08/02/16 9:00am
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Brighton Beach is waiting for you, at the end of the Q. Photo: Regina Mogilevskaya

I will choose Brighton Beach over the Rockaways any day, and it’s not just on account of my last name. This laid back beach boasts irrefutable seductions: It’s easily accessible via the Brighton Beach stop on the B or the Q train, from which the sand is less than a five-minute walk. It’s spacious and rarely overcrowded. And the best part? It doesn’t feel like a damn American Apparel ad.

Though on the outskirts of what is essentially Little Russia/Odessa, the crowd that’s scattered across the beach is always diverse, and families are very much welcome. The bathrooms leave much to be desired (wear your shoes and hold your nose), but the water is consistently warm and tranquil and the sand is clean, you know, for New York. Unlike the Rockaways, the Brighton Beach boardwalk is relatively bare when it comes to food and drink (apart from Tatiana and Café Volna, two pricey Russian restaurants whose pleasures we’ll leave for another time). So while you won’t find tacos or happen across a hip flea market here, there’s a very undeniable allure to this boardwalk, beautiful and aging in the harsh sunlight. Whether it’s the gusto of foreign languages swirling around you, or the unparalleled people watching, there’s something about Brighton Beach that will make you feel much further from your apartment than you are, maybe even like you’re on an overseas adventure.

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Poppy seed-filled pastries at La Brioche Café on Brighton Beach Avenue. Photo: Regina Mogilevskaya

Before you set foot on the sand, hit up some of the small shops and bakeries that line the streets for snacks, salads and sandwich makings. You won’t regret it. One challenge is that in many stores the signs are exclusively in Russian, so if you have a friend with some Slavic language skills, hit them up for their assistance. Or get ready to point and nod and smile a lot. And keep in mind that the Q train will get you here in under 30 minutes from Atlantic Terminal, so it’s a solid shorefront destination even in the winter, when many of the hot dishes will be even more appealing. Here are three of the best spots to stop and stock up. (more…)

08/01/14 12:10pm


If you don’t have access to a car, there are regular bus and train routes that can get you to Storm King quickly and cheaply.

 There’s no lack of ink out there about Storm King Art Center, the extraordinary 500-acre outdoor sculpture park located about an hour-and-a-half’s drive north of Brooklyn in the lower Hudson Valley. But every time I go and come back raving about it to people, they always seem to have the same response: they’ve never been, even though they’ve always wanted to check it out. So, after visiting Storm King this past Saturday with my sister and my dad and being reminded how great it is, I figured one more write-up won’t kill anyone, particularly if it helps you realize how easy it is to make this day trip. (more…)

02/07/14 9:07am

Dorchester Road is packed withbeautiful home. Photo: Peggy Truong

Dorchester Road is lined with beautiful homes. Photo: Peggy Truong

When you arrive in Ditmas Park, it’s pretty easy to forget all of your worries–and the fact that you’re in Brooklyn and can get to midtown Manhattan on a train in 30 minutes or less. Driveways, front yards and porches suddenly feel wonderful and out of place at the same time.

Since moving to the neighborhood about four weeks ago, I’ve basked in the glory of streets lined with Victorian houses, the sweet smells of baked goods and the hustle, bustle and charm of residents, old and new.

Built in the early 20th century, Ditmas Park’s gigantic Victorian homes are real estate porn for lovers of Colonial Revivals, Queen Annes, Tudors and Japanese designs, to name a few. Spend a few minutes on Albemarle Road and feel transported to another city, another time period. Served by the very reliable B and Q trains, Ditmas Park runs approximately (depending on who you ask) from Church Avenue to Avenue H, and Coney Island Avenue to Bedford Avenue, surrounded by Prospect Park South, Flatbush, Midwood and Kensington.

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Since I’m a comparative newbie, I spoke to Ditmas Park Corner’s Nora Whelan and Max Habib, owner of Qathra and Milk & Honey, for guidance about the neighborhood, and their favorite hangs and hidden gems. It’s tempting to tag the neighborhood as a suburb, thanks to the bevy of freestanding homes and tree-lined streets. Even the air feels a bit cleaner. “I don’t consider ‘suburb’ a dirty word,” says Whelan, who’s lived in the area for four years. “Ditmas Park is like everything you ever wanted in a perfect suburbia in terms of green space, breathtaking Victorian houses, and neighbors who will lend you a cup of sugar, but with the wealth of creative talent, amazing food and amenities, and easy transportation that the rest of crazy, urban NYC is proud to share.”

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