Unless you own a car, Red Hook is not the easiest New York City neighborhood to find. There is no subway line to the southeastern Brooklyn hook of land that juts into New York Harbor.
But that isolation only adds to the neighborhood's mystique.
As you arrive at the Red Hook waterfront, whether by boat, bus or bike, the salty New York Harbor breeze bristles lightly against your skin, welcoming you to a different world. Far from the whir of Manhattan, but with striking views of the city skyline, Red Hook is a place locals now consider a small town of its own.
"We've all known each other a long time, and there's a huge cooperative theme between all of us here," said Sam Berliner, manager at The Good Fork restaurant on Van Brunt Street. "Red Hook is this tiny little place everyone comes down to and the businesses down here all know each other, so it has a communal vibe."
This evolving neighborhood is quickly becoming a haven for day-trippers and night-crawlers seeking a relaxing reprieve within the five boroughs.
It's the type of spot where you can still sneak a smoke inside a bar bathroom (we won't say where) in between noshing on the best lobster roll in the city at Red Hook Lobster Pound.
And you can't miss Brooklyn Crab, a new, elevated crab shack and beer garden that just opened in June. Crack blue shells by the water with views of the Statue of Liberty. There's also mini golf there, too.
"Red Hook is an old shipping area. Everything's on the waterfront, and it's all old industrial buildings by the docks," James Ferrarone, general manager of Brooklyn Crab, explained on a sunny Sunday afternoon. "There's a ton of new places opening. It's a beautiful area and a really cool spot."
Love from a local
Susan Lippman, who said she takes a daily walk along the waterside Erie Basin Park with her dog Sadie, told Metro she moved to the outskirts of Red Hook about two years ago because she wanted to get away from the frenetic Manhattan life but still live somewhere that offered nightlife and culture.
“It’s like this little community where you can get the park all to yourself but still be at work in the city in 30 minutes,” she said. “And it’s a lot of fun, too — great restaurants, bars, art. I love it.”
There are two ways to get to Red Hook via public transit:
Catch the IKEA water taxi at Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan between noon and 9:20 p.m. daily for a 20-minute ride to the Brooklyn IKEA, just a half-mile walk from downtown Red Hook. The water taxi is free on weekends.
If you prefer the bus, take the B61 from Park Slope or Downtown Brooklyn to Van Brunt Street, Red Hook’s main drag.
Enjoy a lazy Sunday in Red Hook
Homemade Oreo and iced coffee at Baked, 359 Van Brunt St., bakednyc.com
Get lost inside IKEA for a few hours, fantasizing about all the Nordic furniture you could own
Brunch at The Good Fork, 391 Van Brunt, goodfork.com
If you want to add a little urban culture to your tour, check out the birthplace of Busta Rhymes and Knicks star Carmelo Anthony, both of whom grew up in the infamous Red Hook Houses
$2 PBR in the garden at Brooklyn Ice House, 318 Van Brunt
Blue crabs, mojitos and, yes, mini golf, at Brooklyn Crab, 24 Reed St., brooklyncrab.com
Watch the sun set over the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan at Louis Valentino, Jr. Park, Coffey and Ferris streets