Kidding Around Brooklyn

We’re about a month into summer break so odds are the kids are starting to get restless! Here are some free Brooklyn-based activities to look forward to, that will keep the little ones active and entertained.


573c8b564a761A Good Sport

As tempting as it is to set the kids up with video games, smartphones and television, they will benefit far more from fresh air and exercise. From the beginning of July until mid-September, Sunset Park Recreation Center hosts the Summer Sports Experience. Every weekday from 9:15am-4:45pm, the skilled Parks staff teach kids how to play basketball, soccer, football, rugby, volleyball, goal ball, softball and various group games. This is a friendly, small group introduction to the sports, on a drop-in basis and it’s a great way for kids to socialize and learn teamwork skills. There are separate programs for 8 month-3 year olds, 2-5 year olds and 6-14 year olds and all programs are free!
43rd Street at 7th Avenue, Sunset Park


Soaking Gunimage

Get ready to get super soaked at this water workout! The annual Squirt Gun Fight takes place Saturday August 13 at the Coney Island Boardwalk. Every year thousands of New Yorkers turn up armed and ready for the massive drench-fest. Bathing suits, towels and maybe even goggles recommended; water-spraying devices essential! This sopping-wet day of free fun starts at 1pm and is suitable for ages 6 and up.
37 Boardwalk West, Coney Island


image (1)Take the Field

Team up with the family for the ultimate day of outdoor excitement! Brooklyn Bridge Park have been running Family Field Days once a month since June, with the grand final taking place Saturday August 20 from 10am. The free Family Field Days are full of good old-fashioned recreational fun for all ages. There’s guaranteed to be something for every member of your team, including Hula-Hoop races, volleyball clinics, soccer drills and bocce. All necessary equipment is provided – just wear sneakers and be prepared to get physical!
334 Furman St (between Adams St and Atlantic Ave), Brooklyn Heights


Kites and Tykesimage (2)
Seize the breeze and take to the skies with Brooklyn Bridge Park’s annual Kite Festival. Bring your kite along or purchase one there and teach your tot how to fly it! The event takes place Saturday September 10, after the kids go back to school, so you and the kids have plenty of time to practice kite flying skills and techniques. With the picturesque Manhattan skyline as a backdrop, the colorful flutter-fest is free and suitable for all ages.
334 Furman St, Brooklyn Heights

 

56b39ce479a04Afternoon Adventures
The kids might not be looking forward to going back to school, but they’ll like this type of learning! The Environmental Education Center in Brooklyn Bridge Park is open for free, four afternoons a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the year from February until November. From 3-5pm kids will learn about Brooklyn Bridge Park, with a 250-gallon aquarium filled with critters from the East River, a 10’-scale model of Brooklyn Bridge Park, arts and crafts, a reading corner and more.
99 Plymouth, DUMBO

In the Brooklyn Swim

We’ve just made it through the first heatwave of the year and the warm weather is set to continue! How are you going to beat the summer heat? Free outdoor pools of course!

 

red hookHook, Lane and Swimmer
80 years old and still going strong! The Red Hook Pool was a Federal Works Progress Administration (WPA) project that opened in 1939, deep in the Great Depression during a summer that broke local heat records. The opening of the immense outdoor pool was attended by 40,000 people. Today, the pool is popular but thankfully a lot less people are in attendance. The pool is open daily from 11am-7pm, with weekday lap hours for keen swimmers, 18 years and over, from 7-8:30am and 7pm-dusk. For lap-swimmers, on-site aquatic specialists are available to record your lengths and those with the most laps at the end of summer win prizes. Entry is free but you’ll need to register online or poolside prior to your session.
155 Bay Street.

 

Pop by the Pop-Upcarousel-large
It’s true what they say, good things don’t last forever. Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pop-Up Pool is set to close at the end of next summer, after its fifth season and a highly successful run. The 30’ x 50’ Pop-Up Pool maxes out at an easy 3.5’ deep – making it just right for families with smaller kids. Entry is free and the pool also offers affordable swimming lessons. The area around the pool includes a 2,500-square-foot sandy beach, deck concessions, showers and restrooms. Open from June 29 til Labor Day, 10am to 6pm daily, for 45-minute sessions. The pool capacity is 60 and wristbands are required for each session, distributed first-come, first-served.
334 Furman Street.

