I don’t get tired of repeating how much New York City surprises me. One of the things that I love about this city is knowing that there is always something new to do. Almost every weekend, Thiago and I try to do something different: eating in a restaurant that we haven’t been to yet or exploring an unknown area. Today, I wanna share some tips on what to do in Red Hook, Brooklyn – a neighborhood usually not listed on the tourist guides and can be a perfect “getaway” for locals or, why not tourists.
To the southwest of Carroll Gardens, beyond the BQE, the formerly rough-and-tumble industrial locale of Red Hook remains a secluded neighborhood, thanks to the lack of subway stops, which makes it perfect for a day out exploring. If you never heard about Red Hook, it is where Ikea is located – but the famous furniture shopping is not the only interesting place there. The quiet streets with cobblestones make you feel in a small country town. The area has restaurants and factories perfect for a tasting-day. Because of the lack of nearby subway stations, the most convenient and fast way to get to Red Hook is Water Taxi or NYC Ferry. Also, the views of Manhattan are fantastic! I would definitely recommend this place for a summer day, but you can also explore Red Hook during wintertime as well.
Now, let’s check 10 recommendations on things to do in Red Hook!
Wine Tasting at The Red Hook Winery
New York state has many vineyards and wineries, especially in Long Island, Hudson Valley, and Finger Lakes. I didn’t know that you don’t need to go so far as to visit a winery. Red Hook Winery is a winery located in Red Hook, on the banks of the river, focused on viticulture in New York. That is, the grapes used for the production of wines are from NY State, from 15 different producers in the regions of North Fork, Long Island, and Finger Lakes. Red Hook Winery has three winemakers – Robert Foley, Abe Schoener, and Christopher Nicolson – and each one uses their know-how to produce the wine, resulting in many variations.
The place has a social area with rustic decor, where you can taste wines from a selection of 70 types. You can order a glass or a bottle or try the tasting. You choose 4 wines to taste and pay $15. The menu also has a selection of cheese and chips. The atmosphere is very cool, the staff is super nice, and the wines are a delight. I loved the experience! The Red Hook Winery offers free tours every Saturday and Sunday at 1 pm – for those who consume something there. We had the opportunity to do the tour and check the winery facilities and learn a little more about the process of making wine. It was very interesting!
Address: 175 Van Dyke St. www.redhookwinery.com
Eating an authentic Texas-style barbecue at Hometown Bar-B-Que.
This is considered one of the best places to eat an authentic barbecue in New York. Bar-B-Que Hometown opened in 2013 and specialized in smoked meats prepared with a common technique from the US south. That is the best Texas-style. The meats include lamb, pork, chicken, and turkey. One of the place’s best-selling and best options is the rib. The meat is soft; it melts! The meats are seasoned only with salt – and then you can spice up your dish with the classic barbecue sauce. The price of meat varies from $11 to $30. No doubt, it was one of the best barbecues I have tried here in New York. The menu also includes sandwiches – burgers style – $12 on average. Side dishes include the classic mac n cheese, potato salad, and even tacos – all between $4 and $12. You can click here and check out the full menu.
Address: 454 Van Brunt St. hometownbbq.com
Enjoying fresh seafood at Brooklyn Crab
Built on two decks overlooking the New York Harbor, Brooklyn Crab is a hub of year-round fun, games, and food. The restaurant and bar offers the freshest and most sustainable whenever possible, seafood fare from all the way up the Atlantic Coast and down to the Gulf of Mexico. The atmosphere is casual and super cool. Downstairs, there is a bar and space for playing games. The second and third-floor feature tables overlooking the river – try to get a table on the top floor because the view is really beautiful. The spot is perfect for a summer day – but it is worth remembering that the restaurant is open all year round!
Address: 24 Reed St. www.brooklyncrab.com
Visiting a chocolate factory – Raaka Chocolate
Do we have chocolate lovers here? Raaka Chocolate makes craft chocolate by hand in Red Hook. Ryan Cheney was introduced to chocolate making at a yoga school on a beautiful island in Thailand, where he was excited by the flavors of unroasted cocoa beans. He founded Raaka to explore low-temperature chocolate making and create a more equitable global society in which communities have the opportunity to improve their quality of life. After spending a year learning bean-to-bar chocolate making, Ryan teamed up with Nate Hodge, a musician, and gastronomist with a lust for exotic flavors and groundbreaking processes. Together, they developed a new way of making chocolate. Today, Raaka produces chocolate with cocoa coming from four regions of the planet: the Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Belize, and Madagascar. Raaka offers what the brand calls virgin chocolate, which gets its name because of its manufacturing process. The cocoa beans are unroasted to preserve flavors that are often lost in the traditional manufacturing process. The cacao beans have the highest quality, and Rakka makes chocolate that showcases their inherently delicious flavors. Cacao beans have unique flavor profiles shaped by climate, soil, elevation, genetics, and harvesting practices. Belize beans have dried fruit notes, while Bolivia beans have earthy and floral notes. When preparing chocolate, these different flavors are preserved.
