I Heart My City – Brooklyn

National Geographic Traveler‘s excellent Intelligent Travel blog is doing an awesome series on “I Heart My City” with residents from all over the world filling out a questionnaire on their city faves.  Inspired by some excellent entries on Minneapolis, Baltimore, Santiago, here is my city.

Brooklyn is My City

The first place I take a visitor from out of town is for a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge (into Brooklyn, of course!).

When I crave french fries I always go Farm on Adderley in Ditmas Park.

To escape the flood of hipsters I head to Bensonhurst or Bay Ridge, which are (and have always been) just plain great Brooklyn neighborhoods.

If I want to enjoy a drink outside in the summer I go to Soda Bar on Vanderbilt for beers and kasha and bacon pierogies (bonus: it’s near the Brooklyn Museum of Art and Botanical Gardens for pre-drinking culture).

For complete quiet, I can hide away in the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza.

If you come to my city, get your picture taken with Marty Markowitz, our Borough President and greatest cheerleader.

If you have to order one thing off the menu from the dinner tapas menu at Beast it has to be fried manchego cheese bites.

Net Cost Market is my one-stop shop for great dumplings, smoked meats, and any and everything pickled.

Locals know to skip the lines at Grimaldi’s Pizza and check out DiFara’s on Avenue J instead (though the lines might be longer).

When I’m feeling cash-strapped I go for brunch at Sette in Park Slope: $18 for two courses, homemade foccacia, and unlimited Champagne drinks, followed by a cruise through the flea market at P.S. 321 down the street.

For a huge splurge I go to Peter Luger’s.  It might be cliche, but they don’t give away Michelin stars for nothing.

Photo ops in my city include the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline, and the Statue of Liberty and the best vantage points are the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.

If my city were a celebrity it’d be Christopher Walken (even though he’s from Queens): intense, underrated, brilliant and often totally bewildering.

The most random thing about my city is subway tunnel tours under Atlantic Avenue.

My city has the most men still nostalgic for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

My city has the most women you could describe as fierce, even if you aren’t Tyra Banks.

In my city, an active day outdoors involves Prospect Park: a soccer game, a jog, or just a picnic.

My city’s best museum is the New York City Transit Museum.

My favorite walking route is down Flatbush Avenue, though its not quiet or uncrowded, the people-watching can’t be beat.

For live music, check out Bargemusic in the summer, moored in the East River.

Bar Tabac on Smith Street is the spot for late-night eats, great French food.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read Time Out New York and ManhattanUsersGuide.com (not just for Manhattan!).

You can tell a lot about my city from the amazing diversity, we have a neighborhood for pretty much every nationality on earth.

You can tell if someone is from my city if they are fiercely proud and loyal to their borough, their neighborhood, and even their subway line.

In the spring you should be late to work one morning and go see the cherry blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden (the crowds are horrible on weekends).

In the summer you should hit the beach and the boardwalks at Brighton Beach and Coney Island.

In the fall you should go to the West Indian American Day Parade on Labor Day.  Millions come out for the crazy and colorful costumes, and there are said to be more West Indians in Brooklyn than in the Caribbean nations!

In the winter you should go see the Christmas lights in Dyker Heights.

A hidden gem in my city is Vinegar Hill near the Manhattan Bridge, wonderful neighborhood of cobble stoned streets, weird storefront houses, and a cool old Admiral’s mansion.

For a great breakfast joint try Tom’s Restaurant in Prospect Heights, they’ll bring you coffee and orange slices while you wait in line.

Don’t miss the Mermaid Parade in June at Coney Island.

Just outside my city, you can visit Staten Island, home to a surprising amount of nature, including wetlands and a wildlife refuge.  There’s also a little town called Manhattan nearby that might have a few attractions.

The best way to see my city is by foot and by subway.

If my city were a pet it would be a scrappy mutt.

If I didn’t live in a city, I’d live in an old New England town on the Maine coast.

The best book about my city is Paul Auster’s Brooklyn Follies.

When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is the Beastie Boys’ “No Sleep ’til Brooklyn.”

If you have kids, you won’t want to miss Prospect Park Zoo.

The annual Nathan’s hot dog eating contest could only happen in my city.

My city should be featured on your cover or website because we have the best highway signs in the country.  The best sign reads “Leaving Brooklyn: Fuhgeddaboudit

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