Summer in the City

The McCARREN HOTEL in Williamsburg has one of the largest outdoor pools in New York.

The McCARREN HOTEL in Williamsburg has one of the largest outdoor pools in
New York.

INSIDE BROOKLYN

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Here’s our guide to Crown Heights and Prospect Heights. Set along Eastern Parkway near Franklin and Washington Avenues, Crown Heights and Prospect Heights are home to numerous gems for lovers of art, nature and food to check out.

CROWN HEIGHTS, set along Eastern Parkway, has numerous gems for nature lovers.But First, Coffee

Pictured: CROWN HEIGHTS, set along Eastern Parkway, has numerous gems for nature lovers.

If you need some java to start your day exploring, skip the Starbucks that opened recently at the corner of Eastern Parkway and Franklin Avenue. Instead, tucked next to it is The Pulp & The Bean, which is our pick for the best coffee in the neighborhood. Also, the bagels are a great breakfast treat. While it can be hard to snag a seat inside, as there are only two tables, getting a coffee and bagel to go and having breakfast on a bench on nearby Eastern Parkway is one of our favorite ways to start off a day in the neighborhood.

Nature Calling

While most famous for its Cherry Blossom Festival, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden offers tranquil sights in all the seasons. In addition to the blossom-lined Cherry Esplanade, there is also a Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden that incorporates wooden bridges, stone lanterns, a viewing pavilion, a torii (gateway) and a Shinto shrine, as well as a series of indoor conservatories displaying everything from desert plants to a collection of bonsai trees. Off the beaten path, don’t miss the newly planted Native Flora Garden, which showcases plants native to Long Island. The best part is it comes alive in the fall, when some of the garden’s more famous areas are no longer in bloom. Good to know: You can check out what’s blooming at www.bbg.org/bloom, and admission is free before noon on Saturdays, except for days with special events. Tip: The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is full of amazing sites, but it is not a park. If you’re looking for a place to picnic, check out Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.

Looking ahead, the park is set to add a major new water garden, which will provide an improved habitat for wildlife, especially birds, and also act as the centerpiece of a conservation project that will reduce the BBG’s water consumption from an estimated 22 million to 900,000 gallons
per year.

Just next to the BBG’s entrance on Eastern Parkway is Brooklyn Museum, which has an eclectic lineup of permanent and rotating collections with a particular focus on feminist art in the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center. As part of the “Target First Saturdays” program, admission is free on the first Saturday of each month. At other times, admission is by suggested donation.

Where to Eat

Glady’s, a relative newcomer to Franklin Avenue’s booming restaurant scene, opened in 2013 and serves Caribbean food and craft cocktails, with a heavy emphasis on rum. The jerk chicken and plantains are menu standouts. What to Order: For brunch, try the ackee and saltfish.

Cheryl’s Global Soul is one of the most famous soul food restaurants in Brooklyn and offers an array of comfort food in a small space with a garden out back. If you’re in for lunch, definitely check out the salmon hash — it’s our favorite.

In the mood for authentic Brooklyn Italian? Have a bite at Bar Corvo, which is turning heads with its lineup of home-made, fresh pasta and contemporary takes on Italian dishes. Don’t skip dessert here; while the secondary menu changes regularly, we’ve encountered some sweet dishes that are the perfect cap to a long day of exploration.

No trip to BK is complete without pizza, therefore don’t miss out on Barboncino, which serves wood-fired Neapolitan-style pies and a lineup of craft cocktails. Inside Tip: There is also live jazz on Tuesdays.

Grab a Drink

With its expansive outdoor patio and wide selection of craft beers, Franklin Park is easily one of the most popular bars in the neighborhood. Its reading series, which hosts a star-studded lineup of fiction and nonfiction writers, takes place on the second Monday of each month and includes a draft drink special. Caution: It will be crowded, but that is half the fun.

For a more offbeat option, try Butter and Scotch, which combines dessert-themed cocktails with actual desserts in a small space reminiscent of a classic ’50s-era soda fountain. The combination of a bar and a bakery offers a fun way to end the night with something sweet and something alcoholic or, to kick the day off with a new brunch menu featuring biscuits and gravy.

