New York City is often considered America’s greatest city. A lot of folks think it’s overrated and tend to say that New Yorkers are rude and full of themselves just because they live in the city. While some of that may be true to an extent, the reality is that it’s pretty hard to argue that NYC is probably, in fact, the best city in the country. Although this will always be a matter of opinion, it’s almost a fact that once you visit, it becomes evident that you really are in a special place. The city is impressive in every way you would like for a city to be.
Most tourists that fall in love with NYC are actually falling in love with Manhattan though. And that’s a shame because New York actually has five boroughs, four of them which might get overlooked because Manhattan is the most extravagant and flashy of them.
Of all the boroughs though, Manhattan included, Brooklyn might be the most special. Often seen as Manhattan’s younger, less accomplished sibling by the outside world, the truth is that those who actually live in Brooklyn feel they are most definitely in the best borough by far. And they have plenty of reasons to believe that. Brooklyn is an incredible place to not only visit, but to live. So much so, that there has been a significant influx of people trying to move there in recent years as it has started to surpass the other boroughs in popularity and is now considered the “cool” one, with its vibrant mix of music festivals, a big art and foodie scene, and a nightlife that offers the trendiest bars.
It has somewhat created a reputation for becoming a hipster's paradise in recent years, but any visitor will find that there is so much more to Brooklyn than the trendsetting millennials walking and biking around. Here are twenty reasons why Brooklyn is NYC’s most exciting borough.
20 It’s Basically Its Own Diverse City
Even though Brooklyn is one of five boroughs that make up New York, it could basically serve as its own city. With a population of nearly 2.6 million people, it would be in the top five cities in the entire country if it were to branch off, topping cities like Boston and Philadelphia.
That’s impressive in its own right, but Brooklyn is also great because of its diversity. With a cross-cultural mix of just about every race and religion all living within close proximity to one another, it becomes a dense melting pot of the best foods, music, art, and backgrounds.
19 It’s Actually Way More Spacious… By NYC Standards
When New York comes to mind, one of the first thoughts is how cramped the city is. It’s true, unfortunately. With the highest population density of any major city in the country, you don’t have much room to move. It’s one of the reasons real estate in the Big Apple is so exclusive and expensive. But there’s a silver lining because Brooklyn has much more space than the more cramped Manhattan. By normal standards, the apartments, townhomes, parks and streets are still rather small, but by the city’s standards, you get way more elbow room.
18 It’s Cheaper Too
Because Manhattan’s real estate market is one of the most sought after in the world, developers and sellers squeeze every penny out of every inch they can find. In Brooklyn, although its prices have started to soar in recent years because of its rising popularity, it is still relatively cheap compared to Manhattan.
You aren’t going to pay the astronomical prices you would pay across the river, but still be prepared to spend some serious cash. It is New York after all.
17 Oh, Those Beautiful Brooklyn Brownstones
The brownstone has become synonymous with NYC. When someone thinks of the perfect home to find in the big city, you often think of those irreplaceable brown townhomes side by side, with the protruding bay windows and the quintessential New York stoops in the front entry.
Although you can find brownstones in all of the boroughs of the city, there’s a reason why they have been called Brooklyn Brownstones. They are a part of the aesthetic makeup of the borough, giving it its distinct look.
16 Red Hook
Red Hook is one of the many great neighborhoods located in Brooklyn, which gets its name from the red clay it was once made up of in the 1600’s as well as its peninsula shaped hook that juts out into the ocean. Its location on the waterfront gives residents arguably the best vantage point to gaze at the Statue of Liberty off in the distance.
Although not Brooklyn’s most popular neighborhood, it is still definitely one of its best. With a different vibe than some of the more visited neighborhoods, it is a bit calmer and relaxed, with a slower pace, and therefore can often feel like a small oceanfront town. A stroll down Van Brunt’s cobblestone streets, lined with its boutique shops and mom and pop eateries is a perfect Sunday afternoon for any visitor. Its famous key lime pie at Steve’s can’t be missed either.
15 It’s a Coffee Lover’s Paradise
Everyone knows Seattle reigns supreme when it comes to coffee, but within the city limits of NYC, Brooklyn is king. Home to more mom and pop shop cafes and coffeehouses than any other borough, grabbing a cup of Joe is pretty much a part of being a Brooklyn resident. Head over to some of the area’s best including Second Stop, Café Grumpy, Gimme! Coffee, and Gorilla.
14 The Art Scene Can Be Snooty, But It’s Usually Warranted
Brooklyn catches a lot of heat for being a millennial’s paradise with all of the skinny jeans, hipster beards, and coffee loving crowd flocking to its area to take up residence. That’s not entirely true, but we will digress.
But with that crowd, a lot of the artsy types come too. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though. In fact, it’s great for the borough’s cultural presence. With so much focus on art, there’s never a shortage of the best bands playing at local bars on any given night, great theatre taking place in back alley stages, mesmerizing art galleries and not to mention, the graffiti around town is quite fascinating.
13 It Has a Rich Film History
Speaking of art, Brooklyn has played a vital role in cinema history, being home to some of film’s best. There are even pretty interesting tours that people can take by bus that focus solely on Brooklyn’s film history, making stops at some of the borough’s most iconic inclusions in past films.
With too many to name, some notable ones are the many scenes shot on location for Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas, Saturday Night Fever, and Requiem for a Dream.
