New York City, New York Fodor's Park Slope Mini Guide by Fodor's Travel

Fodor's guide to the Park Slope neighbourhood of New York City


text source: Fodor's Travel

 
Yes, this gourmet food store is all about the beer—there are nearly 1,000 craft beers available by the bottle—but there is also an impressive selection of artisanal cheeses, boutique chocolates, olives, and other edible goodies, including delicious made-to-order sandwiches. Beer tastings are Tuesday at 7 pm. There are also 16 different beers on tap daily, available in pints or growlers.

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text source: Fodor's Travel

 
Fans of the TV show Top Chef will recognize the name of chef Dale Talde (from season 4) but even if you're not familiar with the show it's well worth making a culinary pilgrimage to Park Slope to eat here. Chef Talde churns out an array of impressive dishes that span most of Asia. Standouts on the menu include inventive, fun fare like the sticky kung pao chicken wings, the pretzel pork and chive dumplings, and peanut-sprinkled smoked char siu pork. Be sure to save some room for the finale: chocolate pudding with Campari-candied grapefruit rind and Sichuan-spiced peanuts is a real showstopper.

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Brooklyn Museum


text source: Fodor's Travel

Although it may be overshadowed by the big name museums in Manhattan, the Brooklyn Museum, with more than 1 million pieces in its permanent collection—from Rodin sculptures to Andean textiles and Assyrian wall reliefs—and a roster of consistently popular shows and neighborhood events, is a worthwhile and relatively peaceful museum-going experience. Along with changing exhibitions, highlights include one of the best collections of Egyptian art in the world and impressive collections of African, pre-Columbian, and Native American art. It's also worth seeking out the museum's works by Georgia O'Keeffe, Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, George Bellows, Thomas Eakins, and Milton Avery—all stunners. The Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art hosts traveling exhibits in addition to serving as the permanent home to Judy Chicago's installation The Dinner Party (1974–79). On the first Saturday of each month (except September) the museum throws an extremely popular free evening of art, music, dancing, film screenings, and readings, from 5 to 11 pm. There are several cash bars.

