WHY GO IN DECEMBER With an influx in recent years of creative, bohemian types looking to escape Manhattan's sky-high rents, Williamsburg has added an army of trend-setting hipsters. That alone has put the neighborhood at the forefront of New York's music and art scenes. Plus, December isn't too cold just yet to visit.
A festival at the Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Reason No. 1 to Go Back: The beer. Williamsburg is the home of the Brooklyn Brewery (#1 Brewers Row, 79 N. Eleventh St., 718-486-7422, www.brooklynbrewery.com ) and Belgian beer bar Spuyten Duyvil (359 Metropolitan Ave., 718-963-4140, www.spuytenduyvilnyc.com ), but the new kid on the block is Radegast Hall and Biergarten (113 N. Third St., 718-963-3973, www.radegasthall.com ). This popular replica of a German beer garden offers meaty German fare—schnitzel galore—and wine. But the main draw is the brew: thirty-six bottled beers and twelve on draft, mostly of the Czech or German varieties. Tip: get there early, or prepare to wait.
Reason No. 2 to Go Back: The art and music scenes. Galapagos Art Space (70 N. Sixth St., 718-782-5188, www.galapagosartspace.com ) offers an eclectic list of performances, while Pete’s Candy Store (709 Lorimer St., 718-302-3770, www.petescandystore.com ) is great for daily live music and, occasionally, poetry and comedy. And check the lineup at the Warsaw (261 Driggs Ave., 718-387-0505, www.warsawconcerts.com ), inside the Polish National Home. It’s played host to Brooklyn’s own indie faves TV on the Radio as well as Regina Spektor, among many others.
Reason No. 3 to Go Back: It’s not Manhattan. The newly opened Hotel Le Jolie (235 Meeker Ave., 718-625-2100, www.hotellejolie.com , rooms start at $200) is situated within walking distance of the Bedford and the Lorimer stop on the L train. It’s worth the trip across the river—while Europeans are taking advantage of the weak dollar and clogging Times Square, you’ll be ducking into boutique clothing stores and cafés in Brooklyn’s hottest neighborhood.
- The heart of Williamsburg is Bedford Avenue, located just one stop across the East River from Manhattan on the L train. Dozens of bars, restaurants, music venues, and boutique clothing stores radiate out in all directions from this main drag. For visitors, there’s more than enough to fill a day (or night) right there.