9 Only-in-Brooklyn Destinations: Urban Adventure

  • 01 of 09

    Brooklyn's A Place to Explore

    Photo courtesy of Coney Island USA

    Want to see what's really happening in Brooklyn? You have to get out and explore!

    Here are some of the top destinations, worth a visit for even the most dyed-in-the-wool Brooklynite!

    C​heck out the June Mermaid Parade.

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  • 02 of 09

    Sail Away! Where to Go Sailing in Brooklyn

    Prospect Park
    Phil Roeder/Getty Images

    Check out the funky, wonderful seventy-year-old private Sebago Canoe Club, or the Sheepshead Bay Yacht Club. For tamer stuff, head toward Prospect Park.

    • Sebago Canoe Club
    • Avenue N and Paerdegat Avenue North
    • (718) 241-3683

    Sebago Canoe Club members sail kayaks and canoes into Jamaica Bay, a nature preserve, and occasionally offer instructional programs in sea kayaking, sailing, and flat water racing. It's just one of several sailing opportunities in Brooklyn.

    • Miramar Yacht Club and Sailing School
    • 3050 Emmons Avenue
    • (718) 769-3548

    Miramar’s fleet of Ensigns, a one-design sailboat class, races regularly out of this club along with its larger sailboats, which compete with neighboring Sheepshead Bay Yacht Club.

    Check out the 60-acre beauty of a lake in Prospect Park that otherwise is off-limits for both boats and swimming.

    More Ideas for Outdoors Activities

    Brooklyn offers many outdoor athletic opportunities, including canoeing and kayaking in the lovely nature preserve at Jamaica Bay.

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  • 03 of 09

    New York's Best Kept Secret: The Park Near the Brooklyn Bridge

    Photo by Ellen Freudenheim

    Brooklyn Bridge Park-Views of Statue of Liberty, Manhattan & Brooklyn Bridge

    For the most American of American moments, take a little trip to Brooklyn Bridge Park.

    A Park for All Seasons

    Brooklyn Bridge Park is a wonderful destination for doing absolutely nothing but relaxing. It's a welcome respite for tourists needing a break from the hectic pace of the Big Apple. And, spectacular harbor views and breezes are so fresh that even died-in-the-wool Brooklynites may find themselves feeling like enthusiastic tourists.

    Here's how to get there.

    Brooklyn Bridge Park is an inviting destination for young families, too. Conveniently, there are lots of grassy hills for running, boats to watch and discuss, and a good playground nearby for tots.

    Special events: Watch listings for special events, including concerts and free summer outdoor movies and dance parties, at this wonderful venue.

    What's nearby: Nearby are the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory; the bars, restaurants, shops , and galleries of DUMBO; the floating concert hall, Barge Music; DUMBO's interesting Front Street; historic Brooklyn Heights, and docks for cruise ships.

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  • 04 of 09

    Mother's Day or Father's Day Outing: Brooklyn Botanic Garden

    Photo © Ellen Freudenheim

    Visit Mother Nature

    A perennial favorite, a stroll through the Brooklyn Botanic Garden offers a contemplative environment that's also full of life — especially in spring. It's a nice destination for such occasions as Mother's Day, Father's Day, and romantic interludes.

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  • 05 of 09

    Eight Memorable Things To Do On the Brooklyn Bridge

    Photo © Ellen Freudenheim

    Make a Splash (Not Literally, Please) on the Brooklyn Bridge

    Want to make a splash and do something memorable for a special occasion?

    Whatever it is, if you want to make a splash (figuratively speaking), then do it on the Brooklyn Bridge.

    Find out everything you need to know about walking the Brooklyn Bridge.

    Eight Memorable Things to Do on the Brooklyn Bridge

    1. Propose marriage
    2. Deliver a hug for Valentine's Day
    3. Deliver a kiss for an anniversary
    4. Present a (small) birthday gift
    5. Give Mom a never-to-be-forgotten hug on Mother's Day
    6. Read a poem aloud to a significant other
    7. Toss a coin to resolve ambivalence, standing halfway between Manhattan and Brooklyn
    8. Deliver the news (as in, We're having a baby! Or, I got a raise!)
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  • 06 of 09

    Grand Army Plaza in Park Slope, Brooklyn

    Photo by Ellen Freudenheim

    Visiting Grand Army Plaza, A Brooklyn Landmark

    Indulge your historical imagination with a visit to an impressive Brooklyn landmark.

    If Brooklyn's Grand Army Plaza looks like it was airlifted out of Paris, that's because its architects fully intended to mimic Paris' famous Arc de Triomphe.

