Local Life: Williamsburg

Once a bastion of Latino working-class life, Williamsburg is the dining and nightlife center of northern Brooklyn. This erstwhile bohemian magnet has seen the starving artists move to Bushwick for cheaper rents, leaving gleaming condos and refurbished brownstones to professionals and hip young families. There’s lots to explore, from vintage-cocktail dens to shops selling one-of-a-kind creations from local craftspeople.

Seeing Green

Offering fabulous, waterside Manhattan views, the East River State Park is an open green space that becomes a major draw in the summertime with picnicking and occasional concerts.

Homegrown Hops

Once upon a time Williamsburg was the center of beer-brewing in New York. Continuing the tradition, the Brooklyn Brewery not only brews and serves tasty local suds, it also offers tours.

Hipster Threads

If you want to expand your wardrobe to include some local flavor, stop in at Buffalo Exchange, a much-loved resale shop, where you'll find lightly used, on-trend fashions for men and women.

Bodega Ephemera

For a glimpse of curious old objects from the city's days of yore, visit City Reliquary, a snug storefront museum packed with NYC relics, including exhibits on the 1939 World's Fair.

Latin American Detour

A fun little shop for browsing, Fuego 718 transports you south of the border with Day of the Dead boxes, colorful frames and mirrors, and kitsch and crafts from Mexico, Peru and beyond.

More Brooklyn Booze

Crank that time machine back one more notch at retro Maison Premiere, which features bespoke cocktails, oysters and other treats with a smart Southern vibe.

Maker Multiverse

If it's a weekend, browse the aisles of Artists & Fleas, a shopping warren of several dozen booths featuring locally crafted jewelry, accessories, artworks, cosmetics, housewares and vintage records and clothes.

Vinyl Valhalla

Williamsburg is home to the lone American outpost of legendary UK record store Rough Trade, a warehouse-sized dream for music lovers and LP collectors that also hosts frequent in-store concerts of upcoming talents, with tickets usually not more than $15. You can finish up your neighborhood stroll with a fresh latte from the in-store cafe.

Key Features

  • Specialty cocktails
  • Local arts & crafts

Getting There

Williamsburg is in northern Brooklyn, just one stop from Manhattan and about 5 miles from Times Sq.

Subway L to Bedford Ave.

Sights

Williamsburg only has a couple of diminutive museums – the City Reliquary and the Brooklyn Art Library – but they're uniquely 'Brooklyn,' and quite unlike anything you'll find across the river. Beer lovers can take a tour at Brooklyn Brewery, a Williamsburg institution, while street-art fans can check out the latest rotation of murals at the Bushwick Collective. Beyond those and a couple of parks, the main draws are the neighborhoods themselves – great places to combine window-shopping, people-watching and bar-hopping.

Sleeping

Williamsburg has a cluster of upscale-hip hotels built into former warehouses near the river, in the streets between East River State and McCarren Parks; you'll find a couple more on the outer fringes of Greenpoint. Otherwise, your best bet for accommodations in these areas and Bushwick can be found through the usual home-sharing services.

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Sleeping

Eating

Williamsburg has long been an evening destination for New Yorkers – for live music, top bars and restaurants of every stripe and cuisine – so you'll find yourself spoiled for choice here. Restaurants can be found across the entire area, clustered along the main commercial avenues: Bedford, Metropolitan and Grand Aves. In Greenpoint you'll find the majority of eateries along Manhattan, Nassau and Greenpoint Aves. The Morgan Ave L stop, on the border of East Williamsburg and Bushwick, also has a few places that are worth a trek.

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Eating

Drinking & Nightlife

Williamsburg is chock-full of great drinking and nightlife options, many found along the same Williamsburg and Greenpoint main strips as the eating options, with addition of many places (often in converted warehouses) along Wythe and Berry Sts. Bushwick has options around the Morgan and Jefferson L stops, plus more along Myrtle Ave to the south. But don't discount the side streets – you never know what hidden little gem you might stumble across in these areas.

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Drinking & Nightlife

Shopping

Williamsburg and Greenpoint are great places to browse through racks of new and used on-trend clothing, stacks of vinyl records, indie books and graphic novels, and design-forward jewelry and housewares. If the timing's right, don't miss a visit to Artists & Fleas, a huge indoor arts and vintage market open on weekends.

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Shopping

Entertainment

Live music is a staple of a night out in Williamsburg, whether it's a jazz combo's mellow notes from the corner of a low-lit cocktail bar, a buoyant brass band playing Dixieland in a beer hall, or a concert venue packed out for a touring alt-rock band.

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Entertainment