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Greetings Internet Stranger and welcome to 24 hours in Brooklyn. In recent years, Brooklyn, New York has become synonymous with hipster culture. If you tell people you want to spend 24 hours in Brooklyn, they imagine that you’re going to do it while sipping a craft beer through your handlebar mustache while riding a vintage bicycle.
Now, I am a native New Yorker, so I still remember when Williamsburg, Brooklyn was a good place to go if you wanted to get murdered. Now it’s the place to go to get artisanal toothpaste for your cockapoo.
But despite the Great Hipster Invasion of Brooklyn, the borough still has many charms. With 24 hours in Brooklyn, you can drink excellent craft beer, eat delicious pizza, meet some local artists, drink craft beer, watch some arthouse movies, peep on the Brooklyn Bridge, and also drink some craft beer. Still think Brooklyn is for hipsters only? Snap out of it!
24 Hours in Brooklyn
How To Get There
Now, I wish I knew where you lived, Internet Stranger, because I could send you a box of New York’s best gems and minerals. But sadly, I do not, and so I can’t tell you exactly how to get from your home to 24 hours in Brooklyn.
However, if you need to take a plane or car to get to New York City, I recommend Expedia for the best way to find the cheapest flight or car rental, depending on how you want to get around. Just click here to start looking for the best possible deals on your flight or car rental, so you can head out to NYC ASAP.
24 Hours in Brooklyn
Where to Stay?
If you’re a tourist in New York City, you’ll probably be staying in a hotel while you spend 24 hours in Brooklyn. I mean, maybe you have a kind relative who will let you crash in their spare room, but that kind of space is rare in Manhattan.
I recommend staying in the Artezen Hotel in Lower Manhattan. It’s very easy to get to Brooklyn from here. Plus, the rooms are affordable and cozy, and there’s free snacks, coffee, and fancy bath products in your room.
If you’d like a convenient and affordable hotel in NYC, click here. And if low prices and a great location scare you, just click here. This search engine will help you find the best deals and location on a room during your 24 hours in Brooklyn.
24 Hours in Brooklyn
What to Pack?
- Comfortable and adorable sandals for strolling around 24 hours in Brooklyn.
- Stylish boots because the weather in NYC can be a little unpredictable.
- A cell charger so you can take photos all during your 24 hours in Brooklyn.
- A light rain jacket with a hood if it’s fall or spring
- An umbrella that is tough enough to stand up to aggressive NYC winds. (Fun fact, in NYC the wind yells, “I’m walkin’ here!”)
- If you’re looking for a guidebook to NYC, this is my favorite choice.
- I always travel with travel insurance from World Nomads. You never know when something might go wrong, especially in this day and age, and you don’t want to get stranded during your trip without help. You never know when extreme weather will strike or some other emergency. But with travel insurance, you’re protected even if you’re attacked by a giant piece of pizza during your 24 hours in Brooklyn.
24 Hours in Brooklyn
Morning: DUMBO Self-Guided tour
If you’re not from New York City, you might be confused at the idea of visiting a DUMBO. We’re going to spend time with an elephant who can fly?
But, no! We’re going to kick this 24 hours in Brooklyn off with a walking tour of DUMBO, which stands Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. (Shouldn’t that really be DUTMBO?) You might think this is a DUMBO nickname, and I might agree. But there’s nothing DUMBO about DUMBO the neighborhood.
Apparently the nickname DUMBO was given to the nabe by local artists who wanted the area to sound weird and unappealing so it wouldn’t get gentrified. Spoiler alert! They did not succeed. In this marvelous place, you’ll get delicious food and drink and even a secret viewing point of the Brooklyn Bridge! I’ll get you started with…
Approximately Top 5: Dumbo Edition
1) The Views
For those of you who aren’t familiar with New York City’s geography, the city is made up of 5 counties. In NYC we like to do things differently, so we call these 5 counties “boroughs”. I’m pretty sure the 5 boroughs are Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and New Jersey.
Each borough has lots of little neighborhoods, like DUMBO. Confusingly enough, each borough has both a borough name and a county name. So Brooklyn, the borough, is also known as Kings County. Confused yet? Now you understand why New Yorkers are cranky all the time.
Anyway, because of DUMBO’s location right under the Manhattan Bridge and just across the East River from Manhattan, you can get amazing views there of the Manhattan Bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Manhattan skyline. Just wander around the water and you can’t help but get a great view!
2) Brooklyn Roasting Company
I’ve already told you that Brooklyn used to be a hipster-free grit zone with nary a coffeeshop in sight. So it might surprise you to learn that DUMBO used to be home to…a giant coffee company. This company was known as Arbuckles, and in the 1800s they were one of the first coffee companies to sell beans that had been roasted instead of just serving them green and making people do their own roasting.
