If you’re from Amsterdam or Paris (where Tres Brooklyn t-shirts are trop chic), Brooklyn is probably your declared destination. If you’re a marathoner who happens to love great food and craft beer, you’re probably already lacing up and scoping out Airbnb options in time for the Brooklyn Half. If you’re a proud auntie or uncle in the Brooklyn baby boom, you might already know some neighborhood parks, playgrounds, and (after babysitting hours) cocktail bars. Or maybe this is unchartered territory for you, an unfamiliar crossing from Manhattan. Whether this is your one day in a decade to visit or a practice run to become a local, here are a few suggestions for immersing yourself from sun-up Saturday to sundown Sunday.
Head to the nearest station where you can get the F train — chances are there’s one close to your hub in Manhattan, elsewhere in Brooklyn, or in Queens–and ride to the Smith and 9th stop on your way to a boozy brunch at Buttermilk Channel. For maximum people-watching and window-browsing afterwards, head north on Court Street, then take a right on Union Street for about a mile and a half. (To cut out the walking, move brunch to Rose Water on Union.) Keep going and you’ll run smack into something that looks like the Arc de Triomphe — that’s actually a Civil War memorial marking the entrance to Prospect Park. This area, also called Grand Army Plaza, hosts an epic farmer’s market year-round on Saturdays. (Remember this spot — you’ll be back tomorrow.)
Take a left on Eastern Parkway and the next architectural marvel you’ll find is the Brooklyn Museum. Check in with the Egyptian mummies and inquire into the current exhibitions. Breeze through the light-soaked lobby atrium, the Brooklyn Roasting Company cart supplying a caffeine boost on your way to the subway station just outside.
Take the 2 train to Clark Street, followed by a five minute walk along any of the lovely fruitbowl streets (Pineapple, Orange, Cranberry) to Brooklyn Bridge Park. As you pass public art exhibits and walkways fashioned from wood reclaimed from abandoned piers, promenade north and east to the East River Ferry landing at Pier 1.
Traveling by boat is the most unexpected but also the most direct route to the storied hipster playland called Williamsburg. (It’s been about twenty year since artists and students spotted cheap rents on this streets and made a mass exodus from Manhattan — the rents have since gone up, as have several high-rise condos and hotels.) Dock at North Williamsburg, round the corner, walk one more stretch along Kent Avenue, make a turn on 11th to reach Wythe Avenue, and head straight for the rooftop bar at the Wythe Hotel. Behind you: a fantastic day. In front of you: the Manhattan skyline.
The next morning, make your way back to Grand Army Plaza, where the peaches and leafy greens will have been replaced by an upscale odds and ends market as long as its between the months of May and October. Keep your walking shoes on. Your destination is the Atlantic Ocean, and you’ll be a Brooklyn pro by the time you reach the water. (Again, this itinerary is best for warm-weather travelers, or polar bears.)
You’re headed through Prospect Park to a place called Parkside Plaza (locals probably won’t know it by that name — look for the corner of Parkside and Ocean Aves). The fastest way is to take the loop road in the opposite direction from most of the foot traffic and all of the bike traffic, but feel free to follow your whims and meander. On Saturdays, the Brooklyn street food extravaganza Smorgasburg sets up on Breeze Hill inside the park, pretty much on your way.
If your feet are still going, consider a mini walking tour through the grand houses of “Victorian Flatbush,” which will conveniently deliver you to Cortelyou Road in time for a casual cocktail. Either at Parkside or Courtelyou, jump on the Q train and ride to the end of the line to find a long stretch of beach and (if it’s even possible that you’re still hungry) unlimited hot dogs and beer. The station name? Coney Island!