Brooklyn: Dumbo

Once known as an artists’ enclave, the waterfront Brooklyn neighborhood known as DUMBO — Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass — has the city’s hottest buzz and many of its priciest lofts. Nowadays, the best way to soak up the neighborhood’s energy is to walk its cobbled streets, which give off an atmospheric film noir vibe.

Start by dropping into one of the galleries at 111 Front St.; look for the bright orange sign and walk up to the second floor, home to 5+5, Underbridge Pictures, and others. Expect more art action a few blocks away at Gallerie (63 Pearl St.).

Culture is still the name of the game here, so be sure to check out the envelope-pushing performances at St. Ann’s Warehouse; you can top off your evening with a cocktail at bar/restaurant Superfine (126 Front St.). In summer, visitors can catch outdoor movies at the recently rehabilitated Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park after an ice cream cone at Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, perched underneath the Brooklyn Bridge (2 Old Fulton St.). Both sites have spectacular views of the lower Manhattan skyline.

Although the district’s streets are still light on retail, its shops do boast iconoclastic appeal. Brand-new boutique Loopy Mango (68 Jay St.) offers flower brooches, Edwardian-inspired lace tops, and crochet lessons. The vinyl collection at funky Halcyon record shop (57 Pearl St.) ranges from dance and techno tracks to Hall & Oates; the store also carries CDs, graphic books and street art. Around the corner, Prague Kolektiv (143 Front St.) shows mid-20th-century Czech furniture, lighting, and glassware.

Top your tour off by visiting chocolatier Jaques Torres, former pastry chef to Le Cirque and the Ritz Carlton hotel chain. Torres has been serving up sweet treats in his “chocolate factory” (under the Brooklyn Bridge at 66 Water St.) since 2000.