New York City: Places to Explore


Photo: Brooklyn Bridge Park ©Etienne Frossard/


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To put it mildly, Brooklyn is exploding, and it has been for a while. Hardly Manhattan's wimpy sidekick, this is the largest and most populous of all the boroughs, with more than 2.5 million residents, and a ton of cool places to eat, drink, shop, and explore.

Brooklyn was a city itself until the end of the 19th century, with its own widely circulated newspaper, the Brooklyn Eagle, its own expansive park (Prospect Park), and its own baseball team that would eventually be called the Brooklyn Dodgers. And in 1883, it got its own bridge: the Brooklyn Bridge, which drew the attention of the entire country.

Aside from Brooklyn's mellow, family-friendly vibe in areas such as Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, and Boerum Hill, the borough is also home to the hipster, for lack of a better term. And if you're looking for the hipster hangouts, head to Williamsburg, where young artists started infiltrating the residential neighborhood back in the late 1990s. The area soon became known for its galleries, and then for the funky bars, restaurants, and music venues.

Downtown Brooklyn encompasses multiple brownstone-filled neighborhoods, from Fort Greene to family-friendly Park Slope, and Prospect Heights, on the edge of Prospect Park, that are a joy to explore on foot. Indeed, with the exception of art exhibits at the Brooklyn Museum, the lush grounds of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and cutting-edge performances at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, so-called "sights" are thin on the ground here. Instead, the neighborhoods' real draws are their residential vibe, proudly local restaurants, and down-home shops and bars.

Brooklyn at a Glance