First published on 12 Feb 2013. Updated on 15 Apr 2013.
Hopping on the L train to Bedford Avenue certainly isn’t a new thing to do in New York, but each time when visiting NYC it certainly seems like something fresh, thanks to the constant flow of new bars, cafés, restaurants and hotels opening in America’s hippest hood.
See and do
Each weekend the team at Brooklyn Flea put on a series of markets across the borough. Held on Saturdays, Smorgasburg features food trucks and stalls from vendors like Momofuku Milk Bar and the Red Hook Lobster Pound from Maine. The next day, Williamsburg Flea is home base for hipsters – expect to find vintage spectacle frames, band T-shirts and clever silver jewellery as well as a shedload of second-hand furniture and assorted junk (note: both markets return from the winter hiatus on the weekend of April 6). East River Waterfront, between North 6th & 7th Sts, Willamsburg.
If you are staying over in the city, a great way to get to Williamsburg is on a bike, traversing lower Manhattan and heading over the Brooklyn Bridge. Time Out recommends Bike and Roll, a company that also offers tours of Brooklyn neighbourhoods and the challenging but fun New York at Night tour.
If you find yourself in Williamsburg on one of the city’s hotter days, cool off at McCarren Park Pool, a newly renovated monster pool that can fit 1,500 swimmers in eight lanes, while also featuring a beach volleyball court. Lorimer St, (Btw Bayard St & Driggs Ave), Greenpoint. +1 718 965 6580.
Rony Vardi’s Catbird is the first stop in the district for accessories, jewellery and house goodies (219 Bedford Ave, Williamsburg. +1 718 599 3457), while for vinyl, music paraphernalia and homemade totes, visit record label owner Mari Ayabe’s boutique MeMe Antenna (218 Bedford Ave, Williamsburg, +1 347 223 4219). Next door, hipster bookworms get their novels from Spoonbill & Sugartown, a shop where you’re bound to find a great second-hand treasure (218 Bedford Ave, Williamsburg, +1 718 387 7322) and at Ugly Luggage, browse through antique accessories from the 1930s to the 1980s (214 Bedford Ave, Williamsburg, +1 718 384 0724).
Eat and drink
When you hop off the L, grab a liten (small) Swedish roast coffee at Konditori and some kanelbullar(cinnamon buns) if you’re peckish (167 North 7th St, at Bedford, Williamsburg, +1 347 529 4803) or if brunch is more your speed, grab a sandwich from Waffle & Wolf (413 Graham Ave, Brooklyn, +1 347 889 6240).
In recent years, Brooklyn Lager has been a more regular sight in Melbourne and Sydney bars and to taste it at its best, hit the Brooklyn Brewery, where reservation-only tours cost $8 and are available 5-7pm, Monday to Friday. 79 North 11th St, Williamsburg. +1 718 486 7422.
From drinks with house-made ginger soda to Time Out’s top tipple, the Clams Casino (tomato juice and beer), they do it in a rocking way at Tender Trap, a dive bar owned by a couple of well-heeled locals, nightlife tsar Ryan Virag and BMX pro Darryl Nau. Expect a beer and a shot for $6 and a few BMX riders in hoodies from the skate park around the corner. 245 South 1st St, Williamsburg. +1 347 763 1825.
For Sazeracs with a view, head to the Ides Bar atop The Wythe Hotel, where most drinks creep under the $15 mark. If you’re craving a beer, order a Brooklyn Radius or an Allegash White, but if it’s cocktails you are after then a Sazerac or Vesper it should be. 80 Wythe Ave, Williamsburg. +1 718 460 8000.
Score a seat at the tavernesque Gwynnett St, where chef Justin Hilbert serves up a rustic array of dishes including salads, slow-roasted lamb and brine soaked chicken breast that’s served on edible dirt (hay ash). Before you start, kick your heels into a Crow’s Nest (El Dorado 12YO rum, Falernum, Amaro Sibilla, Dolin Blanc and Absinthe) and don’t go past the sponge cake for dessert. 312 Graham Ave, Williamsburg. +1 347 889 7002.
Where to stay
Starwood’s Aloft Brooklyn – think a W hotel minus the glam – debuted in the borough recently and offers value for money in the heart of downtown. 216 Duffield St, Brooklyn. +1 868 716 8143.
Over in Manhattan, bed down at the Gansevoort Park, a hotel that’s known for its hip, oversized rooms, and its rooftop, which features the best poolside bar north of Union Square. 420 Park Ave South, New York. +1 212 317 2900.
Qantas flies daily to New York via Los Angeles and onboard, expect top Australian wine, food by Neil Perry, great service and hours of entertainment across all three cabins on the Boeing 747-400s that operates on the route.
Stay in the know
For more hot Williamsburg tips, visit Time Out New York.