Just south of Brooklyn Heights and Downtown Brooklyn, this cluster of family-oriented, tree-lined, brownstone-filled neighborhoods – Boerum Hill (east of Court St), Cobble Hill (west of Court St) and Carroll Gardens (south of Degraw St) – is short on attractions but full of great places to eat and shop. Further south is the isolated peninsula of Red Hook, once one of the world's busiest ports and now home to huge retail shops and industrial-chic eateries.
If you want to spend the day here window-shopping and cafe-hopping, first check out the stretch of Atlantic Ave from around Bond St west to Court St. You can then amble south down Court, taking a left and heading one block over to Smith St to walk back north when you feel like it. Or you could take Court almost all the way down to the Brooklyn–Queens Expwy, stopping for a bite or to browse as you like, and then zig-zag northwest through the serene red-brick streets of deep Carroll Gardens (at night they'll be almost eerily empty, with local families snug in their homes). When you get to Union St, turn left to walk west over the expressway, down to the Columbia St Waterfront District, where you can finish your evening with Pok Pok's authentically spicy Thai food and some live bluegrass or folk music at Jalopy. If you're feeling really intrepid, keep walking from Carroll Gardens down into Red Hook, where there's free kayaking on Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons. Grab some fresh lobster and a cold beer; if you're staying in Manhattan, you can take a ferry back.
- Red Hook Boaters Paddling through the glittering waters off Red Hook with a waterside view of the Statue of Liberty.
- Buttermilk Channel Savoring an artisanal Bloody Mary (garnished with antipasti or a fresh oyster) over a weekend brunch at this delightful local restaurant.
- Jalopy Snapping your fingers and thumping your feet to the upbeat and down-home sounds of live bluegrass music.
- Brooklyn Crab Gazing out at the waterfront on a sunny day with some fresh crab and a pitcher of beer from the top level of this Red Hook seafood joint.
- Black Gold Records Thumbing through boxes of vinyl and enjoying a cup of fresh-brewed coffee at this cozy, eclectic record shop.
There are Citibike stations all through these neighborhoods, and the side streets are quiet enough (especially at night) for easy rides. Cycling is also a fun way to get down to Red Hook.