I have a dream and in that dream I am a Bohemian mama who lives in either Carroll Gardens or Boerum Hill and walks with my free-spirited kids along the streets of Brooklyn doing all sorts of super awesome educational and cultural things. Money is no object and I have a nanny, a gaggle of equally cool friends and maybe a few famous ones. In real life I live in New Jersey doing none of those things but a girl can dream, right?
This week’s See, Eat, & Do is an ode to my favorite borough of my favorite city. Brooklyn. Even the name is cooler than most things and I have come to love this little part of NY almost more than Manhattan – and if you know me, you know that’s pretty impressive.
We are lucky to live in New Jersey because we can get to DC in 2 hours, Philly in 20 minutes, and NYC in an hour and 15 minutes. I LOVE this location for all of these reasons. My crew and I often head up to Brooklyn on Saturdays and pretend we live there. We have quite the list of things to do and we knock them all out every time and never tire of them. It’s such a kid-friendly place and easy peasy to navigate with a giant stroller and a minivan. We drive almost everywhere which seems nuts but it’s a piece of cake. I have yet to have trouble finding parking. Maybe I’m just lucky?
Our first stop is the waterfront or DUMBO. We hit Jane’s Carousel and then head over to the park just behind it where there is a giant pirate ship as a play structure. To be quite honest, my kids would be happy to spend the entire day here with brief breaks for a burger and ice cream but, I make them leave eventually to go get lunch and soak up some of the other killer kid’s stuff to do.
After running around the waterfront for a bit, we head to the Transit Museum which is 200 kinds of cool. Where else can you walk down a subway staircase and hang out in old train cars all morning? Note: it’s not particularly stroller friendly so arm yourself with some sort of baby carrier if you have a tiny one or even a big one that doesn’t always like to walk. Immerse your crew in the inner workings of the subway system and history. It’s a must see for us every time we’re in Brooklyn. The kids LOVE it.
When we’re done pretending to be train conductors we load up on burger goodness at Bare Burger. The food is so good and my kids, who don’t even like hamburgers, will throw down one of theirs in no time and my 6 year old will eat the entire “Pickles & Slaw” side on her own. It’s perfect to refuel the army before taking on the rest of the day.
The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens is our next stop. Even in the Winter we love this place but Spring and Summer are when it is truly a gem. The best part about Brooklyn is that most entrance fees to the super cool places are reasonable compared to Manhattan. Children under 12 are free at the BBG and it’s a whopping $12 for me. SCORE! We love to walk around and stare at all the beauty we don’t have in NJ. We live in a tiny townhouse with no backyard so the girls and I like to talk about what we’ll do in our backyard when and if we ever get one. The baby just runs around squealing because he’s free of the stroller. If you time it right you can usually hit up a fun kid presentation or craft project which is included in your admission. And don’t miss the Cherry Blossoms in the Spring. As a DC native, I can tell you that they’re pretty kick butt.
By the time we’ve run our legs ragged at the BBG we head to our favorite spot in the whole of NYC…Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain. I honestly can’t remember who tipped me off to this joint but it is truly one of my favorite places anywhere. If the charm of penny tiles and a legitimate bar with honest to goodness Soda Jerks doesn’t tickle your fancy, you won’t be able to deny their amazing sundaes and egg creams. We are big fans of the Sundae of Broken Dreams. I mean big fans. I will eat an entire one myself and won’t regret a single bite even when I’m running it off later. My kids destroy them and then an egg cream to boot. It’s a little scary, actually. Everyone there is always so friendly and fun. It’s a true neighborhood place and I’m scared for the fact that one day they might find out that we’re imposters from Jersey and not really Brooklyn residents. Sigh.
Other items on our must do list include a stop at Baked to stock up on snacks for the drive home, a romp around Carroll Park (maybe we’ll see Gwynnie), a visit to Smorgasburg to continue our food-fest, and of course a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge just to make sure the small ones are sufficiently tired out.
I may never own a Brownstone in Boerum Hill or be able to call the streets of Brooklyn home but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to stay away. It’s a perfect spot to experience the awesomeness of NYC without the insane crowds, crazy Sesame Street imposters, and outrageous prices. Kids love it, adults stay sane, and no one is the wiser. If you find yourself in NYC, do yourself a favor and jump on the 2 or the 3 and spend an afternoon in this delightful borough. And if you’re super nice, I’ll give you my top secret parking info for DUMBO.