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Should You Stay in Brooklyn?

Brooklyn, New York

I love New York. It’s an exciting city filled with possibilities and high energy with a seemingly unending list of great things to do. Which is probably why I’ve visited so often. With such a big city there are countless restaurants, shops, attractions, parks, and, of course, neighbourhoods and hotels. Choosing where to stay in New York can be one of the toughest decisions you’ll make when planning a trip to the Big Apple.

A lot of first time visitors like to stay near Times Square, but I have a different favourite for my visits now: Brooklyn. It wasn’t that long ago that Brooklyn wasn’t on anybody’s travel radar but these days it’s thriving. When you hear the name, what do you think? Hip? Gritty? Trendy? Creative? Brooklyn is all of that and more and makes a great base for any visit to New York.

It’s even entirely possible to have an amazing New York City vacation without ever leaving Brooklyn. Whether you’re into farmer’s markets, international foods, cool concert venues, craft breweries, street art, or shopping, there’s something for you in Brooklyn.

With multiple subway lines connecting the borough to Manhattan you’re also never far away from the buzz and bright lights if that’s your jam. So now you may be asking yourself, “Is it ok to stay in Brooklyn when visiting New York?

Quick Brooklyn Neighbourhood Guide

  • Where to stay in Brooklyn for your first time – Williamsburg
  • Where to stay in Brooklyn on a budget – Bushwick
  • The best area to stay in Brooklyn for nightlife – Bushwick
  • Best neighbourhood in Brooklyn for families – Bedford-Stuyvesant

Brooklyn brownstone

Should you stay in Brooklyn on your next trip to New York? Here are my thoughts…

Pros of Staying in Brooklyn

Trendy and Hip Vibe

How could the birthplace of the hipster not have an air of cool about it? Check out the weekly food truck fair that is Smorgasburg to taste all the newest food trends you’ve seen on Instagram. Shop for vintage items at the Brooklyn Flea. Get lost in the greenery of Prospect Park. Watch a band in a venue that’s also a bowling alley. You can feel like one of the cool kids when you stay in Brooklyn.

There’s also a healthy boutique hotel scene happening in Brooklyn now, which I’m loving. There are cool design options right from hostels like the NY Moore Hostel to budget options like Pod Brooklyn all the way up to fancy boutique luxury at the Whythe Hotel.

More room to roam

While Manhattan can often feel cramped from having so much going on, Brooklyn feels like you can stretch your legs. The streets feel a bit wider, the air feels breezier, the sun feels a bit stronger with fewer skyscrapers towering over you. While Manhattan may give you a little adrenaline buzz from the crowds, Brooklyn gives you room to take a deep breath and relax.

Fewer congested crowds

After so many visits to New York, I’ve really come to dislike the always crowded Times Square. When you always have to watch where you’re walking so that you don’t walk into someone, you can’t really appreciate your surroundings. While Brooklyn’s full of people, you won’t find those same packed streets as you do in Manhattan. You can look up and take in the sight of brownstones, leafy trees, and amazing street art.

Lower priced accommodations

Though still not cheap, you can find accommodations for a generally lower price than you’ll find somewhere like Midtown Manhattan or the Upper West Side. There are a handful of great hostels and some really great hotels at all price points. Maybe you’ll take the money you save and see an extra Broadway show, or maybe buy yourself funky at the Brooklyn Flea.

Quieter

Honking horns. Sirens. Never ending chatter on the sidewalk. It can be overwhelming in midtown so if you want to stay in a more peaceful neighbourhood, head to Brooklyn. It’s no rural town but you’ll likely get a better night’s sleep.

Brooklyn Bridge

Cons of Staying in Brooklyn

Longer transit times

The extra 10 or 15 minutes it takes me to get from Manhattan into Brooklyn has never really bothered me too much but it is a fact of life. If you’re staying in Brooklyn and trying to get to something in Manhattan it’s going to take longer. If you’re flying in or out of Newark Airport, transiting to Brooklyn can be a pain and a half but you’re only going to do that once per trip.

So that’s it. The only real con I can find for staying in Brooklyn is that you’ll have to take a train, bridge, or tunnel to get to Manhattan which will add a bit of time to your daily commute.

Brooklyn Neighbourhoods

First thing to know is that Brooklyn is big. Like, really big. It’s 180 km² in landmass and home to over 2.5 million people. With over 35 named neighbourhoods in the borough, each with its own character, it can be intimidating to even begin narrowing your hotel search down. I’ve picked out a few of what I think are the best neighbourhoods in Brooklyn for tourists.

Smorgasburg | SuitcaseandHeels.com

Williamsburg

Williamsburg, located across the river from 14th Street in Manhattan, is the birthplace of the modern hipster. It’s full of cool vintage shops, trendy bars, boutique hotels as well as the home of Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn Bowl, and Smorgasburg.

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Bushwick Collective

Bushwick

Bushwick is a vibrant, eclectic working class neighbourhood that’s home to amazing street art, cool coffee shops, and trendy brunch spots mixed with former factories converted into lofts. 

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Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn

Bed-Stuy

This would be my recommended neighbourhood to stay if you’re travelling with a family. You’ll have an easier time finding a multi-room rental in this residential neighbourhood. Pick a place near the G train and you can quickly be connected to Williamsburg, Downtown Brooklyn or Manhattan.

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Brooklyn Bridge

DUMBO

Dumbo is actually an acronym that means Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass and refers to a small area from Brooklyn Bridge to the west, Bridge Street on the east, I-278 on the south and the East River to the north. If you’re looking for upscale lofts, art galleries, or tech startups, this is your neighbourhood.

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Downtown Brooklyn

Downtown Brooklyn

Downtown Brooklyn is a mix of commercial buildings and apartments. From here, you’ll have easy access to lower Manhattan. This neighbourhood also has good shopping if you’re looking for discount and department stores.

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How to Get To Manhattan from Brooklyn

Subway

If you’re staying in Williamsburg or Bushwick, you’re going to become very familiar with the L train that connects to 14th Street. For instance, it’s a 6 minute ride from Bedford Avenue Station to Union Square.

If you’re staying in Bed-Stuy you’ll be connecting to the G train, which is the only train in the NYC Transit system to run entirely in Brooklyn.

Staying in Dumbo? You’ll be wanting the A or C train from lower Manhattan.

By Car

There are three bridges that connect Manhattan and Brooklyn:

  • Williamsburg Bridge – Delancey St to Broadway
  • Manhattan Bridge – Canal St to Flatbush Ave
  • Brooklyn Bridge – FDR Drive to Brooklyn Bridge Blvd

And one vehicle tunnel:

  • Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel – West St to I-278

What’s your favourite New York neighbourhood?



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Comments

  1. Jim says:

    April 29th, 2020 at 2:47 pm (#)

    For me, the Brooklyn is the best place in the world.

  2. Joseph Vosburgh says:

    September 19th, 2023 at 9:47 pm (#)

    Not many people mention Williamsburg yet it’s always a fun place to visit! As someone who lives in Brooklyn, you’re not wrong about there being a different vibe. Saying in Brooklyn is a smart choice with easy access to other areas of NYC. With Manhattan being the only real hike, it’s still not all that bad if you plan for it.

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