Best hotels in Brooklyn

1Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

hotels Brooklyn

Photo: 1Hotels

1Hotel Brooklyn Bridge has received multiple accolades — “Sustainable Luxe: 5 Hotels Doing it Right” by National Geographic — and was listed as a “Top Hotel & Resort to Travel to in 2017” by The New York Times. While booking, guests can choose a room with a view of either the Manhattan skyline, the Statue of Liberty, or an up-close-and-personal view of the Brooklyn Bridge.

To-do’s in the area: Walk the Brooklyn Bridge. Take a ride on Jane’s Carousel.

EVEN Hotel Brooklyn

Every room in EVEN Hotel Brooklyn is almost a mini-spa getaway. Guests can opt for one of their Wellness Rooms, with an in-room training zone and videos, a fitness kit, spa-like shower, eco-friendly products, and natural eucalyptus linens.

To-do’s in the area: See a concert at Barclays Center. Dinner and a movie at Alamo Drafthouse.

Urban Cowboy

hotels Brooklyn

Photo: Urban Cowboy

Urban Cowboy is a bed-and-breakfast that transports guests to the rustic relaxation of Tennessee. Visitors also have the option to stay at “The Tree House”, the newest addition to the Urban Cowboy spread, where they can enjoy an open-air living room and a private roof deck.

To-do’s in the area: Take a tour of Brooklyn Brewery. Watch an outdoor film at McCarren Park.

The Brooklyn Hotel

The Brooklyn found the perfect middle ground between luxury and urban New York, by combining elements like reclaimed wood with brick walls, and euro-top beds set in front of Brooklyn-themed murals.

To-do’s in the area: Visit the Brooklyn Museum. Catch a show at the historic BAM Harvey Theater.

The Box House Hotel

The Box House Hotel is a hotel converted from an old factory into a hotel with a little quirk and a lot of colors added. Each has original artwork by Brooklyn-artist Kip Jacobs and many rooms include a personal terrace with a view of the Manhattan skyline.

To-do’s in the area: Appreciate some art at the Greenpoint Gallery. Attend a class or event at Eagle Street Rooftop Farm.

The Henry Norman Hotel

The Henry Norman Hotel was developed by the same management of the Box House Hotel. The Henry Normal Hotel has a “first post-college apartment” meets urban art gallery feel, making it perfect for young adults visiting New York.

To-do’s in the area: Stop by the Museum of Food and Drink. Stroll through Msgr. McGolrick Park.

New York Marriott at Brooklyn Bridge

New York Marriott at Brooklyn Bridge may be one of very few Brooklyn hotels with a pool, but the biggest draw is its specific location in the center of the Downtown Brooklyn commercial area and close enough to Manhattan — ideal for business stays, conventions, and events.

To-do’s in the area: Learn more about Brooklyn culture at the Brooklyn Historical Society. Walk through historic train cars at the New York Transit Museum.

Lefferts Manor Bed and Breakfast

Lefferts Manor is one of the better-known bed and breakfasts in Brooklyn due to reviews from consistently satisfied customers who comment that the manor feels “more like a home, and less like a hotel.” Lefferts Manor sticks to its B&B roots and does it well, with a choice of eight different rooms, as well as three apartments each complete with a kitchen or kitchenette.

To-do’s in the area: Enjoy the beauty of the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. Learn about wildlife conservation at the Prospect Park Zoo.

Akwaaba Mansion

This 1860’s landmark mansion is located in historic Stuyvesant and is designed with 14-foot ceilings, ornate fireplaces, and Italianate villa features. Akwaaba Mansion‘s “special touches” include a secluded garden, a hearty Southern breakfast, and afternoon tea.

To do’s in the area: Take a walking tour of the Bed-Stuy Historic District.

Dazzler Brooklyn

With its own Beer Garden, complete with Germany schoolyard tables and strung lights, the Dazzler Brooklyn Hotel seats up to 175 guests who have the option of both American and European beers, as well as standard Beer Garden fare like pretzels and sausages. The Dazzler also has its own cafe where guests can enjoy cappuccinos and pastries in the morning or wine and small plates for their late-night snacks. A new American-Italian restaurant is planned to open this summer.

To-do’s in the area: Book a spot on the Beer and Pizza tour by the New York Bus Tour and do some shopping at the Brooklyn Borough Hall Greenmarket.

