The days of Brooklyn being known as Manhattan's little sibling have been coming to an end for some time now. Being from Oakland, there is definitely a sense of solidarity or similarity, if you will, between our hometown and King's County; which could easily be what drew us across the bridge and into the strong arms of NYC's most populous borough. Walking through the brownstone-lined streets of Brooklyn, however, there is no such 'little sibling' complex in the air. Rather, a sense of pride, resilience and joie de vivre were all quite potent in and around Brooklyn's dynamic neighborhoods. Keeping in mind that we are not locals but tourists looking for a good time on a rainy weekday, I hope you find this guide to a day in Brooklyn to be helpful and fun!
Our Airbnb was located in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood which is home to amazing music, bars and delicious food. This neighborhood is known to many for being the hometown of both Notorious B.I.G. and Jay Z. One of the most famous sights in the Bed Stuy is the "King of NY" Biggie Mural which was one of our first stops of the day.
Conveniently located right across the street is a small and delicious taco spot called Oaxaca Taqueria. It has a colorful, low-key vibe with a wide selection of meat options. Us Californians had to see what the taco situation was like out East.
Taking a short subway ride from Bed Stuy into the Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn, we took a rainy stroll through Brooklyn Bridge Park to take in the views of both the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridge going into Manhattan. Even on a rainy day, its beautiful sights give you a real sense of New York City's absolute splendor.
Not far from the Bridges is a one-of-a-kind bar that almost feels hidden within a movie theater within a mall. The House of Wax is a must-see for anyone into the funky, weird or macabre. Only in Brooklyn's House of Wax can you enjoy a sparkling handcrafted cocktail while being surrounded by wax figures from the 1800's. Nearly all of the wax figures inside House of Wax are original pieces from Castan's Panopticum, a 1869 show displaying human and animal anatomy in wax. Though not for the faint of heart, I highly recommend you at least take a peek when you are in Downtown Brooklyn.
During our trip to New York City, seeing live jazz was at the top of my to-do list. New York Jazz is its own living, breathing personality and I was especially excited to check out jazz in Brooklyn. One jazz bar we spent some time in was LunÀtico in the Bed Stuy neighborhood. I highly recommend going to jazz bars like LunÀtico more than once if possible during your trip because the lineups feature a wide variety of jazz musicians. From Latin jazz, vocals, big band and french acoustic, every night holds a different mood.
While this is by no means a complete, all-inclusive guide to Brooklyn, I hope you are able to find a few of these cool places to enjoy for yourself. Brooklyn is a big city in and of itself, regardless of its proximity to Manhattan. We could have stayed for weeks on this side of the East River and still not have seen all there was to see. I hope that when you come to Brooklyn, you find what you are looking for along with love and deep respect for this vibrant city. Happy travels!