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Brooklyn See And Do

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Brooklyn Academy of Music
30 Lafayette Avenue
Fort Greene
Brooklyn , New York
11211
Tel: 718 636 4100
Subway: 4, 5, B, Q, 2, or 3 train to Atlantic Avenue
www.bam.org

BAM is one of the premier avant-garde venues in the country, showcasing music, theater, and modern dance. Curators take chances that couldn't be taken in Manhattan, and the results can be dazzling. Radiohead played live as accompanists to a Merce Cunningham debut, for example, and Flaubert's Temptation of St. Anthony found itself adapted to theater and set to a gospel score. The schedule ramps up during the fall for the annual Next Wave festival: Highlights will include the U.S. premiere of Frank Wedekind's Lulu and a Sufjan Stevens video commission (a nod to the next generation of patrons, no doubt). BAM's 1908 terra-cotta pile in Fort Greene houses an opera house, café, and cinema featuring current indie releases and themed retrospectives. A separate building named after Harvey Lichtenstein, the dancer who served as BAM's executive director for 32 years, hosts a smaller theater with big-name performances such as Ian McKellen in the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of King Lear.

Brooklyn Heights
Brooklyn , New York

This stage-set of a neighborhood remains the most expensive real estate in the borough. The Promenade was once the saddest place in New York, with its grandstand view of the burning twin towers—and it hosted many a candlelight vigil—but that same panorama of the (truncated) Lower Manhattan skyline remains a great sight. From there, amble the streets and ogle the Federal, Italianate, and Greek Revival brownstones, atmospheric backdrop for the many writers—Walt Whitman, Truman Capote, Paul Bowles, and W.H. Auden—who have called this quarter home. A stop off at the Brooklyn Historical Society will put the surroundings in context (128 Pierrepont St.; 718-222-4111; www.brooklynhistory.org; closed Mon. and Tues.). Be sure to pick up a pocket-sized map at the front desk listing architectural highlights. Henry and Montague Streets are lined with restaurants and shops, though there's a surprising dearth of decent food here, considering the moneyed surroundings. Jack the Horse Tavern, a gastropub on the Heights' northern edge, is probably your best bet (66 Hicks St.; 718-852-5084; www.jackthehorse.com). At the southern end lies Brooklyn Borough Hall, a Greek Revival structure known as Brooklyn's oldest public building. Visit its farmer's market every Tuesday and Saturday year-round (as well as Thursdays from April to December). The New York Transit Museum hidden in plain sight on Schermerhorn Street below a sign that looks like an actual subway stop, is well worth your time—it has interactive exhibits and vintage train cars from all eras (corner of Boerum Pl. and Schermerhorn St.; 718-694-1600; www.mta.info/mta/museum).

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Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway
Prospect Heights
Brooklyn , New York
11238
Tel: 718 638 5000
Subway: 2, 3 to Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum
www.brooklynmuseum.org

This Beaux Arts building houses the second-largest permanent collection in the city, with more than a million objects. Its gallery of American paintings (which includes works by John Singer Sargent and Georgia O'Keeffe) is considered to be one of the finest in the States, and it was the first museum to present American art as distinct from European. The ancient Egyptian exhibit is also world renowned. A $63 million glass entrance pavilion added in 2003 had the architectural community swooning, and its First Saturdays—when there's art, entertainment, as well as a cafe and a bar open until 11 pm—are as fun a night out in the borough as any. The solicitous zeal for community outreach isn't without grumbling in the arts world, however. Some complain that past exhibitions—Star Wars and hip-hop, for example—have been unabashedly populist. A well-received Basquiat retrospective and contemporary Caribbean Art exhibition, however, were both a compelling enough draw for Manhattanites and a tribute to the sea of Haitian and West Indian communities that surround them.

