12 Hours in Red Hook
A Charming Secluded Sea Village in the Heart of Brooklyn
Once maligned as a crime-ridden, drug-infused area, Red Hook — like most neighborhoods in Brooklyn — is experiencing a revival.
The cobblestone streets scattered with dive bars, art galleries and restaurants maintain the area’s industrial vibes, but with the faint salty breeze whisking off the harbor, visitors might momentarily forget they are in a city.
Hidden from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, Red Hook is reminiscent of a distant New England town. But rather than enduring the bumper-to-bumper traffic of I-95, New Yorkers can access this coastal getaway in a mere 10-minute drive from Downtown Brooklyn.
Some may not be fully aware of Red Hook’s resurgence because of the absence of public transportation to the area, but that lack of accessibility, according to locals, is a blessing in disguise, because fewer tourists and real estate moguls will invade their land.
With the Brooklyn-Queens Connector streetcar not being installed until at least 2024, it’s a good idea to explore this charming secluded sea village in the heart of Brooklyn before word gets out.
1. Road Trip
No subway, no problem. New Yorkers can get to this up-and-coming waterfront neighborhood by one of three ways.
Bus: Take the free IKEA shuttle bus from the corner of Smith and Ninth streets, from the corner of Fourth Avenue and Ninth Street or from Brooklyn Borough Hall. Alternatively, take the B61 or B57 buses to the neighborhood.
Citi Bike: Citi Bike recently opened six stations across the area with an additional nine locations planned.
Ferry: Coming from Manhattan? Stick with the nautical theme and take the New York Water Taxi daily shuttle from Wall Street’s Pier 11 to the IKEA dock. There’s also a port behind Fairway Market on Van Brunt Street.
2. Red Hook Farmer’s Market
Park your Citi Bike at the Columbia Street and Lorraine Street docking station right outside the Red Hook Community Farm. On Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., visitors of the neighborhood can buy fresh, affordable and locally grown produce at the Red Hook Farmer’s Market. Indulge in some homemade salsa or stock up on baby bok choy, escarole or artisanal chocolate.
3. Red Hook Food Vendors
After working up an appetite exploring the Red Hook Farmer’s Market, walk three blocks to the award-winning Red Hook Food Vendors at 160 Bay St. on the corner of Bay and Clinton streets in front of Ball Field No. 1.
Enjoy a delicious selection of mouthwatering Latin American cuisine from several food trucks. The vendors are open Saturdays and Sundays, rain or shine, from 10 a.m. to sundown.
4. Waterfront Museum and Showboat Barge
Transport back in time to a different era at the Waterfront Museum and Showboat Barge. The vessel is an old floating barge-turned-museum that is a testament to the days when New York Harbor and Red Hook were shipping hubs.
This musty wooden ship holds classes to educate visitors on New York’s maritime history, puts on musical performances and curates art galleries. On display now is “On the Waterfront,” which features oil paintings and pastels by Peter Eagleton.
The museum is located at 290 Conover St. at Pier 44 and is open on Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m.
5. Gallery Hopping
A lesser-known fact about Red Hook is that the area is scattered with art galleries. Be sure to check each gallery’s hours, as they change with each exhibition.
Here are a few recommendations:
Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition: 499 Van Brunt St., 1 to 6 p.m.
Kentler International Drawing Space: 353 Van Brunt St., 12 to 5 p.m.
Pioneer Works: 159 Pioneer St., noon to 8 p.m.
Look North Inuit Art Gallery: 275 Conover St., suite 4E, see website for hours
6. Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies
Before wandering over to Louis J. Valentino Jr. Park and Pier for the sunset, make a pit stop at Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies on 185 Van Dyke St.
The shop is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
7. World-class Sunset
With key limes pies in tow, travel next door to Louis J. Valentino Jr. Park and Pier to watch the sun set behind the Statue of Liberty at the end of the wharf. Better yet, bring a blanket, a bottle of wine and enjoy the show from the lawn.
Fun fact: Red Hook is the only neighborhood in the city with a straight on view of Lady Liberty.
8. Crustacean Celebration
After watching the sunset, walk a few blocks inland to 24 Reed St. to grab a bite to eat. Indulge in some authentic Maryland-style crabs and raw oysters at Brooklyn Crab, a seafood shack with breathtaking views of New York Harbor. There may be a long wait for a table, so grab a beverage and play shuffleboard, mini golf and corn hole in the restaurant’s backyard.
Feeling a different crustacean? Red Hook Lobster Pound at 284 Van Brunt St. is only a 10-minute walk away.
9. Post Dinner Drinks
After dinner, head around the corner to Sunny’s, a quintessential Brooklyn bar hidden on a quiet cobblestone street. Pay tribute to the late owner, Sunny Balzano, by enjoying a cold beer (or three) in this haunt that’s been around since the 1890s.
Last call is 2 a.m.
10. Red Hook Grain Terminal Concert Series:
Recently, the Red Hook Grain Terminal’s massive industrial waterfront lot has played host to a plethora of different parties and concerts.
On Sept. 11, there will be a house music show and barbeque dubbed the Dirtybird BBQ with DJs Claude VonStroke, Justin Martin, J.Philip, Christian Martin and Walker & Royce performing.
On Saturday, Sept. 24, Chicago-born DJ and producer Kaskade will come to the neighborhood to showcase his darker, techier Redux tour.
11. Six Point Brewery:
Brooklyn-based Sixpoint brewery was founded in Red Hook, but it’s currently closed for renovations. Check the company’s website for when they reopen for brewery tours.
Shop at IKEA, Fairway Market or one of the many vintage stores that snuggly line Red Hook’s streets.
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