Perhaps the most fascinating thing about New York is that there are so many different sides to the city. Visitors could spend all their time at sights like Times Square, but then they’d miss out on museums like the MoMA. Still, if they were focused solely on art, they wouldn’t get to experience the city’s dining, nightlife or performing art scenes, or explore public spaces like Central Park and the High Line. To truly get a feel for New York, you need to spend a day in a local’s shoes, going beyond the tourist attractions to the charming streets of Brooklyn.
Morning: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
There’s no more New York way to start the day than by visiting an independent coffee shop so, upon waking up, I headed straight for Tekoá in Cobble Hill. A café from popular New York restaurateurs, the stylish spot offers coffee from Irving Farms alongside house-baked pastries like sticky date-and-walnut honey buns and coffee cake with almonds and currants. I opted for a cappuccino and egg-in-a-hole, which is served here with spinach pie instead of toast.
After my leisurely breakfast, I strolled around Cobble Hill and neighboring Brooklyn Heights, taking in all the historic brownstones and carriage houses. I walked past the grand townhomes lining Cobble Hill Park, then over to Warren Mews, where 34 workingman’s cottages built in 1878 now sell for millions of dollars. Next, I went up Joralemon Street and followed the cobblestones down to the water, passing everything from brownstones to Greek Revival-style row houses along the way. To finish, I walked back over to Grace Court Alley, a dead-end street with multi-million-dollar townhomes and a gorgeous carriage house.
Afternoon: 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Famished from all that walking, I took the G train north to Williamsburg for lunch. While the neighborhood is known for having some of the best restaurants in the city, I opted to visit The Bagel Store, a casual shop that became Instagram-famous for its rainbow-hued bagels. There, I ordered one of the large, hand-rolled treats with a generous “schmear” of cream cheese and felt like a proper New Yorker.
Next, I did some shopping on Williamsburg’s main drag, Bedford Avenue. I started by browsing kitchen goods at Whisk and contemporary menswear at ID New York. Then, I picked out some stacking rings and scented candles at wildly popular jewelry store Catbird. Across the street, I leafed through the classic titles at independent bookstore Spoonbill & Sugartown before buying a couple enamel pins at MeMe Antennae, which sells a wide variety of knickknacks inside the Williamsburg Mini Mall. I also grabbed a reasonably priced jumpsuit at Awoke Vintage, as well as a flowy, floral dress from Pinkyotto. I was even tempted to get a pair of heels at Shoe Market but I decided to save what was left of my money for the evening.
Evening: 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.
With a lighter wallet, I continued north to Brooklyn Bowl, a quintessentially Williamsburg bowling alley with high-tech lanes, Chesterfield sofas and massive TVs playing music videos. The spot also functions as a concert venue of sorts, hosting a range of DJs, indie acts and cover bands most nights. After bowling a few rounds, I grabbed a table in the restaurant area, where New York favorite Blue Ribbon serves comfort food classics like fried chicken, French bread pizzas and hot fudge sundaes.
When I was done eating, I stuck around for a little bit of live music, which came courtesy of a Prince cover band starring former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Maya Rudolph. Then, I headed to Westlight for a nightcap. Situated on the 22nd floor of the William Vale hotel, the rooftop bar offers craft cocktails alongside nearly 360-degree views of Manhattan, Queens and parts of Brooklyn. You can enjoy your drinks amid velvet banquettes and low-slung leather couches in the swanky lounge, or head outdoors to the wraparound terrace, which features bright yellow viewfinders for a closer look at the surrounding buildings. With a cocktail in hand, I took in the Manhattan skyline across the river, feeling like a native New Yorker after just one day.
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