A Perfect Day in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Brooklyn Flea, NYC

Fun & funky Brooklyn Flea Photo: brooklynflea.com

It seems everyone is heading to Brooklyn’s Williamsburg…and with good reason.  Williamsburg is full of fantastic experiences, from artisanal eats to waterfront fun to creative offerings.  The neighborhood is easily accessible from Manhattan – less than 15 minutes by subway – making it is an ideal “day trip.”   To make the most of your excursion, here is an itinerary for one perfect day in Williamsburg.

Morning

Brunch, NYC

Start your day with brunch Photo: Jessica Festa

No trip to New York City is complete without experiencing its brunch culture.  Luckily, Williamsburg is home to a number of great brunch spots.  One of the best is The Brooklyn Star, one of the few restaurants in the neighborhood with adequate seating (while good, most restaurants are quite small).  The menu’s focus is comfort food with a modern twist, with some highlights including fried pig tails with tator tots; country-fried steak with bacon, mashed potatoes and hot cole slaw; and apple johnny cakes with bacon, scrambled eggs and hash browns.  Pair your entree with a brunch cocktail like the “Gordons Breakfast” (gin, cucumber, hot sauce and lime) or the “Bourbon Bonbon” (made of bourbon, iced espresso and condensed milk). Other top Williamsburg brunch spots include Allswell, Egg, Rabbithole and Rye.

Typically brunch is only served on weekends.  On a weekday morning, head to B.A.D. Burger for a breakfast of chicken and waffles, organic egg or tofu scramble, and creme brulee French toast.

Once you’re done eating, work off your meal by walking or cycling over the Williamsburg Bridge, which offers aerial views of Manhattan and Brooklyn.  Pedestrians should enter the Williamsburg Bridge from Berry Street between South 5th and South 6th Streets, while cyclists can enter via Roebling and South 4th Streets.

Williamsburg Bridge, NYC

The Williamsburg Bridge Photo: Peter Zoon via Wikimedia Commons

Afternoon

After your scenic workout, relax a bit while getting in touch with your creative side at Baked in Brooklyn.  Here you’ll be able to choose a ceramic piece to paint and design yourself.  Williamsburg is an extremely artsy neighborhood, so you’ll be immersed in local culture.  Note: You may also want to check their class schedule to hone your pottery and art skills.

On the weekend, head to East River Park on the waterfront and enjoy Smorgasburg,  where over 100 vendors – many local just launching their business – sell artisanal food and drink.  You’ll find a lot of creative food fare here, like pie shakes, grilled cheeses made with aged cheeses and farm fresh eggs and meats, organic beef hot dogs topped with pate and pork belly, cocktail-laced caramel corn, organic jerkies, porchetta sandwiches, hibiscus donuts and much more.  Find a grassy knoll on the waterfront and enjoy the amazing view while you eat.

Mast Brothers, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Delicacies at Mast Brothers Photo: Jessica Festa

If it’s Sunday, you can also spend some time perusing the vintage and local design offerings of the Brooklyn Flea.  Down the street more vintage, art, design and food finds are housed in Artists & Fleas, open on Saturdays and Sundays, 10am to 7pm.  There are tons of quirky finds: bowls made from storm-destroyed trees, blackberry pear popsicles, filet mignon jerky, handmade spirit jugs, hard-to-find records, jewelry made from typewriter keys and more.  Don’t worry if it’s not a weekend – can always wander down Bedford Avenue and the parallel avenues any day of the week to browse the numerous local boutiques.

After you’re done shopping, make a stop at the nearby Mast Brothers Chocolate, great for those with a sweet tooth as well as people on a budget.  In their factory you’ll see first-hand how their sustainable chocolate is produced, as well as enjoy free samples of their different bars (I love their dark chocolate bar topped with sea salt!).

What goes better with chocolate than wine? About a two-minute walk away is Brooklyn Oenology, a winery, bar, eatery and art gallery all in one.  They make all their wines using New York-sourced grapes, and also offer local charcuterie and snacks and New York spirits (including absinthe!).  On their walls you can admire artwork crafted by Brooklyn-based artists.

Brooklyn Oenology, Williamsburg Brooklyn

Brooklyn Oenology Photo: Jessica Festa

Evening

Nitehawk Cinema offers a unique dining experience, combining dinner, booze and film.  According to the cinema, they’re the reason laws in New York were changed to allow drinking in movie theaters.  Check their schedule for times and films.  They also put on a number of signature series events, like Nitehawk Naughties (dirty films shown at midnight), Film Feasts (movies paired with film-inspired eats), Live Sound Cinema (live music against silent film) and Local Color (movies made by local filmmakers).

View from The Ides, Williamsburg Brooklyn

Incredible view from The Ides Photo: Jessica Festa

If you’re a night owl, spend the evening dancing to energetic DJs at Output, which hosts an array of up-and-coming names as well as well-known acts.  Their rooftop is amazing, and the drinks are surprisingly affordable.  The main draw, however, is the sound system, which fills the room with sound in a way that won’t allow you to not dance.

Dancing not your thing?  Head to one of Williamsburg’s many rooftops for an after-dark cocktail and spectacular evening views, like The Ides, Night of Joy and Berry Park.

Expert Tip: Check out the events calendar for McCarren Park.  Throughout the year the park offers farmers markets, outdoor film screenings, a public pool, ice skating and more.

This is a guest post by Jessica Festa, a native New Yorker, NYC tour guide and writer.  Jessica is Author and Editor of websites Jessie On a Journey and Epicure & Culture, and a contributor to many publications including Huffington Post, Sherman’s Travel, Gadling, and AOL Travel.

Have you experienced the scene in Williamsburg? If so, tell us your favorite spots in the comments below.

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