The Beginner’s Guide to Williamsburg, NYC

The district of Williamsburg is the heart of Brooklyn’s recent resurgence as a world-class shopping and tourist destination. The area’s streets are lined with premium restaurants, trendy nightspots and luxury stores. This up-and-coming part of New York City has been undergoing gentrification since the 1990s, and is now a center for the so-called hipster culture.

Williamsburg was originally called Boswijck by the occupying Dutch. But when the British took control, they renamed it Bushwick — although locals called it Bushwick Shore. A 13-acre section of land was developed within the town, which was named the Village of Williamsburgh — later changed to Williamsburg.

The history of this part of Brooklyn is fascinating, but you really need to get your feet on the ground to appreciate it. If you’re planning a trip to Williamsburg, there are a few things you should know.

Pleasant Walks in Williamsburg

Williamsburg is one of the safest and most interesting parts of Brooklyn, and the best way to explore it is on foot. Start your walk on North 7th Street, where you’ll be able to browse the stalls at the Artists & Fleas indoor market. Once you’re done there, head straight to Bedford Street to explore the various craft stores — selling everything from handmade jewelry to chinaware.

When it’s time to eat, gravitate towards the North 3rd Street area, where you’ll find plenty of options. On a Saturday in particular, this area is a real hive of activity. In the summer months, you’ll find most people outside, sipping coffee and sampling a range of international cuisines. If you’re looking for food to go, check out Bedford Cheese Shop on Bedford and Mast Brothers Chocolate on North 3rd Street.

If you’re looking for a little retail therapy, Williamsburg has plenty to offer. However, you’ll find a high concentration of independent stores around Grand Street, Wythe and Broadway. Another great place for walking and dining is the East River State Park, which is home to Smorgasburg — the largest open-air food market in America.

Smorgasburg Festival Market at Williamsburg

Credit: Gregorio Koji / Shutterstock

Williamsburg’s Popular Visitor Attractions

If you’re a history enthusiast, make sure you visit the City Reliquary museum — home to a wide range of relics that chart the history of Brooklyn and the rest of New York City. If shopping is your idea of fun, spend some time at the Mini Mall, which is home to several vintage boutiques, jewelers and craft stores.

Close by on Bedford Avenue is the Videology Bar & Cinema, which is where film buffs congregate to hire, watch and discuss movies. There’s also the Nitehawk Cinema on Metropolitan Avenue, where you can watch the latest movies and dine at the same time. Or if you’re into music, stop by Baby’s All Right, which is a live music venue for aspiring musicians and DJs.

Flea Market in Williamsburg NY

Credit: Valerii Iavtushenko / Shutterstock

Restaurants and Places to Stay

Williamsburg is awash with stunning restaurants serving food from around the world. If you’re into sushi, book a table at Suzume on Lorimer Street. Or if you’re in the mood for a great steak, Llama Inn on Withers Street serves them Peruvian style.

But perhaps the most interesting dining experience can be found at Delaware and Hudson on North 5th Street. There’s a premium taster menu available in the main restaurant, as well as some American classics in The Tavern extension.

There are options for every budget when it comes to finding somewhere to stay in Williamsburg. There are several guest houses and small hotels in the busy areas around Metropolitan Avenue, Bedford Street andGrand Avenue. But you’ll also find four-star luxury at hotels such as the Wythe Hotel, the Henry Norman Hotel on North Henry Street and the Pod Brooklyn Hotel on Metropolitan Avenue.

Williamsburg has its own charm and character, which sets it apart from the rest of Brooklyn. The best way to experience the area is by living it, so stay in Williamsburg and live as the locals do for a while.

Restaurant in Williamsburg

Credit: Joe Tabacca / Shutterstock

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