opportunities, Egg for their eggs (doh) and draw-on tablecloths, Reynard for celebrity spotting and Freehold for the low-key vibe, table tennis and lobster rolls.
6. Get a mani/pedi
What is an expensive treat in the UK is a weekly routine in the states. Go with a friend, sit back and enjoy. But be aware when you pay to tip generously, as the women in these places are paid minimum wage. In fact, tip generously everywhere you go; around 20% is standard (a nightmare for the mental arithmetic-averse like me!).
7. Check out the outside spaces
There are parks and outdoor hangouts galore in Brooklyn! From the zoo, to all the parks (there’s a lido at McCarren), to Smorgasburg, an outdoor flea and food market on the water, to the bridges that you MUST walk over into Manhattan at some point. For something a bit different check out The Farm on Kent, a smallholding right under the Williamsburg bridge.
8. Eat Burgers and Mexican food
Again, nobody does burgers and Mexican food like New Yorkers. I had the best of both in Williamsburg, and highly recommend the DuMont burger for a banging hangover cure and La Superior for their frozen Margaritas and tacos.
9…. Or just get involved in the food scene
The W’Burg/Brooklyn food scene is AMAZING – I didn’t get to eat at every restaurant I wanted, even in two weeks. I’d recommend you check out Diner (above), Marlow & Sons, Traif, Peter Luger (a Brooklyn institution, it’s cash only) and Maison Premier (oysters and champagne, yum).
10. Go on a wild night out
Go dancing, Brooklyn-style! DJ Questlove has a residency at the Brooklyn Bowl every Thursday night (start off at Kinfolk 90 over the street, owned by my old buddies at VICE), and their listings show some amazing artists coming up. Or head to Gowanus (it’s really good fun to say this word) for The Rub, a monthly old school Hip-Hop and R&B night. I rang in my thirtieth birthday here and it was SO much fun.
11. Walk. Walk and walk and walk.
There is SO MUCH to see in Brooklyn – so walk! Especially in the summer when the weather is so glorious. Or, if you need to grab a cab, Ubers are really easy to come across, as are the green Brooklyn taxis.
12. Drink borough-brewed booze
Williamsburg boasts both the Brooklyn Brewery (who offer tours!) and the Brooklyn Winery, who make their own alcohol on-site. The winery is a fab warehouse setting where you can chat over a bottle with delicious bar food – I love it here. But perhaps stay away from the Mezcal bar around the corner if it’s not your thing… my headache the next day was something else.
What are your favourite things to do in Brooklyn?