12 Brooklyn Heights
Another neighborhood joins our list and it’s one of its most historic. Situated right next to the Brooklyn Bridge, its location is the envy of the borough. But its location comes with a cost. It is considered one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the entire borough as it also has unobstructed views of the bridge as well as Lower Manhattan’s skyline. It is also home to Brooklyn Bridge Park, an idyllic space right underneath the bridge on the waterfront.
With those price tags, it’s easy to see why only the city’s wealthy reside in its immaculately lined streets filled with rows of Brooklyn Brownstones.
11 The Pizza is Second to None
There is a longstanding rivalry between Brooklyn and Manhattan regarding which has the better slice of pie. Each borough will swear that it’s their own, but most unbiased parties will likely lean toward Brooklyn.
It truly does have some of the most standout pizzerias you could ever wish to visit. So many of their pie shops have been featured on national TV because of the Brooklyn-style slices served up and the attention to detail like the homemade sauces and the thin yet crispy crust.
For the best, be sure to try Grimaldi’s and L&B Spumoni Gardens, which are unmatched in taste.
10 The Parks are Serene
Central Park in Manhattan has always and will always be the city’s most beloved and visited park. That isn’t in question, but Brooklyn has its fair share of parks that can rival any green space. McCarren Park, Prospect Park, and Brooklyn Bridge Park are just a few that call Brooklyn home and none of them disappoint. Brooklyn Bridge Park is tranquil and has views of the city’s skyline on the waterfront, while McCarren Park has its infamous pool and Prospect Park has its own gardens and zoo.
9 Brooklyn Botanical Gardens
Speaking of Prospect Park’s very own gardens, they’re called the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, located on the park’s grounds. At 42 acres and nearly 1 million annual visitors, the gardens are a popular attraction within the park, attracting both tourists and native New Yorkers, alike.
Famous for their idyllic cherry trees, the park transforms into a picturesque space of pink tranquility and peace during the spring months when they are in full blossom.
Probably the trendiest and most sought after neighborhood in all of Brooklyn, DUMBO’s size is minuscule, an area of about 30 acres. It is home to a little over 1,100 residents. This is Brooklyn’s most exclusive neighborhood because only the rich can afford to live here, considered the fourth richest community in all of New York.
The name is an acronym which stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass and has become the premier neighborhood because of its new luxury high-rise lofts, its location next to both the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges as well as its high concentration of startup tech companies.
7 It’s Pretty Kid Friendly
Unlike many parts of Manhattan, Brooklyn is actually pretty kid friendly. In fact, about one third of all households in the borough have at least one child. Because of its more spacious and spread out landscape, it is not uncommon to see families playing in one of the parks, or children in strollers. With so many young residents, the borough has even made a concerted effort to make public spaces and restaurants kid friendly.
6 The Tours Aimed at Tourists Are Actually Really Enjoyable
Yes, including touristy attractions isn’t the thing to do, but if we are being honest, some of those tours can be pretty great. The borough offers a variety of tours specializing in different aspects of the borough, many of which are well worth the price. As a borough competing with the more visited Manhattan, Brooklyn has some that are unique and fairly priced.
Tours offered in Brooklyn include those that are exclusively for pizza, beer, movies, foodies and biking. There’s more than enough to choose from which all give you a good experience of the area.
5 There are Beaches To Enjoy
Many folks don’t know this, but the city has several beaches, but Brooklyn is toward the top in both count and quality. Its beaches include Brighton Beach, Rockaway Beach, and Manhattan Beach, all of which are unique and offer their own perks. Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach sit next to one another on the same waterfront while Rockaway is an island separated from the mainland accessible by car. Whichever you choose, you’ll forget you’re in a city with millions of people.
Located to the north of DUMBO, Brooklyn Heights and Red Hook, Williamsburg is another prominent neighborhood located right off the East River. Also an affluent area with a lively night scene and a focus on the arts, Williamsburg has been through a bit of a renaissance period in recent years, reviving its popularity, leading to an influx of new residents. With exclusive access to the Williamsburg Bridge, the neighborhood has some of the best views of Manhattan’s skyline.
3 Coney Island
Located toward the southernmost part of Brooklyn, Coney Island is situated right next to Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach, but is famous on its own merits. It is a peninsular section with a pier, carnival rides, restaurants, food stands and a beach.
One of the most beloved parts of the entire city, Coney Island has been featured in countless movies. It is also home to the 16th oldest roller coaster in the world, the Cyclone, and the annual Coney Island Hot Dog Eating Contest which is featured on ESPN.
2 All Those Impressive Bridges
Brooklyn is separated from Manhattan by the East River and many of its residents have to travel into the mainland city for work every day. Commuters actually have several options including the subway system, ferries, tunnels, or by crossing over many of the impressive bridges on Brooklyn’s side.
It is home to the bridge system that many have unofficially coined as BMW, which includes the three most prominently used – Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge and Williamsburg Bridge. It also has the Verrazano Narrows Bridge toward the south which connects it to Staten Island. All of these bridges are magnificent with each having their own incredible history and features.
1 The Panoramic Views Can’t Be Beaten
One of the things so many people love about the Big Apple is its skyline. Although Manhattan can boast that its skyline is head and shoulders above the rest, Brooklyn gets to say they are the ones who actually get to enjoy it. Across the East River, those who reside in the borough get to look out their windows or stand on their balconies and stare in awe at the stunningly beautiful backdrop that is New York City.