Carriage houses, kayaking, and summer flicks with a view
Stepping out of the subway in Brooklyn Heights is a little like traveling back in time to a past that probably only exists in our collective imaginations. Beautiful tree-lined (and impeccably clean) streets are flanked by some of the most well-renovated brownstones in the city, complete with overflowing flower boxes and manicured stoops that look straight out of a New York romcom. Not to mention the old carriage houses and stables tucked between brownstones and charmingly re-purposed into apartments and studios.
Beyond Brooklyn Heights' already small town neighborhood appeal, the development of Brooklyn Bridge Park and its 85‐acres of sustainable waterfront park space (1.3 miles of East River shoreline!) has transformed the area into a serious destination and, in my opinion, created one of the most beautiful public spaces in the entire city. The collapse of cargo operations along this stretch of the waterfront left the East River piers vacant and ripe for commercial development. Thanks to the Friends of Fulton Ferry, the idea for Brooklyn Bridge park was born in 1985 and is still being completed today with the last of the piers still under development and more updates to come this summer!
To be sure, Brooklyn Heights is no up and coming place - it has up and gone with a median income of ~$120K, more than double the city average. You can think of the Heights as Brooklyn's West Village, a mecca for wealthy families and those of us seeking a refreshing brunch, quiet stroll, or beautiful view of the Manhattan skyline. Despite what it may lack in diversity, this hood is the perfect spot for a beautiful weekend of relaxing and taking a break from the noise of the city. Below is a tour from breakfast to after dark flicks in the park -- enjoy!
First up: wake up juice at Siggy's Good Food
Siggy's is one of those places vegans and juice people go crazy for -- think quinoa spinach cakes, sesame kale salad, and Acai' smoothies. Hop off the Clark Street 2/3 or the High Street A/C and grab a juice or a smoothie to go or sit outside in the sun on the sidewalk patio.
Onward: a morning stroll through this lovely hood and its history
Head down from Siggy's toward Atlantic Avenue on Hicks or Henry Streets for a stroll through the quit, tree-lined streets of one of Brooklyn's most aesthetically beautiful neighborhoods.
From early 19th century federal-style homes to Italian Brownstones to the old carriage houses and stables tucked between them, Brooklyn Heights has every bit of that historic New York charm. So much, in fact, that in 1965 Brooklyn Heights became the first neighborhood in the city to be protected by the 1965 Landmarks Preservation Law. Today, it's a beautiful, quiet neighborhood perfect for a leisurely stroll (with smoothie in hand) and some serious real estate sticker shock.
Brunch time: avocado toast and poached eggs at Iris Cafe
This charming local spot is full of young families and 20 somethings from the surrounding neighborhoods. Expect farm fresh poached eggs, avocado toast, and all sorts of other refreshing breakfasty things. Come on a Sunday and budget ~15-20 minute wait time, but not more than that. If you do have to wait, browse the charming little general store next door or take a stroll down Columbia Place for some of the most beautiful architecture in the neighborhood.
Take in the view: stroll the Brooklyn Promenade
Head over just a block from Iris Cafe to Remsen Street for the entrance to the Brooklyn Promenade. Situated above the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, the Promenade offers up some of the most stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, not to mention a killer sunset and an excellent running path for all you runners out there.
Fun fact: the BQE we all know and love (or not) would have run straight through Brooklyn Heights if Robert Moses' plan had been successfully. Thankfully, opposition re-routed the expressway to the side of the bluff which allowed for the creation of the Promenade. Phew.
Weekend workout: beach volleyball, soccer, and kayaking at the Brooklyn Bridge Park Piers
Brooklyn Bridge Park's newly opened piers have some of the best views around, and even better, are totally open to the public for both private and league use. Reserve a spot at one of the volleyball, soccer, or any number of other courts here.
Or better yet, rent one of the Kayaks available from the new beach just finished at Pier 4, a beautiful new space built from the remnant of a railroad float transfer bridge and even incorporating natural tidal pools in the beach design.
Afternoon sweet tooth: Ice cream on the river's edge
Ample Hills Creamery is the creme de la creme of ice cream shops. Stop by the stall at Pier 5 and cotton candy, lemon sorbet, coconut fudge and even something called salted crack caramel can soon be yours on a cone or in a cup under the summer sun.
Sunday Special: Smorgasburg's gourmet bites
That's right, folks, the wonders of Smorgasburg's gourmet bites grace the piers of Brooklyn Bridge Park every Sunday from 11-6pm near Pier 5. Notable noms include Mighty Quinn's BBQ, Txorizeria (below), Martha, Ramen Burger, and the Red Hook Lobster Pound + pretty much everything else under the sun.
Rooftop sunset: pizza and beers on the Fornino rooftop
There is no better end to a day of strolling, kayaking, and sunning than the classic New York slice and a cold beer. And, let me tell you, Fornino does it pretty well. Head up to the rooftop at Pier 6 for stunning views of the skyline at sunset or after dark.
Been to Fornino already or want to try something a little more upscale or a tad less carb-heavy? The food at Colonie on Atlantic is also delicious.
After dark: catch a summer flick in Brooklyn Bridge Park
If you're lucky enough to be in the area on a Thursday evening at sundown from July 10 - Aug 28, check out the just released lineup for the free 2014 movie series in the park, featuring DJs and most certainly a crowd! And of course, as befits Brooklyn Bridge Park tradition, the public will be invited to vote for the last film of the summer. Check back at brooklynbridgepark.org to participate in the movie democracy.
Mapping your trip
Brooklyn heights is a small neighborhood of only a couple square blocks, but you can easily spend a day wandering the maze of tree-lined streets and brownstones, not to mention taking in the views throughout Brooklyn Bridge Park and the Promenade.