In Travel

Beyond Williamsburg: A Traveller’s Guide To Brooklyn Proper

Teeming with bars, boutiques and millennials, the hipster haven of Williamsburg has put Brooklyn firmly on the radar of those travelling to the Big Apple. But New York’s most populous borough has plenty going on beyond Bedford Avenue. Venture further afield to the picture-perfect neighbourhoods of Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill, the undeniably cool DUMBO, or the kitsch Coney Island and you’ll soon realise there’s a world of cutting-edge eateries and cultural institutions just waiting to be discovered.

Brooklyn Heights

Nestled at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn Heights is known for its historic brownstones, tree-lined streets and stunning views of the Manhattan skyline. Just one subway stop from Manhattan, the neighbourhood seems a world away from the city’s fast pace, thanks in part to its old-world architecture (over 600 buildings pre-date the Civil War) and cosy community atmosphere.

Follow in the footsteps of notable residents including Truman Capote, Walt Whitman and W.E.B. Dubois and wander through the picturesque streets, taking in attractions like the Brooklyn Historical Society, the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and cult favourite eateries and bars like Iris Cafe, Colonie and The Roebling Inn.


Boasting some of the borough’s hottest bars and restaurants, DUMBO is Brooklyn’s see-and-be-seen neighbourhood (a fact cemented when private members club DUMBO House, part of the Soho House group, opened there this summer).

Named for its location Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, the area boasts cobblestoned streets and much-coveted converted warehouse apartments alongside breathtaking vistas of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan skyline.

Nab a table at one of DUMBO’s upscale waterfront restaurants like Cecconi’s or The River Cafe or join the lines for renowned pizza joints (and fierce rivals) Grimaldi’s and Juliana’s for some of the best slices the city has to offer.


Brooklyn’s northernmost neighbourhood, Greenpoint is where hipsters who’ve outgrown Williamsburg migrate. Stroll down the areas main arteries, Franklin Street and Manhattan Avenue, for a mish-mash of independent boutiques, vintage stores and artisan homewares.

You’ll also find cocktail bars like Ramona and Elder Green thronged with locals, as well as long-standing Polish eateries that rub shoulders with newer establishments like Five Leaves, a cafe-meets-bar dreamed up by Heath Ledger and opened by his friends after his death.


Old meets new in the resolutely grungy suburb of Bushwick, where emerging galleries and must-visit music venues rub shoulders with classic bodegas and some of the best Latin food the city has to offer, thanks to large Puerto Rican and Dominican communities.

Stroll through the neighbourhood to take in Bushwick’s famous street art, pay a visit to pizza institution Roberta’s, or pop into cocktail bar Yours Sincerely for a taste of why many young professionals are choosing to call Bushwick home.

Coney Island

A lesson in kitsch Americana, Coney Island is everything you’ve imagined: raucous, eye-popping and all-around chaotic (in the very best way possible). Come here for classic amusement park rides (don’t miss the Cyclone roller coaster) and stay for what many locals argue is the best pizza across all five boroughs: the family-owned Totonno’s, which has been serving up pies for almost a century.

Sure, Coney Island is a tourist trap, but walk down the boardwalk in summer, ice-cream in hand, and it’s impossible not to embrace its old-world charm.

Cobble Hill

Picturesque and peaceful, Cobble Hill is a slice of small-town life in the heart of Brooklyn. Its streets are lined with refurbished carriage houses, brownstones and mum-and-pop stores.

The Cobble Hill Cinema is an arthouse antidote to the large cinema chains of Manhattan and the neighbourhood also plays host to Books Are Magic, an independent bookstore founded by best-selling author Emma Straub, that hosts regular author’s talks from the likes of Roxane Gay, David Sedaris and Ottessa Moshfegh.

Wander down Smith and Court Streets for cosy wine bars, old-school Italian delis and independent clothing boutiques that make this neighbourhood feel like home.


The former industrial hub of Gowanus is a stark contrast to its surrounding residential neighbourhoods of Park Slope and Carroll Gardens.

In this up-and-coming area, you’ll find pop up galleries, underground music venues and a newly implanted creative class lining the still-murky canal that gave the suburb its name. Pop into refurbished warehouses to discover everything from directional art shows to some of the borough’s best eats, from the Oaxacan-inspired Claro to the famed Ample Hills ice creamery.

Published 29 September, 2018