Exploring the Neighborhoods of New York

By Samantha Nicholson

Williamsburg, an area in Brooklyn often called “Billyburg” by its residents, is famed as the hipster capital of New York City. But there is a lot more to the area than skinny-jean wearing guys and fedora-loving girls. Williamsburg is also home to trendy boutiques, fun bars, and a famed indie rock scene. The majority of visitors to New York City have never even heard of this section of Brooklyn, and it is probably not the first thing a person would want to do during a short trip to the city.But if you are one of the many trend-conscious visitors to the city and are wondering whether the trip across the East River is worth your time, this answer is a resounding yes. When you arrive in Williamsburg, you may wonder what all the fuss is about. Nothing is particularly flashy, and many of the buildings appear run-down and old. However, there are tons of exciting things to do if you know where to go.

When a person thinks of shopping in the city, Madison Avenue and SoHo are usually the first places that come to mind.  Shopaholics are now leaving Manhattan and coming to Williamsburg for clothes made and designed in Brooklyn. They come for trendy and unique styles at moderate price points.  5 in 1 is one popular studio boutique on Bedford Avenue. The store is located in a former steel factory that dates back to the 19th century.  You can find everything from hand-sewn knits to funky jewelry here. Their pieces are surefire conversation starters, as no one will have anything like it in their closets.

Another hidden spot is the mod home décor spot Future Perfect (115 N 6th St), a small showroom crammed with cool stuff.This place is actually very pricey, but well worth the extra cash. Who doesn’t want a glass lamp in the shape of a dead bird lying face up? The unique furniture available here is sure to make your houseguests swoon over your unique sense of style. While most tourists aren’t looking to purchase furniture while on vacation, some of the pieces are so obscure that it is like being at a museum.

If bargains are your thing, Williamsburg has tons of vintage and thrift stores. Some of the most notable stores include Beacon’s Closet (88 N 11th St), Buffalo Exhange (332 E 11th St), and Mini Mini Market (218 Bedford Ave). All of these stores offer interesting merchandise that you could never find in a department store. You’ll want to stock up on retro gifts and accessories.
If you want to go to a real museum, check out A.M. Richard Fine Art (328 Berry St.) You can find obscure exhibits by little-known artists that you wouldn’t see at the Met or the MoMa.

When nighttime hits, there is still plenty to do. There is no shortage of cool lounges and bars in Williamsburg. One of the most popular bars is Spuyten Duyvil (359 Metropolitan Ave). The inside of this place is straight out of a Harry Potter movie.It even has a large back yard that is open during the summer months. Despite being a bit pricey, the beer selection is hard to beat. The menu is full of rare beers and wines, and there is even a winter ciders menu. The beer bar was voted the #2 beer bar in New York City by Gridskipper.com.  It is a great place to bring some friends and meet a few locals.  Alligator Lounge (600 Metropolitan Ave) is another hot spot.  During happy hour, you can get an entire brick oven pizza for free with the purchase of a drink.  While the frathouse décor is nothing to write home about, but the free pizza makes the trip worth it. Another great place to get food with your booze is Sea Restaurant (114 N 6th St) which is a Thai restaurant and nightclub fusion. Head here early in the night as it gets packed past ten.

One of the most famous places to go in Williamsburg is the Brooklyn Brewery (79 N 11th St). It opened in 1988 and has been serving its famed Brooklyn lager ever since. Tours are free, and start long before happy hour. You’ll learn about Brooklyn beer and also the history of Brooklyn. You can then drink some fresh brews in the tasting room, which doubles as a bar. The atmosphere here is friendly and you will learn a lot.

Even though Brooklyn may not be the first place you want to visit on a trip to New York City, every tourist should check it out at some point. This corner of Brooklyn has officially arrived.

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Filed under Neighborhood Focus, NYC Culture

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