Food & Drink

Why leave? How to have the perfect Brooklyn staycation

The Wythe Hotel: when you want to pretend you're somewhere else. via Facebook
The Wythe Hotel: when you want to pretend you’re somewhere else. via Facebook

Summer is slowly leaking away, and oh wow, you haven’t even taken a vacation yet! What do you work for, if not to take time away from your job in a fancy fashion. Of course, you don’t have a car and you don’t want to drop $300 on airfare so… Wait! You live in Brooklyn, a place people come when they’re on vacation. So why don’t you just pretend you’re one of them, and go on vacation without really going anywhere?


If you’re used to kicking around Bushwick, taking a nice little trip downtown might be a real treat. Downtown Brooklyn’s Nu Hotel offers funky, loft-like rooms that can run you under $300 for a whole weekend. Plus, it’s located right by the Barclays Center and it’s not too far from the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, Prospect Park and Smith Street, so you’ll feel like a real tourist in the heart of Downtown Brooklyn.

For South Brooklynites looking to hunker down up North, there’s no better place than the Wythe Hotel, Williamsburg’s number one staycation destination. Queen-sized rooms run under $300 a night, so it might be best to grab a buddy and split one for all the amenities. You’ll get to spend the night in prime Williamsburg, by the waterfront, Smorgasburg and the Brooklyn Flea; not to mention easy access to the hotel’s spectacular rooftop bar and the accompanying Manhattan skyline view.


Go outside. via Flickr user Teresa Stanton
Go outside. via Flickr user Teresa Stanton

We don’t get a lot of chances to explore the Great Outdoors here in Brooklyn, so for the nature-loving set, it’s worth it to take a train upstate-ish for a hiking excursion. The Appalachian Trail, which runs nearly all along the East Coast, passes near New York towns like Peekskill, Fishkill and Arden, and are accessible via Metro North’s Harlem Line. Head to Grand Central and take a train to the Appalachian Trail stop, available on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Bring water, trail mix and some damn good walking shoes, and be prepared for a trek; hikes range from 1.6 to 5.6 miles long, and can be easy, moderate and strenuous depending on the route.

If you’re a museum buff, Brooklyn’s got a couple of cultural offerings beyond the Brooklyn Museum, which we know you visited last summer to see the Keith Haring exhibit. Which was amazing, by the way. But beyond Target First Saturdays and The Dinner Party,  history buffs and public transit enthusiasts should head to the New York Transit Museum in Downtown Brooklyn. The MTA-sponsored spot is a stellar homage to the city’s buses, trolleys, subways and the like, with permanent exhibitions including a look at the subway system’s construction, an interactive turnstile exhibition (DO YOU GUYS REMEMBER TOKENS??) and a very cool intersection simulation, where you can ride in a faux-taxi cab and hitch a ride on a trolley. The trolley is technically for children, but we’re all kids inside when it comes to cool cars and trains, right? Admission to the museum is $7, and they’re closed on Mondays.

OK, yeah, it's pretty great. via Facebook
OK, yeah, it’s pretty great. via Facebook

And then, there’s the real touristy stuff. Did you know it costs $20 to get up to the Statue of Liberty‘s crown? Not to mention the fact that you have to go to Battery Park City to get on the ferry to the statue in the first place, which is horrible in of itself. But if you’re playing tourist here, if only briefly, you must go, because the Statue of Liberty is a place only tourists dare venture, and when else will you join their teeming, fanny-packed ranks? And how else will you know to complain about how much smaller Lady Liberty is in person, and how dare France shortchange us our most famous landmark? The Statue underwent renovations for a  year, with new steps, air-conditioning and wheelchair-accessible amenities added in, and then got shuttered by Superstorm Sandy, so bless its reopening with a visit, why don’t you, and stop pretending it’s not the coolest.

Last but not least, what’s a vacation without a day at the beach? Yes, you could sit on a bus for two hours and head out to Rockaway, OR, for something completely different (and in Brooklyn!) you could check out our very own Brighton Beach. Aside from offering up sand and sea, Brighton’s got a thriving Russian community, complete with ethnic bakeries, fancy vodka-serving restaurants and swanky Eastern European-esque clubs. Then again, now that Moscow’s taken an interest in Brooklyn, who knows if the neighborhood’s picked up some of Williamsburg and Park Slope’s own “artisanal” quirks.


It's always a good time for sausage. via Char No. 4
It’s always a good time for sausage. via Char No. 4

One of the best parts of a vacation is that you can eat out without feeling guilty about that packet of ramen you have sitting in your apartment back home. Also, calories totally don’t count during the non-work week! If you’re hanging around Downtown, dine in style at swanky Smith Street bistro Char No. 4 (196 Smith Street). Highlights include appetizers like the cured lamb pastrami with coriander aioli, pickled onions and grilled rye-caraway bread ($12) or the crab cakes made with meyer lemon and grilled onion-marjoram sauce ($10); for entrees,try the wild boar sausage with braised cabbage, sauerkraut and pickled pears ($23) or splurge on the braised lamb shank with cranberry bean ragu and pistachios ($30). After dinner, swing by the historic Clover Club (210 Smith Street) for a fancy cocktail, like their signature gin-and-egg-white Clover Club drink ($12) or a bourbon-ey pineapple julep ($12).

If you’re up north, you can’t go wrong with any of our old weekday bunch options, like the $9 pancakes at Williamsburg’s Egg (135 N. 5th Street) or Cafe Ghia‘s (24 Irving Avenue) $10 baked eggs. You might want to consider hanging around and drinking after you’ve eaten, because your cocktail stop has to be the Narrows (1037 Flushing Avenue), where, since you’re on vacation, you can skip he shot-and-beer deals and instead go right for a cocktail like the Que Bonita (jalapeño, tequila, cucumber and lime, $9) or Caulfield’s Dream (rye, demerara syrup, lemon, spearmint, cava float, $8).

You could also drink your way through the best bloody marys in north or south Brooklyn, because hey, you’re on vacation! Man, it’s gonna suck going back to work, huh?

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