How to get around NYC

GETTING AROUND New York City can be intimidating, but with a subway system that spans the five boroughs; multiple bus routes; ferry crossings and a bike share program, it’s actually quite easy and affordable to get to and from wherever you’re going.

Hop on the subway for a fast and affordable trip

NYC transportation

Photo: Ellie Pritts

New York City’s subway system is vast, reliable at most times, and cheap. No wonder even celebrities can be spotted on the train. Buy an MTA MetroCard at one of the ticket machines at any of the stations, or from a station agent at a ticket booth. The machines accept both credit cards and cash, but sometimes the credit card machine doesn’t work, so be prepared to have some cash on you.

If you’re only going to use the subway once, purchase a $3 single-ride ticket from the machine only. But, if you are taking multiple rides, buy a pay-per-ride card that allows you to put a specific amount of money on it. You just need to put $5.50 or more on before using it. If you’re going to be using the subway for seven days or more, it makes sense to get an unlimited ride card because you’ll receive a discount on rides.

Visit the MTA website’s trip planner for bus and/or subway routes and to see how long your trip will take.

Board a bus to see the city as you go.

When I travel to a big city, I prefer to hop on a bus so I can see the views. Buses can also be a more convenient way to get to certain neighborhoods where the subway may not go. Buy a MetroCard before boarding the bus. You’ll receive a free transfer to another bus or the subway that’ll allow you to ride for free within two hours of boarding. A new faster system called Select Bus Service (SBS) provides faster routes in certain parts of the city. The SBS bus stops have machines where you’ll put in your prepaid MetroCard in order to get a paper ticket to take onto the bus before boarding. You can also pay by coins, but be prepared to have exact change on you. You don’t need to swipe the ticket when you board the bus, just keep it handy in case you get checked by an agent, which allows you to board the bus through any of the doors.

Take a ferry and see Manhattan and Brooklyn from the water.

For a different perspective of the city, board a ferry for spectacular views of the lower Manhattan skyline, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty. Ferries run along the west side of Manhattan along the Hudson River, near lower Manhattan, and along the East River.

The Hudson River Ferry service will take you to and from midtown or lower Manhattan from, into, and out of New Jersey. You can purchase tickets online.

The East River Ferry service takes passengers as far north at Astoria Queens down to Bay Ridge Brooklyn. There’s even a route that takes passengers all the way to Rockaway in Long Island. A one-way ticket is currently $2.75, which you can purchase on the website by creating an account, or by downloading the free app to buy a ticket. You can also purchase a ticket at the ferry landing ticket machines or from a ticket agent.

The New York Water Taxi is another option to get you around Manhattan. For an all-day access pass, you can do a complete loop of the island in 70-minutes or hop on and hop off at ferry stops along the way. Current rates are $24 for adults/seniors and $13.50 for children 3-12 years old. You can also combine your pass with a timed ticket to the 9/11 Memorial Museum and One World Observatory that must be picked up at Pier 79 prior to boarding the boat. If you want to shop at IKEA in Red Hook, hop on a Water Taxi from Wall Street’s Pier 11 for $5 Monday through Friday or free Saturday or Sunday. If you spend more than $10 at IKEA, you get a $5 credit.

Rent a Citibike and check out the city on two wheels.

NYC transportation

Photo: Jon Niola

Citibike is New York City’s bike share program with 10,000 bikes and 600 stations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Jersey City. It can be an easy and affordable way to get around if you don’t mind riding among the traffic and pedestrians. Buy a day pass for $12 at one of the many Citibike kiosks to get unlimited 30-minute rides. If you’re planning on using it for multiple days, opt for the 3-day (72 hours) pass for $24 for unlimited 30-minute rides.

Also, for a limited time, you can get a single ride for $4 by visiting their website and downloading the app.

When public transit or riding a bike isn’t cutting it, hail a taxi.

NYC transportation

Photo: Maryus Bio

If you don’t feel like taking public transportation or can’t hop on a bike because you have luggage or shopping bags to carry, or you just don’t feel like dealing with other people, hail a yellow taxi or download the NYC taxi app for a ride. It’s $2.50 for entry and an additional 50 cents per one-fifth of a mile if the taxi is going at least six miles per hour or more. If it’s not in motion then it’s 50 cents every 60 seconds. Sounds complicated, but if you’re not traveling a long distance, taxi rides are not as expensive as you’d think, especially if you are splitting the fare between a few people.

