A Local's Guide to Hipster Brooklyn

By Go City Expert

What exactly does a local's guide to Brooklyn look like in 2019? For the better part of the last century, Manhattan was the place to be. The creative center of the world, the borough was culturally (and perhaps emotionally) landlocked. Manhattan residents used to balk at the idea of venturing beyond the island's 10-mile radius. Brooklyn used to have all the cool-factor of New Jersey. To put the local sentiment into perspective, the term "Bridge and tunnel crowd" was a label given to outer borough folks who tried to infiltrate Manhattan's exclusive club.

Today things are different. The perfect storm of economics, housing politics, and gentrification have shifted the cultural paradigm. Manhattan is out, Brooklyn is in.

While it may surprise you to discover that America's creative class now resides across the East River, Brooklyn is the new home of what's hip. In fact, sometimes Brooklynites' adherence to trends has earned them "hipster" labels. Encompassing nearly 100 square miles with 2.5 million residents, it can be difficult to know where to start and everyone will have their own opinions of the best places to visit in Brooklyn.

Luckily for you - we are part time investigative journalists. We bleached our hair and shaved ourselves mustaches to dive deep undercover within the Hipster ranks. After our extensive reporting, we've compiled a list of local musts, offering you insight to Brooklyn's up and coming culture.

Flowers for All Occasions (Bedstuy)

Coffee is the Brooklynite/Hipster life fuel. They need it to survive, and it doesn't get more trendy than Flowers for All Occasions. The coffee shop sits on the border of Bushwick and Bedford-Stuyvesant (famously the birthplace of American rapper Notorious B.I.G.). It also doubles as a bar. They offer an eclectic, vegetarian menu of snacks, and once the sun goes down, the space converts into a bar where they serve soju cocktails. Filled with lush greenery, makeshift furniture, and usually with a DJ spinning some techno tunes - it is a quintessential Hipster spot.

For other lesser-known gourmet coffee houses, click here.

Rough Trade (Williamsburg)

Nothing makes a Hipster salivate like the mention of something "vintage." So it figures that vinyl records have enjoyed a huge resurgence in Brooklyn. Rough Trade is the largest shop of its kind in the borough. Funk, alternative, reggae pop, soul, rock, salsa - you name it, they have it.

Since Rough Trade opened in 2013, it has become somewhat of a local landmark, hosting record signings by some of the world's top artists. Additionally, they have a small stage in the back where local bands can often be found rocking out. Located on the Williamsburg waterfront, after you buy a record or two, walk a few blocks down to catch a stunning view of the Manhattan skyline.

The Living Gallery (Bushwick)

The Living Gallery is a DIY artists space that typifies the scene. Hosting an endless rotation of exhibitions, performances, anything really - the venue is a culmination of all that's good about Hipster culture. A personal favorite is their Drunk Drawing Wednesdays, a BYOB event in which you supply the booze, and they'll supply the art tools. A more cultural alternative to your Hump Day!

They've been around for years, but they haven't lost their edge. The space is well known in the neighborhood because of its ever-changing mural. Every three months they enlist a local artist to redesign the gallery's exterior. Their events are almost always free, and the crowd is always dressed well and friendly. A must for anyone trying to understand what Brooklyn is all about.

The Cardi Lisa (Williamsburg)

Somewhat of an internet sensation (probably because it earned its famous subject's approval via Instagram), the Cardi Lisa is a local must. The walls of Brooklyn are covered in street art, but few are as memorable as the Cardi Lisa. Funny, relevant, and just pretty darn cool, the wall size mural is a modern revision of Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" but with New York rapper Cardi B's face superimposed on the classic figure. It stands a several-foot high testament to the neighborhood's boundless creativity.

Photo courtesy of mural artist Lexi Bella.

Wonderville (Buskwick)

Hipsters, like all 20-somethings, love to drink. But a simple, straightforward bar is too obvious for them. Enter Wonderville - a bar arcade featuring one-of-kind games designed by Brooklyn locals. Inhabiting the building that used to be legendary punk rock venue Secret Project Robot (a pivotal player in the late aughts American rock resurgence that gave us the Strokes and the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs), the bar-cade just opened and is peak Hipster vibes. They have a deadly house margarita and a spacious backyard patio. So grab a drink and pick a game, you're in for a good time!

