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Move Over, Manhattan!

Brooklynites welcome visitors to experience what is indisputably one of the best places to live in New York.

I know people who visited New York City for the first time and chose to visit Brooklyn on the last day of their trip. The sentiment is always the same: They wish they had spent more time in Brooklyn. Just over the river from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, Brooklyn is a pretty epic neighborhood to explore whilst in New York City.

New York City is in reality a collection of many neighborhoods scattered among the city’s five boroughs — Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island. I lived in Brooklyn most of my adult life. It’s where my kids were born; where I have the fondest memories of young love and life, and where I don’t hesitate to visit when I want to experience the rich culture and some of the best New York pizza . . . hands-down.

Brooklyn offers visitors an urban feel, and a host of options for food, entertainment, shopping, and outdoor experiences. Though a part of New York City, Brooklyn maintains a character of its own. The borough is characterized by cultural diversity, an independent art scene, distinct neighborhoods, and a unique architectural heritage. If Brooklyn were its own city like it used to be, it would be the third-most populous one in the country. 

Home of iconic New York attractions like the Brooklyn Bridge and Prospect Park, Brooklyn is filled with incredible landmarks and beautiful outdoor spaces that range from serene city parks to the thrilling Coney Island roller coasters. Add its neighborhood feel, sense of community, and the secret to what makes a New York bagel taste so distinctly delicious, and you’ll have just some of the reasons why people love visiting and living in Brooklyn.

Deciding which Brooklyn-unique experiences to share is hard, as there are just too many wonderful attractions to list here — Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn Heights and Promenade, Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), and more. There’s really so much to do in Brooklyn and with a fraction of the crowds of Manhattan. Brooklyn offers a side of New York that most tourists don’t venture out to see. If you’re planning to visit New York, the few I’ve chosen will get you started, but believe me, you’re going to want more than one day in the borough of Brooklyn.

The Brooklyn Bridge was the largest suspension bridge in the world when it opened in 1883. More than 100,000 cars pass between the gothic towers every day, while the pedestrians and sightseers on the upper walkway number in the thousands.

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a verdant oasis founded in 1910 and features hundreds of types of flora, spread out over 52 acres. Each spring, crowds descend on the space when hundreds of cherry blossoms bloom along the Cherry Esplanade.

Time Out Market New York is packed with the local’s favorite restaurants. Amazing eateries offer everything from fried chicken and pizza to ice cream and lots of other yummy fares in between. Chow down over two floors with views of the East River, Brooklyn Bridge, and Manhattan skyline.

The visionaries who designed Central Park, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, also designed Prospect Park. Reserve time in your vacation to enjoy nature, have a picnic and soak up some sunshine in the sprawling Long Meadow. Take a guided hike, or explore one of the few remaining indigenous forests in the city — the Ravine.

Coney Island’s Cyclone is a historic wooden coaster that dates back to 1927. It is now a national historic landmark and part of the new Luna Park. The Cyclone still thrills riders every spring and summer. After you’ve gotten your fill of the amusement park, grab a beer and hot dog from the original Nathan’s Famous.

Many of Brooklyn’s neighborhoods are an absolute must-experience. Williamsburg is my favorite, an attraction in itself and most well-known as ‘coolest neighborhood in Brooklyn’ due to its high concentration of culture, artists, and ubiquitous amounts of places to dine, drink and find entertainment. DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) is considered a Brooklyn hot spot, located directly across the East River from Lower Manhattan with some of the best views the city has to offer. Not to mention, DUMBO is easily recognizable as it’s been portrayed in film and tv and is often used to establish shots for Brooklyn or NYC because the views are incredible.

Shopping at an outdoor bazaar is a must in New York, and Brooklyn Flea is hands-down one of the top flea markets to hit. The market has everything, including an impressive selection of throwback wares and records, which you certainly wouldn’t find in any vintage clothing or record store in the city. There are two locations: DUMBO and Williamsburg.

Like the attractions, the list of fabulous neighborhoods to explore in Brooklyn is much too long to list here, but know that you will find cool things to do in neighborhoods like Park Slope, Brooklyn Heights, Greenpoint, Bushwick, Crown Heights, Downtown Brooklyn, and many others.

Travel from Manhattan to Brooklyn can take 39 - 50 minutes depending on whether you drive or take the New York City subway, which I highly recommend. After all, it’s one of the best public transportation systems in the world; and isn’t riding the subway part of the New York City experience? You bet it is! Plus, you’ll save a mint in cab and Uber fare.

While the living standards gap is getting narrower, Brooklyn is still a more budget-friendly city compared to Manhattan. This could mean some places in Brooklyn may have better vacation packages while maintaining the ultimate vacation experience. So be sure to branch out from Manhattan and check out Brooklyn for more unique and memorable New York experiences. As Cut Master D.C. says in his hit single, Brooklyn's in the House, "Brooklyn, Brooklyn, always funky fresh!" 

"Brooklyn offers a side of New York most tourists don’t venture out to see." 

  • DUMBO - Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass as seen from Brooklyn
  • The Brooklyn Bridge
  • The Brooklyn Bridge
  • Prospect Park Boathouse
  • DUMBO - Down Under the Manhatten Bridge Overpass as seen from Brooklyn
  • Brownstones in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood