Weekend days can be a lot of fun, especially when you skip the traditional drunken brunch routine and go for an adventure packed outing. Even if mimosas and bloody mary’s call for you every weekend, you sometimes need more than just day drinking to get you through – especially when it’s nice out. If being broke has taught us anything, it’s that you don’t need to spend a lot to do a lot, and Red Hook is great place to practice that mantra. Gather your friends and follow this guide to get the most out of a Red Hook adventure day.
Start by getting there. Although this seems like the tricky part, it’s actually pretty easy. You can take a free ferry from Pier 11/Wall street on weekends that will take you right to Ikea. It’s about a 20 minute ride and will give you great views and a sultry wind-blown look that you won’t get from the MTA. There’s also a couple of options that allow you to skip Manhattan: Take the B61 bus which transfers from most subway lines in Brooklyn or you can also take a ferry from DUMBO, through the NY Water Taxi. It costs you $9 on the one hand, but on the other hand, you’re not going all the way into Manhattan. Plus, you’re on a boat! If all else fails, there’s always your bike.
START WITH CHOCOLATE
Either way, you’ll want to get there sooner rather than later to get a good start on the day. On Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays Raaka Chocolate (64 Seabring Street)does a $10 chocolate tour (minimum 4 people, starts at noon, check the website for availability) of their bean-to-bar factory that includes samples. Learn about how unroasted chocolate is made and then taste chocolate made from different regions to see how they vary. With burlap sacks full of chocolate beans, and bourbon barrels aging beans, there are plenty of photo ops here. Marvel at the stone grinders as they churn and spin, reducing the chocolate into a velvety elixir. There’s even a deal on bars if you buy them at the factory. Typically retailing for $9 or $10, you can buy three chocolate bars for $15.
After you’ve got your chocolate buzz on, it may be time for a more substantial lunch. Make your way down Van Brunt street to Brooklyn Ice House (318 Van Brunt Street). They’ve got cheap, fantastic bar food, a healthy list of beers either on their own or via beer-shot specials and a spacious back yard. The best deal is the two pulled pork sandwiches for $6, served on soft buns with pickles. Add a basket of fries or some onion rings and grab a seat in the back to enjoy communal tables, tattoos, beards, and probably a baby or two. You can’t drink all day if you don’t start early.
Before we walk all the way down to the water, take a second at Baked (359 Van Brunt Street) and grab a cupcake, a coffee, or a brownie for later. If you’re going the cupcake route, ($2.50 each) definitely go for the chocolate salted caramel – a caramel soaked chocolate cupcake with chocolate buttercream frosting, sprinkled with salt. For extra umph, the cupcake also has a caramel core. First, this cupcake must have crack in it. It is immediately addicting. Close your eyes on the first bite, because you are about to be transported to a part of your brain that only responds to pleasure. If you’ve had enough chocolate for the day (I don’t see how), try the lemon drop cupcake. A vanilla cake with lemon zest infused buttercream frosting topped with a Lemonhead candy. This cupcake also boasts a surprise center, but this time – lemon curd. Baked cupcakes have an excellent cake-to-frosting ratio. The cake itself is moist, and the frosting is decadent. They are just big enough to share, and just small enough not to make you sick.
PUTTING AROUND ON THE WATERFRONT
Let’s walk it off a little and head over to The Waterfront Museum (290 Conover Street, open Thursday 4pm-8pm and Saturday 1pm-5pm) to check out this floating historical reliquary of riparian facts. It’s really small, in a cozy all-wooden-Hudson-River-Railroad-Barge-turned-museum kind of way. As residents of a city built mostly of islands, it’s basically duty to find out more about the waterfront that was once a thriving industry for Brooklyn, particularly in Red Hook.
If you’re looking for an activity, head over to Brooklyn Crab (24 Reed Street) and get into the beach bum spirit with free mini golf (yes, really), bean bag toss, and shuffleboard. If you’re here on a weekday, make sure it’s a Monday or Tuesday when they have $1 oysters. Or, head over on a Wednesday for trivia night and deals on Sixpoint beers.
FLAGELS AND SUNSETS
Next, head over to the ubiquitous Fairway (500 Van Brunt Street). If you’re crafty, you can eat your way through this place getting full on samples alone. Make your way over to the cheese counter and ask the cheesemongers for some suggestions based on the kind of cheese you like. After trying a few, pick one that you can comfortably eat outside. Forget the baguette and get yourself a flagel from their bakery department. Trust me, these flat bagels will be grand with whatever cheese you just got and they are about half the price of baguettes. Round it out with a piece of fruit and make the ten minute walk over to Louis Valentino Jr. Park.
If you’ve timed it right, you’ll get to the park in time to lay out your items and watch the sunset from the pier. Say hello to Lady Liberty — she’s close enough to share your flagel — and take in a beautiful sunset in a beautiful borough.
If you want to turn this day into a nighttime affair, there are plenty of bars in the neighborhood and most of them have great beers and cocktails. Check out Hope & Anchor (347 Van Brunt Street) on Fridays and Saturdays from 9pm-1:30am for drag queen karaoke. Even if you don’t sing, the opportunity to people watch and take in a Britney song or two should be irresistable. They’ve also got a serious selection of food. If you’re doing the late night thing, fried pickles with ranch ($5) is the way to go.
It’s also worth it to check out Sunny’s Bar (253 Conover Street) for the live music, the old-school atmosphere and the great waitstaff. Check the website for who’s playing, or just be surprised and listen. Take a second to appreciate that they’re still there, because they were almost completely wiped out by Sandy.
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Also try Steve’s key lime pies (very close to Fairway)