Image courtesy of Carl Raw.

Book Row (Bushwick)

Located within the Broadway Flea - a series of metal sheds which house different stores under the J train railway; a Mad Max take on a flea market - Book Row is a helplessly trendy bookstore. Despite most copies that are sold being used, the collection is surprisingly expansive, covering all kinds of genres ranging from nonfiction to current best sellers. Barnes & Nobles is too obvious for Hipster locals, Book Row is classic Bushwick.

Image courtesy of author.

Prospect Park (South Brooklyn)

If being a Hipster is predicated on the idea of being counterculture, then they will always lean towards New York City's "other park." Prospect dominates roughly 525 acres of South Brooklyn, bordering several of the borough prime neighborhood. A less obvious choice than Manhattan's Central Park, Prospect is where Brooklynites go to unwind. During the summer, their bandshell hosts the popular "Celebrate Brooklyn" concert series which is free to the community.

If the greenery isn't enough for you, it's conveniently located besides the Botanical Garden and Brooklyn Museum.

For more things to do in and around New York, check out the other posts in our blog.

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New York skyline with the Statue of Liberty in the foreground
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Most Popular Tourist Attractions in New York - Top 10

No one could ever accuse The Big Apple of lacking bite when it comes to world-beating tourist attractions. From Brooklyn Bridge to the bright lights of Broadway, Central Park to the Statue of Liberty, MoMa to The Met, and the Empire State Building to Edge, there’s something for everyone here, and then some! Dive in for our guide to 10 of New York’s most popular tourist attractions… Central Park NYC icons don’t come much bigger than Central Park. Explore 843 acres of manicured gardens, rocky ravines and pleasant glens but, fear not, if that sounds like a lot of hard work there are over 9,000 benches on which to rest weary legs. And, you know, you can also just leave your adventurer hat at home and potter around a few key Central Park attractions instead. We’re talking the peaceful, elm-shaded Strawberry Fields memorial to John Lennon, the romantic Bethesda Fountain, the meandering path that snakes around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Belvedere Castle, a fairytale folly that doubles as a weather station. Hire a bicycle to see the sights at a leisurely pace or – why the heck not – strap on your roller skates and cruise the broad leafy avenues in style. The Statue of Liberty Believe it or not, the Statue of Liberty isn’t even one of NYC’s most-visited attractions, despite being indisputably its most iconic. That’s because the majority tend to view it from Manhattan observation platforms (more on these later), or perhaps from the Staten Island Ferry, rather than disembarking at Liberty Island itself for the real deal. But in fact nothing beats getting right up close with a roundtrip to Ellis Island, where you can visit the Immigration Museum and even set foot inside sections of the Green Goddess herself. Those with a head for heights will likely thrill to the idea of getting right to the heart (or indeed crown) of the definitive emblem of American freedom, with a 354-step climb up the internal staircase and into the famous headgear. A positively regal experience. MoMA If you’re only going to visit one art museum in New York, make it MoMA, the most popular and arguably the best. Here, over 200,000 pieces of 20th and 21st Century art occupies some 700,000 square feet of prime Midtown Manhattan real estate. Dive in for some of the most famous modern masterpieces on the planet, including Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory, Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans, to namecheck just a few. In a word: wow. Natural Highs New York has