 

mccarrenMega McCarren
Mini-pools are great for splashing around but if you’re serious about your swimming, you’ll want to go big or go home (hopefully to air conditioning). On the border of Williamsburg and Greenpoint, McCarren Park Pool is an Olympic-sized 329’ x 151’ x 4.6’ – that’s a generous 37,571 square foot swim area. Since 1939 (also a WPA project) the pool has been a cool haven and popular exercise venue for North Brooklyn dwellers, with plenty of poolside space for beach chairs and towel lounging post-swim. The pool is open daily from 11am-3pm, and 4pm-7pm, closing for an hour for pool cleaning. The pool usually draws major crowds so get in early.
776 Lorimer Street.

 

Double Fun at Double Dimage
Dip, dive and dog-paddle at the Douglass and DeGraw Pool in Gowanus, also known as the Double D. There are two separate pools here – an intermediate pool at 75’ x 60’ x 3’ and a wading pool perfect for the kiddies at 24’ x 24’ x 1’. The large concrete deck has a covered area and benches and is surprisingly uncrowded. The pool is also right next to the Thomas Greene Playground so if your little ones aren’t worn out after a splish and splash, take them to climb the monkey bars and scale mid-size towers. The pools are monitored by several lifeguards and open daily from 11am-7pm with a break for cleaning between 3-4pm, from July til Labor Day.
230 Douglass Street.

Summer Screensations

Lining up for movie tickets and popcorn then sitting in a super chilly movie theater this Summer? You’re doing it wrong! It is the season to get outside and this year’s outdoor film screenings are already in full swing. Grab a blanket and some buddies, and watch a film under the stars in Brooklyn at the following locations.

 

industry cityScreen it from the Rooftops
Bars, BBQs, restaurants, parties, tanning, watching movies… There are just some things that were made for rooftops! This outdoor summer series is now in its 10th year and has expanded to four (mostly rooftop) locations across Brooklyn on various nights throughout June, July and August. Rooftop Films brings the underground outdoors, and has grown to become known internationally as one of the most dynamic film festivals in the world. In Sunset Park, with Brooklyn’s waterfront as the backdrop, films will be screened from two of Industry City’s amazing rooftops. Enjoy breathtaking views of lower Manhattan’s skyscape, the Statue of Liberty and South Brooklyn while watching a mix of documentaries, short films and animations including Sundance Short Films and documentaries about New York, including Goodnight Brooklyn: The Story of Death by Audio. There is a live music performance at every screening and many host dance parties after the film.
Industry City, 220 36th St, Sunset Park. $15.
Bushwick Generator, 195 Moore St, Bushwick. $15.
MetroTech Commons, 5 MetroTech Center, Downtown. Free.
The Old American Can Factory, 232 Third St at 3rd Ave, Gowanus. $15.

 

Williamsburg Watchingswburg
There’s seeing it on the big screen, then seeing it on the BIG outdoor Brooklyn screen. The borough’s longest running film and music series launched in 2006 with a screening of Do The Right Thing and 11 years later, SummerScreen is still going strong. At McCarren Park in Williamsburg every Wednesday from July 6 to August 10, spectators will be treated to cult classics like 10 Things I Hate About You and The Royal Tenebaums in the open-air, and best of all, it’s free! Bring chairs, blankets and pack a picnic, or take advantage of food and drinks from local vendors. Every show features live music, which kicks off at 6pm, followed by the movie at 8:30pm. McCarren Park, North 12th St, Williamsburg. Free.


movies with viewA View from the Bridge
On a warm summer night, spread your blanket on the luscious grass of Harbor View Lawn in Brooklyn Bridge Park, take in the spectacular sight of the Manhattan skyline and enjoy the breeze off the East River. You’re at Movies With A View. Since 2000, Movies With A View has earned a large and loyal following. One of New York City’s favorite summer film series, the line-up of films promises to wow, entertain, thrill and pull at the heartstrings of movie goers. The screenings take place every Thursday evening in July and August and include classics such as Purple Rain and American Graffiti. For the final screening of the series, the public can vote between The SandlotMilk or La Bamba. The eight-week series expects to draw an average of 7,000 film fans at each screening. The lawn opens at 6pm, with the film beginning at sunset.
Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 1, 334 Furman Street, Dumbo. Free.


