What to Do: A Walk Through Brooklyn
Brooklyn is another of those iconic New York places that we have all heard of and maybe even think we know about from so many film and literary references. I just finished re-reading Sophie's Choice, quite purposely set in Brooklyn, and we have all seen the old war movies and Saving Private Ryan with the required “kid from Brooklyn” character (add in your own accent).
If time on your visit allows, why not take a walk through Brooklyn? Since this web site seems to assume you are traveling with kids, I need to point out that this is more of a jaunt that Mom and Dad will enjoy. While nothing is inappropriate for kids and parts might catch their attention, nothing is really aimed at the kiddies here. This one is with the kids, not for the kids.
Lonely Planet's Guided Walk
Rather than try to re-write someone else's work and/or violate a bunch of copyrights, I will let you know that this photo tour follows very closely the great walking tour laid out in the Lonely Planet guidebook for New York. You can buy it online from Amazon, turn to page 166 if you buy the 2004 version we have, and read the text and follow the map.
The Brooklyn Bridge
I love the Brooklyn Bridge and am not ashamed to say so, even if my wife is reading this. I actually fell in love first with her younger sister (ain't it always so), built by the same guy, Roebling, across the Ohio River in Cincinnati. The Brooklyn Bridge was built first however, started by the Father Roebling and finished by his son.
You need to do some semi-heavy walking for this, starting near City Hall. With streets to cross and some uphills, I reluctantly don't recommend this for small kids, strollers or at the end of a day. The walkway is w-a-y- above the water level, and the traffic below is noisy, so again, this is not for the little ones. At an easy pace, the walk across will take 30-45 minutes.
If you do make it across, however, you'll be rewarded with an amazing view of the Manhattan skyline and all the sites of the riverfront. The architecture of the bridge is also quite beautiful, and graceful is an overused term that still applies here.
In the Footsteps of Great Authors
The walk winds you through some very nice neighborhoods, with some very expensive brownstones. Look for the details: gargoyles in stone, curved plate glass windows, attic dormers and brass hardware. These are sweet, homey, trendy areas and you will probably want to throw all your money down and buy a home. Mixed in are homes of famous people, including Thomas Wolfe and Truman Capote, who wrote Breakfast at Tiffany's in the house shown below. No doubt the rent was less then.
Montague Street is a good place to take a break. There are some nice cafes, the required Starbucks and Heights Books, demanding to be browsed.
World's Best Cheesecake
Following the Lonely Planet tour, you end up at Junior's Lounge, home of what is said to be the world's best cheesecake. Not yet having tried every cheesecake on earth, I can't say for sure, but it was really good and it was huge. Order it with an egg cream, Brooklyn's traditional beverage made with chocolate syrup, seltzer water and milk for the whole experience.
In keeping with our maybe this is not for the kids theme for Brooklyn, Junior's is not in the nicest part of town. Nobody bothered us, and the real estate agents would call it a transitional neighborhood, but while in the afternoon we did not feel threatened we didn't feel as comfortable as we felt in midtown Manhattan. Junior's itself has both a bar and a restaurant, so be sure to enter through the front door if you prefer not to walk through the bar area.