Brooklyn Museum

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Prospect Park


text source: Fodor's Travel

Brooklyn residents are fiercely passionate about Prospect Park, and with good reason. Gently curved paths beg for long walks and bike rides, while free summer concerts, winter sledding hills, a new ice-skating rink as of winter 2013, and vivid autumn leaves make the park a year-round destination. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the park was completed in the late 1880s. Olmsted once said that he was prouder of it than of any of his other works—including Manhattan's Central Park. A good way to experience the park is to walk along its 3.5-mi circular drive and make detours off it as you wish. The drive is closed to cars at all times except weekday rush hours. Families with children should head straight for the eastern side, where most kids' attractions are clustered. The park's north entrance is at Grand Army Plaza , where the Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial Arch honors Civil War veterans. (Look familiar? It's patterned after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.) Three heroic sculptural groupings adorn the arch: atop, a dynamic four-horse chariot; to either side, the victorious Union Army and Navy of the Civil War. The inner arch has bas-reliefs of presidents Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant, sculpted by Thomas Eakins and William O'Donovan, respectively. To the northwest of the arch, Neptune and a passel of debauched Tritons leer over the edges of the Bailey Fountain . On Saturdays year-round a greenmarket at the plaza sells produce, flowers and plants, cheese, and baked goods to throngs of locals. Other days, you can find a few vendors selling snacks here and at the 9th Street entrance. Lefferts Historic House. This Dutch Colonial farmhouse was built in 1783 and moved to Prospect Park in 1918. Rooms of the historic house-museum are furnished with antiques and reproductions from the 1820s, when the house was last redecorated. The museum hosts all kinds of activities for kids; call for information. Prospect Park , 452 Flatbush . 718/789–2822 . $3 suggested donation . Apr. and May, Sat. and Sun. noon–5; June and Sept., Thurs.–Sun. noon–5; July and Aug., Thurs.–Sun. noon–6; Oct., Thurs.–Sun. noon–4; Nov.–Dec. and Feb.–Mar., Sat. and Sun. noon–4 . Litchfield Villa. If you walk down the park's west drive from Grand Army Plaza, you'll first encounter Litchfield Villa, an Italianate hilltop mansion built in 1857 for a prominent railroad magnate. It has housed the park's headquarters since 1883; visitors are welcome to step inside and view the domed octagonal rotunda. Prospect Park , near 5th Street . 718/965–8951 . Free . Mon.–Fri. 9–5 . Prospect Park Audubon Center and Visitor Center at the Boathouse. Styled after Sansovino's 16th-century Library at St. Mark's in Venice, the Prospect Park Audubon Center and Visitor Center at the Boathouse, built in 1904, sits opposite the Lullwater Bridge, creating an idyllic spot for watching pedal boats and wildlife, or just taking a break at the café. Interactive exhibits, park tours, and educational programs for kids make this a fun place to learn about nature. On a nice day, take a ride on the electric boat to tour the Lullwater and Prospect Lake. You can also sign up for a bird-watching tour to see some of the 200 species spotted here. Prospect Park , just inside the Lincoln Road/Ocean Ave. entrance , 11215 . 718/287–3400 . www.prospectpark.org/audubon . Audubon Center free; electric-boat tours $10 . Audubon Center: Apr.–June, Thurs.–Sun. noon–5; July-Aug., Thurs.-Sun. noon-6; Sept., weekends noon–5; Oct.–Mar., weekends noon–4; closed in Jan.–Feb. except school holidays; call for program and tour times. Electric-boat tours: May–Aug., Thurs.–Sun. noon–4:30; Sept.–mid-Oct., weekends 12:30–4, every 30 mins. Prospect Park Band Shell. The Prospect Park Band Shell is the home of the annual Celebrate Brooklyn Festival, which from early June through mid-August sponsors free films and concerts that have included Afro-Caribbean jazz, flamenco dance troupes from Spain, David Byrne and other big name musicians, and the Brooklyn Philharmonic. Films are shown on a 50-foot-wide outdoor screen, one of the world's largest. Prospect Park . 718/855–7882 for the Celebrate Brooklyn Festival . www.bricartsmedia.org . Prospect Park Carousel. Climb aboard a giraffe or sit inside a dragon-pulled chariot at the immaculately restored Prospect Park Carousel, handcrafted in 1912 by master carver Charles Carmel. Prospect Park . 718/282–7789 . $2 per ride . Apr.–June, Sept., and Oct., Thurs.–Sun. noon–5; July–Labor Day, Thurs.–Sun. noon–6 . Prospect Park Zoo. Of the 400 inhabitants and 125 species at the small, friendly, Prospect Park Zoo, kids seem especially fond of the sea lions and the red pandas. An outdoor discovery trail has a simulated prairie-dog burrow, a duck pond, and kangaroos and wallabies in habitat. Be aware that there are no cafés, only vending machines. Prospect Park , 450 Flatbush Ave. , 11225 . 718/399–7339 . www.prospectparkzoo.com . $8 . Apr.–Oct., weekdays 10–5, weekends 10–5:30; Nov.–Mar., daily 10–4:30; last ticket 30 mins before closing . Subway: 2, 3 to Eastern Pkwy.; B, Q to Prospect Park .

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Brooklyn Botanic Garden


text source: Fodor's Travel

The 52 acres of this beloved Brooklyn retreat, one of the finest botanic gardens in the country, are a must-see, especially in spring and summer. A major attraction is the beguiling Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden—complete with a blazing red torii gate and Shinto shrine. Nearby, the Japanese cherry arbor turns into a breathtaking cloud of pink every spring; the Sakura Matsuri, a two-day cherry blossom festival, is a hugely popular event. Also be sure to wander through the Cranford Rose Garden (5,000 plants, 1,200 varieties); the Fragrance Garden, designed especially for the blind; and the Shakespeare Garden, featuring more than 80 plants immortalized by the Bard. At the Steinhardt Conservatory, desert, tropical, temperate, and aquatic vegetation thrives. Don't miss the extraordinary C. V. Starr Bonsai Museum for close to 100 miniature Japanese specimens, some more than a century old. Near the conservatory are a café and a gift shop, with bulbs, plants, and gardening books as well as jewelry. Entrances to the garden are on Eastern Parkway, next to the subway station; on Washington Avenue, behind the Brooklyn Museum; and on Flatbush Avenue at Empire Boulevard. Free garden tours meet at the front gate every weekend at 1 pm.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

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Franny's


text source: Fodor's Travel

Though many swear by Grimaldi's for Brooklyn's best pie, this Park Slope pizza shop, which recently moved up Flatbush Avenue to a larger space, has developed a serious following of its own. The crisp, thin-crust pizzas run the gamut from a "naked" pie with olive oil and salt to their justly talked up clam-and-garlic iteration. Many of the toppings are seasonal and locally sourced. And they're creative: clams, 'nduja (spicy, spreadable sausage), chilies, and potatoes may adorn your pies. In the years since Franny's has opened, several other excellent quality artisanal pizza shops have opened in the neighborhood and around, but Franny's still draws lines at dinnertime.