(I think Starbucks should give a nod to this blast from the past and start serving Green Coffee Lattes. I’m sure with enough milk and sugar they’ll taste adequate.)
Nowadays, one of the old Arbuckle warehouses is now home to the Brooklyn Roasting Company. I even got to meet the manager of the company as he took me around the store and showed me their cool old coffee machines. They look like something a coffee mad scientist would create!
Fortunately there’s nothing mad about the coffee. I paid it my highest compliment by drinking it black. (It’s my policy to only put milk and sweetener in mediocre coffee. The good stuff gets nothing in it.)
4) Randolph Beer
Our final stop on the DUMBO walking tour is Randolph Beer. This brewery makes its own beer and also kindly serves up the beer of others. The brewskis are divine, but what makes this place really exciting is the way you order.
You get a card and fill it with money. Then you use the card at different taps located on a wall to the side of the bar. The card reader at each tap keeps track of how much money you have spent. You get to roam about sampling as many of the beers as you want. You could try them all! It’s like Chuck E. Cheese for beer snobs.
My favorite beer was the Randolph IPA called “Built Fjord Tough”. It was citrusy and hoppy at the same time. I like a beer with a full bunny’s worth of hops. Beer should taste like beer. Also “Built Fjord Tough” is a cute pun and I can never resist a pun.
You’ll probably be ready to eat something at this point, so fortunate for you, Randolph Beer has plenty of food available. Order something to fill your belly while you fill your mug with beer!
24 Hours in Brooklyn
Afternoon: Williamsburg Beer Crawl
So DUMBO is one of the coolest neighborhoods in Brooklyn, but we’re about to head to the original cool neighborhood: Williamsburg, which is basically The Vatican for hipsters.
Brooklyn’s craft beer culture is legendary, and we’re about to find out exactly why! It’s my pleasure to introduce you to…
approximately top 5: brooklyn beer edition
On this beer crawl, I realized that I should stop referring to Williamsburg as a place only fit for trust fund hippies who make Mason jars from scratch. In fact, Williamsburg has a rich and vibrant history, and it is well worth your time, even if you suffer from hipsterphobia.
Though beer production has been going on in Williamsburg since the 1800s, that’s not the industry the neighborhood was first famous for. The old WB used to be home to a li’l company called Domino. (The sugar, not the pizza.) That’s why the first stop on the tour was at a local bar called Sugarburg. The name pays homage to Williamsburg’s industrial history.
“Forget the history!” I can hear you squawk. “We’re here for the beer!” Happy to oblige! All the beers on this crawl are local to Brooklyn of course. Look on the menu and see what is local.
I selected a Brooklyn saison, which was a light and refreshing ale. I asked the bartender for more information about what a saison is beyond that, but apparently a saison is difficult to define. I personally think there’s no such thing as a saison and it’s just a term beer nerds invented to make laypeople feel stupid.
2) Most Holy Trinity Church
You might be a little surprised to find a church on a beer frawl. But that’s only if you don’t know anything about Germans. The Most Holy Trinity Church, which is still operational today, was created to serve the influx of German immigrants into Williamsburg in the 1800s. Of course, these Germans brought their fine beer making ways with them.
The Germans are most famous for the “lager” style of beer. Making lager requires underground caves that allow the lagering process to occur. That’s why they are still uncovering giant lagering caves hidden underground all over Williamsburg.
Maybe there’s even one hidden under this church! I definitely recommend that you interrupt mass here by bringing a jackhammer and trying to dig up the lagering caves on your own. Lager-cave-digs are not legally considered vandalism within Williamsburg.
3) Danny’s Pizza
You can’t spend 24 hours in Brooklyn without a slice of pizza. And no one wants to drink three beers without a snack in between. Let’s head to Danny’s Pizza to sample three different kinds of New York-style pies. You have your classic thin crust “floppy” style. It is traditional in NYC to eat it by folding it in half and stuffing it in your mouth. Forks are not allowed.
Next we have the Sicilian pizza. This is the giant, thick square slice you see above. Basically the crust is a hunk of focaccia. Also with the Sicilian slice, when you eat it, you’re supposed to leave the gun and take the cannoli. That’s just science. The final piece is the grandma slice, which is like the Sicilian except the crust is much thinner and crunchier. (Vegetarians don’t need to worry. No grandmas are actually used in the making of the grandma slice.)
Now that you’ve got a proper pizza in your hand, let’s discuss why beer production stopped in Williamsburg during the first half of the 20th century. Obviously the most important reason was Prohibition. It’s very hard to make money from selling beer when selling beer is illegal.
But another reason is that Williamsburg didn’t stay a German neighborhood forever. Other immigrants started to come in from countries like Italy, and some of the German immigrants moved to other neighborhoods. It’s all part of the fascinating mix that allows us in New York City to enjoy a fine lager made in a secret underground church cave with our grandma pizza!