more sky-high observation decks than you can shake a very large stick at, many of which feature regularly in lists of the most popular tourist attractions in town. It’s not hard to see why. Just zip to the top of the One World Trade Center, Empire State Building or Rockefeller Center and let those far-reaching views across the iconic Manhattan skyline do the talking. You can even (gulp) take an al fresco stroll across the top of the 30 Hudson Yards building at relative newbie Edge, an experience for which only those with nerves of absolute steel need apply. Check out our comparisons between some of the biggest hitters here and here. American Museum of Natural History Who doesn’t love a natural history museum, am I right? And this one’s a doozy. Set inside a purpose-built 19th-century Romanesque Revival building on the edge of Central Park, its labyrinthine interiors showcase millions of ancient relics that chart the entire story of life on Earth. Highlights of this mind-bogglingly vast collection include a 122-foot-long titanosaur skeleton, a 34-ton section of the 200-ton Cape York meteorite, an Easter Island head statue, and an epic butterfly vivarium with around 1,000 of the free-flying critters.  Times Square It’s a fact universally acknowledged that no one leaves Manhattan without first bagging a selfie amid the dazzling lights and iconic yellow cabs of Times Square. Heck, you can even have your beautiful face beamed onto the huge digital billboard – your 15 seconds of fame for a mere $40. Bargain. Grand Central Terminal It takes a special kind of train station to make it into any city’s top 10 most popular attractions, let alone somewhere like NYC, but then the Grand Central Terminal is no ordinary station. Insta addicts flock to this Beaux-Arts beauty for its epic architecture and features that include a massive astrological ceiling mural (2,500 stars, fact fans), glittering chandeliers, the famous four-faced information-booth clock, and a fun whispering gallery. So good, in fact, that you’ll probably miss the train you rushed here to catch. 9/11 Memorial and Museum Built on the former site of the World Trade Center, this stunning memorial and museum tells the human stories behind the tragic events of September 11, 2001, combining moving personal testimonies and memorabilia with multimedia presentations to provide a real insight into the day's events. The courageous stories told by survivors and first responders are frankly awe-inspiring, and twin reflecting pools – each almost an acre in size – provide serene spots for quiet remembrance. Coney Island Unleash your inner child in the birthplace of the theme park. There have been rides at Coney Island since the late 19th Century and the oldest ride still operating here – the 150-foot-tall Wonder Wheel in Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park – has been thrilling kids young and old for well over 100 years now. For more modern kicks, hit up the revived and revamped Luna Park, where 21st-century coasters with names like Cyclone, The Tickler and Thunderbolt are every bit as nerve-jangling as they sound.  Broadway Yes, Broadway shows can be a little pricey, but there’s really no better place on the planet to take in a spot of high-end drama or musical theater. Here’s where the likes of Meryl Streep, James Earl Jones, Julie Andrews and Idina Menzel cut their teeth. And where you, dear reader, can see the stars of today (and tomorrow) singing their lungs out at huuuge shows like Chicago, Hamilton, Wicked and The Lion King. Indeed, an evening of musical theater on Broadway might just be the quintessential Manhattan night out. Save on New York’s most popular tourist attractions Save on admission to New York attractions with the New York Pass. Check out @NewYorkPass on Instagram for the latest top tips and attraction info.
Stuart Bak
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Five New York Museums You Mustn't Miss

