New York’s epicenter of cool lays on craft breweries, warehouse-style hotels and ready-to-rummage vintage stores, especially along its main artery.
The Brooklyn district of Williamsburg might never shake off its reputation as the crucible of the hipster boom that sent a shockwave of fixie bikes, avocado toast and sculpted facial hair rippling around the world. While gentrification has squeezed out many of the pioneering scenesters who first put it on the map, it remains one of the coolest and engaging ‘hoods in New York. Along its main artery, Bedford Avenue, you can still find the Williamsburg spirit percolating through its indie fashion boutiques, craft breweries, artisan coffee shops and on-point places to stay, bookable with Culture Trip.
Overlooking McCarren Park, this towering five-star hotel dwarfs practically every other building in Williamsburg. Its impressive dimensions don’t end there, since it features the longest outdoor pool of any hotel in New York, no less. Post-dip, flop on one of the plentiful daybeds or U-shaped sofas – great when you’re hanging with friends. Every guest room opens to a balcony with views, which get headier the higher up you ascend. Go all the way to the 22nd-floor rooftop bar for dizzying 360-degree panoramas.
It’s a fair assumption that Balkan cuisine doesn’t appear on most culinary radars, but we all know Williamsburg likes to push the envelope, and a meal at Terasa North Ninth is sure to register on yours. A few blocks from the park, this elegantly styled eatery draws from old family recipes, with a fresh contemporary twist. A menu highlight among herbivores is their vegan charcuterie board: a beautifully presented combination of crunchy house-pickled veggies paired creamy spreads and freshly baked focaccia.
As much a community hub as a coffee shop, Café Beit is owned by three baristas who deftly handle the impressive La Marzocco espresso machine behind the bar. The compact interior opens up to a backyard garden oasis, where locals sip cold brews and macchiatos depending on the season. For a caffeine-free option, try the House Golden Milk with its mellow mix of spices. Hungry? Their breakfast burrito will set you up for the day.
Owner Wendy Chun looks to her native Korea and its neighboring countries for designer fashion pieces to populate this fab little boutique. It largely specializes in one-of-a-kind vintage items: clothes are grouped by color, plus there’s a tightly curated selection of handbags, jewelry and shoes to browse. A Bedford Avenue fixture since 2007, it’s fair to say Think Closet has been one of Williamsburg’s top fashion influencers for longer than most.
Two blocks from Bedford Avenue, towering red-brick facades, marquee signage and chic retro design come together at the Williamsburg Hotel to embody the essence of the neighborhood. Loft-style lodgings provide a seriously plush experience with floor-to-ceiling windows and marble-and-brass bathrooms. Crowning this landmark is a rooftop terrace where you can cool off in a 50ft (15m) pool before retiring to your clamshell lounge chair. Just above, a hip restaurant occupies a reconstructed water tower with spectacular views over the Manhattan skyline.
What started in 2006 as a little market stall in Perth, Australia, found a new, more permanent home on Bedford Avenue in 2012. It carries a colorful range of pre-loved vintage clothing, mostly from the seventies and eighties for both men and women. You can rifle through a good range of accessories, too, including designer handbags, belts and sunglasses. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, they’ve opened a couple other stores in Greenpoint, an easy stroll away.
Located just off Bedford Avenue, this heavily graffitied, semi-industrial space serves up some serious ales from the eponymous Randolph brewery. Aside from their own, you’ll find a dizzying array of beers to sample, from IPAs to stouts, pilsners and fruity numbers. It’s no slacker on the food side, either, with belly-pleasing brunch and dinner menus. Best of all, there’s no losing precious time between drinks thanks to their “beer ATM” where you can self-serve from a choice of a dozen taps.
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meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.