Brooklyn Summer Blast Off

For the past few years, we’ve opted to avoid the traffic and hassle of travel plans that go along with Memorial Day weekend and, instead, have chosen to stay local. We’ve found it’s a great weekend to explore the city on a slower pace, walk in to restaurants without reservations and explore uncharted territory with the kids. This year, with a revolving door of family and friends tagging along throughout the weekend, we set our sights on Brooklyn.

My daughter’s class trip across the Brooklyn Bridge on Friday kicked the weekend off. It was so nice to see her and her classmates march across this historic landmark and see up close what they had been studying in class.

They were very lucky to have a great tour guide from Savladori Center, who enthusiastically pointed out different facets and facts along the span of the bridge. At the midpoint, the kids participated in a scavenger hunt, having to spot features of the bridge and landmarks of the city from the beautiful vistas. Once in Brooklyn, they had a picnic lunch in a playground in DUMBO before heading back across the bridge to school in Manhattan – all them proud little New Yorkers.

On Saturday, the rain didn’t hinder our plans of heading to Williamsburg for an afternoon of fun. The City Reliquary was our first stop. This tiny two-room community museum is filled with memorabilia of NYC.

There’s a significant display of statues of liberty, minerals and stones from various buildings and time periods of the city, baseball cards, old oddly shaped seltzer bottles, subway tokens and many keepsakes from the he NYC World Fairs. We even saw a (gross) specimen of the first NYC cockroach, called the Croton Bug!

The current exhibit is the history of the Coney Island Velodrome, a bicycle-racing venue built in 1930. You can open drawers, hold objects and take pictures in this unique museum and it takes less than an hour to tour. It’s whimsical and interesting for all ages and if you’re a lover of all things NY, make sure to check it out.

After a little taste of culture, we headed to Brooklyn Bowl! While listening to tunes from the 80s and 90s, we had a blast trying to beat one another’s scores and watched as our 5-year-old rolled the ball (which weighed more than her) so slowly down the lane, that it was a miracle she knocked any pins down.

Bowling is one of those pastimes that you forget how fun it is, until you’re back doing it. We left embarrassed by our low scores, but vowing to do it again soon. Having worked up an appetite, we headed to Sea Thai for dinner.

The kids loved the reflecting pool with floating candles, the big golden Buddha statue and the swinging benches and chairs. The food was pretty good and the service was efficient and friendly. All in all, while we didn’t see many kids in Williamsburg, we unanimously decided it was a great little part of Brooklyn that we look forward to visiting again.

Sunday had us traveling back to Brooklyn, this time by ferry to Red Hook where my daughter had a class project. Her task was  to find landmarks, get a sense of the culture and find places of interest. We started with a stroll by the old abandoned trolleys of the 1950’s right by the water taxi dock. Nearby, we stopped in to see an art exhibit in an old warehouse put on by the Brooklyn Waterfront Artist Coalition. There were two floors displaying a variety of interesting photographs, sculptures and installations.

Ready for a snack, we headed to the much anticipated, Steve’s Key Lime Pies. We had read and heard about these sublime pies and quickly ordered and dug in. The pies lived up to the hype and were simply delectable. We finished off the 4-inch tarts in a nanosecond.

We continued our walk along the waterfront and were pleasantly surprised to stumble upon the charming Red Hook Winery. While my husband and I did a small tasting of local wines, the kids had fun playing with old fashioned games of tic tac toe and rock ‘em sock ‘em robots.

We found the historic landmark of the Brooklyn Clay Retort and Fire Brick Storehouse and took pictures at the site of Fort Defiance where the Battle of Brooklyn was fought against the British in 1776. We popped in and out of IKEA, overwhelmed by the masses of shoppers and opted instead for a quick stop at Baked, where we picked up their famous sweet and salty brownies for the next day.

Our last stop in Red Hook was Brooklyn Crab, a multi-floor crab shack with outdoor seating, fresh seafood, and a great atmosphere for families. We happily feasted on little necks, steamers and crabs (our little one opting for a corn dog & fries).

We ended the evening with a round of mini golf in the backyard of the restaurant before catching the sunset views of the Statue of Liberty on the Ferry ride back to Wall Street. It’s hard to believe that as recently as the 1990s, Red Hook was deemed once of the worst neighborhoods in the country, riddled with gangs, crime and drugs. Despite being devastated by Hurricane Sandy, It’s recovery and resurgence has been remarkable and it’s a wonderful place to spend the day.

Tired from our action-packed 48 hours, we decided to stay in our neighborhood on Memorial Day and have a picnic in Central Park. My husband couldn’t resist keeping the Brooklyn theme going and – believing that no Memorial Day is complete without some sort of BBQ – he traveled back to Williamsburg on his bike to pick up pulled pork an brisket sandwiches from Mable’s Smokehouse.

As we settled in, once again feasting on deliscious Brooklyn fare, (washed down by Brooklyn Six Point Crisp Pilsner, of course), we were full and happy to have experienced the unofficial start of summer in a Brooklyn state of mind!

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Prior to becoming a stay at home mom, Mina was an HR Recruiter for years. Now her time is spent happily juggling the demands of two young daughters while trying to expose them to the endless adventures the city has to offer.

The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog contributor’s. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Writers may have conflicts of interest, and their opinions are their own.

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