A fun way to get to Brooklyn is to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge (take the 4, 5 or 6 subway to Brooklyn BridgeCity Hall; the bridge will be on your left). Finished in 1883, this engineering milestone ranks among the world’s greatest suspension bridges. Day or night, the view is spectacular. Stroll past the stately brownstones of Brooklyn Heights, the city’s first designated historic district. Scores of creative people have lived in the area, including Benjamin Britten, Walt Whitman, Gypsy Rose Lee, Truman Capote and Arthur Miller. From here, head over to the Promenade for an even better view of Lower Manhattan and the harbor.
The newly renovated Brooklyn Historical Society serves as a modern center for Brooklyns history while preserving its architectural heritage. Visitors can enjoy four floors of exhibits and programs that include performances, readings, lectures and activities for children. And guests at the New York Transit Museum can explore the history of public transportation in the City through a variety of tours, exhibitions, educational programs and workshops.
The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) has the distinction of being America’s oldest operating performing arts center; its first performance dates to 1861. Today, BAM presents concerts, contemporary and classical dance, performance art, theater for young people, repertory and first-run films. It’s also home to both the Brooklyn Philharmonic and the Next Wave Festival.
Don’t miss Prospect Park (Eastern Parkway and Flatbush Avenue, 718/965-8951): 526 recreational acres including the Prospect Park Zoo, an interactive children’s zoo. Also on the sprawling grounds are a lake with pedal boating, the Lefferts Homestead Children’s Museum, where life on a 19th-century Brooklyn farm is explored, and a beautiful carousel.
Sunset Park’s Green-Wood Cemetery (718/788-1101) offers a spectacular harbor view and 478 acres filled with trees, flowering shrubs and four lakes. Interred in Green-Wood are such luminaries as Leonard Bernstein, Samuel Morse, F.A.O. Schwarz, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Charles Tiffany and William “Boss” Tweed.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden is an urban oasis with specialty gardens and world-class plant collections. It has more Japanese cherry trees than Washington, D.C., not to mention extensive displays of roses, lilacs and azaleas.
The permanent collection of The Brooklyn Museum of Art includes more than one and a half million objects,from ancient Egyptian masterpieces to contemporary art,and represents almost every culture. The museum has its own subway stop (take the 1 or 2 train to Eastern Parkway) and is one block from the Grand Army Plaza, in a complex of 19th-century parks and gardens that also contains Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the Wildlife Center.
Just beyond is the neighborhood of Crown Heights, where one of New York City’s largest communities of Hasidic Jews shares space with a West Indian community. The Brooklyn West Indian Labor Day carnival and West Indian American Parade are held here every year.
Kids of all ages will love the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the world’s first children’s museum, and the New York Aquarium, with 300 species and daily dolphin shows on the Coney Island boardwalk.
Coney Island has the wooden Cyclone roller coaster, the Wonder Wheel, fair games, Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, the annual Mermaid Parade in June, the summer Siren Festival, a beach and a lively boardwalk.
Nearby Brighton Beach is nicknamed Little Odessa for its large Russian population. Pick up superb caviar and other Russian treats at food markets, but don’t fill up noshing; rather, stay for a meal at the fabulous local restaurants, some with Las Vegas-style entertainment. There’s also a beach and boardwalk.
Sheepshead Bay is the center of recreational fishing for New York City. Boats are moored at ten piers, ready to sail into the deep waters offshore for half- and whole-day excursions,no reservations necessary. Fishing boats go out in the morning from 6:30 to 9am and again at 1pm. Many boats leave again at 7pm for night fishing. Fishing gear is provided, and you keep what you catch.
Borough Park, Flatbush and historic Williamsburg are predominantly ethnic areas alive with their respective cultural traditions. Park Slope is a beautiful, mainly residential, neighborhood. In its heyday it was known as the Gold Coast because of its mansions and row houses on Prospect Park. Commercial districts lie along Fifth and Seventh Avenues.”