There’s also a green taxi fleet called Boro taxis that covers under-served areas of the five boroughs including northern Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island. You can hail or call for a Boor taxi in those areas (except for the airports) and have them drop you off anywhere — but you can’t be picked up in the Manhattan exclusionary zone where yellow taxis already serve.

When in doubt, walk.

New York City is a walking city. If the weather is decent and you’ve got a comfortable pair of shoes, I’d suggest hoofing it, because nothing compares to seeing the city on foot. You’ll find cool spots that you may not see while whizzing by on a bike, or crawling through traffic on a bus or taxi.

Best street food in Booklyn

In a place as multicultural as Brooklyn, it makes sense that the local street food is much more than dirty water hot dogs.

1. Smorgasburg

Smorgasburg, which launched in 2011, operates seasonally from April to November in both Prospect Park and Williamsburg. With 100 local vendors between the two Smorgasburg locations, visitors can choose from a multitude of innovative food stalls with cuisines that range from classics such as mozzarella sticks, to the outrageously original, i.e. a burger with a bun made of ramen noodles.

Must-Try: The Ube Dragon Fruit Bowl from Ube Kitchen and the Spaghetti Donut from Pop Pasta.

2. Red Hook Food Vendors

Red Hook Food Vendors, made up of three separate food trucks on Bay Street in Red Hook, has been providing locals and visitors with authentic Latin cuisine for the last 43 years. The uniquely seasoned dishes such as tamales, tacos, and homemade horchata have not only made this seasonal operation a staple in Brooklyn. but has led to Red Hook Food Vendors winning four Vendy Awards for Best Street Food in NYC.

Must-Try: The Pupusas Platter from El Olomega.

3. Dumbo Lot

Dumbo Lot has a scheduled rotation of food trucks. Local workers are saved from substandard lunch breaks and visitors from bland local options. On any given weekday, guests can expect three different food options ranging from Vietnamese to sweet and savory sandwiches served on French toast to pasta Bolognese.

Must-Try: The Texas Style Brisket Sandwich from Meatoss.

4. Brooklyn Bridge Park

Not too far from Dumbo Lot is Brooklyn Bridge Park, which extends from Pier 1 to the Empire-Fulton Ferry landing. While the park is most popular due to its stunning view of the East River and the Manhattan skyline, and proximity to attractions like Jane’s Carousel, locals know it as a great spot to grab a bite while escaping the everyday chaos of the city.

Must-Try: Lobster Grilled Cheese from Luke’s Lobster.

5. Coney Island

With Dino’s Wonder Wheel and the Coney Island Cyclone as a backdrop, the Coney Island Boardwalk is reminiscent of early-1900 beachside theme parks. The various food vendors that line the Coney Island boardwalk and Surf Avenue add to the nostalgic atmosphere as they serve favorites such as cotton candy, fried chicken, and hot Italian sausage. While more brick-and-mortar restaurants have started popping up in the area, such as Ihop and Wahlburgers, Coney Island still holds onto its title as a boardwalk-street-food top runner.

Must-Try: Fish Tacos from Coney Shack Food Truck

Free things to do in NYC

NEW YORK CITY just might be the most exciting and dynamic city in the world. It has thousands of activities for visitors. But, it is also very expensive. If you are planning to visit the city but do not have a millionaire’s budget, don’t worry. Below is a list of ten totally free activities for a variety of interests.

1. Walk, jog, or run in Central Park.

Central Park is the ultimate big city place to walk, jog, or run in every season. The 843-acre park has tons of walking tracks. The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir has a 1.58-mile jogging track surrounding it that is popular with locals and tourists. While you explore the most visited urban park in the United States, you will discover numerous landmarks such as the Carousels, Shakespeare Garden, Turtle Pond, and Strawberry Fields. When you need to rest, there are hundreds of benches plus many open grassy areas and meadows. If you are interested in the history of this world-famous park, Free Tours by Foot has two free guided tours covering the lower and central sections of the park.

2. Visit an outdoor sculpture park.

Socrates Sculpture Park, located in Long Island City, was previously an abandoned riverside landfill and illegal dumpsite. In 1986, artist Mark Di Suervo lead a team of local artists in transforming the four-acre site into an outdoor sculpture exhibition. At the main entrance, a billboard greets visitors and sets the theme for the current show. The park also hosts many free programs, including artist tours of exhibitions, summer art projects, and yoga classes. From the park, you can see an incredible view of the Manhattan skyline day or night.

