Features 4 minutes 23 May 2024

The MICHELIN Guide to a Nature-Filled Weekend in Brooklyn

Fresh air isn't just for upstate.

New York City by The MICHELIN Guide

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People don’t necessarily think of nature when they think of New York, but Brooklyn has a lot to offer in that department – particularly if you’re focused on exploring Brooklyn Heights and its surrounding neighborhoods.

Use Brooklyn Heights as your homebase and branch out to Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill and Fort Greene, neighboring areas that are also filled with opportunities to connect with nature and enjoy some greenery.

These neighborhoods are all within walking distance from each other, so put on your walking shoes, make sure your phone is charged and get excited for a fantastic and unique adventure. If you stick to these areas for a weekend, you’re bound to have a perfect spring adventure filled with lovely places to stay, fun activities and delicious food.

A solid day of exploration should begin with caffeine, of course, and there are plenty of coffee shops that can satisfy your itch for greenery.

But first, coffee:

Start with a coffee at Vineapple in Brooklyn Heights, a local neighborhood cafe that serves drinks and food, and make sure you ask for a seat in the back area – a spot with tables, chairs, plants and sunlight.

After you grab coffee, walk over to the Brooklyn promenade and soak in the very best views of Manhattan. Being right next to the East River will get you in the nature mindset.

Now, it’s time to enjoy the park:

Once you’re caffeinated, get started on a park hop, beginning at Brooklyn Bridge Park. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, rent a kayak for an hour or two and explore the East River. 

After your kayaking experience, walk around the Brooklyn Bridge Park area and soak in the nice green areas. If you’re feeling like you want to stop and soak things in a bit, sit down at a park bench and enjoy the view.

Stop for a bite to eat:

Once you’re feeling ready for more exploration, walk over to Cobble Hill and explore the neighborhood. But first, stop by Al Badawi, a charming Palestinian restaurant with delicious food, for a snack. Order a few dips and some zaatar bread. You won’t be disappointed.

Neighbors / 1 Hotel Brooklyn
Neighbors / 1 Hotel Brooklyn

Back to park hopping:

Now that you’ve fueled up, head over to Fort Greene Park, which is about a 25-minute walk away. Continue to soak in the greenery and remember this moment when your friends ask for recommendations about how to have their own nature-driven weekends in Brooklyn.

Visit plant shops along the way:

Plant shops provide a great opportunity to feel connected to nature and take a little bit of it home with you.

Get in some more steps and stop by The Sill in Cobble Hill to pick out a lovely green gift for a friend or something to take home for yourself. And if you still want a little more plant store joy in your life after your visit to The Sill, head over to Botanica Garden Center in Boerum Hill.

Time for lunch:

All of that walking around probably worked up your appetite, and since you only had light bites at Al Badawi, it’s time for lunch, and you’re in luck. Miss Ada is a fantastic neighborhood lunch spot. The trendy Middle Eastern restaurant has outdoor seating – a covered patio and garden and a sidewalk area tables and chairs – and a cozy dining room. The menu lends itself to sharing, but make sure you get the whipped ricotta with brown butter, honey and sage.

Patrick Dolande / Miss Ada
Patrick Dolande / Miss Ada

Enjoy Brooklyn’s greenery:

Brooklyn provides a decent amount of greenery as you walk along residential, brownstone-lined streets. In the spring, the trees are in full bloom, and it’s fun to aimlessly zig-zag through the romantic, quaint neighborhoods. Listen to the birds chirping, walk past playgrounds filled with happy kids, and forget you’re in New York City for a moment.

Where to stay:

After spending the day walking around, visiting plant shops and eating delicious food, you’ll want to refresh and regroup. Stay at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge for a sustainability-minded and nature-oriented experience – with low-impact construction, a living plant wall in the lobby and wooden, reusable hotel room keys. The hotel is nestled at the edge of the Brooklyn Bridge Park, giving guests a full view of the East River and Lower Manhattan skyline and ideal proximity to the park. Guests can also enjoy Neighbors, the hotel’s coffee shop, which has outdoor seating and The Osprey, the hotel’s plant-forward, locally inspired restaurant. And if you’re looking to dive into the hotel’s nightlife scene, you can grab a drink at Harriet’s, the hotel’s rooftop bar and restaurant.

