05/12/16 1:14pm

In interviewing Amy Haimerl, author of Detroit Hustle, I asked her to name a few things I should absolutely do if I was visiting Detroit for the weekend. “The Detroit Hustle tour of Detroit? So many, many options,” she emailed back. “But I’ll give you my favorites. Of course, there’s probably too much for a weekend.”

There is probably too much here to cram in during one visit. Just bookmark her recommendations, and do the best you can.

Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry mural at the DIA. (Courtesy the Detroit Institute of Arts)

Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry mural at the DIA. (Courtesy the Detroit Institute of Arts)

If you love museums/art:

Detroit Institute of Arts: This, of course, is the home of the famous Diego Rivera industry mural. The Rockefellers tore yours down, but we still have his amazing frescoes. Plus, take a glass of wine in the Kresge Court and enjoy the late afternoon sunlight in this amazing courtyard.

Charles H. Wright Museum: Most people make the DIA pilgrimage, but the Charles H. Wright Museum is breathtaking. There are rotating exhibits, but the permanent collect is the world’s largest exhibit of African American culture. I love the genealogy wheel.

Motown Museum: Stand in the studio where the Supremes, Temptations and so many others recorded. It’s like you’re on hallowed ground.

Detroit Techno Museum: Did you know Detroit is also the birthplace of techno? We took the sound and made it all our own. The museum is by-appointment only, but you want to make that appointment. And both this and the Motown Museum are on Grand Boulevard, at opposite ends, so you can make an afternoon of it.

Murals in the Market: Head over to the Eastern Market district – think Union Square Farmer’s Market but bigger and better – for a truly spectacular canvas of street art. Thanks to the Murals in the Market project hosted last year by local gallery Inner State Gallery, the walls of the old warehouses are covered in murals by local and international stars. I love the Shark Toof that seems to shimmer with iridescence, but also am fond of anything Fel3000ft does. (more…)

12/08/15 9:27am

indie-guides-presentation

In an age of seemingly endless travel sites (on which every restaurant, museum and coffeehouse has an inscrutable combination of one- and five-star reviews), the best way to create a solid itinerary when planning a trip is to ask friends for travel recommendations. But what if you don’t have a pal in Madrid or Berlin?

Enter Indie Guides. Launched in February of 2015 by Paris-based co-founders, Anne Le Gal and Gary Monginod, there are now Indie Guide apps for cities around the world, the most recent of which is their brand-new guide to Brooklyn. Written by locals, the app offers users 50 places to eat, drink, shop and soak in the local culture. The Paris and Montreal are free; the rest, which include Rome, Istanbul, Tokyo and Lisbon, will set you back $1.99 for iPhone or Android.

Indie Guides feel like highly curated insider information because they are. “They are very subjective and personal,” Le Gal wrote in an email. “We don’t try to cover uniformly a city and to cover ‘unmissable’ spots. You don’t need us to know that you have to go to the Eiffel Tower and Le Louvre when you come to Paris. We only care about little spots we and the authors of the guides like, places you would have difficulties to find when you’re not a local and places highlighting the emerging cultural scene of a city.” (more…)

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11/06/15 9:37am
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Bet this isn’t what came to mind when you heard the word, “barn.” Photo: The Barn at Copake Lake

We love New York. Love it. Especially this time of the year. But to truly appreciate this city, you have to leave it from time to time. And boy have we lined up a great way to refresh, recharge and explore the Hudson Valley. We have not one, but two getaway packages that are, no kidding, so good.

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07/23/15 10:34am

Ah, summer in Brooklyn. A marvelous unfolding of rooftop drinking, movies under the stars, music in the parks, and out-of-town guests–like your parents.

Alarmingly, many parents still harbor the belief that a visit to New York City means a crowded, over-long day at the Met followed by mediocre Midtown dining and an astronomically expensive Broadway show. Need help figuring out how best to show off your borough to the folks who helped you get here? We’ve got you covered. Here are more than 50 ways to show them Brooklyn—your Brooklyn—plus a little smidge of Queens.

A group on the Brooklyn Classic tour with Get Up and Ride. Photo: Get Up and Ride

A group on the Brooklyn Classic tour with Get Up and Ride. Photo: Get Up and Ride

For Your Folks Who Are Still in Great Shape 

1. Bike the waterfront—or anywhere else. Get Up and Ride offers group tours on comfortable bikes (which they also rent), or can organize a private tour. Citibikes are also a fantastic option, with 24-hour passes costing only $9.95.