Habana Good TimeHabana-Outpost

Mexican food and movies have to be two of our favorite things. Habana Outpost read our minds and combined the two. The Fort Greene restaurant projects movies on their outside wall every Sunday from May through to the end of October. Enjoy their award-winning Cuban sandwich, indulge in their bold-tasting Mexican-style corn, and order all the tacos and burritos your heart desires, because the movie is free! Films screen at 8pm and this year’s roster includes West Side StoryFlashdanceRocky,Saturday Night FeverGhostbusters and, for Halloween, of course, The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
757 Fulton St, Fort Greene. Free.

Other venues worth checking out include:
Movie Nights at Narrows Botanical Gardens in Bay Ridge
Midweek Movie Escapes in Downtown Brooklyn
Flicks on the Beach in Coney Island
Red Hook Flicks in Red Hook
Bric Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival at Prospect Park
NYC Parks Classic Film Series at various Brooklyn locations

Events for Independence Play

The Fourth of July is fast upon us. On Monday we will celebrate the birth of US independence – you could say it was our very own Brookxit! If you’re celebrating in our brilliant borough, here are our recommendations.


brooklyn-bridge-park-fireworks-nycFire Up

For the 40th year, Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks will light up the sky over the East River. Bigger and better than ever, the annual sky spectacular will wow spectators across downtown Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn. From around 9:20pm over 56,000 fireworks will burst forth at a rate of 2,200 per minute. For a good viewing spot you will have to get there early – so pack a picnic and make a day of it. Be prepared to stand or sit on the ground – no chairs or large items are allowed into viewing areas. Brooklyn Bridge Park will be the prime spot, followed by Brooklyn Heights Promenade, or you could head further north to Grand Ferry Park or East River State Park in Williamsburg, or Greenpoint’s WNYC Transmitter Park. Of course if you have any friends with rooftops in the area, now is the time to give them a call! As the highest point in Brooklyn, Sunset Park is also a great option.


Cone ZoneCapture

If battling the crowds to see the fireworks isn’t how you’d like to celebrate freedom then there will be plenty of festive-fun on the boardwalk down south at Coney Island. Ride the roller-coaster, play carnival games, enjoy some fried-fare, go swimming or relax on the beach. The now in its 100th year, the famous Nathan’s Annual Hot Dog Eating Competition will chomp-off at 10am. Will anyone beat Joey Chestnut’s world record of 69 franks and buns in 10 minutes? The Coney Island Fireworks kick-off at 9:30pm and while the pyrotechnics are much more low-key than Macy’s, the beach view more than makes up for it!


parkPark It

Can’t decide who gets your vote for best Independence Day activity? Well our presumptive nominee is Prospect Park! The Prospect Park Alliance has organized a day of free or inexpensive family-friendly activities. Celebrate the holiday with a ride on the Park’s beloved 1912 carousel, from 12-6pm ($2 per ride, $9 for a book of 5 tickets, free with Alliance Family Plus membership). From 1-4pm Lefferts Historic House will celebrate America’s birthday with reproductions of one of the greatest documents ever written, the Declaration of Independence. Make yourself a plumed hat to wear while signing your own “John Hancock” ($3 suggested donation). The Audubon Center will host a free day of nature exploration from 12-4pm with Discovery Packs, bird games and a Citizen Science project.


Cultural CelebrationCapture 2
It is important to remember that when the Declaration of Independence was signed, African-Americans were still slaves. The 45th Annual International African Arts Festival (IAFF) is a great opportunity to celebrate traditional and contemporary expression of various African cultural art forms. The four-day grassroots cultural festival is a fave of local African-American and Caribbean American Brooklynites. From 10am-9pm, Friday to Monday, Commodore Barry Park in Fort Greene will be transformed into an outdoor African cultural oasis with a Food Court, music and dance performances, a kids play zone, poetry show and more. What started in 1971 as a small vendor market has grown into an African Marketplace with over a hundred vendors offering one-of-a-kind, handcrafted original designs of merchandise ranging from jewelry, fashion, body products imported African fabric, artifacts, furniture, paintings and more. Entry is by suggested donation ($5).

