Brooklyn, one of New York City’s five boroughs, is our favorite — and not just because it's the home of the NYCRUNS Brooklyn Marathon & Half Marathon. No matter how long you're in town, or what you came here to do (ahem, run 13.1 - 26.2 miles), you won't have any trouble finding things to do, see, and eat. The only problem you're likely to run into will be finding time to squeeze in everything on your list.
With neighborhoods ranging from Williamsburg--a nightlife hotbed that also has great restaurants, cool art, and a progressive music scene--to picturesque Brooklyn Heights—packed with historic brownstones and carriage houses--and fast-growing Dumbo (that's Down Under The Manhattan Bridge Overpass) with views of Manhattan that'll take your breath away, Brooklyn has a tight grip on both old and new. It’s not a cliché to say there is something for everyone.
Read on for even more specific recommendations of what to do, see, and eat in Brooklyn. And if in doubt, turn to a Brooklynite and be sure to glean some solid information. Just be ready to pack a week's worth of stuff into a couple of days.
This is New York, so public transit, particularly the subway is your friend. Getting a taxi (sometimes these are green instead of yellow in Brooklyn) is also a time-honored choice, and you won't typically have trouble flagging one in the street.
Citibike is a popular bike-sharing service. We highly recommend taking advantage of this and going for a ride on the Brooklyn Greenway.
WHERE TO STAY
We live here, so we rarely stay in hotels. However, there are a few we'd recommend. All of these are a short cab or Uber ride from the Marathon and Half Marathon start.
Not far from the start and Prospect Park in the now-hip Gowanus neighborhood, the Hotel Le Bleu is stylish; nearby is the Union Hotel. There is also a Holiday Inn Express (use the code RUN for the best rate), and a Super 8. The Look Hotel (part of the Ascend family of hotels) is located nearby in Red Hook and would also be a great lodging location for out of town visitors. A bit further off in Downtown Brooklyn, there is the Marriott Brooklyn Bridge.
If you wish to be located near good nightlife and myriad restaurants, The Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg is a great option.
WHERE TO EAT
We're no Zagat, but here are some of our favorite places!
Hometown BBQ – Our favorite local spot for pit-smoked brisket and pulled pork
Red Hook Lobster Pound – A local seafood favorite
Ft. Defiance – Oysters, and a rare find for weekday breakfast
Carroll Gardens and Gowanus
Mama Maria – A perfect spot to carb-load before the race
Buttermilk Channel – The best fried chicken, plus a great brunch
Ample Hills Creamery – Hot spot for cold treats
Bar Toto – our NYC mayor’s favorite local spot for salads and pasta
Dizzy's – dubbed “The Finer Diner”
Lot 2 – tiny and elegant, with ever-changing specials
Giuseppina –wood-fired thin-crust pies
La Bagel Delight – bagels, coffee and a deli counter
The Bagel Hole – straight out of the oven, takeout only
V-Spot – Vegan Colombian eats
Vinegar Hill House – elegant farm-to-table spot in a historic building
Westville Dumbo–vegetarian hot spot
Gran Electrica – margaritas (and also some tasty Mexican eats)
THINGS TO DO
Our own world-class art museum, with rotating exhibitions and a stellar permanent collection
Located in City Point, in Downtown Brooklyn, this food hall is not to be missed!
Fascinating subway cars and buses from the early days of public transportation. Great for train-loving kids
Small local zoo with a petting area and farm animals. Nearby is a 100-year old carousel
Gowanus spot for (you guessed it) throwing axes. Yes, really. That’s a thing.
Interactive exhibits for kids, near the Brooklyn Museum in Crown Heights
Laundromat by day; NYC’s finest collection of pinball machines by night. Williamsburg
One of the city’s oldest cemeteries, designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted. Weekend tram tours. Greenwood Heights
Moonshine and bourbon in the historic Brooklyn Navy Yard. Tours and tastings: Tuesdays through Sundays
One of the oldest homes in NYC, dating to 1652, in Brooklyn’s Flatbush neighborhood
Saturday morning spot for seasonal produce, fresh fish, baked goods and more. Stop by after the race!
The most famous wooden roller coaster in the US, and one of the oldest (1927) still in operation. Coney Island
Tours and tastings in their Williamsburg digs