I’m proud that I once lived in Brooklyn. It seemed alternative to choose Brooklyn over Manhattan in the 1990s. I return about once a year to visit friends and see how the city evolves. My most recent trip in September 2012 shows me how shallow my exposure to Brooklyn was as a resident. I knew Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope. I thought it adventurous to visit Carroll Gardens and Williamsburg was just booting up. Today it seems odd to me that people would choose to rent or buy in Manhattan. Brooklyn seems to be easier living.
Nowadays my home base is Fort Greene. My friend owns a condo on Fort Greene Park and more importantly he owns a dog. Not only do people walkabout the neighborhood, but those walking dogs stop to talk to one another and gradually establish friendly relationships. It’s uber-neighborhoody. Every year new small businesses are opening in the form of coffee shops and restaurants. On this most recent trip I enjoyed trying Bittersweet (excellent cold brew iced coffee), Walter’s (American restaurant with great breakfast and dinner dishes plus oysters), and Lulu & Po (Italian shareable small plates).
On Saturday there is flea market a great selection of food stalls with tastes as eclectic as the merchandise. I was pleasantly surprised to order and eat a Maine lobster roll from Redhook Lobster Pound. Lots of cute men and women shopping here for any single people. This goes for most of Fort Greene.
Now so far I’ve shared urban experiences you’d expect to find in NYC. What about crab shacks? What about bike trails? What about surfing? These were the real eye openers for me.
Let’s say you’ve already booked your hotel or otherwise find yourself in Manhattan. You can take advantage of Ride Brooklyn which rents bikes and is situated near a subway transportation hub and immediately next to the 2/3 line. So easy to take the subway to ride Brooklyn, rent a bike, and tour Brooklyn along the miles of bike lanes and greenways. The shop can provide you with a bike map to guide your way. My friend took me through Carroll Gardens to a set of new parks along the waterfront south of the Brooklyn Bridge. From there we biked north to the bridge, beyond through a greenway in DUMBO, and onward to Williamsburg. Great skyline vistas of Manhattan along the route. We refueled with a shake at Urban Rustic Grocery & Cafe. Hopefully your rental bike comes with a basket so you can go shopping on and around Grand Avenue. We subsequently bike back to Fort Greene which turned out to be a surprisingly short ride.
Biggest surprise was driving to Rockaway (admittedly Queens) for a surf session. All the time I lived in Brooklyn I didn’t realize there’s a solid beach and surf culture running strong in the city. In fact I moved all the way to Los Angeles in a mislead attempt to find surf. You can take the subway out to Rockaway (same one that takes you to JFK). Nice sets, strong waves, with short runs. Hipster, gourmet food stands are nearby having invaded old Robert Moses style concession stands on the beach and there are lots of tasty restaurants (e.g. Rockaway Taco) a short walk from the sand.
Brooklyn is a city unto itself. Get out and explore it!