BicyCOOL Paths in Brooklyn

May is Bike Month in NYC so it’s fitting to feature a few of the best bike paths in the borough, and with the weather finally heating it’s time to get riding!

 

041613_oceanpCarroll to Coney
We have an endless list of cool Brooklyn facts, and we just discovered something to add! Did you know… the United States’ first ever bike path was created in Brooklyn in 1894 – Ocean Parkway! Although some of the Parkway was cleared in the 1970s to make room for the Prospect Expressway, there are still plenty of trees lining this path, which makes it a lovely, scenic ride from Prospect Park to Coney Island, and generally flat and easy-going. Starting in Carroll Gardens, be sure to do a quick tour of the charming historic brownstones, then hit the path from Ocean Parkway and East 8th Street in Kensington, all the way down to Surf Avenue in Coney Island.


River Rideimage

Views of Manhattan, tours through various neighborhoods, a leisurely ride through the park and a speedy ride through the streets – the Brooklyn Greenway is ride up our alley! Obviously we’re not a fan of a PATH unless it’s in Brooklyn, and this one happens to be one of the most impressive in the city, running along the East River from Greenpoint to Red Hook. Take in the views of the city skyline, and breathe in fresh air while cruising through Brooklyn Bridge Park (be aware that the path in the park can get crowded!). The six-mile path runs from Kent Avenue to the northern end of Van Brunt Street, with plans to extend it through Sunset Park to Bay Ridge. 

 

imageBuckle Up
You’re in for quite a ride on the Belt Parkway Bike Path! Starting from Bay Ridge this waterfront path has a spectacular view of the Staten Island, the Verrazano Bridge and the New York harbor. Pedaling along the coast and through Sheepshead Bay, with the open Atlantic Ocean beside you, you’ll eventually reach Flatbush Avenue. Here you can take a right and continue over the Marine Parkway Bridge, then turn left and head to Rockaway Beach. This is a smooth ride, several miles long with sensational views.


Bridge and Borough Biking91012pulaski

Pulaski and you shall receive! About a month ago the new, improved and much-anticipated Pulaski Bridge Bike Path officially opened, taking cyclists on a safe, scenic tour through three boroughs. Starting in Long Island City, the two-lane, protected bike lane, travels across the bridge, into North Brooklyn. Cycling through commercial Manhattan Avenue then residential Noble Street, you take Kent Avenue down to the Williamsburg Bridge, and then across into the Lower East Side. With stellar views of the Manhattan skyline and a solid workout guaranteed – it is highly bikely you’ll enjoy this one!

Make Mom’s Day

One of the most important days of the year… this Sunday is Mother’s Day! Take this opportunity to spoil mom and thank her for her eternal, unwavering love and support. Spend a memorable day together at one of these events taking place in Brooklyn.


BIANCO_Sigrid-Spinnox-29Bianco Under the Bridge
Marvel with mom in the magic of human balance and counter balance, delivered by the sophisticated circus troupe NoFit State. Performing arts institution St. Ann’s Warehouse welcomes the international circus and their spaceship-shaped tent to Brooklyn Bridge Park, as they make their North American debut this month with their show Bianco. Accompanied by a live band, NoFit State will perform exquisite displays of prowess and dare right above spectators’ heads, in a series of gorgeous aerial spectacles.
2pm-8:30pm, Sunday, May 8. Tickets from $35.

 

Mother of all Brunchesmeadowsweet
You’ll show mom your aplomb by taking her to a Michelin Star restaurant in Williamsburg for an unbeatable brunch. Meadowsweet serves Mediterranean-influenced New American dishes and craft cocktails in a casually cool, bright and airy setting with a bar. For $45 you will enjoy a cocktail or glass of wine, baked goods and a 2-course brunch choosing from mains like huevos rancheros, duck pastrami hash, three egg omelet, French toast and more. Reservations required.
11am-3pm, Sunday, May 8. $45 for adults.