2. Shoot some arrows at Gotham Archery. Intro classes are $30, and are offered most days except for Mondays & Tuesdays.

3. Knock down some pins at one of Bk’s many bowling alleys, from the scruffy Gutter to the swanky Brooklyn Bowl to the old-school Melody Lanes.

4. See some art while smashing some balls at PIPS Table Tennis and Art Space.

5. Learn what to do with biscuits and tangs at the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club, with courts rented for $40/hr.

6. Climb the walls at Brooklyn Boulders—no experience or reservations necessary.

7. Get your surf on at the Rockaway Beach Surf School, with lessons every day of the week.

10. For a serious taste of today’s Brooklyn befitting the most adventurous parents, take a circus class—intro classes are offered at the Muse, Brooklyn Air Space, and LAVA Brooklyn. (more…)

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07/21/15 10:28am
Anyone's Guest, one of a few houseboats available for an overnight stay in the Rockaways. Photo: Nicole Davis

Anyone’s Guest, one of a few houseboats available for an overnight stay in the Rockaways. Photo: Nicole Davis

Last Thursday afternoon, when I would have normally been at home, collecting my kids from camp, I stood with a girlfriend on a dock in Far Rockaway where we would be spending the night on a houseboat. As the owner relayed the rules of the marina, her eight-year-old boy manhandled a dead horseshoe crab beside us, which she gently reminded him to put down before we walked toward our floating accommodations. “That wasn’t in the Airbnb description,” she joked.

Day trips to the Rockaways, home to some of New York City’s most accessible beaches, have become a rite of summer, especially now that a significant stretch of its boardwalk has been restored and the food stalls at Jacob Riis Park have begun hawking tuna tartare and handmade ice cream. But considering how long it can take to stand in line for a snack beneath the hot sun on the boardwalk, or wait for a drink (or the bathroom) at Rockaway Surf Club during the weekend, the idea of turning a day trip into an overnight visit–especially during a less crowded weeknight–seemed more my speed.

Taking the ferry, which only runs on weekends, was unfortunately out of the question, perhaps the main downside of a weekday visit. But being able to take the A train to the Rockaways is really one of the rare virtues of the MTA. On any other subway ride, being stuck between two manspreaders would just be another annoyance to endure. But on a trip to Far Rockaway, your discomfort is rewarded once you reach Broad Channel, and can see the sun glinting off the water, and flashes of white egrets resting on the tiny islands of Jamaica Bay–all in sight of the NYC skyline. (more…)

07/09/15 9:00am

Summer is usually more about beach trips and ball games than say, Abstract Expressionism. But considering museums in New York are all air-conditioned, perhaps you should rethink your escape plan from the muggy, garbage-scented New York City streets with these cool-as-a-cucumber cultural excursions.

Jean-Michel Basquiat (American, 1960–1988). Untitled (Crown), 1982. Acrylic, ink, and paper collage on paper, 20 x 29 in. (50.8 x 73.66 cm). Private collection, courtesy of Lio Malca. Copyright © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat, all rights reserved. Licensed by Artestar, New York. Photo: Mark-Woods.com

Jean-Michel Basquiat (American, 1960–1988). Untitled (Crown), 1982. Acrylic, ink, and paper collage on paper, 20 x 29 in. (50.8 x 73.66 cm). Private collection, courtesy of Lio Malca. Copyright © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat, all rights reserved. Licensed by Artestar, New York. Photo: Mark-Woods.com

Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks at the Brooklyn Museum If 160 pages of doodles and musings is too deep down the Basquiat rabbit hole for you, there are several other excellent collections at The Brooklyn Museum right now including Zanele Muholi: Isibonelo/Evidence, a collection of portraits documenting the lives of gay and transgender women in South Africa. The Basquiat exhibit showcases previously unseen notebooks filled with sketches, poetry and random personal observations by the late Brooklyn-based artist, and the books are accompanied by several large-scale works. For the train ride there, we recommend listening to the This American Life segment about the insane collection of ephemera that the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh is has been in the process of cataloging.  Through Aug. 23

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02/06/15 9:13am
Camp on an island in the middle of Lake George this summer. Photo:

Can’t afford a private island? Go camping on Lake George this summer instead, but book your site now. Photo: Sandy Makatura via Lake George.com

The recent “blizzard” and all-out freeze has done a number on the city, our now-treacherous sidewalks and our collective spirits. There aren’t enough double Bailey’s hot chocolates or steaming hot toddies out there to warm what’s left of my frigid core. This week, I’ve learned that walking across the Williamsburg Bridge because the subway tracks are frozen is a great way to see the cityscape, if you can manage to open your eyes in the piercing wind. Luckily, I think I’ve found a way to beat the winter blues. My solution? Planning the most epic spring and summer getaways I can imagine.