New York has no shortage of museums, so how do you even know where to start? Below, we’ve done some of the work for you—we’ve picked the five New York museums you must not miss. (You still need to do the walking around yourself –but hey, that’s the fun part.) The Metropolitan Museum of Art Why visit the Met? The Met (not to be confused with the opera) is one of the world’s great museums for a reason—it has two million works of art and 17 curatorial departments; the works range from ancient times all the way up the present day. The building will wow you from the moment you see it from the Fifth Avenue—with its Beaux-Arts façade and sweeping Great Hall, you could easily spend quite a while just gaping at the entrance. But there’s so much more to see! How do you choose where to start? Start off with the not-to-be-missed galleries—take a right when you enter, and wander through the Egyptian Galleries, making sure to see the centerpiece--the Temple of Dendur, which was given as a gift to the United States. (The galleries are arranged chronologically, which makes it easier.) Check out some of the small, out-of-the-way study galleries too. When you leave those galleries, you’ll be right near the Arms and Armor Court. Start off in the center gallery, in which the cavalry armor is displayed, and don’t mis the non-western armor, like that worn by Samurai warriors. When you leave, be sure to visit the American Wing Courtyard with its glass widows facing Central Park. And highlights? Everyone wants to see the Impressionist works of art, so swing by the second floor--while you’re up here, check out the recently renovated musical instruments galleries. You won’t be able to see everything in one visit (or 20) so leave some time to simply wander. Maybe the vast Asian art galleries? The masks in the African galleries? Don’t forget the Treasury full of gold pieces in the Ancient Americas galleries, or the beautiful period rooms. If you need some peace and quiet, the Astor court with its calming koi pond is the place to go. [caption id="attachment_3001" align="alignnone" width="800"] Put The Metropolitan Museum on your list of the five New York museums you must not miss[/caption] Museum of Modern Art Wasn’t MoMa recently renovated? How do I explore it? Yes. With its expanded gallery spaces, completely reinstalled collections, and new spaces for live and experimental programs, it’s pretty much like a completely new museum. Drop into their new Creativity Lab to ask questions, participate in conversations, and even make some art. Check out the new store and dining options (an art lover’s gotta eat). And that’s a good question that doesn’t have a right answer. You probably won’t want to miss the section that showcases works of art from the 1880s-1940s (yes, Starry Night is there) and the one that will undoubtably prove to be among the most popular--the space that showcases works from the 1970s-1970s. Some permanent installations will be switched every six months (so they’re not really permanent.) Different kinds of art are now displayed in the same gallery, as are works of art from different periods of time; there’s more of sense of connection among different works. You’ll want to visit several times--and that’s kind of the point. [caption id="attachment_2978" align="alignnone" width="2000"] Installation view of Architecture Systems (gallery 417), The Museum of Modern Art, New York. © 2019 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Robert Gerhardt[/caption] The New Museum So, it must be asked. What’s new about the New Museum? The New Museum was founded in 1977, so it’s new-ish. When it was first founded, it was the first museum dedicated to contemporary art in New York since World War 2. The museum encompasses art forms ranging from sculpture to photography, from artists around the world. It’s the place to go to see cutting-edge works; it’s focused on new art and new ideas, and is also focused on under-represented and emerging artists. Think of as the anti-art-museum art museum. It’s also got a cool building that’s worth checking out in and of itself---it looks like a stack of rectilinear boxes that are somewhat off-center. Interestingly, it's a non-collecting museum, which keeps its focus on the new. It’s also the place to check out what’s happening globally and in the art world in general; make sure you have a lot of battery power, because no matter what’s happening there, it’s great for photos. The Frick Hasn’t the Frick been around like, forever? If by “forever,” you mean, “since the early 1930s,” then yes, it has. The museum is kind of like one of those grand dames you see having a pot of tea and some crumpets at an elegant but faded tearoom—a little incongruous, but somehow reassuring and necessary. Housed in an elegant mansion on Fifth Avenue, the building is home to the collection of Henry Clay Frick. It includes works by eminent European artists including Fragonard and Vermeer, as well as gorgous porcelain and furniture. Just strolling through the galleries is like stepping into another era, and because it’s small, you can cover pretty much everything in one visit. It’s also incredibly calming just to walk around. Fun Fact: The Frick is the model for the Avengers Mansion in the Marvel Comics. [caption id="attachment_3003" align="alignnone" width="6000"] The Frick, on Fifth Avenue, is one of our picks for the five New York museums you must not miss[/caption] The Brooklyn Museum [caption id="attachment_3008" align="alignnone" width="800"] Across the Brooklyn Bridge you’ll find the world-class Brooklyn Museum[/caption] Is it worth going to Brooklyn to visit the museum? Yes, absolutely. Did you know that the Brooklyn Museum has 1.5 million works of art? Or that it has one of the finest collections of Egyptian art in the world? Even if you didn’t (well, now you do) it’s worth a visit—or several. They also have a fine American art collection (Rothko, Hopper, Rockwell, and Homer, to name a few of the artists), as well as a Memorial Sculpture Garden, featuring salvaged architectural pieces from around the city. They’re also known for great special exhibits and public programs. Looking to up your cool factor after you've explored some museums? Check out the way hipsters inhabit Brooklyn
Go City Expert
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The NYC Subway: Tips for Beginners

