Picture this scene: 9:15 am, undisclosed city apartment. Kids climbing the walls, parents already feeling defeated. Familiar much? This day calls for an open space where the kids can exhaust themselves and a cup of very potent coffee (or something stronger) for you. No need to pack up and head out of town––spacious parks with stunning water views and creative indoor spaces to explore exist within city limits: get ye to Brooklyn Hights. Here you’ll wander leafy streets lined with stately brownstones that lead west to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and the evolving 85-acre Brooklyn Bridge Park. This neighborhood is quintessential Brooklyn straight out of the movies (the Promenade was in Annie Hall and Moonstruck). And now you can add it to your family’s highlight reel of the perfect New York day.
Stroll along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade perched above the whooshing BQE. Pause at one of the benches lining the six-block walkway to take in the neighborhood’s meticulously preserved architecture and views of lower Manhattan and Lady Liberty. If the kids get restless, there are two sweet playgrounds, Pierrepont Playground, just off the Promenade and the Harry Chapin Playground (named for the singer who was a local) at the north end.
For more space to roam, head to what was once empty piers and parking lots and is now one of the city’s latest greening efforts––Brooklyn Bridge Park. Set the kids loose at Pier 1 spanning 9.5 acres of verdant waterfront complete with a playground. In summer, the Water Lab, (open on days when the temp is 80+), volleyball courts and weekend rooftop concession stands (including Bark Hot Dogs, Blue Marble Ice Cream and beer and wine) and year-round playground at Pier 6, is where it’s at for families.
Pop by the Brooklyn Historical Society and pick a map for a self guided walking tour of this historic brownstone neighborhood. There’s indoor fun to be had too. Like the quirky Toy Museum (pictured) featuring a theater for kids 3+, and train fanatics will love the New York Transit Museum.
Make an appointment for your resident history buff to tour The Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims which was active in the Underground Railroad and antislavery movement. Plus, check the schedule for live music, story hours and family disco party nights at The Moxie Spot.
Fortify with a fresh cup of Stumptown coffee (or swing by on your way home for wine or beer at the mellow bar) and pastries at Vineapple. Go for burgers and Brooklyn-themed Concretes at Brooklyn Shake Shack. Grab bubble tea and toasty Vietnamese sandwiches to go at Hanco’s (147 Montague Street) for a picnic in the park.
Jump in line at Grimaldi’s, a no-frills pizza parlor serving brick oven pies that are actually worth the wait. And, end the day licking ice cream cones beneath the Brooklyn Bridge at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory located in a 1920s fireboat house.
Easily reached by subway, bus or by water taxi at Fulton Ferry Landing. Feeling ambitious? Walk or bike over the Brooklyn Bridge.
Bordered by the Brooklyn Bridge to the North, Old Fulton/Court Street to the East, Atlantic Avenue to the South and the East River to the West.
What are your family’s favorite destinations in Brooklyn Heights? Let us know in the comment section below.
— Laura House