 

BRIDGETake a Walk on the Brooklyn Side
Demonstrate the caring and supportive qualities mom instilled in you by participating in the 5th Annual Mother’s Day Walk across Brooklyn Bridge. The Mother’s Day Walk is a NYC tradition held by Milagros Day Worldwide, a nonprofit organization that empowers survivors of domestic violence. It is a fun family day that honors and celebrates motherhood while raising awareness and funds. The day starts with an hour of Zumba and opening ceremony in Manhattan, progresses across the Bridge and ends with a multicultural family festival at Cadman Plaza Park between Brooklyn Heights and Downtown Brooklyn.
9am-3pm, Sunday, May 8. $10 + Booking Fee.

 

bklyndesignFine Design
Unfortunately it looks like Mother Nature might rain on mom’s parade this weekend, so here is a fantastic indoor option that beats the trip to IKEA backup plan. BKLYN DESIGNS is Brooklyn’s premier design event, showcasing emerging designers and established brands across furniture, lighting, tableware, art, textiles and jewelry. Founded by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce in 2003, BKLYN DESIGNS will celebrate the borough’s creative community at Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint with collective exhibits, pop-up lounges, installations and hands-on demos. Check out the screen printing workshop (make mom a tote!) and get mom a gift at BKLYN BUYS, the show’s curated marketplace.
9am-6pm, Friday, May 6 – Sunday, May 8. $15.

Quirks of a Cooler City

As New York morphs into the winter wonderland we’ve all been expecting, take advantage of the freezing fun only available during the first months of the year.

 

160108 - bridgeA Brooklyn stroll model

Leading the way in community and environmental programs, Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy’s Winter Talks is set to return. Participants will be able to walk the walk and talk New York as guides share some of the borough’s best stories. The Walentase family who purchased Jane’s Carousel and brought it from Ohio to Brooklyn in the 80s won’t be horsing around as they personally take participants on a walk back in time to the 20s during America’s carousel crescendo.

Other talks include a green treet for those looking for insights on winter tree pruning, a workshop to help your stargazing go from woes to pro, a cool canine adventure and more.

Tours are from January 27 to March 5. Tickets are available for purchase. $5 for Conservancy Members and $10 for Non-Members.

 

160108 - BBGBrooklyn’s botanic beauty

Floating floral will descend onto Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Steinhardt Conservatory through to January 24. The winter pearls will feature Bromeliads and other vibrant plants in a display of kokedama, the crown jewel of the BBG’s annual holiday exhibit.

Designed and constructed by Margarita Poulson, Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s curator of Interior Displays & Washington Avenue Gardens, the installation is a mosaic celebrating the diversity of indoor bonsai with the plants encased in a sphere of moss-covered soil – suspending in the air or displayed in a shallow container.

Admission is free on weekdays through to February.

 

160108 - smorgChilly and cheerful

Brooklyn Flea has been a magnet for hipsters and families alike and in the winter months, New Yorkers have gravitated towards groovy indoor spaces. Drawing the crowds are top vendors in furniture, vintage clothing, collectibles and antiques as well as jewelry, arts and crafts produced by local designers.

The institution is entering new terrain this winter and as one 5-star Yelp reviewer put it, “Amidst the broken sidewalks, and the mobs of wholesale shoppers of Costco, exists a wonderland called Smorgasburg and Brooklyn Flea.”

From now until March, Brooklyn Flea and its scrumptious sibling, Smorgasburg (the city’s iconic giant artisan food market), will call Industry City home in Sunset Park. Hours will be from 10am to 6pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

Scary Sessions in Brooklyn this Halloween

Here are our freaky treats that’ll bring the fun, fear and feasts this Halloween.

Frightening Family Festival

151012 - Bk bridgeBrooklyn Bridge Park – Pier 6
10/24/15 – 10:30 am to 1:00 pm – free

Pier in and take a look at what the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy has to offer for a terrifying time (kid-friendly of course!). The Harvest Festival perched on Pier 6 will offer arts, crafts, storytelling, volleyball and musical performances.
Other Fearbies include a pumpkin patch, photo-booth, and obstacle course.

