What’s up, Brooklyn? Where to Stay, Eat + Play in New York’s Hipster Borough

Brooklyn sits at the intersection of historic and modern, with both deep roots and shining new projects, a place that's always shifting but in some ways remains the same.

If you've seen the 2020 film An American Pickle, you get the idea: Played by Seth Rogan, Herschel Greenbaum, an immigrant working in a pickle factory in 1919, falls into a barrel of brine and gets pickled for 100 years before re-emerging into modern-day Williamsburg. The neighborhood, well-known as a hipster's cultural mecca, is just right as a starting point for your next weekend in Brooklyn.

Where to Stay in Brooklyn

The William Vale

Herschel would be astounded, and likely a bit frightened, by the waterfront developments that have shot up like popcorn in the last few years where his pickle factory once stood. There are several high rise hotels here now, but the William Vale (111 N. 12th St., Williamsburg) is a great choice if you are looking for a luxe vibe with an outdoor pool, saunas, and sweeping views from the rooftop bar, Westlight. Check in and get yourself up there before sunset to watch the sky turn pink and high-rises twinkle while you sip on the aptly named “High Altitude” cocktail.

Ace Hotel Brooklyn

You can also call it a night at the Ace (252 Schermerhorn St., Boerum Hill), a happening spot on the outskirts of downtown where the lobby is always bustling and the bar buzzes all day. The hotel has all the stylistic touches you'd expect from the hipster brand, but it's the programming, like a recent tiki cocktail series, that makes this stay interesting. On the events calendar this season: soul music in the lobby; the Cooks and Books Festival with Cherry Bombe; a Spanish wine tasting; and a cookie art workshop.

The Best Restaurants + Bars in Brooklyn

In Williamsburg

Hit the sidewalks and take your time before choosing where to eat—there are endless options. Across the way from the William Vale is Le Crocodile, a bistro serving memorable French fare—think fruits de mer, country paté, onion soup, and steak frites au poivre—at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. // If you can get reservations, head to Lilia for handmade pastas or brand-new hotspot Laser Wolf for Israeli cuisine and drinks with Manhattan skyline view.

A Pizza Crawl

If you're allergic to making advance reservations, try the tomato pie at newly opened Fini (305 Bedford Ave.), a Sicilian square pie at locals favorite Joe’s Pizza (216 Bedford Ave.), and a white pie at Best Pizza (33 Havemeyer St.).

Downtown and Boerum Hill

The Ace Hotel is within walking distance to some main arteries clogged with many hip spots. Start your day next door at the newish artisan chain Black Seed Bagel (252 Schermerhorn St.), or head over to Court street for legit NY deli vibes (simple salt bagels with cream cheese or smoked fish) at Shelsky’s (141 Court St.). Grab a chunk of halva, weighed out by the pound, for the plane ride home.

Court Street and Smith Street will lead you around the Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill neighborhoods. Stop for a beer at Circa Brewing (141 Lawrence St.) or Talea Beer Co. (61 Bergen St.); a glass of natural wine at June (231 Court St.); a craft cocktail at Clover Club (210 Smith St.) or Barely Disfigured (257 Smith St.); or a scoop of saffron pistachio ice cream Malai (268 Smith St.).

Come dinnertime, if you feel like a big dose of history and a flawless martini, walk a few blocks to the newly reopened circa 1879 Gage & Tollner (372 Fulton St.). Linger into late night at the atmospheric Sunken Harbor Club upstairs.

A bit further afield in Gowanus, Claro (284 3rd Ave.) is pocket-sized restaurant inspired by Oaxaca. The tiny kitchen cranks out a nightly four-course prix fix menu of dishes like fiery aguachile de tomates with poached shrimp, and braised short rib mole negro. Opt for the curated mezcal pairing, where a network of agave spirit savants are featured in expressions you likely won’t taste anywhere else.

Fun Things to Do in Williamsburg and Boerum Hill, Brooklyn

Sports + Outdoors

If you're staying in Williamsburg, pick up a game in McCarren Park (Bedford Ave.): The 35-acre public space has bocce pits, handball courts, and a running track. // Domino Park (15 River St.), part of the redevelopment of the Domino Sugar Refinery site, is a grassy stretch along the water beneath the Williamsburg Bridge with a playground and volleyball courts. // If that's too tame, test your courage with beer and axe throwing at Hatchets & Hops (98 N. 11th St.).


Brooklyn is home to countless vintage shops, record stores, and eclectic boutiques. Near Boerum Hill along Atlantic Avenue, Collier West (377a Atlantic Ave.) is a great place to start with a huge but curated collection of unique objects from brands like John Derian, Abacus Row, and Tracy Tanner. // The design showroom City Foundry (365-367 Atlantic Ave.) is where scavengers in the know source midcentury modern antiques. // If you can never have enough throw pillows and graphic ceramics, head to the designer Michele Varian's (400 Atlantic Ave.) teeny shop.