Travel Diary: 3 Days In Brooklyn

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Sorry to get all Debbie Downer on you for a hot second, but this is a friendly public service announcement reminding you that there’s only one more long weekend of summer. But that’s a good thing, I swear! That’s one more chance to take a mini-holiday, one more chance to get out of the city, and one more chance to savour a four-day workweek (sigh, if only they could all be four-day workweeks). Porter is bound to announce a seat sale any day now (god bless those sale-happy marketers) and before you know it, you’ll be booked to celebrate Labour Day in jet setting style. Where will you head? Well that part is up to you my friend, but might I suggest a long-weekend jaunt to Brooklyn? It just so happens I was just there (funny how that works), and I’ve come back with a number of suggestions for places to eat, sleep, and play (with a very heavy emphasis on eat). So read on, bon voyage, and let the fun begin.

DAY ONE

If you’ve flown Porter, you’ll arrive at Newark, and let me warn you, it’s a loooooong way to get to Brooklyn, using some combination of cab, subway, and shuttle bus (depending on your level of patience and tolerance for crowds), but as soon as you check into the Wythe Hotel (80 Wythe Avenue, wythehotel.com), all that stress will melt away. The former factory-turned-70-room hotel, offers a place to lay your head and rub elbows with Williamsburg hipsters in a setting of industrial chic perfection.

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The next three days will involve a lot of food, so kick things off with a bang at Smorgasburg, the food market put on by the Brooklyn Flea (Saturdays, East River State Park, smorgasburg.com). 100+ food vendors await. The ramen burger was the most popular item when we visited, but a 45-minute queue for a glorified noodle burger isn’t my cup of tea. Instead, get a taste of Mexican corn, wood-fire pizza, fresh coconuts, and ice cream sandwiches the size of your head (sadly I gobbled mine down so quickly I didn’t even have a chance to take a pic, true story).

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After eating three days worth of calories in 90 minutes, it’s time to burn them off with a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Take a cab down to DUMBO (interesting fact: did you know that DUMBO stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass?), and pop into Dabney Lee (45 Washington Street, dabneylee.com) for an explosion of colourful stationery and pretty little things, before walking the Bridge.

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Take the subway back and spend the rest of the afternoon making your way back to the hotel up Bedford Avenue, with stops at Bird (203 Grand Street, shopbird.com) for a great selection of men’s and women’s apparel from brands like Isabel Marant, Acne, Proenza Schouler, and Want Les Essentiels; Cyclical Industry (218 Bedford Avenue, cyclicalind.com) a tiny jewelry kiosk with delicate pieces at great prices; Catbird (219 Bedford Avenue, catbirdnyc.com) my favourite source for knuckle rings and other unique gems; and Red Pearl  (202 Bedford Avenue, redpearlbrooklyn.com) for colourful clothing and accessories, children’s books and handmade toys, cheeky greeting cards, and beautiful cotton kimonos.

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After a well-deserved siesta at the hotel, make your way to the place Vogue Living dubbed one of the Top 20 Bars in the World, Maison Premiere (298 Bedford Avenue, maisonpremiere.com). Behind the unassuming entrance you’ll find yourself transported to New Orleans circa 1920, where the absinthe flows freely and the bartenders snap their suspenders behind the candlelit marble bar.

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DAY TWO

It’s not a real vacation unless it involves brunch, and there’s no better place to enjoy this delicious meal than Five Leaves (18 Bedford Avenue, fiveleavesny.com). Even if you’re a savoury breakfast person, the ricotta pancakes can be hard to resist, but if you’re determined to stick to your carb-free guns, there are a number of egg dishes that are equally delicious.

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When you’ve had enough of people watching from your table street-side (not possible), spend a little time exploring Greenpoint, stopping in at People of 2morrow (65 Franklin Street, peopleof2morrow.com) for a curated collection of old and new, Wolves Within (174 Franklin Street, wolveswithin.com) for hard-to-find men’s and women’s brands, and Word (126 Franklin Street, wordbookstores.com), an independent bookstore with bite. Don’t dawdle too long though, because you’ve got places to go, like our next stop, the Brooklyn Flea!

The Brooklyn Flea (Sundays, 50 Kent Avenue, brooklynflea.com) is a must-do for every Brooklyn visit. Over 150 vendors are set up selling vintage, antique, and handmade items. It’s like an outdoor treasure hunt and you never know what you’ll find.

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When you’re covered in dust and have had enough of digging through old stuff, head over to the Mast Brothers chocolate factory (111 N 3rd Street, mastbrothers.com) and pick up some fortifications to tide you over to dinner. I suggest a sinfully delicious trifecta of dark chocolate and sea salt, Brooklyn Blend dark chocolate, and dark chocolate pudding (notice a theme here?).

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That should give you the strength (and the caffeine boost) you’ll need to rally for a night out, beginning with authentic Mexican at La Superior (295 Berry Street, lasuperiornyc.com) – get the guava margarita and say goodbye to any thought of an early morning start – followed by more drinks at The Ides (80 Wythe Avenue, wythehotel.com/the-ides), conveniently located on the rooftop of the hotel, so when you’re done soaking in the city views across the river, you’re only an elevator-ride away from your comfy down duvet.

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DAY THREE

Start your last day in Brooklyn with another amazing brunch at Café Colette (79 Berry Street, cafe-colette.com). Nab a table outside, facing 9th Street so you can people-watch under the awning in true Parisian style.

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When you’re done, hop in a cab and take a trip to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (990 Washington Ave, bbg.org). Walk through 52-acres where, depending on the season, you can see rose gardens, bonsai museums, fragrance gardens, orchids, cherry trees, and peonies. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, you’ll be impressed by the lush landscapes of the gardens. With time for one last spot before you go, stop in at Bakeri (150 Wythe Avenue, bakeribrooklyn.com) for some plane snacks. While Porter might be great for Terra Chips, nothing will top off your trip like a dark chocolate, hazelnut, sea salt, rosemary cookie on the flight home.

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