4) Brooklyn Brewery
OK, so there isn’t actually a stop at the famous Brooklyn Brewery on this tour. But you can’t talk about beer in Williamsburg without mentioning it. Fortunately a classic Brooklyn Brewery lager is included with the pizza, so we have a good excuse for talking about its history.
For decades, beer production was dead in Brooklyn. Then along came two Brooklyn natives named Steve Hindy and Tom Potter. Hindy had been a journalist stationed in Middle Eastern countries where selling alcohol is illegal. Necessity is the mother of invention, which is a fancy way of saying that Hindy learned how to make his own brew.
Eventually Hindy and his childhood friend Potter decided to open up their own brewery in Brooklyn, and the legend was born! Today there are exactly 1,345.25 craft breweries in Williamsburg alone.
My favorite fact about the Brooklyn Brewery is that the designer Milton Glaser did the logo. (He’s most famous for creating the I <3 New York campaign.) Even though they were broke at the time, Glazer agreed to do it in exchange for free beer for life. He is 89 years old, and he still shows up at the brewery regularly to get his free lager on. That’s what I call living your best life!
My second favorite fact about the Brooklyn Brewery is that I (platonically) went to prom with the son of one of the founders of Brooklyn Brewery. If that doesn’t adequately establish my native New Yorker bonafides, I don’t know what will!
Our last stop on the beer crawl is Interboro Spirits & Ales. Fair warning, unlike Sugarburg and The Well, this place is teeny tiny and gets stuffed with people on weekends, so you might not be able to find a seat. Interboro is definitely the trendiest spot on the beer crawl, as the taproom only opened in 2016. (As you can probably tell from the name, Interboro is a distillery as well as a brewery.)
At Interboro, you can get a flight of three beers instead of just one big brewski. I always choose a flight if the option is available. More choices = better. That’s just science. The beers on tap will change daily, so I don’t want to get your hopes up by chatting too much about the specific beers I tasted. However, I will mention that my favorite was the Knock Out King IPA which is a collaboration between Interboro and The Other Half Brewery.
I’ve heard that The Other Half is another Brooklyn brewery that is so popular that people actually wait on line for hours in the cold to buy cans of their beer. But you can try Knock Out King with much less misery just by waiting for a few minutes on line at Interboro! Don’t say this blog never taught you anything important!
24 Hours in Brooklyn
Evening: Syndicated Bar Theater Kitchen
After a lengthy beer tour, you might be feeling a little sluggish. That’s why I suggest you spend the evening of our 24 hours in Brooklyn chillaxing in a comfy chair at Bushwick, Brooklyn’s finest dinner theater experience, Syndicated Bar Theater Kitchen.
Syndicated is just one example of the Movie Theater Restaurant. At a Movie Theater Restaurant, the ticket for the movie is much cheaper than usual because the place makes its money on the delicious, restaurant-quality food and drink.
Also, at a movie theater restaurant, you can sit in a fluffy chair-throne with an actual dinner table in front of you. Before the movie starts, you place your order on the menu card and sometime during the film, silent stealthy servers will bring you your sustenance. You can place additional orders during the movie, but I find it a lot more convenient to get all the ordering done beforehand.
It was impossible for me to take pictures of my food during the movie because there was no light and flash is not permitted. However, I strongly recommend the Hot Mess sandwich, which is a fried chicken sandwich topped with hot sauce, coleslaw, and blue cheese. I recommend this because you’ll be in the dark, so no one will be able to see the sticky hot sauce that will get all over your face and fingers.
24 Hour Treat: Thanksgiving Old Fashioned
Syndicated is perhaps even more famous for its seasonal cocktails than for its food. Definitely don’t pass up the Thanksgiving Old Fashioned, which is cleverly made with Wild Turkey bourbon, sweet potato syrup, and cranberry bitters. It’s like Thanksgiving dinner in your mouth only with more booze and fewer creepy relatives! The perfect end to your day!
In case you were curious about my film of choice, I was definitely there for the annual Christmas screening of Die Hard. (You can see that my special Die Hard Christmas sweatshirt and I were amped up for the occasion.) There are so many arthouse and cult movie cinemas in New York City, and I definitely recommend seeking out a quirky cinematic experience during your 24 hours in Brooklyn.
That’s a Perfect 24 Hours in Brooklyn!
What would you do with 24 hours in Brooklyn? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in New York City right now? Have you ever watched Die Hard as a Christmas movie? And is digging up a church to find a hidden beer cave a fun way to spend the afternoon or a one-way ticket to Hell? Email me your answers at [email protected]
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 Hours in Brooklyn.
And there’s a million other things to do in New York City. Want to spend Christmas in New York? What about 24 hours in Manhattan? How about the Bronx? Or the best museums in Manhattan? In (gasp!) Staten Island? I’ve got you covered here!