The area under and around the Brooklyn Bridge has many claims to fame. Before General Washington crossed the Delaware, he led the Patriots across the East River from the waterfront here, fleeing a surprise attack from the English army. In 1814, Robert Fulton built a landing for his steamboat service to Manhattan, a trip memorialized by Walt Whitman in the poem Crossing Brooklyn Ferry. Today, the area's known as DUMBO—an acronym of Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, coined in the late 1970's by artists who hoped the silly moniker would keep real estate investors away. It hasn't. The neighborhood, now a historic landmark, is thriving with restaurants, bars, and cafes.
Weekends are the best time for a visit. On Sundays, between 11am and 6pm, the Brooklyn Flea spreads out in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge. Over one hundred vendors sell everything imaginable, from vintage clothing, antiques, and collectibles, to just-made jewelry, arts and crafts, and letter pressed tees.
A shopper can quickly get overwhelmed with this much to choose from, so cleanse your palate with a fresh juice from The Green Pirate. You'll spot the truck, with its green skull and crossbones, parked on the market's perimeter. If your tastes tend more toward the rich and creamy, journey down Water Street to Jacques Torres Chocolate. The cookies here are like a meal unto themselves, packed with nuts, marshmallows, and of course, rich cacao of all sorts. On hot days, take your treat cool and uncooked, with cookie dough ice cream. Or create the perfect pair, with a thick cocoa drink from Jacques, and a flaky, buttery almond croissant from Almondine Bakery across the street.
Hungry for something more substantial? The brunch at Pete's Downtown has been attracting diners since 1894. Or try the coal-fired brick oven pizza at Grimaldi's—if you're willing to wait on line, that is. It's not the crunchy, thin crusts or the bubbly mozzarella cheese that brings pizza aficionados out in droves; it's the unique, smoky flavor provided by the ovens. To truly take advantage of the waterfront view, you'll have to shell out some bucks for a seat on the deck at The River Café. Many of America's finest chefs got their start here, at the restaurant that coined the term "free-range chicken."
If you're not in the mood to shell out a dime, don't worry! The views are free. Lay out a blanket and picnic under Brooklyn's famous bridge, one of New York's most iconic sites, and her more industrial but no less graceful sister, The Manhattan Bridge. Watch the clouds reflected in the silver spires of Downtown Manhattan, while off in the distance Lady Liberty looks out to sea. You can't get more New York than this!