New York City’s most populated borough has long been seen as a destination in its own right. Humming with creative energy, Brooklyn is home to some of the city’s hippest bars, restaurants, galleries and music venues.
New York City is a quick, 90-minute flight from Toronto and several airlines will take you there. Despite landing in Newark, New Jersey, we prefer Porter Airlines for the advantage of a downtown departure (and less stress) from Billy Bishop Airport. Return flights start at $310.
You could easily spend your entire visit in a single Brooklyn neighbourhood and barely scratch the surface of this trendsetting borough, so we’re helping narrow your choices with a breakdown of some of our favourite things to see and eat in New York’s capital of cool.
Yelp Inc. via Flickr
What to do
For greenery, Central Park tends to get all the attention but the most underrated park in the city is across the river in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. While the former is flooded with tourists and horse-drawn carriages, the latter is where locals and hipsters head for a discreet beverage in the summer sun. It’s New York City’s equivalent to Toronto’s Trinity Bellwoods Park.
Prospect Park’s history goes back to 1867, when it opened as the first planned urban park in the United States and paved (or rather, landscaped) the way for other parks like that famous cousin in Manhattan. Visit on a Saturday and you can pick up some fresh produce and baked goods for your park picnic at the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket which sits at the main entrance to the park. Once you’ve had your fill of the outdoors, the Brooklyn Public Library and Brooklyn Museum are nearby.
What to eat and drink
Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club sees a former warehouse in Gowanus transformed into a retro shuffleboard club with vintage Floridian flair. The ten regulation-sized courts get pretty popular during peak hours, but the tropical-themed bar (including house-kegged margaritas) and a range of games like giant Connect Four keep you occupied while you’re waiting. Don’t miss the swinging rope and ring games which are deceptively and frustratingly challenging, especially after a few beverages. While there isn’t a kitchen, a connecting garage hosts rotating food trucks.
A collaboration between several notable New York restaurateurs, including Grand Army’s Julian Brizzi and Noah Bernamoff of Mile End, Celestine features eye popping views of the Manhattan skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge. The menu draws inspiration from Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and North African cuisines for its seasonal dishes, some of which are cooked in a six-foot wood-burning oven. Mezes like a flageolet bean spread with green olives and pickled octopus anchor a menu of modern dishes that are designed to be shared.
Where to stay
Set on Wythe Avenue, where it's surrounded by stylish shops and ultra-cool restaurants, the Williamsburg Hotel’s eclectic aesthetic is a natural match for its surroundings.
Rooms feature reclaimed oak floors and full-length windows (many of which offer dazzling river and Manhattan views). Teal subway tiled bathrooms add a pop of colour – they’re semi-open to the room but, thankfully, the WC is closed to provide privacy for those bathroom activities you’d prefer not to have on display.
Harvey restaurant serves up bistro-influenced fare with an emphasis on house-made breads, plus there’s a rooftop pool and bar slated to open later this summer. For beyond-Brooklyn explorations, the subway is within walking distance or you can take advantage of the hotel’s free Thai-style tuk tuk service or free bike rentals.