In honor of the fact that I just left Brooklyn, I thought I’d post about some of my favorite things to do and see in my former beloved borough…
I specifically want to discuss the neighborhood I called home for the past 4ish years: Brooklyn Heights. (Pictured above–my former building, a mansion built in the 1880s that has since been divided into teeny weeny apartments. I loved it, but space (and rent hikes!) was our main reason for leaving.)
Brooklyn Heights is one of the most desirable-to-live-in, as well as one of the most frequently-touristed hoods in Brooklyn. It has charming brownstones, good eats–and most importantly of all, access to what is in my opinion, the best park in NYC.
The best thing to do in Brooklyn Heights? Wander. Get off the subway (the 2/3 at Clark St, 4/5 at Borough Hall, A/C at High St, R at Court St, and F at Jay St all get you there) and just walk. You’ll encounter gorgeous century-old brownstones and carriage houses, meticulously restored facades, clean streets, and beautiful little gardens.
At some point in your wanderings, turn west and make your way to the Promenade, which is exactly like it sounds; a lovely walkway overlooking Brooklyn Bridge Park with amazing views of the city and the Brooklyn Bridge (though the view is partially blocked now by these huge awful condo being built–don’t get me started). It’s bordered by these amazing brownstones that cost more money than I will ever have in my lifetime.
From the Promenade, you will then want to wander your way down to the park.
This park has beautiful walking paths, unparalleled views of Manhattan, and in the past couple of years, they’ve turned the piers into these little sports arenas, where you can do everything from roller-skating to volleyball. With the improvements, it has gotten crowded, especially in summer (it has also led to sharp rent increases), but it’s still a lovely place for an early morning run or a weekend meander.
For food, there’s Fornino’s, an amazing open-aired pizza place with views, though on nice summer days you’ll probably be waiting a bit for a table and dodging small children. I prefer it in the fall–when there’s a little bit of a chill in the air, they bring out heat lamps. There’s also a lovely little wine bar open during the warmer months which is a great place to stop for a beverage or a sandwich under the little green trees.
The park is also where, from April to September, you can catch the ferry to Governor’s Island, one of my favorite places in this entire city. A 5-minute $2 ferry ride (it was free up until this year), and you’re transported from NYC to a colonial Williamsburg-like place, with chickens and organic farmers and hammocks and wonderfully weird art installations. They also have things like reggae concerts and jazz fests–pay attention to their calendar of events. Or don’t, and be pleasantly surprised when you step off the ferry into a scene from The Great Gatsby.
Just be sure to keep track of the time–the last ferry leaves at 7 PM, and if you’re not on it, you’re stuck on the island for the night! (Actually, I don’t know what happens if you miss the ferry–I’ve come close to it, but always made it in time.)
The other great thing about Brooklyn Heights is of course, the food.
Jack the Horse is hands-down the best restaurant in Brooklyn Heights. It’s pricey, and very much worth the prices. Weekend evenings you’ll probably need a reservation, but even if you don’t have one, they opened up a lovely little oyster bar next door where you can wait with cocktails and appetizers for your table. I’ll miss this place.
Some other favorite spots:
- River Deli on Joralemon is a lovely little Italian place that makes you feel like you’re in Europe.
- Dellarocco=best wine and pizza in Brooklyn. What more do you need?
- Noodle Pudding is delicious old-school Italian food. Portions are large and satisfying.
- Sociale is another good Italian place, though the portions are actually quite small
- Henry’s End has a small, delicious, seasonal menu
- The Brooklyn Heights Wine Bar is great for a casual meal
- Henry Public makes amazing old-school fare that’s heavy on the meat, but this vegetarian had the best grilled cheese of her life there (it’s made with apples + tons of butter). The cocktails are also outstanding, and their staff dresses in old-timey clothes like suspenders and prairie dresses
- The Long Island Bar makes the BEST cocktails. And in the winter they serve warm dates with butter. They’re amazing.
- Oh and Theresa’s can’t be beat for brunch. Get the orange ricotta pancakes!
I’m really going to miss Brooklyn Heights and all the wonderful things it provides (not the least of which was this amazing sunset view from the Promenade that looks like big pink Dementors descending on Governor’s Island), but life goes on and I must as well.
If you’re headed to NYC anytime soon (or if you already live there and want to explore) I hope you find these suggestions helpful!
All photos except the first one taken by me 2011-2015 in Brooklyn Heights and Governor’s Island