Williamsburg has been on the hip radar for the last decade. Yet just north of this increasingly pricey and crowded neighborhood is a community that’s still holding on to its Polish roots and Hispanic ties: Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
Right between Williamsburg and Long Island City, on the endearingly stumpy G train, Greenpoint offers affordable shopping, delicious bites, and some stunning views.
For the New Yorkers out there, heading to Greenpoint is a great way to travel to new places without venturing to distant lands. And if you’re an NYC visitor, Greenpoint can be a unique and non-touristy place to spend the day. Either way, check out these five must-do activities in Greenpoint.
Eat Polish Food
As you walk up Manhattan Avenue—Greenpoint’s main drag, lined with bodegas, florists, Dollar stores, and the occasional hipster-owned coffee shop—you’re sure to hear a gutteral dobry wieczor (“good evening” for the non-Poles).
The Polish presence in Greenpoint is astounding: from eighty-year-old dziadeks (grandfathers) smoking cigars on brownstone stoops to young teens who just emigrated to the neighborhood. But the best part is that some of the most delicious (and most affordable) Polish food in the five boroughs can be found in Greenpoint. Check out Krolewskie Jadlo (at 694 Manhattan Ave) for some amazing potato and cheese perogies, smoked salmon, potato pancakes, and sweet golabki (cabbage stuffed with rice and meat).
Shop Franklin Avenue
Over the last five years, plenty of independent clothing stores and shops have opened up along Franklin Avenue, Manhattan Avenue’s trendier cousin. From Calyer up to Green Street, you’ll find vintage frocks, edgy hair salons, unique home wares, and cute ShopBop-esque boutiques. If you really want to fit in with the Franklin Avenue crowd, wear bright colored pants, cut some bangs, and splash on a disinterested look as you peruse the racks. I recommend Permanent Records for beats, WORD for books, Dalaga NYC and Julia James Boutique for threads, and Kill Devil Hill for unique home décor (think deer antlers and horseshoe ring key chains).
After you’ve walked up Franklin Ave, step into the off-the-radar beer garden of t.b.d. Located at the corner of Franklin & Green, t.b.d. boasts a giant garden filled with about twenty picnic tables and a grassy knoll for lounging. Skip the inside (unless you are a ping pong lover) and head right to the back for a relaxed vibe. Don’t worry about getting here early—this place is rarely crowded. Although drinks can be pricey for Greenpoint standards (about $8 for a mixed drink), the outdoor atmosphere is well worth it, and a visit to t.b.d. is the perfect excuse for day drinking.
Walk to Queens
With all that Greenpoint has to offer, its close proximity to Long Island City (LIC), Queens, is at the top of the list. Start off at the corner of Commercial and Ash Street for a scoop from the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. Take your cone, and make a left down Manhattan Avenue to the water’s edge, where some park benches await you on Newtown Creek, home to the North Brooklyn Boat Club. Once you’ve had your fill of ice cream, head down Ash Street and take the stairs up to the Pulaski Bridge. Make sure you peer down at the Box House Hotel’s top level patios and unique taxis, mentally noting this hidden (albeit pricey) place to stay the next time you’re in town. As you walk over the Pulaski, take in the incredible view of the Manhattan skyline.
Fish the India Street Pier
As the sun sets, grab your fishing pole and head back to Greenpoint and down India Street towards the East River. This pier, which launched ferry service in 2011, is host to quite the cast of characters as the sun sets: Pols, Mexicans, and the occasional hipster can be spotted reeling in everything from eel to bass. But don’t fret—fishing here is more for sport and conversation, not for dinner. If you don’t have a fishing pole, just bring your camera to capture more stunning views of the Manhattan skyline and eclectic street murals on the walk up to the pier.
Sandy is a classy broad with a dash of hippie. She spent life in many cubicles before finding the courage to strap on her backpack and travel solo. Now, she writes about these epic journeys and life in general as a 20-something nobody. Sandy is not afraid to try new things (like eating ant larvae in Laos), has an undying love for the written word (ahh Kerouac), posses a strong immune system (a survivor of cholera) and loves collecting people along her way (now that's a genuine statement). She is currently a NoffBassador for the Nomading Film Festival. Check out her travel photography at www.sandykreis.com.More from this Author