Friday, April 21, 2017

5+ Artsy & Cool Things To Do in Brooklyn, New York

By Jacquelin Carnegie
Brooklyn Bridge (photo: DUMBO BID)

Since Brooklyn has become the "hip" NYC borough, gentrification has set in with trendy boutiques and pricey restaurants now the norm. But, somehow, that doesn't take away from Brooklyn's charm. The old neighborhoods are still worth exploring and the new additions just add to the cool factor.

1) GO ON A HOUSE TOUR
A great way to explore Brooklyn's neighborhoods is on an annual, self-guided house tour. You get a peek into beautifully-decorated, private, brownstone homes, and the chance to discover lovely local churches and interesting businesses. The nominal fee is usually used to benefit the neighborhood preservation society and/or a good, local cause:
(photo: Fort Green Association)

(Due to COVID many of the tours are on hold.)
Fort Greene (May) historicfortgreene.org
Park Slope (May) parkslopeciviccouncil.org
Prospect-Lefferts Gardens (May) www.leffertsmanor.org
Boerum Hill (June) boerumhillassociation.org
Victorian Flatbush (June) www.fdconline.org
Crown Heights North (Oct) www.crownheightsnorth.org
Bedford-Stuyvesant (Oct) brownstonersofbedstuy.org

2) VISIT ARTISTS STUDIOS & GALLERIES
Another great way to explore different Brooklyn neighborhoods is on regularly scheduled Art Walks, when local galleries stay open late, and during annual Open Studio visits:
Drift, Leonard Ursachi, DUMBO
DUMBO Gallery Walk - 1st Thursday, 6-8pm (www.dumbonyc.org) - Whether you're already an art lover or just want to see what's what, 1st Thursday gives you the chance to visit several galleries in one evening while strolling around Brooklyn's way-cool DUMBO section. The galleries often have special exhibitions and receptions; sometimes there's live music or an artist talk. Local bars offer drink specials throughout the night. DUMBO Open Studios (April) 
Bushwick Open Studios (Sept) artsinbushwick.org
Greenpoint Open Studios greenpointopenstudios.com
Gowanus Open Studios (Oct) artsgowanus.org
Atlantic Ave Art Walk (June) atlanticave.org
Williamsburg has galleries galore to explore. Check out the exhibitions and dine at cool, local restaurants.

3) DRINK UP AT BREWERIES, WINERIES & DISTILLERIES 
(photo: Urban Adventures)
You'll be amazed at how many artisanal beer, wine, and spirits producers have set up shop in Brooklyn. These craft breweries and distilleries are producing terrific libations. Check out Threes Brewing, Van Brunt Stillhouse, and Rooftop Reds
Foodies: Brooklyn also has great mom & pop food shops from Italian to Middle Eastern. Go on a "Tastings Tour" to sample the goods and learn how the local producers work their magic. Enjoy tasty snacks along the way in the shops & local eateries. 

4) CHOW DOWN IN BROOKLYN'S CHINATOWN
While Chinatown--in Manhattan and Flushing, Queens--is well known, you may be surprised to discover that Brooklyn also has a Chinatown in Sunset Park. Chef Chris Cheung, who's worked at such hot restaurants as Vong, Nobu & Ruby Foo’s, recommends: East Harbor (714 65th St, Brooklyn; Tel: 718-765-0098) and Pacificana (813 55th St, Brooklyn; pacificanabrooklyn.com) for dim sum; 8th Avenue Seafood Restaurant (4418 8th Ave, Brooklyn; Tel: 718-633-6366) for fung sah guy (fried spring chicken in garlic sauce).
Chef Cheung (photo: J Carnegie)
 

For a special treat, head to Chef Cheung's own restaurant in Prospect Park: East Wind Snack Shop (471 16th St, Brooklyn; www.eastwindsnackshop.com) - It's more like a tasty-food boutique than a Chinese restaurant with everything on the menu--bao, dumplings, ribs, spring rolls, etc.--handmade from scratch every day and cooked to order, often by Chef Cheung himself! 
Note: East Wind now has a 2nd location in Carroll Gardens (253 Smith St). ​

5) CELEBRATE BROOKLYN'S CULTURAL DIVERSITY
This melting pot of cultures provides many ways to experience the music, dance, art, and cuisine of different countries without leaving the borough! Partake in activities where you can meet international people and encounter all this marvelous cultural diversity:
Haiti Cultural Exchange (haiticulturalx.org) - Get your Haitian groove on at one of HCX's innovative programs of performances, art exhibits, films, and public forums promoting cross-cultural connections and celebrating Haitian heritage.
Cumbe: Center for African & Diaspora Dance (cumbedance.com) - Experience the joys and rhythms of West African, Afro-Cuban, Afro-Haitian, and Afro-Brazilian dance and music at Cumbe's classes and cultural programs for adults and kids.
(photo: Cumbe)

West Indian-American Day Parade (Labor Day) wiadcacarnival.org - Brooklyn's largest parade with the atmosphere of Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago. There's music, food, and dance. The parade begins at the corner of Rochester & Eastern Parkway and ends near Grand Army Plaza.
Atlantic Antic (Sept) atlanticave.org - This huge street festival spans four neighborhoods (Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill & Downtown Brooklyn) from Hicks Street to Fourth Avenue along Atlantic Avenue. It's a celebration of all the diverse cultures that coexist in Brooklyn with food, art, live music, shopping, and fun festivities!

Extra! Extra!: Be sure to visit the terrific Brooklyn Museum which is right near the magnificent Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

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