I love Brooklyn in the summertime
August 10, 2009 3:07 PM   Subscribe

I have a question similar to these two timely threads about what to do in NYC, but with a Brooklyn twist. My family is coming mainly to see yours truly, and we've decided to kick it mainly in my hood, Brooklyn. What should we do?

My lovely family is visiting me from Thursday morning until Sunday afternoon, and we'll be located in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn. Mom and step-dad honeymooned in Manhattan a bajillion years ago and haven't been back since, while my 16 year-old sister has never visited. Here's the deal: they operate at a Southern pace. They don't like rude people or crowds or loud noises and they really don't like walking more than a few blocks. They've expressed a profound lack of interest in museums and Times Square--I usually see them once a year, so the trip is mainly to hang out as a family. As a die-hard Brooklyner who stays out of Manhattan unless absolutely necessary, I wouldn't mind taking advantage of the more laid-back borough and just walk around some pretty neighborhoods.

I got the parents tickets to see Billy Elliot on Saturday while I take my sister to see Animal Collective at Prospect Park, and we're all going to the Brooklyn Flea market as well. For restaurants, we'll probably go to Grimaldi's, Lucali, and the Vinegar Hill House for brunch. That's all I have planned before my mind draws a blank.

Where else should I take an out-of-town family for a Brooklyn-filled weekend? Bonus points for really low-key itineraries like, "take them to X neighborhood, walk around the brownstones/park/gardens, visit neat stores on Y street, eat at fabulous Z restaurant."

As for money, I saved them a boatload by hooking them up with a free loft for the vacation, but that doesn't mean we'll be dining at the Brooklyn equivalent to Per Se.
posted by Viola to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Botanical Garden is nice for leisurely stroll with family.

It's "Brooklynite" not Brooklyner .
posted by cazoo at 3:21 PM on August 10, 2009

I don't go to DUMBO all that often, but the Jacques Torres store (chocolate - and iced hot chocolate!) and 5 Front (restaurant) are my main stops when I'm there, as well as Grimaldi's.

Why not take the F to Bergen St. and walk around Carrol Garden a bit? There's neat shops and the houses are mostly brownstone-y. A good pre-Lucali's meander. I love the carribean places and roti joints around Crown Heights, but I don't know if they'd be up for that - it might be too loud and crowded.

What about going down to the Coney Island area? I don't know if the Cyclones are in town - maybe you could catch a ball game? I always have a fun and relaxing time just hanging out around there.
posted by foodmapper at 3:24 PM on August 10, 2009

I'd humbly second the suggestion of Carroll Gardens. You could also visit the Red Hook Ball Fields and their delicious, delicious food trucks if you're willing to make the trip to Red Hook.

Don't know too much to do in Brooklyn to entertain tourists if it rains, though -- I'd suggest thinking of weather-dependent itineraries! Good luck!
posted by MoreForMad at 3:32 PM on August 10, 2009

Not a New Yorker, but what about taking them to a neighborhood that is truly NYC-only (as far as the US is concerned)? A place where walking around or popping into a local restaurant or shop will feel noticably different from home.

Brighton Beach pops into mind. Take them into a corner store where half the things are labeled in Russian, get some Russian food somewhere, and hey, now you're at the beach, too.
posted by mdonley at 3:34 PM on August 10, 2009

A problem is you say they don't walk more than a few blocks but also ask about x neighborhood to walk around. Of course you can always walk only a few blocks about x neighborhood, but all the itineraries I would have require a bit of a longer walk.

but, the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens is always nice. Right near the Brooklyn museum and who knows if they see it they might bite and go in for like an hour. The Japanese Gardens is sort of Brooklyn cliche but it is a very deserved cliche. A shortish walk to Grand Army Plaza which if you go to Prospect Park you will of course show off. But I think it is a Civil war monument, so - and not trying to be an obnoxious Yankee - some Southerners have hard feelings about it.

Hard to get to via public transportation, but Floyd Bennett field is really quite interesting. Part of the runways are blocked off for Go-karts and model airplanes - every nerd (is it noid) in Brooklyn is there on summer week-ends. There is a little military airplane museum - ain't the Intrepid but no crowds, and part is deliberately left to rot to create an Eastern prairie that harbor an awful lot of birds.

Atlantic Ave. still has some kick ass Middle Eastern Restaurants.

If you want to blow their minds, you can always take them to a Russian night club in Brighton Beach. Definitely NOT laid-back nor quiet but an experience you can't get anywhere else in the US, that is for sure.

Other parts of Brighton Beach are nicer, very trippy with Old Jewish guys playing handball next to youg Hispanic and Caribbean with the aforementioned Russians clad in, um, kto znayet! . Is that Qiana?

