I’ve been to New York City quite a few times and let me tell you what—I had never been to Brooklyn. Every time I travel to NYC, we end up getting caught in all the hustle and bustle of Manhattan and never bother crossing the bridge.
How to get to Brooklyn from Newark Airport
I was born in New Jersey so I know a thing or two about the Newark Airport (EWR) already, but I think it’s pretty easy to navigate even if you’re new to the area. Here’s the cheapest, quickest (and I think the best way), to get into the city and Brooklyn.
- Jump on the AirTrain Newark to the Rail Transfer Station. (free)
- Change for the New Jersey Transit commuter train into New York Penn Station. ($13 adult one-way ticket, 28 minutes)
- Pro-tip: DON’T get off at Newark Penn Station. Verbally, it sounds super similar to New York Penn Station, but geographically not the place you want to be.
- From NY Penn Station, you can get pretty much anywhere using the Metro (MTA). You can take the A, C, 2, or 3 trains to get into Brooklyn. It shouldn’t take more than 20-30 minutes, depending on where you’re going. Google Maps is the best for figuring out which trains to get on.
- Pro-tip: Check out MTA’s “How Often Do You Ride?” chart to see if it makes more sense for you to get a 7-day unlimited MetroCard or if you should just pay-per-ride.
- To get back to Newark Airport at the end of your trip, you can do this same route reversed.
Where to Eat in Brooklyn
1. Order the fluffy egg and veggie crepes at The Little Sweet Cafe.
The Little Sweet Cafe is hidden away in a bright and cozy little nook in Boerum Hill. With only about 10 seats in the entire restaurant, it’s a great place to have a quiet breakfast by yourself or with a friend.
2. Grab late night margs and elotes at Rocco’s Tacos.
Rocco’s Tacos is right in the middle of downtown Brooklyn and wins the award for best decor. I had heard of Rocco’s Tacos in Florida, as there are quiet a few locations, but this is the only location in New York (and outside Florida at all, for that matter) and it was right outside our hotel. If you’re looking for late night elotes and margs, this is your place. (Awesome side note: the bathroom stalls each have TV screens and they were all playing Nacho Libre…)
3. Twirl the fresh pasta at Oregano.
If you hang out in Williamsburg (hint: you should), definitely check out Oregano! Two of my friends I went with have Celiac Disease and this restaurant had great gluten-free options and paid special attention to not cross-contaminate in the prep spaces or oven. It’s a little pricey, but they make all the pasta fresh everyday and you can definitely tell. The food is delicious, authentic Italian, and absolutely worth the price.
4. Bite into a strawberry macaron at Martha’s Country Bakery.
Martha’s Country Bakery was the recommendation of one of my friends who was just scrolling through nearby results on Google Maps. (Honestly, Google Maps is great if you’re trying to find something highly-rated and nearby.) Turns out, it’s a full service, sit down bakery! They had gluten-free and vegan options for those with dietary restrictions and the macarons were freakin fantastic.
Where to Drink in Brooklyn
5. Test your gaming skills at Barcade.
Barcade was a lot more crowded than I was expecting, but you can’t go wrong with a solid beer selection and countless video game cabinets to play. The cabinets weren’t on freeplay, but they were pretty inexpensive. Cool hangout for nerds regardless and plenty of space to sit and chat!
Don’t tilt the pinball machines at Jackbar.
Jackbar was more my speed, as far as bars go. There were only a couple other people in the bar and they had really beautiful wall murals and pinball machines galore. The drink specials were great and even though it could be considered a dive bar, they really jazzed it up with the decor and lighting.
7. Just. Get. To. Williamsburg.
Williamsburg, in general: There are SO MANY cool bars and restaurants. Wherever you’re staying in Brooklyn, I recommend making your way to Williamsburg and wandering around until you find something that piques your interest, it won’t take very long. We took the East River Ferry from DUMBO to North Williamsburg and just bopped around all night.
I think the biggest reason it took me so long to explore Brooklyn was the reputation. Manhattan has a lot of the safest neighborhoods in the city and Brooklyn has a lot of the most dangerous.
That being said, it’s important to stay alert and aware of your surroundings no matter where you are. Crime tends to be higher in areas with high tourism traffic because tourists are easy targets, but you can still enjoy yourself if you use good judgment. Most of the areas I would personally avoid are on the east side of Brooklyn.
If you want to be hyper cautious, here are some of the neighborhoods with the highest crime rates in Brooklyn according to Address Report:
- East New York
To end on a positive note, Brooklyn is freakin’ amazing and I enjoyed it so much more than Manhattan! I 100% recommend that you schedule some time into your NYC trip to explore the lesser-known borough. Don’t let the reputation distract you from the hidden gems you’re sure to encounter.