If you’re looking for something that’s a little more affordable, Ace Hotel Brooklyn, located in Boerum Hill, is also a great option. It’s a bit funkier and more industrial than 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, but even the smallest rooms in this hotel are equipped with floor-to-ceiling windows, Smeg fridges and Tivoli radios. The hotel also has a restaurant and bar, coffee shop, indoor garden and double-sided fireplace.

Ace Hotel Brooklyn
Ace Hotel Brooklyn

Other spots to check out for dinner:

Brooklyn does not have a shortage of excellent restaurants. Here are some other MICHELIN-Starred or recommended places you can check out while you’re in the area.

Walking Distance:

Located on a quiet, residential street in Brooklyn Heights, Clover Hill is the brainchild of Chef Charlie Mitchell, New York’s first Black chef to earn a MICHELIN star. The tiny, charming, timeless restaurant is known for its thoughtful dishes that are made with top-tier ingredients and delicious sauces. This seasonal eating experience in a bistro setting is one you’ll never forget.

Owned by a husband-wife duo, La Vara is a high-quality Spanish restaurant that leans on Spanish-style home cooking and opened in Cobble Hill in 2012. The restaurant has high-quality, creative dishes like Pulpo de Roca (galician octopus with citrus and olive oil) and Arroz Meloso (buttery bomba rice, lobster, mushroom and uni beurre).

Tucked away on a residential Brooklyn Heights street near the promenade, Inga’s Bar has a very cozy, neighborhood feel, and it’s easy to walk in and immediately feel like you want to become a regular there. The menu changes seasonally, but the burger is a staple you can’t go wrong with. Opt for bar seating for a unique New York experience.

With a stunning front-row view of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline, there is no place quite like The River Cafe. The atmosphere and service feels formal and old-school – in a fun and experiential way – and the prix fixe menu includes options like Foie Gras Terrine, Wild Shrimp and Wagyu Steak Tartare. This spot is traditional, yet memorable, and classically New York.

Michael Harlan Turkell / Inga's Bar
Michael Harlan Turkell / Inga's Bar

Hop in a taxi – but it’s worth it:

Chef Nasim Alikhan immigrated to New York from Iran more than 35 years ago, and opened Sofreh in Park Slope in 2018. Nothing compares to a delicious Persian feast, and Sofreh nails it with dishes like the Dried Lime & Herb Beef Stew and the Pomegranate Beef Ribeye Kebab. With a lovely terrace dining area, you’ll feel connected to nature while you enjoy your delicious meal.

The team behind Hometown BBQ opened Red Hook Tavern in 2019, and it’s been a hit ever since. The spot, which is known for having one of the best burgers in New York, has an old-school New York tavern vibe. With a small menu and expansive bar, it’s easy to feel at home quickly.

Located on the rooftop of the Hoxton Hotel in Williamsburg, Laser Wolf is an Israeli restaurant with great views and a fun vibe, the trendy music and open kitchen build the ambiance. The outdoor setting, scattered with trees, will make you feel connected to nature and the city in a unique way. Note that getting a reservation here isn’t easy, so make sure you book in advance.

Rule of Thirds is a fantastic place to go if you’re looking for delicious food and a unique experience. Located in Greenpoint, this Japanese restaurant and cocktail bar has an interesting industrial interior and a cozy outdoor space that feels like a unique fusion of New York sensibility and Japanese decor. With menu items like Yaki Onigiri and Smoked Pork Ribs, you’re sure to leave feeling satisfied with your decision to dine here.

Brooklyn, the green way:

New York is filled with incredible restaurants and opportunities for adventure, but if you’re looking for a nature-filled weekend, Brooklyn is the way to go. The best part? You really can’t go wrong with any of these options. Follow this itinerary, and you’ll be in for a treat.

Daniel Krieger / Red Hook Tavern
Daniel Krieger / Red Hook Tavern

Hero image: 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge


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