Must-See Red Hook
by Michael Hsu, 11/09/2011
(From left) Courtesy, Erie Basin • Burnt Sugar Bundt Cake courtesy of Baked
With its sweeping views of the New York Bay, the occasional cobblestone street and its industrial vibe (a holdover from when it was one of the country's busiest shipping centers), Red Hook has a character all its own. It's the big city infused with the flavor of New England, and it's become home to artisans, musicians, beekeepers, rooftop gardeners and a host of creatives and entrepreneurs.
For sightseers, it has another thing going for it: it's not nearly as crowded as other parts of Brooklyn. Though the area isn't remote, sparse public-transportation options make Red Hook a destination for the more adventurous. Nearby subway stops are few and far between; the two closest stations—Carroll St. and Smith/9th Sts. on the F and G trains—are more than a mile away from some of the district's best spots. That said, the B61 bus does a loop through the neighborhood, and it's an easy connection from many subway lines: hop on at Jay St./MetroTech from the A, C, F, N or R trains; at Borough Hall from the 2, 3, 4 or 5 trains; or at 4th Ave./9th St. from the F, G or R.
Ironically, the most accessible destination in Red Hook is a big-box store: IKEA. You can take the New York Water Taxi there from Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan. (Weekday trips run 2 to 7:20pm and cost $5. On weekends, the ride is free with service from 11am to 8:20pm.) There are also free shuttle buses to IKEA from the subway stops at the corner of Smith and 9th Streets, and from Brooklyn Borough Hall. Many of the spots in this roundup are within walking distance of the store. For farther destinations, livery cabs are available there.
So don't let the small hurdle of getting there thwart you. Whether it's the food, art or shopping, Red Hook is filled with treasures. The resourceful will be rewarded.