Follow the Trends to Williamsburg

Another exciting neighborhood in Brooklyn, tucked between the East River and Bushwick Avenue, is trendy Williamsburg. Stroll down the Bedford Avenue to get a feel of this bustling part of the borough. The main street is filled with the shops and restaurants that have helped make Williamsburg a destination. We stopped and had some popular comfort food at Sweet Chick (164 Bedford Avenue). This rustic dining venue attracts a sizeable crowd so much so that it was buzzing even on a Wednesday afternoon. We ordered the fried chicken sandwich, which is served with spicy honey on the side — yum. We also tried the grilled chicken salad, which comes with a spicy kick. This eatery also serves traditional sweet tea and lemonade made with or without a little kick of alcohol. Guests should be prepared to sit close to other patrons, and there is a communal table (along with other seating) and a small bar. The crowd (when we visited) was a mix of Millennials, young families with strollers in tow and solo-visitors at the bar.

Looking for a pizza joint? Just continue walking down Bedford and Joe’s Pizza is on the corner at 5th Street. We enjoyed a quick slice of the famous cheese pizza before continuing on our way.

Quick Tip: Along Bedford, keep an eye out for popular stops, including Bagelsmith, which serves house-made bagels with two locations in Williamsburg. Also, try and pop into Bedford Cheese Shop. This place has artisanal cheese samples maintained by knowledgeable cheesemongers, yum. And take in the general scene — an important part of visiting the neighborhood. The avenues are filled with street art and people walk around dressed in a range of styles.

Looking for some entertainment? Nitehawk Cinema (136 Metropolitan Avenue) shows both new and fan-favorite movies with a twist. This theater has a gourmet concession stand, tableside food and beverage service. We suggest ordering a cocktail in the downstairs bar, Lo-Res, before the show in one of the three theaters. We also suggest checking out the themed-series like Country Brunchin’. This quarterly show brings together country music, brunch and, of course, movies with a splash of Southern fun.

Become Part of Brooklyn’s Exclusive Scene

Fabulous food, posh fashion, top entertainment — New York City has it all. However, nothing may be harder to find in the city than an outdoor pool perfect for a summer dip. But, don’t fret, because Luxury Travel Advisor has found the on-trend one in Williamsburg. The Mccarren Hotel & Pool on North 12th Street has one of the largest outdoor pools in the city. Guests of this pool can sip Prosecco while relaxing on one of the lounge chairs or cabanas. We suggest grabbing an entourage and booking a package for 10 guests. The group can enjoy Boozy Ice Pops and soak up the summer sun. (Food and beverage are included in the package.) Note: All guests must be at least 21 years old. After a day of swimming, venture to the rooftop bar for views of the Manhattan skyline and live music. This is the perfect way to spend a day in one of Brooklyn’s hottest scenes. To book a special day at the pool, contact Ronny Baroody ([email protected]), director of events.

The Library in the East Village is a popular neighborhood bar, great for those seeking a low-key East Village vibe.

The Library in the East Village is a popular neighborhood bar, great for those seeking a low-key East Village vibe. 

From East to West or West to East

New Yorkers are always walking as it’s sometimes more simple to walk from one posh place to another in Manhattan than trying to fight the crowd in the subway or sitting in a cab in traffic. Walking is also the best way to discover new hidden gems in the ever-changing metropolis. That’s why we suggest that travelers slip into their favorite pair of fashionable walking shoes and hit the streets, literally. It’s easy to walk from the West side of lower Manhattan to the hip East side, thanks to their relative proximity. It doesn’t matter which side you start at, we will give you a feel of how a perfect evening can be spent traveling between the two.

In the West Village, any early evening should be spent in Washington Square Park, a major mecca of the area in the summer.

At the park, there is a mix of locals at the dog park or playing with their kids at the children’s play area. The middle of this relatively small park is filled with performers, attracting tourists around the well-known fountain and arches. To experience the park like a local, bring a blanket and a good book, as this is the perfect clean park for lounging on the grass.