The New York City subway system is the largest of its kind in the entire world. With 472 operational stations, the underground trains provided nearly two billion rides in 2017 alone. So suffice it to say: the subways can get pretty complicated. Cabs are expensive and usually slower due to traffic, so whether you're a local or just visiting, you'll likely have to traipse down the concrete subway stairs at some point. But before you descend into the bowels of America's largest city, here are some tips for beginners. Finding your station. There are a total of 36 different subway lines shuttling passengers across Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. As the name suggests, most subways operate below ground. However, there are a few lines which travel above. Nonetheless, odds are you will be going underground. The key is to look at the signs above each station, indicating which subway lines it services and the direction each train is headed. Note: subway lines are either numbers or letters. Usually, there are two entrances on either side of the same street. Each entrance puts you on a different track. It's important to know which direction you want to go and to enter that entrance accordingly, because not every station allows passengers to which sides of the tracks without incurring additional fees. If you do board a train headed in the opposite direction , don't freak out. Get off at the next stop, walk up to street level, cross the street, and switch routes. It happens to the best of us. How much does it cost? As of Fall 2019, one ride costs $2.75 USD. Every time you enter a subway station you have to swipe your ticket (MetroCard) to access the train tracks. You can purchase a ticket at the automated vendors or by talking with the teller at a booth. MetroCards hold either a finite amount of credit or you can buy an unlimited week/month pass. Every rider needs their own individual MetroCard. (Babies do not require a separate MetroCard.) If this is your first time visiting NYC, I suggest getting a 7-day unlimited MetroCard. It only costs $32 USD and allows you room to make directional errors without incurring additional costs. Plus you will find yourself using the subway several times a day, and at $2.75 per ride, that will add up to the cost of an unlimited MetroCard quickly. Cut your losses! Note: Unlimited MetroCards can only be swiped every 15 minutes. Don't think you can buy one and use it for your entire family. Good idea, but the Metropolitan Transit Authority already thought of that. Sorry! How do I know when to get off? Newer subways will have light-up graphics indicate which stop along the route you're on. However, older trains will not. Don't worry, the conductor will always announce which stop you're arriving at and which stop is next. If you don't understand them or miss the announcement, you can look out the window and see signs for which station the train has just pulled into. There will be several. Additionally, there are maps of the entire subway system in each train car. Does the subway stop running? The NYC subways and busses operate 24 hours. However, early in the AM, they do run less frequently. Is it safe? Yes. The New York City subway system is relatively safe. A good thing about "the city that never sleeps" is that, at almost any given time, there will be other passengers riding with you. Note: homeless men and women often sleep on the subways late at night. They usually shouldn't bother you, but if you see a train car that has just one person in it -- it's best to get onto another car. Are there bathrooms? There are no bathrooms on subway trains or in the station. Be sure you've gone before you embark on your journey. Are pets allowed? According to the MTA website, small pets are allowed, but must be in a bag or carrier. However, Service dogs are allowed to ride with passengers. How timely are the trains? Different subway lines run at different rates of frequency. Delays and reroutes are common, unfortunately. Add an extra twenty minutes to your travel time to account for any public transit mishaps. Additional rider tips: When you are about to enter a subway car, like an elevator, let the people who are already on the train get off before you enter. On station staircases, bear right. It's not uncommon to see subway performers, both on the platform and train itself. If you hear someone shout, "Showtime, showtime!" It's an indicator they're about to perform, and you should step to the side of the subway car. The trains move very fast, and while you think you don't have to hold onto a poll -- do it. Nothing is more frustrating to New Yorkers than a tourist who falls on top of them. Subway seating is limited, therefore be sure you're not spreading your legs and taking up more room than necessary. Don't place your bag beside you on a seat, put it between your legs on the floor. The local rule of thumb is, if you see an elderly person or pregnant woman, you offer them your seat. The trains get very crowded during rush hour. Backpacks take up a lot of standing room, so be sure to take them off and hold them between your legs. New Yorkers can be very brusk, if someone is rude to you or shouts, it's best to let it go. No need to ruin you and your fellow passengers' commute by getting into a fight. Wondering where you should take the subway to? Check out some must-see NYC sites here.
Go City Expert

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