Gowanus is a Brooklyn neighborhood once known for manufacturing and shipping, as its namesake canal runs directly through the area. Once an eyesore wedged between prettier areas like Carroll Gardens and Park Slope, Gowanus has enjoyed something of a renaissance in recent years. We’ve put together a day of fun in Gowanus for the adventurous and hungry visitor to this remarkable neighborhood.
The Gowanus Canal was named for a Lenape chief called Gouwane, who presided over the region in the precolonial era. The industrial buildings here have been refurbished into breweries, clothing retailers, and state-of-the-art indoor rock climbing facilities. We recommend you grab a bike around noon to allow plenty of time for all activities, and be sure to wear comfortable clothing you can move in.
Saturday in Gowanus NYC: Bike Over the Brooklyn Bridge
As long as you’re headed to Brooklyn, might as well take advantage of the glorious bridge that gets you there. We recommend renting a Citi Bike at a dock on the Manhattan side of Brooklyn Bridge. There’s a dock conveniently located near City Hall on Centre Street, south of Chambers. If there are none available there, there’s another dock nearby on Broadway and Reade. $3 buys you 30 minutes of riding time, which is more than enough to get you to Gowanus. If you’d like the bike for the day, it’s just $12. Ride over the Brooklyn Bridge, take a few pictures, and head down 4th Avenue to your next destination. citibikenyc.com
Saturday in Gowanus NYC: Lunch at Root Hill Cafe
Gowanus has plenty of nightlife, but the brunch options are few and far between. That’s why we’re grateful for Root Hill Cafe, a coffee shop with food and caffeine for all. On the lighter side, there are smoothies and yogurt with granola. If you’re extra hungry, consider the B.L.A.S.T. sandwich, a tricked-out BLT with added avocado and tomato on a sesame roll. There’s also outside seating for people-watching and selfies against the wall mural on the building’s facade. There are a lot of murals in the area, so keep an eye out as you walk around. 262 4th Ave., roothillcafe.com
Saturday in Gowanus NYC: L Train Vintage
Revisit the 80s and 90s at L Train Vintage, the most well-organized vintage store we’ve ever seen. There are mom jeans for miles, plus wacky floral dresses, men’s military-issue pants, retro-cool bomber jackets, and vintage t-shirts. This could be a 10-minute stop for the sheer sight alone, or an hour-long hunt for your new favorite boots. The store’s former name, No Relation Vintage, is still prominently displayed on the outside. If in doubt, look for a bold black-and-white design on the building’s surface. 654 Sackett St., 718-858-4906, ltrainvintage.com
Saturday in Gowanus NYC: Climb at Brooklyn Boulders
Brooklyn Boulders believes we’re all superhumans. Which is a good thing, especially when you’re climbing a rock wall for the first time and scared out of your mind. Take an Intro to Climbing class for intensive, hands-on instruction for new climbers to the indoor rock walls of Brooklyn Boulders. The class is $49 for guests, while day passes for more experienced climbers are $32. 575 Degraw St., 347-834-9066, brooklynboulders.com/gowanus
Saturday in Gowanus NYC: Burger and Beer at Threes Brewing
Threes Brewing just might be the crowning jewel of Gowanus. The lively brewery has one of the best backyards in the city: a hedge, twinkle lights, a mini bar area, and plenty of space. I.e. you’ll want to stay awhile. On tap you’ll find drafts brewed on-premises, like the Constant Disappointment IPA and Voluntary Exile porter. Up front, the kitchen serves delicious food from The Meat Hook and Purslane. Order the fantastic burger smothered in raclette cheese and be sure to get fries. 333 Douglass St., 718-522-2110, threesbrewing.com
Saturday in Gowanus NYC: Shuffleboard at Royal Palms
Royal Palms has taught Brooklynites what Florida retirees already know: shuffleboard is fun, leisurely, and ideal for drinking. This retro club has 10 shuffleboard courts for rent ($40 for an hour) and employees on hand to teach you the rules. Wine, beer, and tropical cocktails are at the bar, as is a resident food truck on the western edge of the hall. Oh, and the huge orange on the other side? That’s the DJ booth. Eat, drink, and shuffle! 514 Union St., 347-223-4410, royalpalmsbrooklyn.com
Saturday in Gowanus NYC: Ample Hills
We’ve capped off your day with an ice cream shop that’s open till midnight on Saturdays. The phrase “ample hills” comes from Walt Whitman, America’s greatest poet and a Brooklynite himself. Although he wasn’t writing about ice cream, he’d probably write an ode or two to the stupendous Ample Hills if he could taste their wares. Ooey Gooey Butter Cake and Salted Crack Caramel and It Came From Gowanus and The Munchies… There are too many incredible flavors to choose from, and all for sample before you decide. Be sure to get your scoops in a pretzel cone as well, and sit on the roof if it’s nice out! 305 Nevins St., 347-725-4061, amplehills.com