Brooklyn is one of New York City's five boroughs. While it is part of the Big Apple, it sometimes feels like its own city. It is the largest borough in terms of population (more than 2.5 million people live here). Sometimes portrayed as rough-around-the-edges or less-exciting than neighboring Manhattan, Brooklyn has plenty of positive attributes that don't often earn headlines. Many people consider it a more accessible, down-to-earth place to visit compared to its more famous peers. It has some wonderful museums, New York City's most exciting arts scene, and plethora of parks, shops and landmarks. There are also plenty of special events and events venues that are completely unique and capture the essence of Brooklyn's low-key-but-sophisticated urban atmosphere.
Brooklyn's teeming Downtown has an impressive list of attractions that go well beyond the views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline. The Brooklyn Academy of Music hosts regular performances at their centrally-located concert hall, while culture vultures can take in some of the East Coast's best avant garde artists at St. Ann's Warehouse. Visitors who really want to immerse themselves in art can head to the BAM Rose Cinemas, a movie theater housed in an ornately decorated building that used to be an opera house. Finally, the Downtown area is home to Bargemusic, a floating concert venue where chamber music is performed while wine and cheese are served. There is even a fireplace on the barge. The so-called DUMBO area (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) is located right on the waterfront. It features bars, shopping and some of the borough's best eateries.
Prospect Park is a neighborhood that is probably best known for its brownstone homes. The district's namesake park is a major attraction. The Brooklyn Botanical Garden is housed inside the park. There is a rose garden, a children's garden and classical Japanese garden with cherry blossom trees that flower each spring. Prospect is also where the Brooklyn Museum is location. This is actually the second largest museum in the entire city. With a collection of over one million pieces, the Brooklyn Museum has something for everyone, from ancient Egyptian artifacts to contemporary works of art.
Brooklyn's Chinatown sits in Sunset Park. All along 8th Avenue, hungry diners can find everything from gourmet seafood restaurants to mom-and-pop soup kitchens serving delicious Chinese noodles. Sunset Park has one secret traits that makes it an especially attractive Brooklyn neighborhood to visit. The area is very hilly, so when you get to the top of a hill, you can enjoy great views of the Brooklyn skyline and the lights of Manhattan in the background.
The most famous of Brooklyn's districts is Coney Island. Located right on the waterfront, Coney has a boardwalk and carnival-like atmosphere. The boardwalk actually stretches down to Brighton Beach. Of course, Nathan's Famous hot dog stand can be found in Coney Island. The area is popular, and the beach is attractive when it is not overcrowded, but few people know one of the district's biggest secrets: there are a number of great Russian restaurants along the boardwalk area in Brighton Beach.
You can find a number of special events in Brooklyn on any given weekend. Art gallery openings, concerts and even fashion shows are on the calendar. Some of these shows are housed in out of the way places. The 1896 is a great example of Brooklyn's vibrant underground culture scene. This collection of performance spaces and art studios sits in a historic brick factory building. The gritty-fashionable surroundings have a great energy. Everything from art shows to lectures to concerts can be hosted here. Better yet, all or part of the venue can be rented, so you could actually host your own Brooklyn-based event. The 1896 (the name refers to the year the original factory was built) is popular with photographers and can even host weddings.
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What are your favorite New York City sites and experiences? Use the comments section to let us know.