3. Feed your head with knowledge.

Meet Patience and Fortitude, the Tennessee Marble lion statues guarding the entrance of the New York Public Library, located at Fifth Ave. and 42nd Street. The Rose Main Reading Room is the highlight of this National Historic Landmark. The 500-person capacity room has huge windows, gorgeous chandeliers, and a 52-foot high ceiling painted with sky-like murals. The library offers free one-hour tours Mondays through Saturdays at 11 am and 2 pm, and at 2 pm on Sundays. The daily tours begin at the reception desk in Astor Hall. There is no reservation needed, but tours are limited to 25 people and are on a ‘first-come, first served’ basis.

4. Fine art galleries

If you are a fan or connoisseur of fine art, there are multiple free gallery showings. The hub for art galleries is in the Chelsea neighborhood between 10th and 11th Avenues in the 20’s. Participating galleries in this neighborhood include David Zwirner, Gagosian, Matthew Marks, and The Pace.

5. Sightseeing on the water

Free New York City

Photo: sdmx

The Staten Island Ferry is a commuter ferry that is free of charge. The ferry ride between Whitehall Ferry Terminal in lower Manhattan and St. George Ferry Terminal in Staten Island provides great photo opportunities of the Manhattan skyline, the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island. The ferry is packed during the weekday rush hour, so the better time for a leisurely ride would be mid-day or the weekend. You must disembark the ferry at the terminal, from there you can explore Staten Island, or re-board the ferry through the waiting room for the return trip to Manhattan.

6. Movies al fresco

These days, the average cost of a ticket for a theatrical release in Manhattan is $14.30. If you add the cost of refreshments, you will put a serious dent in your wallet. The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation offers free Movies under the Stars. Screenings are May through September at locations in Manhattan, Staten Island, Queens and Brooklyn.

7. Pay tribute to the heroes and heroines of 2/93 and 9/11.

Free New York City

Photo: strecosa

September 11th, 2001 was a day marked by the heroics of firefighters, police, and everyday New Yorkers fraught with fear, death, and destruction. The 9/11 memorial at the site of the fallen World Trade Center towers pays tribute to those who died in the terrorist attacks of February 1993 and September 2001. The names of all victims of the attacks are inscribed in bronze at twin memorial pools at the site. You will also find the Survivor Tree, a Callery pear tree that survived the terrorist attacks. You can pay your respects here.

8. History lessons

The Public Design Commission hosts City Hall tours several times during the week. The hour-long tour includes the Governor’s Room, the City Hall Portrait Collection, the rotunda and the City Council Chamber. Reservations are required for group tours. Groups are limited to 20 and the minimum age is 9 to attend the tour. Don’t forget to say ‘congratulations’ to all the newlyweds as they leave City Hall and start their new lives together.

Big Apple Greeter is a non-profit organization that offers free neighborhood tours to visitors of New York City. Tour guides are native New Yorkers who volunteer their services and can provide insider details that only residents can know. Any neighborhood tour itinerary is possible. Visitors need to schedule tours at least four weeks in advance via the website.

9. Live shows

The renowned Shakespeare in the Park series premieres two Shakespeare plays every summer at the Delacorte Theatre, located in Central Park. Plays in the past have starred members of the Hollywood A-List, such as Meryl Streep, Denzel Washington, and Al Pacino, who have made this event wildly popular. Tickets to this series are free and are distributed the day of the performance. Be sure to get on a ‘free line’ at the theatre early to receive your tickets, as they are handed out on a first-come arrangement.

NBC Studios, located at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, has free tickets for tapings of its popular live television shows including The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon, The Voice, Saturday Night Live and America’s Got Talent. Free guided tours of NBC studios are also available. Make your request for free tickets via the website about a month in advance. Standby tickets for same-day tapings for live shows are also available. Check the NBC Studios’ website for more information.

10. Outdoor shows and concerts

New York City Department of Parks and Recreation hosts free shows and concerts in all boroughs from May through September. Most noteworthy is Bryant Park Friday Picnics, where from 5 pm to 10 pm Fridays the park hosts a free picnic with live entertainment — and loans blankets to participants!