My home city, Brooklyn, is one of the most diverse places in the world. It’s filled with every kind of food, activity, and sight you could dream up.
From the beaches of Coney Island to the brownstones in Park Slope, Brooklyn is a city that can keep you entertained and enchanted for a lifetime.
Many people don’t realize just how big Brooklyn really is. If Brooklyn was a city, it’d be the 4th largest “city” in America. It’s larger than Boston, Atlanta, Washington DC & Minneapolis combined.
Seeing as this is just one of the five boroughs that make up New York City, you really get an idea of how many people are living their lives on this corner of the planet.
After living in Brooklyn for 2 decades, I could write a book about all the places I love. But for the purpose of this city guide, I’ll stick to where I’d take a best friend visiting my city for the first time.
I grew up in Southern Brooklyn and it’s the area I know best.
This is my home neighborhood, and many people visiting New York City rarely venture out to South Brooklyn because of how far it is from Manhattan. Hell, I don’t blame them half the time. It can take upwards of an hour and a half by public transportation to get to Coney Island from Manhattan.
Yet, since I grew up in this area, I know how many hidden gems can be found throughout this corner of the city. So I would start my journey through Brooklyn in my home corner.
Here are some of the gems….
- A staple in my tour around South Brooklyn. This is quite possibly my favorite pizza joint in Brooklyn. Coming from a New Yorker who grew up eating some of the best pizza, I take an odd pride in knowing great pizza, and this is some of the best.
Brennan and Carr
- An iconic restaurant that has been serving South Brooklyn since the 1930s. Their famous roast beef sandwiches are hidden gems that are tucked away in a corner of Brooklyn. Every time I’m in my old neighborhood I have to indulge in one of these delicious treats.
- A trip down to this corner of Brooklyn wouldn’t be complete without visiting the world-famous Coney Island. The iconic sites include The Cyclone, a wooden roller coaster which has been around since 1927; The Wonder Wheel; The Parachute Jump; and of course Nathan’s, where the 4th of July hot dog eating contest is held.
The Rockaways/Riis Beach
- Okay so this is technically Queens but it’s so close to South Brooklyn that it was always my go-to beach destination. If you’re visiting in the summer and insist on going to a beach that’s within the city, I’d recommend checking out Riis Beach. The area is enjoying a renaissance of sorts and has even opened the Riis Park Bazaar which is attracting plenty of new visitors by providing good vibes, food, drinks.
- The largest and arguably the most beautiful public park in Brooklyn. Although it doesn’t get as much love as Central Park in Manhattan, it’s no less charming. A perfect place to take a quick stroll and soak in some nature away from the busyness of NYC. The Long Meadow within the park is one of the longest uninterrupted stretches of grass in any park in the country, making it a perfect place to lounge after your meals in South Brooklyn.
- Arguably one of the most popular destinations within Brooklyn because of it’s proximity to Manhattan. Described as the “creative mecca” of Brooklyn, the chic bars, restaurants, and shops could keep you entertained for hours. These are the must hit spots:
- Smorgasborg – enjoy some of the best and most diverse meals Brooklyn has to offer all in one location.
- Output – a nightlife staple for Williamsburg and for good reason. Output boasts one of the best sound systems in the city and also has a stunning rooftop view of Manhattan’s skyline.
- Shop the Local Mini Mall – A great place to get all your shopping done. Most of the shops are run by local sellers who specialize in non-touristy NYC souvenirs. Handmade jewelry, clothes, and antiques are some of the specialties. Knowing that your money is supporting local small business owners is an added bonus.
- Back in the day, this was a manufacturing district but today this neighborhood is lined with cobblestone streets and trendy boutiques, restaurants, and cafes.
- Wrap up your day in Brooklyn by visiting this beautiful waterfront neighborhood. The views of the Manhattan skyline from under the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridge make for an epic end of the day. Take a walk along the waterfront and soak in the breathtaking backdrop.
- My favorite way to leave Brooklyn is by foot. There are few things I enjoy more than walking the Brooklyn Bridge during a beautiful NYC night. When you get to the middle of the bridge take a minute to soak in the sheer beauty of Manhattan in front of you and Brooklyn behind. Every time I walk over this landmark I’m grateful for this incredible city I’m fortunate enough to call home.
What are your favorite spots in Brooklyn?
Let me know what I missed in the comments below!