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Things to Do

Park Slope: What to do and eat in this leafy brownstone haven

Park Slope can get a bad rap as baby stroller central with its intense "mommy mafia," but if you've ever been, it's clear why people raise their families here — it's one of the most beautiful spots in the city.

Mayor Bill de Blasio's neighborhood also has old ties as the site of the largest battle of the Revolutionary War. The area's rich history is clear as you explore the neighborhood.

And while it seems largely off-limits to those who can't afford to live there with its rows of brownstones, it's a part of Brooklyn that's inclusive of different cultures through its rainbow of restaurants, shops and institutions.

We can't possibly write about every worth-it place in the neighborhood, but we've taken on the challenge of putting together a list of things you won't want to miss.

Start with a coffee at Café Regular

This quaint coffee shop transports you to another
Photo Credit: Shaye Weaver

This quaint coffee shop transports you to another time and place (we like to think early 20th century Paris) as you step through its narrow wooden doors and find a long bar and red leather seating. After a greeting from the barista, you'll choose from a decent list of coffees and teas. The coffee, LaColombe, is strong and tasty and a lot of people enjoy it as a cold brew. If you're feeling in the mood for something sweeter, its mocha is among the favorites, or you can pick up a pastry instead.

(318 11th St. at Fifth Avenue)

Take your coffee and do some thrifting

Life Boutique Thrift, which benefits the Chai Lifeline
Photo Credit: Shaye Weaver

Life Boutique Thrift, which benefits the Chai Lifeline that provides services for Jewish children and teens with life-threatening illnesses, is chock full of good finds: antique crystal, furniture, fixtures, jewelry (Miu Miu, Hermes and Alexis Bittar), art, books, hats, records and a healthy amount of designer handbags, including Dooney & Burke, Juicy, Prada and more. There's a huge downstairs to explore as well and sales racks are pulled outside on the sidewalk regularly. Each turn is a new discovery of fun artifacts like an old juke box, a large bird cage with jewelry inside and a hefty chess set.

(6515 Fifth Ave. at 13th Street)

Learn about Revolutionary History or shop local

The Old Stone House at Washington Park is
Photo Credit: Shaye Weaver

The Old Stone House at Washington Park is a reconstruction of the 1699 Vechte-Cortelyou House, an original Dutch farmstead that became a Revolutionary War landmark. The home's land was where the first major engagement of the Continental Army took place after the Declaration of Independence during the Battle of Long Island. Later, it served as the club house for a winter skating team and the Brooklyn Superbas (later known as the Brooklyn Dodgers). Parts of the original house still exist within the structure, too

Today it is used as a memorial to the Battle of Long Island and a venue for concerts, readings, lectures and school trips. Every Sunday, there's a good farmers market from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m, if you're looking for fresh farm produce and food.

(336 Third St. between Fourth and Fifth avenues)

Meet Tiny at the Community Bookstore

Tiny is the resident cat at Community Bookstore,
Photo Credit: Shaye Weaver

Tiny is the resident cat at Community Bookstore, an independent shop that's been a neighborhood staple since 1971. There's no shortage of books -- the shelves are full of fiction and nonfiction selections and there's even a large children's section. It also has a back patio with a small pond and resident turtle named "John Turturtle" for those who want to read in the quiet outdoor nook. Tiny, pictured, roams the store and tolerates a pet or two.

The shop has seen a lot of change, but it's kept up by "adapting to what the neighborhood has wanted," according to co-owner Stephanie Valdez. "We had a cafe when Barnes & Noble moved in, but now we sell more books," she added. "We've listened to what the neighborhood wants and we have been tailoring our choices."

The shop regularly hosts readings and book groups, too. On that note, Valdez says she recommends "West: A Novel" by Carys Davies and "In the Distance" by Hernan Diaz.

(143 Seventh Ave. between Carroll Street and Garfield Place)

'Gather' lunch before you head to the park

Gather is a good, affordable place to grab
Photo Credit: Shaye Weaver

Gather is a good, affordable place to grab a quick but restaurant-quality meal. Seasonal, carefully sourced ingredients mean a changing menu, but Gather promises you won't be disappointed with its vegetable-centric, chef-driven comfort food.

Manager Everett Cox, pictured, says the most popular dishes are the avocado feta wrap, its kale Caesar salad, chicken cutlets and coconut curry lentil soup. The restaurant's brunch (from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends) is especially popular, Cox notes, with a menu that includes avocado toast, corned beef and egg casserole with hashbrowns.

If you just want something quick, Gather has good coffee from A.M. Action and freshly baked pastries, including gluten-free options.

(341 Seventh Ave. at Ninth Street)

Walk along Prospect Park West to see opulence

Grand homes and schools line Prospect Park West
Photo Credit: Shaye Weaver

Grand homes and schools line Prospect Park West and it's quite a sight as you walk the sidewalk adjacent to Prospect Park. It's all green on one side and all opulence on the other. From brownstones to homes with spires and historic churches, there's a lot to take in.

Relax and breathe in Prospect Park

Prospect Park is an oasis and is said
Photo Credit: Shaye Weaver

Prospect Park is an oasis and is said to even be better than Central Park by Brooklyn residents. There's 526 acres of freedom to enjoy, whether you walk its trails, bike its tracks, walk your dogs or sunbathe on its lawns. It also boasts a zoo, a boathouse, a lake and a skating rink, where you can roller disco every Friday night in the summer.

Treat yourself to some gelato

Look, you haven't had dinner yet, but that's
Photo Credit: Shaye Weaver

Look, you haven't had dinner yet, but that's OK! L'Albero Dei Gelati closes at 6 p.m., so you must stop by before then. The gelateria from Lombardy, Italy, which is just a walk-up window, uses raw ingredients from sustainable farms to create its fresh flavors. The best sellers? Stracciatella, panna and amarena, and Gianduia (organic chocolate with hazel nuts, pictured). Needless to say, the Gianduia was divine. If you want to take it home with you, they sell by the pint, as well. Gearing up for the summer, the shop is coming out with its blueberry flavor.

(341 Fifth Ave. and Fourth Street)

Then grab dinner like an adult at Piccoli

This rustic Italian trattoria hand-makes all of its
Photo Credit: Piccoli

This rustic Italian trattoria hand-makes all of its pasta with organic grains from New York. The simplicity of its meals and its non-fussy atmosphere make for a welcome retreat. It's most popular entree is a black linguine with tomato sauce, shrimp, Spanish chorizo and Calabrian chili (a special condiment made in Calabria, Italy) made with five regional spicy peppers. You'll need reservations during peak times, including at brunch, which offers a $27.95 deal. (You'll get 90 minutes of bloody marys/mimosas/bellinis and any egg dish.)

(522 Sixth Ave. at 14th Street)

Have fun at Union Hall

Converted from a warehouse (in Brooklyn fashion), Union
Photo Credit: Jeremy Amar

Converted from a warehouse (in Brooklyn fashion), Union Hall has great fireplaces, a library, large games, two indoor bocce courts and outdoor garden seating. There's also a downstairs bar that regularly hosts live music and comedy shows. It's lodge-like and cozy, but offers a cool vibe with its variety of shows and drinks. It can get crowded, but it's a good time.

(702 Union St. at Fifth Avenue)


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