Sure, the cliché New York City experience lies in Manhattan. Iconic landmarks like Central Park, Times Square and the Empire State Building are seared into our memories from TV and movies. But the neighbouring borough directly across the East River offers arguably more chic alternatives for restaurants, architecture, museums, shopping and art.

The heartbeat of Brooklyn, New York, can be felt through a simple stroll. A walk down Court Street in Cobble Hill uncovers an abundance of charming brownstones and café storefronts. On Bedford Avenue in trendy Williamsburg, fashionistas clutching large tote bags and walking small dogs whisk past brick-and-mortars that rival SoHo. A-listers like Emily Blunt and Daniel Craig nonchalantly walk past or alongside you on the subways and in the Trader Joes.

The vibes and culture in Brooklyn are so immaculate and original that venturing over to Manhattan is hardly even necessary.


9:00 A.M.

L Train

Outside the muted blue industrial Devoción Coffee in the heart of Williamsburg, a yellow sidewalk sign boasts “The Only Fresh Coffee in NYC (Really).” The bold marketing, however, has some merit. The Colombian-owned café adopts a unique farm-to-table model, sourcing fresh coffee beans in just 10 days (versus the 180-day industry average). Devoción offers an assortment of creative drinks and pastries, but a classic Americano ($3.75) paired with a guava croissant ($5) will not disappoint. Towers of green plants adorn the brick walls, and brown leather chesterfield sofas complete the loft ambiance.

The brick-covered and buzzy interior of Devoción Coffee
The brick-covered and buzzy interior of Devoción Coffee. Photo by Liz Clayman.
Devoción Coffee: spot the guava croissant
Devoción Coffee: spot the guava croissant

10:00 A.M.

2 3 4 B Q Trains

In the bustling Park Slope neighbourhood, even the busiest of locals carve out time inside the lush green spaces in Prospect Park. A giant arc at Grand Army Plaza conjures up Parisian vibes and greets you into this 526-acre oasis where Brooklynites cycle through the picturesque loop, play lawn games on the endless grass at the Long Meadow or admire the still elegance of the Boathouse. Directly adjacent to Prospect Park are the revered Brooklyn Museum, Central Library and Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

The statement-making Grand Army Plaza arc at Prospect Park’s entrance
The statement-making Grand Army Plaza arc at Prospect Park’s entrance. Photo by iStock.
The Boathouse in Prospect Park
The Boathouse in Prospect Park. Photo by iStock.
The serene Brooklyn Botanic Garden
The serene Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Photo by Michael Stewart.
The Brooklyn Museum
The Brooklyn Museum

12:00 P.M.

2 3 4 Trains

A stroll in the park is sure to work up an appetite. A 10-minute walk to Faun in nearby Prospect Heights is worth the extra steps. The rustic exterior has character and the cozy backyard patio makes for ideal Instagram moments, but the Italian-inspired brunch menu is the headliner. The French toast ($16) is the go-to for those who prioritize sweet. For the savoury palate, the campanelle pasta ($23) features a flavourful pork sausage. The vermouth-powered Shandy, You’re a Fine Girl ($15) is the appropriate early afternoon adult beverage.

Faun restaurant’s sweet- potato agnolotti with black truffle and crème fraîche.
Faun restaurant’s sweet- potato agnolotti with black truffle and crème fraîche.

3:00 P.M.

F A C Trains

Speaking of the ’gram, you know that familiar cobblestone street in Brooklyn where the Manhattan Bridge, sandwiched between red brick buildings, meets the horizon and every tourist and their dog (literally) take selfies? Yeah, that’s the Dumbo neighbourhood. After you get the obligatory shot out of the way, venture over to nearby Brooklyn Bridge Park to ride the magical Jane’s Carousel and grab the Lombardi pizza ($22) at the iconic Fornino Pier 6 or two scoops of peaches and cream ice cream ($8.50) at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. If there’s any battery left in those legs, a trek across the Brooklyn Bridge is a memorable experience.;;

Jane’s Carousel at Brooklyn Bridge Park
Jane’s Carousel at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Photo by Alexa Hoyer/Brooklyn Bridge Park.
The iconic Brooklyn Bridge walk
The iconic Brooklyn Bridge walk. Photo by iStock.
The dog-friendly patio at Fornino Pier 6
The dog-friendly patio at Fornino Pier 6

7:00 P.M.

G Train

The historic Polish neighbourhood of Greenpoint—which is quickly gentrifying—is also home to one of the most sought-after newer restaurants, Oxomoco. Mexican-inspired and  Michelin-starred, the five-year-old establishment is aesthetically gorgeous: a spectacularly lit wood-panelled bar and the Southern California decor are easy on the eyes. The wood-burning oven is responsible for some of the most coveted and chef-curated dishes: the beet “chorizo” tacos ($17), the sweet potato tlayuda ($20) and the grilled Berkshire pork chop ($55). Leaving Oxomoco without trying the fan-fave soy-marinated tuna tostada ($25) would be criminal.

The beautiful bar at Michelin-starred Oxomoco
The beautiful bar at Michelin-starred Oxomoco

9:30 P.M.

L Train

For hand-crafted cocktail connoisseurs who wish to be in the presence of the cool kids, Williamsburg is the place for a proper nightcap. If you can brave the ever-present line, Fresh Kills Bar serves colourful cocktails made with housemade syrups and fresh ingredients that are sometimes served in eclectic tropical mugs. If dramatic NYC views are more your vibe, venture to the Westlight rooftop bar at the ultra-bougie William Vale Hotel. Imagine sipping on a bergamot-spiced Magic Hour cocktail ($20) from a rooftop terrace while staring at the Manhattan skyline around beautiful people who look important. Life is good.;

Westlight rooftop bar’s stunning views
Westlight rooftop bar’s stunning views
Fresh Kills Bar's cheeky, colourful cocktail.
A cheeky, colourful cocktail served at Fresh Kills Bar.
Fresh Kills Bar
Fresh Kills Bar

Concrete Jungle: Where to Stay in Brooklyn

Hipster Heaven

The Hoxton boutique hotel

Located in the hipster-heavy Williamsburg, the Hoxton is a boutique hotel right in the mix of the culture. Inside, the industrial building is open and minimalist. The rooms are functional and well stocked with mezcal and carefully curated snacks. The Hoxton offers free use of its bikes so you can easily venture to cafés, restaurants and Domino Park. It’s impossible to run out of things to do around Brooklyn, but just in case, there is a pristine pool on the hotel’s roof. 97 Wythe Ave.;

Gorgeous and Green

1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

To lay your head at the eco-chic 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge does not come cheap, but the comfort, location and views might justify the splurge. After a long and arduous flight to NYC, it’s a relief to enter a lobby that joins green oasis with mountain cabin (if the cabin was five-star). The indoor greenery matches the neighbourhood’s lush appeal, as the stylish Brooklyn Bridge Park is steps away. It’s not all nature, though: the rooftop pool and rooms that face west give you unobstructed views of Lower Manhattan, the East River and the Statue of Liberty. 60 Furman St.;

In the Heart of BK

Stylish digs at the Ace Hotel

Just off bustling Atlantic Avenue in the Boerum Hill neighbourhood and within reasonable proximity of downtown, the Ace Hotel Brooklyn simultaneously blends in and stands out. Style-savvy travellers are well aware of the iconic Ace Hotel collection, which includes locations in Portland and Los Angeles. Thoughtful vintage decor and cozy lounging and eating spaces are part of the hotel’s charm. Outside the front doors of its gritty red brick facade you’ll find a plethora of food, shopping and entertainment options, including Barclays Center, home of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets. 252 Schermerhorn St.;