Haunted BK walking tour

Brooklyn Bridge Park – Pier 1
10/21/15 – 6:30pm – $10

The Walking Dead and American Horror story are reminders that there are scary stories to be told around every corner. Boroughs of the Dead owner and founder Andrea Janes will be your ghastly guide through Brooklyn’s web of historic haunts.
Masked by development, cafes and parks, will you be able to keep up with the secret stories of wealth, gore and mysterious deaths?

Fort Greene Halloween Festival

151012 - Fort GreeneFort Greene Park
10/31/15 – 12:00pm to 3:00pm – free

A pumpkin-flavored Fort Greene brings around one of the neighborhood’s biggest events year on year. Attractions include a horse-drawn hay ride, pumpkin patch, costume parade and the super cute Fort Greene PUPs Costume Contest, The Great PUPkin. Dressing up your pup is no walk on the bark!

Deadly Crawl to Monster Ball

Milk River 960 Atlantic Ave (between St James Pl & Classon Ave)
10/31/15 – doors open 8:00pm – free

Milk River will host a “Vampires in Brooklyn” party, marking the return of the Block Association to Brooklyn. With beastly beats by Block Boys Dj’s Frei Speech and DJ Trauma, plus NO COVER, there are many reasons not to ghost out on this night of devilish dancing.
It’s as clear as blood why the largest ‘no cover’ Halloween party in Brooklyn should be the only one in your planner. RSVPs are mandatory so get in quick. Guests must be in Halloween costume or fashionably black.

Brooklyn Parks: Our Fall Favorites

You’re in for a tree-t! Each year we hear that as the leaves drop, so do rental prices. To celebrate the great news for budding Brooklyn renters, we’ve put together a list of the parks that have left a mark on our borough memories.

Prospect Park
150929 - Prospect ParkThe biggest framers market in Brooklyn. The longest, uninterrupted lawn in the United States. World class free fitness and music events. A historic century-old carousel. Need we say more? Some feel it’s a no-brainer why Prospect Park is the greatest park in the entire city.

As the weather changes, explore the Ravine, Brooklyn’s only forest.

Owl’s head

150929 - Owls HeadAs New Yorkers, we want all of our things to be the best, first or greatest. While you skate back in time at Brooklyn’s first skate park, bask in the historical knowledge that one of the founding fathers of the Dutch Village of Breuckelen lived on the land as well; as did Senator Henry Cruise Murphy who drafted the Brooklyn Bridge construction bill and was a proud founder of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle – which predates the New York Times by ten years. Just saying…

Civic Brooklynite and wealthy manufacturer, Eliphalet Bliss, bought the estate and on his deathbed and turned the land from private property to public land by offering it to the City of New York (at a discount) with the stipulation that it be used as parkland.

Nowadays locals benefit from a dog run, grassy hills and a no-filter postcard view of New York Harbor.

Yelp users call it “another lesser known gem in Brooklyn” and the huge trees and wide pathways make it “perfect for almost anything … to enjoy a picnic, watch the sunset, sit on a bench enjoy your coffee and the waterfront view, or just people watch.”

Brooklyn Bridge Park

150929 - BK BridgeWithin the last decade or so, the 1.3 miles of luscious parkland along the East River has come to be known as Brooklyn Bridge Park. It’s somewhat of a sports central, offering visitors kayaking, floating pathways, fishing piers, waterside handball and basketball courts

Yelp users recommend Grimaldi’s for a packed picnic to-go and the nearby Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory.
Marine Park

150929 - Marine ParkIt’s a great place to nestle amongst nature. Marine Park has 530 acres of wide salt marsh, meadows and sand dunes filled with shrubs, vines and beach plants. Park Rangers are on hand to point out the 325 different kinds of birds, 50 species of butterfly and the occasional rabbit or hawk.

The Wall Street Journal has called Madison “as old school as it gets” when it comes to New York City neighborhoods. In a recent archaeological dig, excavators discovered food preparation pits in Marine Park dating back to the 9th century! Being worlds and perhaps years away from the kitsch Manhattan spectacle makes Marine Park quite the escape.
We recommend Joe’s of Avenue U for a lean mean Italian Marine hero.