Don’t have time for the traditional New York City park experience? We suggest grabbing a quick cone at Big Gay Ice Cream (a neighborhood staple) next to Christopher Park, which is more like a small square with benches for relaxing. This area is always vibrant, so you’ll get to see the West Village scene without investing too much valuable time. After an early afternoon in the West Village, walk East and have dinner on East 3rd Street at Root & Bone. This neighborhood, walk-in restaurant (limited reservations available) is home to top-notch creators and Chefs Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth, both of whom were on the TV show “Top Chef.” Now the chefs, who have earned James Beard accolades, are bringing a revival of southern, rural American dishes to the Big Apple. There’s a mix of fresh cuisine from wild striped bass to shrimp and grits.

After dinner, it’s time to catch a show. This time, skip Broadway for The Public Theater on Lafayette Street. This hotspot produces shows ranging from Shakespeare and musicals, to experimental shows. Through August 14, “Privacy” will be staged. This play, staring Daniel Radcliffe and created by James Graham and Josie Rourke, explores the interaction between technology and data through a man arriving in New York City. Want to catch a show on the West Side instead? Cherry Lane Theatre, in Greenwich Village, is home to some top, note-worthy productions. What should guests expect? A memorable experience. This must-visit has featured top actors and directors, including Barbra Streisand, Gene Hackman, Beatrice Arthur and James Earl Jones, to name just a few.

The night on the East and West Side ends with drinks. We are now foraying into “hidden” bar experiences with the Blind Barber, a speakeasy at the back of an old-fashion barber shop on East 10th Street. The craft cocktails will create a festive night. Try the Hot Heather, comprising Milagro Silver, lemon, amber agave, grapefruit, pineapple and ginger. On the West Side when the sun sets? Try a drink at The Garret on the second floor at 296 Bleecker Street. Tip: This exclusive cocktail bar is above a chain restaurant. You need to go in the restaurant and look for the staircase to the top floor. The cocktail bar has seating and delicious drinks, stay awhile.

Artisanal Ice Cream

New York City is known for its creative food scene and summer is known for ice cream. Put the two together and you have a unique, seasonal treat. Here are our picks.

Ample Hills Creamery: There are four year-round locations in the city that serve delicious ice-cream. Order This: Salted Crack Caramel: salted butter caramel ice cream with Deb’s Famous Crack Cookies — saltine crackers coated with butter, sugar and chocolate. Malai: Order a cold dessert from here at Smorgasburg, a Brooklyn flea food market. The most popular flavor is Rose with Cinnamon Roasted Almonds — floral, spiced, nutty, sweet and salty. These scoops are inspired by the aromatic flavors of South Asia, yum. Melt Bakery: Touted as New York City’s first ice cream sandwich store, this shop, on Orchard Street, serves up some tasty delights. Have a sweet tooth? Order the Evil Twin made with chocolate chip cookies and chocolate ice cream.

The Library in the East Village is a popular neighborhood bar, great for those seeking a low-key East Village vibe.

The Baccarat SUITE mixes a touch of Paris with a dash of Manhattan to create an ultra-chic enclave in Midtown.

New York Glitz: The Baccarat

We just visited the Baccarat Hotel & Residences; it’s a short jaunt to Central Park and home to some of the best designer shops in Manhattan. Our Take: This posh place is a good luxury hideaway for those who want to explore New York City in an under-the-radar fashion. It sits inconspicuously in the midst of the buzz of West 53rd Street, meaning guests can come and go as they please without any fuss. Note: Top digs are the Baccarat Suite, which mixes the elegance of Paris with the chic edge of New York. Here, guests can relax in a bedroom with floor-to-ceiling windows, a living room and a dining area. (As for those residences that the Baccarat is known for? We hear they are filling up really fast.)

Back downstairs, the design of the sleek, buzzworthy bar was very appealing with eclectic, French artwork. We suggest you try the Stone Soiree Sangria made with Stoli Vodka, Starlite Viognier, Lillet Blonde, créme de pêche, mint, cantaloupe and peach. Our other favorite amenity? The pool. That’s right, the indoor spa pool, whose bottom is designed with black and white checkers like a ballroom, is the perfect tranquil escape complete with the inset cabanas for added privacy while lounging. After a dip, guests can indulge at Spa De La Mer in one of the four treatment rooms. Note: The spa is also open to the public. To create a special stay, contact Kerry Bergin ([email protected]). Hint: Do visit the Museum of Modern Art, just across the street from the hotel.

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