Open Wednesday through Sunday 10 am to 5 pm; 11 am to 11 pm on first Saturdays

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Dumbo
Brooklyn , New York

Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass was a wasteland not long ago. You could practically see tumbleweed bowling down Front Street. Now it's all lofts and home stores and converted factories, but it has a totally different feel from other gentrified Brooklyn 'hoods, since the real estate here is nearly all warehouses. The first section of Brooklyn Bridge Park opened in spring 2010 as a seven-acre expanse at Pier 1 with grass lawns for picnicking and long rows of benches with views of the lower Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty. The ambitious park will eventually occupy 85 acres along the waterfront. Braving the line at Grimaldi's Pizzeria is something of a Brooklyn tradition, and it's certainly worth a stab to sample one of the coal brick-oven fired pies—try the fresh mozzarella, tomato, and basil (19 Old Fulton St.; 718-858-4300). For a pick-me-up afterwards, swing by Jacques Torres on Water Street—its signature hot chocolate, a heady mix of cocoa powder, allspice, cinnamon, and sweet ancho chile peppers, packs a nice punch (66 Water St.; 718-875-9772). Keep walking east on Front and you reach a curious neighborhood called Vinegar Hill, a cluster of small Federal-era brick row houses. If you keep walking east (it gets a bit hard to navigate through the housing projects), you reach the Navy Yard, a massive former U.S. Navy shipyard that now provides work spaces for a burgeoning population of artists and craftspeople and also houses Steiner Studios, a film production complex.

Festivals
Brooklyn , New York

Brooklyn may not have as many obvious tourist draws as its neighbor across the river, but its parties and festivals are not to be missed. If you can't get to Carnaval in Rio, the West Indian Carnival held each Labor Day is a boisterous, pulsating conga line of feathers, sequins, and steel drums blaring down Eastern Parkway (www.wiadca.com). The Mermaid Parade, held in Coney Island on the last Sunday of June, is the nation's largest arts parade, with thousands of revelers decked out in elaborate—and sometimes risqué—sea-inspired costumes. (Mermaids have a tendency to drift off into the ocean for a dip, which makes for quite the spectacle.) Celebrities such as David Byrne, Queen Latifah, and Moby have all sat in as parade royalty (www.coneyisland.com/mermaid.shtml). DUMBO Art Under the Bridge Festival is the biggest weekend in DUMBO, with interactive and guerilla-style art installations popping up all over the neighborhood (www.dumboartsfestival.com; last weekend in September). And Celebrate Brooklyn!, a summerlong outdoor festival at the Prospect Park Bandshell, boasts a dizzying spectrum of musical acts from indie stalwarts including TV On the Radio and Latin-punk superstars Manu Chao (www.briconline.org/celebrate).

Prospect Park
Park Slope
Brooklyn , New York
Subway: 2, 3 to Grand Army Plaza; B, Q to Prospect Park
www.prospectpark.org

Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted was reportedly more proud of this 585-acre idyll than anything else in his repertoire. He and partner Calvert Vaux secured the commission of Central Park several years prior but approached the design of Prospect Park, which was completed in 1868, with a vastly different vision. Think of it as a wilder, free-spirited version of its more famous cousin, with a lake for fishing, forested ravines, and horseback riding trails. Many formerly decaying landmarks have been restored, such as Lefferts Historic House, a quaint example of 18th-century farm life in Brooklyn, and the Beaux Arts boathouse, home to the country's first Audubon center. Overall, though, it's the grand sweep of the 90-acre Long Meadow that thrills, and where polyglot Brooklyn, with its lesbian softball leagues, Honduran soccer teams, and moneyed brownstoners all commingles in a hopeful, heartening display. There are multiple entrances, but the most convenient from Manhattan is via Grand Army Plaza, whose magisterial arch was built as a tribute to the victorious Union in the late 1800s.

Red Hook
Brooklyn , New York

Times have changed since Red Hook housed the city's longshoremen. The docks now greet the Queen Mary 2 when it cruises into town, and the same locale is home to the huge yellow and blue warehouse that is IKEA. Gentrification on Van Brunt Street is proceeding apace, and this happening strip is a good starting point for a visit. Stop by Hope and Anchor for delish veggie omelets and Bloody Marys (347 Van Brunt St.; 718-237-0276). Baked is like an edgier Magnolia Bakery, with frosted Bundt cake, Wi-Fi, and a groovy interior by local firm Hivemindesign (359 Van Brunt St.; 718-222-0345). Red Hook Bait & Tackle has emerged as the neighborhood's de facto watering hole, where artists and old-timers down Blue Point ale and play darts (320 Van Brunt St.; 718-797-4892). A bit to the north lies Brooklyn Collective, a design coop featuring hand-dyed Milton Carter T-shirts and chunky gold-chain bracelets by Jess Yam (196 Columbia St.; 718-596-6231). Red Hook isn't accessible via subway—indeed, its remoteness is part of the appeal—but the New York Water Taxi runs a shuttle every hour on the weekends from Pier 11, on the corner of Wall Street and South Street in downtown Manhattan.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.