When you live in the type of place where even your own home is usually occupied with at least one other person (seriously, though, is there any other city where it’s common for people in their 30s to have roommates that are not their romantic partners?), “being alone” is usually a state of mind more than it is a state of being. However, there are a few places in Brooklyn where you can actually find some sort of solitude and peace. Oh, sure, you might run across a few other people at these places, but, for the most part, you’ll be alone in the best possible way, and thus be able to do all the things and think all the thoughts that you can’t when you’re surrounded by people. So go to these places and contemplate your own mortality, or other equally important things, like why your roommates refuse to ever wash their dishes.
Dead Horse Bay
We once called this spot “Brooklyn’s best secret beach,” and we stand by that assessment. First, as part of the Gateway National Recreation Area way out in southeastern Brooklyn, Dead Horse Bay is kind of a pain in the ass to reach, so you know it’s not going to be crowded. Like, it’s located next to a place that is named “Barren Island.” Barren. Island. No lie. Second, seeing as how Dead Horse Bay is literally named for how badly it used to smell (like a dead horse! because of the formerly nearby horse-rendering plants) and how it used to function as a makeshift landfill, it still doesn’t draw your average beach-goer. But that’s their loss. You should definitely head out there by yourself, and take in the watery landscape, as well as the long stretch of beach littered with decades of detritus, most notably the remains of thousands upon thousands of old glass bottles, including beautiful, colorful old apothecary bottles that will look just great perched on a shelf in your home. And the best part is, you are almost guaranteed to be alone during your wanderings. Except for maybe a ghost horse or two.
Dead Horse Bay, Gateway National Recreation Area
There’s a part in Paul Beatty’s excellent new novel The Sellout in which the main character thinks about how “lots of people claim to get their best ideas in water. The shower. Floating in the pool. Waiting for a wave. Something about the negative ions, white noise, and being in isolation.” And while that’s undoubtedly true, we also think that people can get great ideas just by looking at water, and there’s few places in Brooklyn that are more lovely to do just that than Valentino Pier in Red Hook. Just make sure to do two things while you’re there: Catch the sunset, which is particularly gorgeous, and avoid getting too close to the post-IKEA crowds, which will surely ruin any benefits being on Valentino Pier has granted you.
Valentino Pier can be found at Coffey and Ferris streets, Red Hook
Wait, wait, we’re serious! We know you’re thinking, “Prospect Park? That place gets jammed.” And this is true. It does. And then it becomes terrible in that Central-Park-on-the-weekend kind of way, which is terrible indeed. But if you’re not in Prospect Park during peak visiting hours (or even if you are, just avoid the Grand Army Plaza area and the Loop), it is a veritable treasure trove of places to get lost. Head to the Ravine and feel like you’re in the middle of some undiscovered forest. Or go to the lovely, rambling Vale of Cashmere and think to yourself, “Why is it called the Vale of Cashmere? What does that even mean?” And then remember that you read right here that the name is a reference to the 1817 Thomas Moore poem “Lalla Roohk, an Oriental Romance” and think of how lovely it is to be alone, and wandering through a poem brought to verdant life.
For a map of Prospect Park, visit prospectpark.org
Narrows Botanical Garden
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is gorgeous and sprawling and a perfectly fine place to lose yourself for a few hours, but it’s also the obvious place to suggest and we’d hate to be obvious, wouldn’t we? All of which is to say, go be alone by heading to Bay Ridge for your public garden fix, because the Narrows Botanical Garden is a hidden gem full of butterflies, turtles, and vibrant, glorious flowers. It’s staffed completely by volunteers, and the care they put into the spot is evident and appreciated. Make sure to stop and sit for a spell by the zen garden. It’s the perfect place to contemplate why you should maybe move to Bay Ridge, which has this garden and far more affordable rent than where you live. Oh, is that just us? OK, then.
7200-7398 Shore Road, Bay Ridge