Brooklyn. Happening place, right? It seems like everyone’s heard of it. But has everyone visited it?
It’s been said that to really get to know New York City, you have to reach beyond Manhattan and explore other boroughs. I’ll be the first to admit that I, for one, am terrible at doing this. I hardly ever leave Manhattan except for a planned social occasion. But go exploring? I almost never do that! So when the opportunity arose to spend a night at the glistening new Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott in Brooklyn’s Gowanus neighborhood, I jumped!
It was an action filled couple of days, complete with a wonderful exploration of the surrounding Brooklyn areas. While Gowanus might seem a bit, well, out-of-the-way, I was quite surprised as to just how much there was!
See, the hotel is not only located near one of the city’s largest subway stations at Atlantic Ave/Pacific St, it’s also in easy walking distance to some great Brooklyn neighborhoods, including Park Slope (where you should definitely check out Battersby for food, as this tiny restaurant run by two chefs was the scene of the most incredible dinner I have ever eaten), Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO (which has no relation to that flying elephant…it stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass).
After a lovely evening in the hotel, which has commanding views of Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island and a nice breakfast that even included made-to-order waffles, it was time to use the hotel’s great location as a base to explore Brooklyn! The man for the job? Brooklyn-native Dom Gervasi, the proprietor of the fairly ingenious Made in Brooklyn Tours. His concept? Visit place that are actually making things…in Brooklyn!
We encountered such joys as a delicious fresh ice cream at Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory (situated by the picturesque Brooklyn Bridge), the recycling wonders of Recycle-a-Bicycle (where one can donate their old bike to be turned into a brand-spanking new bike for someone else to use), some Mexican-style hot chocolate from the chocolate man himself, Jacques Torres Chocolate and the wonderful assortment of independent, artsy shops at The Shops, which Dom was quick to term a “small business incubator.” I think he’s right!
While DUMBO, as we came to learn through our morning tour of the above locations, was a bit more upscale, Gowanus (named for the canal) is where the real fascinating stuff is. For instance, did you know that you could buy every ingredient to make your own beer at home? Look no further than Brooklyn Homebrew! How about a handmade high-quality kitchen knife? Cut Brooklyn! Weaving classes? Gowanus has got you covered with the Textile Arts Center.
I couldn’t get over the wonders in my own backyard that I had woefully been ignoring. Here was this whole amazing borough at my disposal that I almost never explore… But you know what? I’m going to change that and you should too! So now I’m emphatically encouraging you…check out Brooklyn! Better yet, stay in Brooklyn! It’s a pretty cool place and only a short subway ride over to Manhattan…that is, if you can stand to leave!
Full Disclosure: This experience was graciously provided by Brooklyn Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott, but all opinions expressed here are entirely my own, free from outside influence.