Yesterday, I did a great tour of one of my favorite Brooklyn neighborhoods... Red Hook.
Red Hook has a lot of history, but let’s sum it up briefly: Once a bustling home of shipping and industrial business, then cliche crime-filled pariah, now home to a wonderful re-birth.
There are no direct subway routes that go through Red Hook (though there are bus routes), but there are two easy enough ways to get there. My usual way: Take the F train to Carroll St and walk west across the BQE pedestrian bridge, then to Van Brunt St and down. Or, the one we’ll go with here… the scenic way: Take the Ikea water taxi from Manhattan ($5 on weekdays, free on weekends) from Pier 11 on the South St Seaport area. This water taxi ride will give you great views of the Brooklyn Bridge, Governors Island, Statue of Liberty, and all in between. After about 15 minutes, you will arrive at the Ikea docks.
From here, head up to Beard St and head left. The first place you’ll want to stop is right there, Erie Basin Park, which isn’t nearly as seedy as the linked writeup indicates (as far as I have seen). Past here, continue down Beard St, and make a left on Conover. Here you will find Sunny’s Bar, which has been around since 1890, and is back after Hurricane Sandy knocked it out of commission.
Right past there, at the waterfront, you’ll find Pier 44 Waterfront Garden, which Curbed describes as being “the center of this neighborhood’s eclectic mix of small businesses, arts organizations, and historic structures”. Definitely take some time strolling along this stretch. Continue up this boardwalk and back up toward Van Dyke St. At the corner of Van Dyke & Ferris, you will find Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies, which has been drawing people to the area since before the gentrification. Right past this, you’ll find another waterfront oasis, Louis Valentino, Jr. Park and Pier. The far end of this pier has the best views in all of Brooklyn of the Statue of Liberty.
After the park, head back toward Ferris St. The few side-streets that run between Ferris & Van Brunt (Coffey, Dikeman, Wolcott, Sullivan) have a lot of interesting homes and warehouse spaces on them, and I recommend taking some time to criss-cross these streets. You may even see a large ship at the nearby Cruise Terminal.
Along this waterfront area, you will also the growing craft business boom transforming Red Hook.... wineries, whiskey distilleries, chocolate factories, glassworks, woodworking, metal shops, and much more.
Around this area, on Van Brunt St., there’s also a lot of good restaurants in the area: Fort Defiance, The Good Fork, and Hometown Bar-B-Que. You will also see Brooklyn Crab, a popular beach-style club. As you make your way north up Van Brunt, you’ll come across lots of small shops, dive bars, and small eateries. The most prominent of these are the bakery Baked and the Red Hook Lobster Pound. Continue up Van Brunt for a look at the Red Hook Container Terminal.
From there, you could head east toward Carroll Gardens for the F or G trains, or back down to the waterfront for a water taxi back to Manhattan.