Greenpoint is hip—so hip that a local grocery store once served as the backdrop of a Harpers Bazaar cover photo featuring Gwyneth Paltrow, armed with a gallon of milk. So hip that Bill Murray has been seen spontaneously pouring people's drinks at the trendy bar 21 Greenpoint. Celebrity sightings aside, the Brooklyn neighborhood's coolness is exhibited by a laundromat that doubles as a bar, an old Polish banquet hall transformed into a concert hall, and the many hipsters hanging outside of buzzy coffeeshops or perusing vintage boutiques and bookstores.
While still a vibrant Polish community, Greenpoint is now also home to a young and trendy demographic. It's no longer just the sleepy neighbor of Williamsburg but rather a Sunday afternoon destination exploding with art, music, culture, community, and food.
Peruse the Greenpoint Terminal Market
Situated on a four-acre waterfront lot (2 Noble Street) during summer and inside the Brooklyn Expo Center during winter, the Greenpoint Terminal Market is a weekend tradition. Featuring more than 100 vendors—selling everything from jewelry and vintage clothes to handmade skincare, plants, and homewares—this retail paradise is not just where you go to support artists and local businesses; it's also where you go to roller skate, socialize, and indulge in food truck goodies.
Speaking of shopping—Greenpoint is somewhat of a mecca for vintage fashionistas. Like much of Brooklyn, the place is packed with curated secondhand sellers and trend-forward thrift stores such as Dusty Rose Vintage and Mirth Vintage on Manhattan Avenue, Beacon's Closet on Guernsey Street, and Feng Sway, which doubles as a plant shop and gift store, on Dobbin Street.
Catch a Rare Flick at Film Noir Cinema
The neighborhood itself radiates retro vibes and nothing says old school like a movie rental. Part video store, part cinema, Film Noir is a Polish-American-owned Greenpoint institution. In addition to renting out old, rare, and indie flicks, the corner theater also holds regular intimate viewings (for a few dozen people, tops). Any cinephile would become obsessed.
See a Band at Brooklyn Bazaar
The Brooklyn Bazaar is housed in the former location of Polonaise Terrace, a Polish Banquet Hall in the heart of Greenpoint. The space now hosts regular concerts and is the perfect spot for a round of ping pong, mini golf, a video game at the arcade, or a drink at one of the four bars. The Brooklyn Bazaar is also the venue for the seasonal Oddities Flea Market, full of strange and wonderful objects. You can even watch a film here.
Play Pinball at Sunshine Laundromat
Pinball wizards prefer to do their washing at this hipster-friendly laundromat, which contains not just washing machines but more than 20 pinball machines and a bar. No need to entertain yourself with iPhone apps and thumb twiddling while you wait for the final spin to finish—these retro machines and brews make cleaning your clothes fun. Sunshine Laundromat also calls itself an art museum and holds regular events.
Get a View at the WNYC Transmitter Park
If you've spent more than an hour in Brooklyn, chances are you've seen at least one WNYC tote bag slung over a hipster's shoulder. Even if you're not a longtime listener of the local-favorite radio station, you're still likely to appreciate its namesake green space. The waterfront WNYC Transmitter Park is a quiet hangout offering incredible views of the Manhattan skyline across the East River. You can even fish off the pier.
Gather Culinary Inspiration at Archestratus
Serious home cooks would regret not making a pilgrimage to Archestratus, a bonafide foodie oasis. A bookstore-cafe hybrid housed off of Greenpoint's main drag, Archestratus carries only cookbooks, both used and new. All are handpicked by owner Paige Lipari, a Brooklyn native who has worked at cafes and bookstores throughout the city. She’s combined her expertise and love of cooking to create what has now become a Brooklyn staple.
The cozy atmosphere makes one want to spend an entire afternoon browsing the eclectic collection of books while indulging in Sicilian baked goods. Keep an eye out for craft nights, board game nights, and other fun events.
Admire Some Indie Art
When you're in the mood to admire indie art, peruse the galleries of Brooklyn, making sure to stop in at The Greenpoint Gallery. Founded by artist, musician, and visionary Shawn James, this nonprofit gallery aims to facilitate creativity in all disciplines by providing New York City artists an affordable and flexible performance, exhibition, and music rehearsal space. Along with two floors of spacious galleries, several studios spaces are available for rotating artists in residence. Check the gallery's website for information on current exhibits.
Try an Iconic Donut
Donut lovers would be remiss not to visit Peter Pan Donut and Pastry, a regular on countless best New York City donuts lists. A uniformed staff serves coffee, no-frills donuts, and other pastries at this old-school Polish bakery. Fans of the chocolate glazed or other classic varieties will find themselves wanting to claim a seat at the counter every morning. They'd better go early, though, because it isn't abnormal for Peter Pan to actually run out of donuts. Also, be prepared to stand in line for one.
Spend the Evening Bar Hopping
You can enjoy endless nights of bar hopping in Greenpoint due to the fact that it's simply overflowing with watering holes. If you're the kind who likes to play an old-fashioned game of shuffleboard over a beer, then head to The Diamond, a casual bar with outdoor space plus many wines and cheeses. For something dark and moody, try Black Rabbit, a local favorite with a fireplace and regular trivia, and for the contrary—say, perpetually tropical and sunshiny—there's The Springs.
Find a Good Book
Bibliophiles have a place in Greenpoint—namely within the well-stocked aisles of Word Bookstore on Franklin Street. This cozy, indie bookstore isn't just that, it’s also a community, even holding its own basketball league to raise money for the Greenpoint Food Pantry. The shop has a notable collection of both kid and adult reads. Keep an eye out for readings and thematic book workshops ranging from romance to music writing.
Sample Greenpoint's Great Eats
You can spend an entire day just drinking coffee at Greenpoint's various coffeehouses, yet the neighborhood has so much more to offer besides its signature caffeinated drinks. From authentic Polish eats at Karczma to Polish comfort food at Christina's to artisanal eats at 21 Greenpoint, the place is brimming with culinary delights. For old-school Jewish deli food, head to Frankel's Delicatessen. Or try Di An Di for a soulful bowl of pho.
Pick up Some Vinyl
For the hip folks who own turntables and seem to be on constant quests to obtain more vinyl, there are some amazing record stores in Brooklyn. Greenpoint itself is home to Academy Records Annex on Oak Street, which carries a large selection of used vinyl, and The Thing on Manhattan Avenue, a vintage shop with inexpensive vinyl as well as old gaming systems and other pop culture relics.
Enjoy Pierogies and Live Music at Warsaw
The Polish Community Center, "where pierogies meet punk," serves the potato-stuffed noodle delicacy on the side of big-name bands. Guests are welcome to hang out at the bar or watch concerts in the ballroom. There's a retro vibe and dive bar atmosphere at Warsaw, the casual venue in the Polish National House. If seeing a show here inspires you to see a concert at another non-traditional music venue in Brooklyn, tack on a trip to House of Vans, where you can also skateboard.
Quaff a Brew at Spritzenhaus33
Especially refreshing in the summer, Spritzenhaus33' beer garden will quench your thirst with draft beer, satisfy your appetite with Euro-style sausages and soft pretzels, and keep you entertained with board games, enjoyed at communal tables. Get involved with a group playing Jenga or bring your own crew to this massive beer hall next to McCarren Park.