The best destinations take a little work to reach.
So it is with Red Hook, a peninsula cut off from the rest of Brooklyn by the towering Gowanus Expressway, accessible by a bus ride or a long walk from the nearest subway stations.
Once the bustling home to the busiest port in the world, the neighborhood was later known for crime and blight. But over time the quirky area attracted artists to its sprawling brick warehouses and brownstone-lined cobblestone streets; old factories were transformed into new-school manufacturing sites like distilleries. Old standbys from the neighborhood endured even as new restaurants and bars opened up. Quite famously, a giant Fairway Market and then IKEA came to town.
But Red Hook's geographic isolation, diverse socioeconomic makeup and industrial character keep it feeling a little bit more like a hidden gem than other, more crowded Brooklyn neighborhoods, retaining a hint of the quaint weirdness that seems to be slowly disappearing from New York City. Here's how to spend a day there.
Get some coffee at The Black Flamingo
Hit the cobblestone streets
Stay in the past with lunch at Defonte's
Get a little more modern with art at Pioneer Works
Taste chocolate and whiskey at Cacao Prieto and Widow Jane
Check out the neighborhood's nautical past
Take a stroll to the waterfront