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Don’t get us wrong, we still love taking the free IKEA ferry over to Red Hook to grab a bite at Brooklyn Crab before visiting the famous Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pie—but there’s a whole lot more to do nearby. The western Brooklyn neighborhood houses a laid-back community filled with cafés, dive bars, artist studios, distilleries and boutiques. Here, eight things to do in Red Hook for a dreamy day on the waterfront.

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things to do in red hook nyc ferry
Courtesy of NYC Ferry

1. Take the ferry

Put away your MetroCard—most of Red Hook is evaded by the subway system—but the water taxi and ferry, Citi Bike, the B57 and B61 buses, and the recently renovated walking path along Bridge Park Drive are all far superior options anyway.

things to do in red hook baked
Courtesy of Baked

2. Grab a coffee and a pastry at Baked

With a distinctly small-town feel, Red Hook offers a much-needed respite from the harried city. So instead of rushing around with a to-go double-shot espresso in hand, take a moment to sit and really enjoy your java and a freshly baked pastry at Baked. We suggest the pecan sticky bun…or the chocolate cloud cookie…or the homemade Twix bar.

things to do in red hook polt
Courtesy of Polt

3. Shop for one-of-a-kind treasures

A stroll along Van Brunt Street will bring you to some of the best mom-and-pop shopping in the city. The street is lined with vintage shops and local boutiques. Pop by Polt, a leather and canvas goods studio run by a husband-and-wife duo, then search for rare vinyl at Record Shop and stunning vintage jewelry at Erie Basin. Guys (or menswear fans of any gender) won’t want to miss Wooden Sleepers, a vintage clothing and accessories store. Head over to Richards Street to visit Caroline Z Hurley for some handmade textiles and Brooklyn Slate for industrial home goods and gifts. And finally, around the corner you’ll find Raaka Chocolates, where you can stock up on colorfully packaged (and oh so tasty) locally made chocolate bars.

things to do in red hook court street grocer
Courtesy of Court Street Grocers

4. Eat a sandwich from Court Street Grocers

Fuel up on a hearty hero from Court Street Grocers. The Brooklyn-born sandwich shop is famous for its fine meats and unconventional fillings like roasted sweet potato, sardines and cauliflower. For dessert (yes, we partake in lunch desserts) head one block over to Dolce Brooklyn for some homemade gelato.

things to do in red hook pioneer works
Courtesy of Pioneer Works

5. Explore artists’ studios

If you’re a lover of artists’ markets, you’ve surely seen some of the fine work that comes out of Red Hook. So while you’re in the neighborhood, go straight to the source and visit the artists’ studios. Little Bear Pots offers visiting hours Monday to Friday (just be sure to email first) and you can also stop by the studio of furniture design store Cauv midweek. If you’re not in the market to buy and simply want to enjoy some local art, check out Kentler International Drawing Space and of course pay a visit to Pioneer Works, a nonprofit cultural center with a calendar full of events and exhibits that celebrate art and science.

things to do in red hook grindhaus
Courtesy of Grindhaus

6. Have dinner at Grindhaus

After all that exploring, you’ll be hungry. Fortunately, you made a reservation in advance at Grindhaus. The cozy eatery features an ever-changing menu of nouveau American fare that uses locally sourced fish. The September menu includes dishes like heirloom tomatoes with koji mayo, fennel and scallion oil, and pork congee with garlic shrimp and scallion (the portions are ideally sized for sharing).

7. Drink on the patio at Brooklyn Ice House

Stick around the neighborhood for a pint with the locals at Brooklyn Ice House. The laid-back tavern has an extensive beer list and a huge back patio where you can soak up the final warm evenings before fall officially begins.

things to do in red hook sunnys bar
JannHuizenga/Getty Images

8. Catch live music at Sunny’s

Once the sun goes down (and you can bet those waterfront sunsets are unreal), stroll over to Sunny’s Bar, a neighborhood institution. You’ll find live music most nights of the week, but our favorite event might be the Saturday-night Bluegrass Jam, when musicians of all ages take over the back room for a sing-along that lasts into the wee hours.

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