Should you want to take the G up to Long Island City and then the 7 or N to Sunnyside or Astoria, you have amazing ethnic eats. Sit in a Greek cafe or go to an Egyptian cafe and smoke the hubbly-bubbly.
posted by xetere at 3:48 PM on August 10, 2009

You could also visit the Red Hook Ball Fields and their delicious, delicious food trucks if you're willing to make the trip to Red Hook.

This is a way fun excursion for twenty-something out-of-towners who take risks with their food. I had the best ceviche of my life there, and it came out of a cooler that was in a van. I like taking my newbie friends there to be like, "Yeah dude, in the B-K we totally live off awesome spicy arepas and sip on authentic maté that this lady brews in her backyard kiddie pool." However, if your parents are used to say, sandwiches from Panera, they might balk at van cuisine. Also, I think getting to RH will be a hassle if they're not down with walking a long ways through the anti-brownstone warehouse district of Gowanus.

Seeing a Cyclones game is also a fun suggestion, and they're playing a home game on Friday. I know they're anti-museums, but if it's because all the museums are in hot, stinky, loud Manhattan, why not steer them to the lovely Brooklyn Museum in Prospect Heights? The Heights is also very lovely, and has the aforementioned Botanical Gardens.

Also, I think Grimaldi's is way overrated as far as Brooklyn pizza goes. Shoot for Ignazio's down the street and order the bacon, avocado and tomato pizza, and then go down to the dock and get dessert at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory or Jacques Torres.

It's "Brooklynite" not Brooklyner .
Not if she lives at 111 Lawrence St!

posted by zoomorphic at 3:55 PM on August 10, 2009

I live work and play in the BK, but I highly recommend Governor's Island--it ain't Manhattan!--for a low-key outing. It sounds like a big trip, but is in fact super easy to get to. The ferry ride takes five minutes. Take some sandwiches (or buy food when you get there), rent a few bikes (we go for the multi-person "car-bike" as my wife calls them), pedal to the southern tip and eat lunch while gazing at Lady Liberty, return the bikes and down some beers at the Water Taxi Beach before catching the ferry back. It's a great place to simply spend time as a family. And it's not crowded.

And if you're in Dumbo, you should take your family to eat at Henry's End, the best restaurant in the area IMHO (not good for vegetarians though).

Have fun.
posted by etc. at 4:26 PM on August 10, 2009

Nthing the Russian restaurants on Brighton Beach.

Also, if you go to Governor's Island, they have Free Bike Fridays... rent some free bikes and enjoy the day.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:42 PM on August 10, 2009

I also highly recommend Henry's End. While you're up in Brooklyn Heights, a stroll along the Promenade is very nice.

I'd also endorse going to the Botanical Gardens. Governor's Island is a neat visit (and there is a ferry on the weekends from Fulton Landing in Brooklyn). A Brighton Beach nightclub/restaurant is certainly going to be something different from anywhere else in the States.
posted by andrewraff at 5:24 PM on August 10, 2009

I think Grimaldi's may be crowded....but about two blocks away is the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, which sits right on the pier for the Fulton Ferry and has a nice view.

The Brooklyn Museum generally isn't too crowded, and will have a nice mix of early American works and contemporary works.

I have to put a plug in for my 'hood, Ft. Greene and Clinton Hill.

Red Hook can be an interesting walk too -- some parts may look a little rough around the edges, but it's got some neat stuff. (In particular I recommend the key lime pie bakery -- they have something called "The Swingle", which is a tiny key lime pie, deep-frozen, on a stick, dipped in chocolate.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:01 PM on August 10, 2009

They're doing movie night at the park underneath the Brooklyn Bridge. You watch the sunset and then see a great movie. It's free and I think it'll be Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid on August 13.

I saw a movie last year (can't remember what movie it was for the life of me now), but I do remember having a great time and the bathrooms are in these really nice trailer trucks, so no crappy port-o-potties when nature calls. It's a classy event.

I would go pick up some good cheese and bread and a nice bottle of wine and enjoy the flick and the scenery. Maybe bring some beach chairs for your folks.
posted by plasticbugs at 6:09 PM on August 10, 2009

Now I remember! I saw The Princess Bride and it was wonderful. Also, they don't allow alcohol into the park area, but once the sun went down, out came the wine. I wouldn't sweat it, just don't flaunt it.

The even staffers aren't actively looking to bust people.
posted by plasticbugs at 6:23 PM on August 10, 2009

If they don't like crowds, they probably won't like Grimaldi's or Lucali (unless you can convince them to stand in line, patiently) or Coney Island (usually very crowded in the summer).

It looks like it's going to rain on Saturday, so good luck at the Animal Collective show.
posted by kathryn at 8:18 AM on August 11, 2009

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