    The famous 1870 monumental arch was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, after what’s now known as the Place Charles de Gaulle.

    This imposing structure was built at a cost of $250,000 and unveiled in 1902 to celebrate the fallen heroes of the Civil War.

    If you happen to be there on the rare occasion when the structure is open, it's worth the hike inside.A six-story spiral staircase to the “Quadriga,” the horse-drawn chariot sculpture at the top of the arch. From the top, you’ll get an idea of the urban vision that park designers Olmsted and Vaux had in 1860 for bringing European-style greenery and airiness into cramped city life.

    Places to Visit, Play, and Photograph

    Although Grand Army Plaza is a tiny plaza in the middle of a traffic circle, it's a favorite site for wedding and other photographers. Stand under the huge arch next to a bas relief of Presidents Lincoln and Grant. In the summer there's a lovely fountain in the middle of the plaza.

    Nearby are a number of interesting and family-friendly destinations, starting with the clean, great-for-toddlers Prospect Park Zoo, carousel and playgrounds, and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

    What's nearby, you ask?

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  • 07 of 09

    Where to Eat in DUMBO: Best Bakery, Chocolate, Candy & Ice Cream Factory

    Photo by Ellen Freudenheim

    Great Food Between Meals: Sweets for the Sweet in DUMBO

    Head to DUMBO for an energy boost after a hike over the Brooklyn Bridge. Or make a stop here after a bike ride to Coney Island.

    And, when planning such special occasions as Mothers Day, Father's Day, Valentine's Day, Easter, anniversaries and of course, children's birthday parties, don't forget DUMBO as a sweet spot for shopping for gifts and goodies.

    DUMBO boasts two decadently delicious candy stores, and also the picturesque Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. The latter churns out small batches of famously good ice cream, artisanal style. And, Almondine is a popular little cafe serving yummy baked goods and sandwiches.

    Four Sweet Spots in DUMBO

    Or, have brunch!

    Getting there: Take the F subway to York Street or the A or C to High Street

    Still got a sweet tooth? Check out the best chocolate stores in Brooklyn.

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  • 08 of 09

    Ten Great Picnic Foods for a Brooklyn StoopNic

    Photo by Ellen Freudenheim

    What Exactly Is a Stoopnic?

    What is a stoopnic? It's a made-up urban vocabulary word referring to a picnic on a Brooklyn stoop. A noun, it is pronounced "stüp-ˈnik."

    Typically, a stoopnic is a good excuse to see observe and comment about what's going on in the neighborhood, to comment on the street, and to shmooze and chat with neighbors passing by.

    Residents of brownstone Brooklyn who may not use the word stoopnic, are, nonetheless, very likely to understand what it means (especially used in context, as in, "We're doing a stoopnic for dinner tonight, want to join us?")

    To have a stoopnic, one must have a stoop, also known elsewhere as the outside stairway to the house. If you happen to be lucky enough to a) live in a home with inviting front stairs overlooking the public sidewalk, and b) get nice weather, then it's fun, whatever the occasion, to spread a tablecloth, make some sandwiches and sit on the stoop for a picnic.

    Voila! A stoopnic!

    10 Great Brooklyn Brownstone Stoopnic Foods

    The essence of the stoopnic is, in Brooklyn vernacular, "that it ain't nothin' fancy." For instance, pate might be passable but caviar's too classy. Popular stoop picnic foods include:

    1. sandwiches from the kitchen or neighborhood deli
    2. bagels
    3. sliced cheese
    4. guacamole and chips
    5. cold cuts and pickles
    6. apples, cherries or sliced watermelon
    7. a slice from the local pizzeria
    8. ice pops (in season)
    9. seltzer (it's very Brooklyn)
    10. pretzels and beer

    When to Have a Stoopnic?

    Anytime. They are best when spontaneous, and for special public celebrations such as the arrival of Friday afternoon, Mother's Day, Father's Day and repeat 39th birthday celebrations.

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  • 09 of 09

    For a Very Brooklyn Mother's or Father's Day, Ride Coney's Roller Coasters

    Photo courtesy of New York City Economic Development Corporation

    Last but not least, no self-respecting list of activities for a Brooklyn tour could omit that most Brooklyn of all destinations, Coney Island.

    Don't miss Coney's multiple roller coasters. Until 2011, there was only one Coney Island roller coaster, the still-operative Cyclone. So, if you have a strong stomach, you can enjoy all three rides, and scream your lungs out. (No joke; the two new rides are located in an area officially dubbed the Scream Zone.)

    For the more faint-hearted, there are lots of other things to do in Coney Island, including watching a ​Cyclones baseball game.​