New York-bound but you’ve already seen the major sights? Venture over to Brooklyn for some real-city charms that won’t disappoint! As one of the Big Apple’s most interesting neighbourhoods, you’ll discover Gothic treasures, artist hubs and the best pint around.
1. The City Reliquary
This tiny Williamsburg museum will take you back in time and to a totally different world. This community-run museum boasts one New Yorker’s collection of unicorn figurines, geological samples from under the crust of Brooklyn and burlesque memorabilia from decades ago. Admission is free.
Address: 370 Metropolitan Avenue
2. Brighton Beach
So-called New York’s last “Old World Community,” Brighton Beach is the best place in the city to find authentic Russia vodka and borsht sold as just about every restaurant. Head to the ocean-front park to see watch first generation Russian-Americans playing speed chess. Are you game for challenging them to a match?
3. Brooklyn Heights Promenade
This spot along the waterfront is just as good a spot as any for a walk in New York. Stop along the path to take in the sights on one of the benches. The views of Manhattan’s skyline, Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty across the East River are spectacular, particularly at night.
4. Green-Wood Cemetery
New York City’s first rural cemetery opened in 1838 and is located in the heart of Brooklyn. Despite being a graveyard, the park was always a weekend destination for city-folk to take carriage rides and promenades. A sightseeing tour to see some of the noteworthy graves comes recommended, on weekends only. Some notables buried here include: Leonard Bernstein, Henry Ward Beecher, Lola Montez, Jean Michel Basquiat, Elizabeth Tilton, Horace Greeley, Emma Stebbins, William Marcy “Boss” Tweed, Louis Comfort Tiffany and F.A.O Schwarz.
5. Coney Island Museum
This New York City museum is all about nostalgia and the chance for visitors to experience old-time Brooklyn. Admission will set you back a dollar but it’s worth every penny. The museum is open on weekends from noon until 5pm. Highlights include the museum’s collection of vintage bumper cars, antique souvenirs and other oddities from years gone by.
Address: Second flood, 1208 Surf Avenue, near West 12th Street
6. Brooklyn Public Library
Art deco enthusiasts won’t be disappointed by Brooklyn’s central branch which was designed to look like a book with flaps opening onto Prospect Park. The library boasts three floors of sun-filled rooms, all with pretty fantastic views. It’s the perfect place to catch up on Facebook while you’re on holidays in New York.
Address: 10 Grand Army Plz.
7. Prospect Park
If you’re wondering where all the locals are on any given sunny afternoon, head to Prospect Park. It’s the largest park in Brooklyn and it’s designed by the same team who designed Central Park. Wander through the woods, play ball at the courts, sit around Brooklyn’s only lake and check out the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens.
8. Brooklyn Flea
Shopping in Brooklyn has its perks and the Brooklyn Flea Market is one of them: this is one of the best places to find some real treasures! We featured it in our post New York shopping: Top 10 markets for a good reason. Shop the stalls selling it all from antiques to vintage clothing, handicrafts and objets d’art.
9. Red Hooks Piers
Wander through the small cobbled streets of Brooklyn to reach the piers. It’s a fab place to be, especially at sunset with views over the Manhattan skyline. You’ll eventually reach Red Hooks Piers if you follow the waterfront trail from Brooklyn Heights, walking away from Brooklyn Bridge. It’s a real artist’s community in this area too, so plenty of little galleries and shops to duck into on your way.
10. Brooklyn Brewery
Not exactly a hidden treasure, but we had to include New York’s favourite brewery on our list of Brooklyn sights. Take a tour and enjoy a pint or two of a local lager while you’re here. Interesting fact: the Brooklyn Brewery became the first company in NYC to use 100% wind-generated energy in 2003.
Want to experience more cities off the beaten path? Check out our secret and unusual guides to Rome, London, Berlin and other destinations around the world.