Williamsburg WanderlustPublished: November 26th, 2014
If you asked someone to go to Williamsburg, Brooklyn ten years ago, they probably would’ve called you crazy. “Dangerous,” “crime ridden,” “industrious”…these are all words that used to describe Williamsburg. Nowadays, you’re more likely to hear people refer to Williamsburg as “hipster,” “the new Manhattan,” or “trendy.” Williamsburg is no longer a place to avoid when visiting New York City but rather a “must see” on every visitor’s itinerary. Only a short subway ride from the East Village, I encourage everyone to check out all the awesome things this very popular area of Brooklyn has to offer!
Getting to Williamsburg is much easier (and quicker) than most people think. Although there are a few different options, we recommend taking the L train as it runs frequently and is the most direct route. The L train runs underneath 14th Street in Manhattan so get on at Union Square and in three short stops, you’ll already be in Williamsburg! On most days, the ride shouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes.
Bedford Ave is probably the busiest and most well-known Avenue in Williamsburg. The first stop off of the L train will drop you off right in the heart of Bedford Ave and North 7th. To truly experience this part of the neighborhood, we suggest going as far south as Broadway, which will take you right past the Williamsburg Bridge, and as far north as Manhattan Ave. Boutique clothing stores, quaint coffee shops, bars, and antique art dealers line Bedford Ave. On the weekends you’ll find locals setting up tables on the sidewalk, selling homemade jewelry, vinyl records, and old book collections. There is literally something for everyone on Bedford. Stop in Soft Spot Bar (between N 9th St. and N 10th) for a quick beer and a shot and afterwards, continue north towards McCarren Park, where you might catch a kickball or softball game!
On the south end of Bedford Ave you’ll find the Williamsburg Bridge. Opened in 1903, the bridge spans about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) and connects Williamsburg with the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Although the views aren’t as iconic as those from the Brooklyn Bridge, the Williamsburg Bridge is open to pedestrians and is the perfect option for walking from Manhattan to Brooklyn on a nice day. A few cool sights you can see from the bridge include the Williamsburg Savings Bank, the Empire State Building, and Peter Lugers Restaurant, which we recommend in our dining section!
If you want to explore what lies outside of Bedford Ave, head west on N 6th Street towards the East River Park. As soon as you see the East River and gorgeous views of Manhattan skyline, you know you have made it! The park, with a play area and many green spaces, is perfect for recreation and relaxation. Even though the surrounding high rises are proof that the area has undergone an extreme modernization, you can still find unique historic remnants of when the park used to be the site of a 19th century shipping dock. During the warmer months (usually late April until the beginning of November) you can take advantage of Smorgasburg, a huge food festival that overtakes a portion of the park. It can get pretty crowded but the lines at Asia Dog, Red Hook Lobster Pound, and Dough are all worth the wait!
Dinner, drinks, and a movie: the perfect date night all rolled into one! Nighthawk Cinema (136 Metropolitan Avenue) is a cozy theater that plays classics as well as current movies. While you enjoy your movie, an attentive staff weaves through the aisles to serve your meal and drinks right in your seat. During the holidays, you can even catch iconic movies such a Christmas Vacation or Love Actually to satisfy your seasonal cravings! Our Library Hotel Collection tips: order your tickets online and get there early. You want to make sure you have a good seat, sharing a table with your date! Also, be sure to split the Nighthawk Popcorn tossed with truffle butter and citric salt.
The iconic green and white “B” of Brooklyn Brewery (79 N 11th Street) has become a bit of a mascot for the borough, illuminating the windows of many bars throughout the city. An afternoon in Williamsburg will give you a chance to see how this microbrewery makes their beers and has become an integral drink for Brooklyn. They offer free tours every Saturday and Sunday, but be sure to get there early! Tickets become available one hour before each tour begins and there is a limit of 40 tickets for each. Once your tour is over, you can relax at the bar to taste their staple beers and seasonal offerings. While they don’t serve food, they do hold a large selection of menus from local restaurants to have delivered to the brewery!
Peter Luger Steak House (178 Broadway)
This South Williamsburg steakhouse has been a staple since opening its doors in 1887. The restaurant boasts not only a Michelin star, but also has been named the number one spot on the Zagat Survey’s list of New York City’s steakhouses for the past 30 years! Be sure to stop by for their famed porterhouse, which is dry-aged in a room dedicated solely for this top-secret process.
Fette Sau (354 Metropolitan Avenue)
Housed in a former garage, Fette Sau will give you a quintessential Williamsburg dining experience, but at one of the best and most popular barbecue restaurants in the city! You’ll choose from their daily selection of meats, served by-the-pound, and hearty sides to fill up the metal serving tray. Our suggestion: go with a friend or two and get a little bit of everything to share (and don’t forget a few of the half-sour pickles!). Then cozy up at one of their communal picnic tables with a craft beer or a bourbon from their large selection of American whiskeys.
Radegast Hall & Biergarten (113 N 3rd Street)\
Why wait for Oktoberfest to enjoy a liter of beer and a bratwurst? Their menu features a large selection of tap and bottled beers that pair perfectly with their sausages, extra-large pretzels, and home-made mustard and sauerkraut. The large venue with picnic-style seating makes a great space for large groups, and possibly a celebrity sighting or two!
Interested in visiting Queens as well? Check out our #TipsforTravelers that on everything to do in Queens For The Day! If you have any questions on any of these great attractions or how to get to and from them please contact our concierge at the Casablanca Hotel in Times Square, the Library Hotel, the Hotel Giraffe, and the Hotel Elysee they would all be delighted to help you with any arrangements you may need to make your stay memorable.