One of the best things about living in New Jersey is that you get the best of all worlds. In the summer we have the beach but we’re still close enough to visit New York or Philly whenever we want. Where I’m from I have to spend a decent amount of time clarifying what I mean by “the city.” New York or Philly. In Ocean County we’re a mixture of Giants and Eagles fans and a couple Jets fans. But no matter which city you’re prone to it’s very easy to travel there.
So for my friend Dylan’s birthday we thought it would be fun to take him into Williamsburg, Brooklyn for the day. There are so many things to do in New York but sometimes it’s nice to get out of the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. There’s no shortage of things to do in Brooklyn. I definitely recommend checking out the neighborhood if you’re anywhere in the tri-state area and want to do something different. Especially if you’ve been spending a lot of time in Manhattan and want a change of pace.
The first thing we did while visiting the hipster capital of New York was head to the Brooklyn Brewery. After an interesting journey of BYOB on the train and frantically searching for bathrooms we made it to the brewery in one piece despite the guys’ ‘rowdiness.’
The Brooklyn Brewery is #2 in international distribution of beer from the US. To enter you wait on a short line outside, which was fine for us because the bouncers were friendly and entertaining. Then you head inside where you buy tokens for beer and get a free ticket for a tour. The wait to cash in your tokens can be long but it’s worth it. I’m trying to shed my little beer gut now but I really enjoy a good ale and their beers were some of the best I’ve ever tried. Once you get your beer you can hang around the brewery and wait for your tour. There’s beautiful wooden picnic tables to sit at. I saw a bunch of people playing cards against humanity. It was a lot of fun.
If you happen to brew your own beer or have a boyfriend that does (and has in vivid detail told you about the process) then the tour can be kind of boring at times. But there’s a lot of great anecdotes about the history of the brewery and it’s really cool seeing all the equipment. I highly suggest getting a beer right before your tour because you can bring it along with you.
A Place to Eat in Brooklyn
The birthday boy is a big fan of the late, great Heath Ledger. (Oddly enough the anniversary of his death is this Thursday which made us a little sad.) Before Heath’s tragic death he was working on opening a bar restaurant in Brooklyn, NY named Five Leaves. When he died his business partner and friend continued on with their plans to open. It’s been Dylan’s bucket list to visit this place for a while now so we stopped there for dinner.
It was around the corner from the brewery. Small but very chic. They had all of our favorites: amazing burgers, a great gin gimlet and the best coffee. There were plenty of other good drinks but all of us happen to be partial to Gin for some reason. Everything was amazing but yes, a little pricey. If you don’t have a big enough wallet to get dinner, there’s a takeout window for coffee.
Things to do in New York
Close to that there’s a famous bowling alley bar, Brooklyn Bowl. You can bowl, eat, drink and check out the bands that play there. It’s one of the coolest places in the city. We planned on going there but by the time we got there the wait was 2 hours and we had a train to catch. If you’re in the area you have to go there but plan better than us. Go early, like around six/seven pm or buy tickets in advanced if they have them that day. And you don’t have to bowl to hang out there. There’s a dining room and a bar.
Since we couldn’t go there we decided to go back to Mable’s Smokehouse and Banquet Hall where we had stopped at for a little before dinner. The first time there my boyfriend had a Hot Toddy (a warm whiskey drink) and I had a mind blowing bloody mary that came with a free coors light. (what?!) The second time around we had more gin drinks and the guys had a shot of some kind of moonshine. The bartenders were really great, especially Austin who’s ironically from Houston, Texas. They humored us while we bombarded them with a bit of slurred questions and stories, even though they were busy.
If you’re not a big drinker there’s also a ton of great shops in Williamsburg. Especially if you like vintage. Artists & Fleas market is one of my favorites. There’s a bunch of different vendors that sell anything from vintage clothing to new art. I bought my mom a handmade sterling silver necklace that was made from a stencil created by blowing ink on paper.
All of this was a lot of fun but we were walking around Brooklyn in January. It’s not the warmest place this time of year. I wanted to be warm but not too bulky so I wore a looser pair of jeans with leggings underneath and a baggy t-shirt with a tight sweater. I wore my puffy coat, left my scarf at home and added a hat.
Becoming a hipster for a day was definitely a fun way to break up the monotonous winter. We’ll definitely be back soon to check out the other hundreds of places we didn’t get to see.
Anyone else have some must-see places in Brooklyn???