Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Escaping the city while staying within its limits

Often times I want to leave the hustle and bustle that makes New York City "the city that never sleeps". It doesn't have to be long, as a typical weekend for a 9-5er like me usually doesn't allow for extended travel. A road trip to the beach or the country for a hike perhaps in another state is always nice. But on days when I want to escape without actually leaving the 5 boroughs I visit Red Hook.

Red Hook is a "coastal" Brooklyn neighborhood with a relaxed vibe and numerous local hangouts. Many Brooklynites make the venture east of booming Park Slope to roam around the giant shopping options in the area such as Ikea and Fairway. While these are valid reasons to make the trip, it's the peace and quiet, delicious local eats, friendly faces and awesome views that keep louring me back over.

Here are a few of my picks for how to spend the day in Red Hook

Lunch at the ball park food trucks while watching soccer.

By far my favorite thing about Red Hook, the ball park food trucks are a summer staple to satisfy the loyal soccer lovers who come out to the park to root their local teams on. The trucks, lined up along Bay and Clinton street offer numerous delicious Latin American specialties. My ideal meal is a pork pupusa with a side of fried plantains covered in sour cream, a grilled corn and a pineapple juice. The prices are extremely reasonable, with this mammoth of a lunch costing around $16. There are picnic tables nearby in the park where patrons comfortably chow down while enjoying the game. I found out the hard way that the trucks are only here on the weekend.

Enjoying city views in peace and quiet

Situated directly on the East River, Red Hook boasts sweeping views of the city. Look one way you see the Statue of Liberty. Turn your head to the left and you see the Verranzano Bridge jetting across into the flatness of Staten Island. Turn your head to the right and admire the downtown Manahttan skyline. The best part about these fantastic views is that they are yours to enjoy with minimal distractions. There simply aren't many people around. Walk behind the massive Fairway, past the ferry dock there is a small park with a couple of benches to sit and enjoy in peace.

Eating my way down Van Brunt Street

The food scene in Red Hook is booming and Van Brunt street is home to a couple gems. The first is the Red Hook Lobster Pound. This small shack has plenty of fresh lobsters chilling in their tanks waiting to be served in a few different ways. The lobster roll, served either hot with butter or cold with mayo is my snack of choice here. Generous chunks of juicy sweet claw and tail are piled onto these bad boys and go best with a Maine soda & chips. The friendly family owned atmosphere is extremely welcoming and they have an awesome indoor space next door with large picnic tables.

A few blocks further south on Van Brunt lies Red Hook Mercado which I stumbled into. The "market" is an urban courtyard transformed into an inviting local hangout with different options for the average hungry passerby. The vendors inside change weekly, with specific ball park trucks represented. The weekend I visited there were also local cupcakes and beer to choose from. It quickly became clear to me that this was a spot where everybody knew each other and almost felt like a backyard family barbecue. Like the ball park trucks, this place is only open on the weekend.

Neighborhood Flea Markets

The reason I stumbled upon Red Hook in the first place was because of the first ever neighborhood flea market. There were vague guidelines, but with some strong social media advertising word quickly spread about a range of streets participating in the event. It was a great way to force myself to walk down unassuming streets I probably would have quickly driven by. I didn't buy anything, but it was nice exploring and talking with residents of a neighborhood I was quickly becoming fond of.

What is your getaway within your own city limits? Please share in the comments section!! :)

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