The Coolest Brooklyn Neighborhoods You’re Not Sick of Hearing About: A Guide to Red Hook and Gowanus

While Williamsburg may have peaked, Red Hook and next-door Gowanus —are still on the cusp of transformation, with plenty to explore.


There’s a reason destination supermarket, Fairway Market, won “Best Neighborhood Catalyst” from the Municipal Arts Society of New York. Housed in a brick warehouse with arched windows and iron shutters dating to the 1860s, Fairway has an indoor/outdoor patio overlooking the water and a lone trolley car from a failed revival project.

Load up on fresh eats before a heated game of mini golf at Brooklyn Crab.

Right across the street is Brooklyn Crab, a popular three-story seafood funhouse complete with mini golf, cornhole, and arcade games to keep you entertained while you wait. Request a table on the top deck to chow down on fruits of the sea amid breezy harbor views that ripen orange at sunset.

For dessert, Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies. What’s so authentic about key lime pie made in Brooklyn? It’s the fresh squeezed key lime juice, Graham cracker crumb crust hand-formed in-house, pure butter, and cage-free egg yolks. (When dipped in Belgian dark chocolate on a popsicle stick, it’s called the Swingle).


It’s okay to feel smug when you find this unobstructed and un-tourist-ed view of the Statue of Liberty.

The street ends with a sight not to be missed. Tourists wait hours to get to the Statue of Liberty, but you’ll see her head-on without hassle from Valentino Pier. Take in a free outdoor movie on summer Tuesdays or try free kayaking offered by Red Hook Boaters, Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons through September.

Of course, small batch, handcrafted consumables, like the kind made at Cacao Prieto , are Brooklyn’s calling card. Try the chocolate bars made with organic cacao beans from a family farm in the Dominican Republic. Then add to the antioxidants, at The Red Hook Winery.


Despite all the cool, indie businesses, Red Hook is most associated with IKEA. Pass on the Swedish meatballs, and you can sample tacos, tamales, elote, and pupusas from , the Red Hook Food Vendors.

Just over the Red Hook border, where Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens meet the waterfront, lies roof deck eatery Alma, with great Mexican fare, and postcard views of  lower Manhattan skyscrapers.

Continue the Brooklyn road less traveled with a stop in neighboring Gowanus, Fairway put Red Hook on the map, and Whole Foods did the same for Gowanus. The only Whole Foods in Brooklyn features a DIY bicycle repair station, Etsy pop-up shop, and roof deck with a beer and wine bar overlooking the canal.


Shuffle on over to Royal Palms for games a-plenty, plus food trucks and live music for the noncompetitive.

End your Gowanus getaway at Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club – featuring ten large courts, oversized Connect Four, a rotating food truck, and live music (not on shuffle).


Cut off from the subway and not yet within Citi Bike range, the easiest way to get to Red Hook is with a  Zipcar, with enough trunk space to load up on groceries at Fairway or apartment fixings at IKEA.

Gowanus is also car-friendly  – but skip the subway ride and you’ll miss seeing the Manhattan skyline from the highest elevated tracks in the city.

This article originally appeared in Zipcar’s blog, Ziptopia. For more articles like these, visit their site.

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