Today, the brand offers eight types of chocolate bars, all of them with a cacao percentage of over 56% and with ingredients like coconut milk, mint, and sea salt. You can also take a tour of the factory to explore the manufacturing process and tasting chocolates. Rakka also offers Chocolate making classes. You can book a tour or a class here.
Address: 64 Seabring St. www.raakachocolate.com
Getting a scoop at Ample Hills Creamery Factory and Museum
This is one of the best ice creams in the city. Ample Hills Creamery was founded in the spring of 2011 by Brian Smith and Jackie Cuscuna. Clocking in at 15,000sq ft, the Red Hook Factory is the largest ice cream production facility in New York City, and besides that, the place features an interactive ice cream museum. The factory churns over 500,000 gallons of ice cream a year. The ice cream is creamy and delicious, and besides the variety of flavors, they also offer an exclusive flavor called The Hook, a burnt sugar ice cream mixed with salty fudge bites and Dutch stroopwafels.
Address: 421 Van Brunt St. www.amplehills.com
Having a drink at Sunny’s
Opened in 1890, this bar is run by Sunny Balzano – previously, the bar belonged to his grandfather. It is a Red Hook classic, and the decor has remained somewhat untouched, which gives a unique charm to the bar – like a dizzying variety of trinkets, some with nautical themes. The place, which had several names, serves drinks and beers and is also famous for its music.
Address: 253 Conover Street. www.sunnysredhook.com
Grabbing a sweet treat at Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies
This hidden-gem is another Red Hook classic and makes one of the most famous lime pies in the United States, using 100% fresh lemon juice to make the pies. The place is small and simple – it’s like discovering a secret in the neighborhood.
Address: 185 Van Dyke St. keylime.com
Endereço: 185 Van Dyke St.
Picking up a bottle of whiskey at Van Brunt Stillhouse
Van Brunt Stillhouse takes a time-honored traditional approach to distilling. Sourcing wheat, rye, and corn directly from upstate New York, farmers make every spirit from scratch in the Red Hook waterfront. In the pioneering spirit of Cornelius VanBrunt, who was a farmer in the Dutch colony of Breukelen, husband and wife team Daric Schlesselman and Sarah Ludington founded Van Brunt Stillhouse, driven by a love of Craft. The Stillhouse has been producing farmhouse-style whiskeys in the heart of modern-day Brooklyn since 2012. As a master distiller, Daric brings creativity to his recipes while working within the traditions of distilling fine spirits. He has developed a line of spirits that establishes his unique voice within traditional spirit categories and the American Whiskey, which is unlike any other on the market.
You can visit the place for tasting and cocktails or pick up a bottle of whiskey – and they also offer tours.
Address: 7 Sigourney Street. www.vanbruntstillhouse.com
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Stopping by Pioneer Works
Pioneer Works is an artist-run cultural center that opened in 2012. Imagined by its founder, artist Dustin Yellin, as a place in which artists, scientists, and thinkers from various backgrounds converge, this “museum of process” takes its primary inspiration from utopian visionaries such as Buckminster Fuller and radical institutions such as Black Mountain College. Since its inception, Pioneer Works has built science studios, a technology lab with 3-D printing, a virtual environment lab for VR and AR production, a recording studio, a media lab for content creation and dissemination, a darkroom, residency studios, galleries, gardens, a ceramics studio, a press, and a bookshop. Pioneer Works’ central hall is home to a rotating schedule of exhibitions, science talks, music performances, workshops, and innovative free public programming.
Admission is free! pioneerworks.org
Address: 159 Pioneer Street.
Visiting a historic vessel
The Waterfront Museum is housed aboard a historic vessel 0- the Lehigh Valley Railroad Barge #79, built-in 1914. It was founded in 1986, and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the only floating wooden covered barge of its kind restored and ready to receive visitors. Visitors get to step into another era and experience some of the flavors of an earlier life along the river. Seeing videos and looking at artifacts on the walls and ceilings, they are reminded of how goods were handled prior to today’s bridges and tunnels. They witness the impact that technology has had upon the shipping industry and our daily lives.
Address: 290 Conover St. waterfrontmuseum.org
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Once in Red Hook, don’t miss the opportunity to appreciate the city views! The waterfront on the back of Food Bazaar provides beautiful views of Manhattan’s skyline!
How to get there
The best way to get to Red Hook is catching Water Taxi or NYC Ferry at Pier 11 to go to Red Hook.
Did you like these recommendations? Do you have more recommendations on things to do in Red Rook?
I’m a curator on Seek, a new NYC-based app complete with recommendations and tips on where to eat, drink, and hang out. Their recommendations are brought by New Yorkers who have tried a huge amount of places in the city. Check out their website at seekrecs.com, as well as their app at Seek – NY City Recommendations to check out more of my recs – my profile is @lauraperuchi
Content creator and journalist in New York City. Here, I share lifestyle, beauty, NYC tips, thoughts, and the struggles about living in the most amazing city in the world! I’m not gonna pretend to be another person: I’m a Brazilian immigrant and I think this is my soul, it is part of who I am. I hope you enjoy my content! Follow me on Instagram!