OK so saying that I LOVE NYC is suspected but, of course, I do. I lived in Manhattan for a few months and have traveled there many times. Every trip, I have the same struggle; do I return to the places that I already know and love or do I venture into new areas and explore. This time, I gave Brooklyn a chance.
In the past, I had strictly attended a Brooklyn Nets game at the newly built Barclays’s center which was a great time but far from an authentic experience. This trip, I took a tour of the Brooklyn districts of Bushwick, DUMBO, and Williamsburg. All of which are full of art galleries, local artisan work, and really refreshing indie shopping. It’s time you all pay a visit across the bridges of Manhattan and enjoy this city’s laid-back, creative vibes.
Have you heard of the Bushwick collective? Well, it’s a nonprofit outdoor street gallery of Artists from all over the world! We took a walking tour to find out more. Our guide was from Graffiti Tour by Foot, and she was great! She taught us about the culture of the street art crews which is often the most unknown aspects and rarely talked about to the public. We discussed the variations of graffiti, the history of it in the NYC area and of course, Bushwich itself. We learned the essential basics of street art and its evolution which was fascinating.
Of course, we also got to learn more about the local artists and the many international ones who come visit and leave their mark! Here are a few of our favorite.
Have you heard of Etsy? Well, guess what? The digital artisan company started right in the heart of DUMBO! It is, in fact, still their headquarters. I think this gives you an idea of what to expect in this small quaint area. Art galleries and artisanal shops are a mattering part of this region. You can feel the local pride of the artists who celebrate Brooklyn in their work. It doesn’t take long before you walk by shops that have a delightful selection of creative work. West Elm, a famous home store, also opened its first store here you can visit. It is very cozy, aesthetically charming and has a lifestyle-oriented vibe. They also sell locally made items next to the café that is housed in the store.
As an interesting note; the acronym “Dumbo” stands for “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.” This wonderful neighborhood is indeed found between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. You can actually have a pleasant walk on Brooklyn bridge to get there. The view is incredible as you can imagine. You will quickly notice the “photo spot” with all the tourists taking pics of the bridge in the backdrop. We also couldn’t help ourselves…
Don’t forget to try the pizza before you go. Considered some of the best in NYC area – Grimaldis and Julianna serve some delicious pies. Shake Shack and a homemade ice cream parlor are also lovely treats you can have. There are also fancier steakhouse options if you are in that mood, but we kept it simple this time!
This area is big. I didn’t have enough time to thoroughly investigate it. I did, however, go to Grand street which is known for its vintage and eclectic shops. It didn’t disappoint and felt very genuine. Here are three of my favorites that I went to:
This place came alive when I walked in. You felt the passion of the French owner selling beautifully curated pieces (accessories, dresses, jewelry, you name it!) from all over but you could sense the Parisian vibe. The store had lively shoppers excited to try on unique pieces they could add to their collection.
Jewelry galore, I met the owner of Quiet Storm who had a fantastic selection of fine jewelry from all over the world. Her website is also incredible, and we couldn’t help but notice the note “A Storm is coming to Montreal” – does that mean she is opening in MTL? It is not clear, but we are staying tuned!
My favorite discovery was a vintage store who was very carefully curated. Each piece looked almost new. It was incredible. I quickly found out they were employed by the classic TV show Sex in The City. Well, I guess wasn’t the only person who thought they were terrific!
Don’t get me wrong, NYC is AMAZING, and there is an endless amount to do there. The newly opened Whitney museum with its stunning view, in Chelsea, is a must-see. It is right next to the high line and many essential art galleries so you can easily spend the day in the area. Our favorite discovery was the emerging Latin art from Praxis gallery.
The MET and the MoMa will always be favorites… In fact, seeing Michelangelo’s 500-year-old drawings at the MET’s exhibit on the Masters’ work was genuinely memorable this time around. If you quickly feel overwhelmed with huge galleries, I suggest you check out The Frick Collection which has a beautifully curated selection in a converted villa in the upper east side.
In the evening, we discovered delicious local favorite restaurants like Lil Frankies and La Contenta in the Lower East Side. Even early in the week – these places were crowded with people. We ventured to West Village and had a great time sipping cocktails at While We Were Young and The Happiest Hour – two of the most Instagramable places I have ever stepped foot in. Listening to some groovy jazz in a charming venue was also a fine way to unwind.
All and all, the point is that Brooklyn has every reason to be visited and not overlooked depending on what you are looking for. It feels a little more local, raw and creatively rooted. It is not shiny, new and commercial like Times Square. The citizens are hustling while being influenced by the people of Manhattan from all over the world who move there with dreams and promise to succeed. These details are noticeable when you discover some of these captivating places, and I invite you all to do so on your next “NYC” trip!