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al di là


text source: Fodor's Travel

Roughly translated s "the great beyond," Al Di La has been consistently packed since it first opened back in 1998, and it's easy to understand why: affordable prices, a relaxed and charming environment, and simple yet soulfully comforting dishes from the Veneto region of Italy. Expect to find homemade pastas like black spaghetti with crab or tortellini filled with roasted squash, as well as meaty mains such as braised rabbit, or hanger steak. The dessert fritters are legendary. The no-reservations policy ensures that the place always has a buzz around it from waiting patrons.

al di là

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applewood


text source: Fodor's Travel

Housed in a turn-of-the-century Brooklyn storefront, this Park Slope restaurant is a committed farm-to-table restaurant, as the owners live on farm upstate and regularly send down shipments of ingredients to the restaurant. Applewood relies on simple flavors layered in interesting ways, plus relaxed service in a pretty pale-yellow dining room equals one thing—an amazing restaurant. The menu changes constantly but highlights have included a sautéed North Carolina wreckfish with tomato-okra stew, parsnips, and mixed greens and pan-seared Rhode Island day boat scallops.

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Central Library


text source: Fodor's Travel

Across Grand Army Plaza from the entrance to Prospect Park stands this sleek, modern temple of learning—the central location of the Brooklyn Public Library. The building resembles an open book, with the entrance at the book's spine; on the facade, gold-leaf figures celebrate art and science. Bright limestone walls and perfect proportions make this an impressive 20th-century New York building. Inside, more than 1.5 million books, public programs, and exhibitions in the lobby will keep you busy for at least a few hours.

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Bird


text source: Fodor's Travel

Well-traveled owner Jen Mankins embodies Brooklyn's refined eclecticism, a vibe that's on full display inside her boutiques. An extremely well-curated selection of designers—think Band of Outsiders, Vena Cava, and 3.1 Phillip Lim—makes Bird one of the best of the many excellent women's clothing stores dotting the area. There are two other Brooklyn locations (in Cobble Hill, at 220 Smith Street, 718/797–3774, and the Ole Sondresen-designed store in Williamsburg, at 203 Grand Street, 718/388–1655).

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Brooklyn Children's Museum


text source: Fodor's Travel

A mile east of Grand Army Plaza is the oldest children's museum in the world, now housed in a sparkling Rafael Viñoly–designed "green" building. Kids will have a blast, trekking through natural habitats found in the city, running a bakery, creating African-patterned fabric, and even becoming DJs, mixing the rhythms of the outdoors to make music.

Brooklyn Children's Museum

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The Bell House


text source: Fodor's Travel

A 1920's Brooklyn warehouse has found new life as the Bell House, a live music venue and events space with vintage details, a dozen beers on draft, and a reasonably priced cocktail list. Expect everything from live bands or DJs to comedy acts to take the stage on any given night; check the online events calendar for details on upcoming shows.

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Union Hall


text source: Fodor's Travel

Comfortably hip is the name of the game at this Brooklyn hangout. Grab a beer in the "library" area up front, cozy up around the fireplace in winter, or if you're up for a little sport, join the friendly locals in a game of bocce ball. In the basement, check out some rising indie rock stars on stage.

Union Hall

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Barbès


text source: Fodor's Travel

It's not quite like stepping into the funky Parisian neighborhood of the same name, but this cozy bar does have French-accented bartenders, pressed-tin ceilings, and a red-tinted back room. Diverse events range from the energetic Slavic Soul Party performance to classical music concerts.

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Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co.


text source: Fodor's Travel

Where else can young superheroes purchase capes, grappling hooks, secret identity kits, and more from staff who never drop the game of pretend? Proceeds benefit the free drop-in tutoring center (run by nonprofit organization 826NYC) in a "secret lair" behind a swinging bookcase.

Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co.

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