I’m talking about island getaways, battleground barracks, motorcycle rallies and one of the most spectacular firework displays in the country. Yes, you can go the AirBnB route for soaking up the sun and relaxing somewhere away from the city, but New York State Parks maintains a pretty amazing array of campsites, cabins, yurts, even lighthouses that you can reserve and stay in quite cheaply. Reservations open up nine months in advance of the booking, and some of the most coveted spots (like a cottage on a the water in the Finger Lakes for $125 a night) get snapped up almost immediately. (There are lots of campsites you can get last minute, too, so don’t despair, light travelers.) You can book through the New York State Camping website, though I’d recommend calling if you have specific questions or needs, as the site and online booking process can be a bit confusing–they’re very helpful,  1-800-456-CAMP.

Here are some outstanding spots to commune with nature this summer, though New York State has a pretty amazing array of parks, lakes and historic sites, so explore what’s on offer around the state–don’t just stick to my recommendations.

Lake George
There are a number of campgrounds near Lake George, or The Queen of American Lakes as it’s known. It sits at the base of the Adirondacks with a shoreline of more than 100 miles. So, there’s plenty of room, but the best sites get snatched quickly. (more…)

01/05/15 5:32pm
Trade city life for tropical paradise for a week or more. Photo: Joy Bergmann

Trade city life for tropical paradise for a week or more. Photo: Joy Bergmann

*Not quite. You will have to purchase transportation, food and your travel-reading of choice.

Long before Airbnb (and before we all grew weary of the term “sharing economy”), thrifty, adventurous travelers saved money on vacations by participating in home swaps–my NYC apartment for your Cape Cod bungalow, my Catskills cabin for your South Beach condo. Swappers find each other via listings in the back of travel magazines, or by going through a swapping service. Or, for the internet savvy, I highly recommend using the Housing Swap listings on Craigslist. With three successful swaps under my belt, I’m here to tell you it’s an easy alternative to the potential legal headaches involved with Airbnb.

If you read the recent New York Times story about house swapping, you may have thought, “neat concept, but I don’t have a Manhattan townhouse or a 4,000-square-foot loft, or a pied-à-terre overlooking the Seine to trade.” Trust me, great swaps are possible with normal New York apartments. Indeed, the whole concept may have you thinking, “Ohmygod strangers in my house and they’ll rob me blind and hold orgies in my breakfast nook and eeeeew my mattress and my Xbox and that is just crazy.” (more…)

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11/10/14 9:50am

I know we like to think of ourselves as the center of the food universe here in Brooklyn, but sometimes it’s good to get out of town and see what’s popping up on plates elsewhere. I always forget just how close Philadelphia is—just an hour and a half on Amtrak, a very easy weekend trip from NYC. It also has so much more to offer cuisine-wise than those tired old cheesesteaks and soft pretzels. On a recent weekend binge-fest through some of the city’s newest restaurants, I was constantly impressed with the originality of menus, by how many times I had to look up creative cocktail ingredients I’d never seen before, and by how affordable prices are everywhere—compared to these parts anyway. Here’s a look at five new Philly dishes worth the train ride. (more…)

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10/17/14 9:00am
The foliage is in its full glory at Mohonk Mountain preserve right now. Photo: Evan Groll

The foliage is in its full glory at Mohonk Mountain preserve right now. Photo: Evan Groll

As much as we love New York City, and as ideal as it is for many things, it is not the best place to enjoy fall foliage and get that taste of the outdoors that even the most seasoned city dwellers need from time to time. Here are two easy trips north where you can take full advantage of this gorgeous autumn. Both are much easier done by car, but if you want an autumn hike you can do completely car-free, check out this adventure in Peekskill, with foliage and beer.  (more…)

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