While once known for its cool indie culture, there’s no denying Williamsburg’s rising popularity has led to higher rent (for businesses and residents) and big brand chains moving in like Whole Foods, Apple and Starbucks. Still, an independent and creative culture still thrives here. In fact, the unique offerings make this Brooklyn neighborhood a must-visit on your next trip to New York for these reasons and more.
Part of the fun of visiting Williamsburg is getting there. You can take Uber or the subway like everywhere else, though there are other scenic transport modes. For one, the East River Ferry takes you right into Williamsburg, providing a unique way to experience NYC. And on the cheap too, as a ride is only $4-$6 one way (weekday/weekend). Another option is walking over the Williamsburg Bridge from the Lower East Side, a stroll that provides skyline views of both Brooklyn and Manhattan.
When it comes to food, the options are nearly endless in Williamsburg. Rainbow bagels gowned in funfetti cream cheese at the Bagel Store. Handmade ice cream rolled with chorizo and tobacco leaf. Farm-to-fork fare with creative flare, like caramelized fennel laced with parmesan, orange and rosemary at Lilia or spicy tuna tartare showcasing tempura Japanese eggplant and kecap manis (a sweet Indonesia soy sauce). Drinks in the hood get creative, too. Recommendations: a cereal milk shake from Momofuku Milk Bar or the rainbow-colored blue algae-laced coffees at The End, which is also a design shop.
Sure, there’s plenty of offbeat bites and sips to be had, but you can also travel the world through traditional food in Williamsburg. Craving authentic German? Radegast Hall & Biergarten is a huge German beer garden with pretzels the size of your head, sausage platters and Bavarian beers served in proper (and humongous!) glassware by staff in dirndls and lederhosen. For country-style French food, Le Barricou is where you’ll get surprisingly affordable duck confit and coq a vin. If you want to be transported to a coastal town, Brooklyn Surf Bar’s sand-topped floor and tiki drinks, as well as the baha fish burritos and fresh fish, will do the trick.
Gazing down the streets off Bedford Avenue introduces you to numerous murals. If you'd like to create your own works, Baked in Brooklyn is a BYOB ceramics shop where you'll choose your piece and then paint it using their guidance and supplies. At Artists & Fleas, peruse unique locally made items ranging from snarky cooking aprons to jewelry made out of gold-dipped leaves. If you like music, check out Rough Trade’s enormous selection of records and see a live show.
Head to Barcade to pair craft beer and retro video games (Frogger, anyone?) or Rocka Rolla for some skeeball. Brooklyn Bowl offers both live music - and dancing -- as well as bowling (tip: Disco Night is a must). Jackbar is a delight for pinball fanatics, while Giant Jenga and craft cocktails await at The Counting Room. If you're into Magic Cards and other hobby shop adventures, Twenty-Sided Store is your jam. And for those wanting to pair trivia with free food, The Charleston gives a free personal pizza with every drink.
Wander down the main thoroughfare of Bedford and you’ll find tons of adorable boutiques, though the price tags will nearly make you faint. Luckily, a number of affordable thrift shops cater to stylish shoppers on a budget like Monk Vintage, Buffalo Exchange and Crossroads Trading Co. What makes thrift shopping here so much is fun is that in Williamsburg, anything goes when it comes to fashion. It’ll be your perfect chance to try some daring styles and escape your clothing comfort zone.
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Jessica Festa is a full-time travel writer who is always up for an adventure. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia and doing orphanage work in Ghana. You can follow her adventures on her travel websites, Epicure & Culture and Jessie On A Journey. You can also connect with Jessica directly on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, or follow her epicurean adventures on Facebook and Twitter.
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