It is perhaps my first time walking down the cobblestone streets of DUMBO (an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) and each turn seems to reveal a picturesque view of the Manhattan Skyline. The Jacques Torres shop sends sweet smells of chocolate wafting over Water Street while the famous intersection of Water and Washington St. reveals the perfect New York snapshot: the Brooklyn Bridge towering at the end of the street, framing the Empire State Building and skyline beyond. As I board the nearby East River Ferry, one thing becomes abundantly clear: there is so much of New York I have yet to explore. After four years of calling this city home, there are entire neighborhoods I have yet to venture out to – from parts of Brooklyn to areas in my own borough of Queens.

So I decided to explore a bit more and put together this guide. If you’re headed to Brooklyn, this itinerary will give you a taste of the flavor, beauty and disarming charm of this vibrant borough.


Where to find the best hot chocolate…

Jacques Torres is a chocolate shop in DUMBO that is definitely worth a visit. Try the Wicked Hot Chocolate (a spicy hot cocoa that gives a nod to Mexican hot chocolates) and have it topped with their homemade whipped cream. If you can handle a bit more sugar, snag one of the famous Jacques Torres chocolate chip cookies.


Where to get the perfect Brooklyn photo…


Head to the intersection of Washington St. and Water St. for the perfect Brooklyn photo. Here, you’ll find a street lined by red-brick buildings that frame the Brooklyn Bridge towering in the background; beyond that (on a clear day) you’ll notice the Empire State Building framed by the Brooklyn Bridge with the Manhattan skyline and East River extending beyond. All in all, it is the ultimate New York photo to take. Be fair warned though, this is a popular place for pictures so plan to spend at least 10-15 minutes there waiting for the cars and people to clear the street and give you the perfect snapshot.


 Where to find a piece of New York’s history…


At the nearby Brooklyn Bridge Park you’ll find Jane’s Carousel–an antique carousel dating back to the 1920s and encased in a glass, with a view of the skyline. Open or closed, the carousel is beautiful to look at and looks fantastic against the modern day Manhattan backdrop.


Where to see the best views of Manhattan’s skyline…


Also at Brooklyn Bridge Park you’ll find a perfect view of downtown Manhattan with the Brooklyn Bridge sprawling across the East River. Pull out your smartphone and get ready to make your Instagram followers jealous!


Where to grab a slice of Brooklyn style pizza…


Under the Brooklyn Bridge is the ultimate pizza destination in New York: Grimaldis. Since the 1940s, Grimaldis has been setting the standard for pizza with their coal oven pies that have been drawing crowds for years. If the line for Grimaldi’s is too long, consider going right next door to Juliana’s Pizza, the newest eatery opened by the Grimaldi family.


Where to go shopping…


Bedford Avenue is the pulse of Williamsburg and is lined with vintage shops, hipster boutiques, charming cafes, artisan stores and ample street art. Take a stroll down and around Bedford Avenue and visit some of these shopping highlights:

Catbird (219 Bedford Avenue): Catbird is a mecca for jewelry lovers and anyone who swoons over sparkly, charming knick knacks. Right across from Catbird is a string of vintage shops you can check out as well to bargain hunt for discounted designer threads.

Buffalo Exchange (504 Driggs Avenue): Buffalo Exchange is a popular destination for vintage clothing in Williamsburg. Buffalo Exchange has expanded to two other locations around NYC and is great for bargain hunting and (if in need of a quick buck) selling clothes.

Pema (225 Bedford Avenue): Pema is a Brooklyn boutique shop that just seems to have something for everyone. It was at Pema that I found my favorite dress (pictured above)! From perfect, soft t-shirts that hang just so, to jewelry to flowing dresses, Pema has it all.


Where to grab a bite…

You can’t go wrong with food when it comes to Brooklyn. From the cultural melting pot of Bushwick to the hipster cafes in Williamsburg, food is simply fantastic in Brooklyn. Here are two quick spots to definitely consider hitting up:


Bedford Cheese Shop (229 Bedford Avenue): If you adore cheese as much as I do, then you’ll want to make sure to visit the Bedford Cheese Shop, an artisan store that is a haven for all things cheese.

Maison Premiere (298 Bedford Avenue): Stop by Maison Premiere for a decadent snack of oysters and absinthe cocktails. The new backyard is a haven of hanging plants and antiques; lending the place a New Orleans’ French Quarter feel.


Where to get a good cup of coffee…


Blue Bottle Coffee Shop (160 Berry St.): Don’t even think about going to Dunkin’ Donuts on Bedford Avenue when there are plenty of fantastic coffee shops in Williamsburg to enjoy. Blue Bottle Coffee Shop is a trendy cafe serving great pastries and better coffee.


Where to go if you love wine…


Head on over to the Brooklyn Winery in Williamsburg where you can take winery tours or simply stop in for a drink at the winery’s wine bar. Happy hour is from 5pm to 8pm, so consider stopping by at this time for discounted wine and snacks.


Where to go if you love beer…

Head over to Brooklyn Brewery for tours, tastings and to learn about the craft behind Brooklyn’s favorite beer of choice. Brooklyn Brewery is a microbrewery on 79th N. 11th Street and is a popular spot to visit.


Where to have a rooftop drink with a view…

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For the perfect ending to a day in Brooklyn, head to the Ides Bar on top of the Wythe Hotel for an unbeatable view of the Manhattan skyline at dusk. There is much to see in Brooklyn–from the street art to the diverse food scene – and one day is hardly enough to hit all the highlights! There’s Bushwick, Park Slope, Coney Island, Sunset Park and so many other neighborhoods in the borough that offer views, bites and sights that will steal your heart and give you a taste of Brooklyn that will leave you wanting so much more.


If you’re heading this way, which things from this list are you most excited about? Or, if you’re a seasoned New York travelette, is there anything else you’d add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!