Known for leafy streets and classic brownstones, Park Slope is Brooklyn's answer to Manhattan's Upper West Side. This former working-class area is today filled with gay and straight couples with toddlers and designer dogs, plus great eateries and boutiques. To the east is Brooklyn's most important green space, the 585-acre Prospect Park. West is the Gowanus area, with new condominiums, shops and nightlife opening on and around formerly derelict Fourth Ave.
South lies the historically significant Green-Wood Cemetery and its immediate neighborhood, Greenwood Heights, and beyond, the demographically diverse neighborhood Sunset Park.
Park Slope is all about relaxed, residential life, including brunching, window-shopping and park-strolling. If you start from Grand Army Plaza you can meander through the northern half of the neighborhood, admiring the historic brownstones (and engaging in the time-honored NYC pastime of serious real-estate envy) – park-side Montgomery Place, filled with beaux-arts row houses from the 1880s, is particularly striking. You could spend hours in Prospect Park (which is often more fun on summer weekends, when it's filled with locals and myriad events are on) just exploring or even going skating or boating in season; otherwise stroll over to Fifth Ave, the younger, more happening main drag in the Slope (as compared to the more sedate Seventh Ave), and wend your way south to check out fun and interesting shops, stopping for a leisurely lunch on your way. (The area will be buzzier and potentially more interesting on a weekend, but keep in mind you'll be competing with locals for brunch tables.)
About a mile further south down Fifth Ave (via a quick subway ride or an easy-paced walk) is Green-Wood Cemetery, one of Brooklyn's star sights and definitely worth a visit. Depending on how peripatetic you're feeling, from there you could keep going to check out Sunset Park and Industry City, or just hang around the pleasant little nabe of Greenwood Heights for some dinner and drinks. Head back up to southern Park Slope (also called 'South Slope') to hear some live music or over to Gowanus to survey some of the hip bars and nightlife around the canal.
- Prospect Park Wandering through the nearly 600 acres of woodlands, meadows, lakes and more in the park that Central Park designers Vaux and Olmsted considered their crowning achievement.
- Green-Wood Cemetery Marveling at the many faces of one of New York's most beautiful spots: sculpture park, bird-watcher's paradise, historic battle site, final resting place for over half a million people and home to the finest collection of mature trees in the city.
- Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival Lounging on the grass with an impromptu picnic and snapping your fingers to the music of Béla Fleck, Youssou N'Dour and other international musicians at this annual outdoor festival.
- Ample Hills Creamery Lapping at a giant scoop of the some of the best ice cream you've ever tasted while standing at the factory window and watching the next batch being made up fresh.
- Barbès Feeling the rhythm all night from the non-stop music at this eclectic, jazzy little club.
If you're traveling with children, family-oriented Park Slope is a great place to explore, with numerous things geared toward kids: the Prospect Park Zoo, weekend puppet shows at Puppetworks, ice-cream-making classes at Ample Hills Creamery, beginner rock-climbing at Brooklyn Boulders and kid-oriented events at historic sites such as the Old Stone House and Lefferts Historic House.