The part of Greenpoint on the border of Williamsburg has long been an epicenter of restaurants, bars, and shops sandwiched between extraordinary Polish food and Peter Pan Donuts. But if you venture further north to the very tip of the neighborhood, towards Newtown Creek (one of the most polluted waterways in the USA, it should be noted), there is a quiet stretch of Greenpoint. Here, it’s actually possible to feel like you’re on an escape from the bustle of the city streets, making it the perfect place for a summer staycation. You can relax in a pretty park, buy a cool plant, drink some sparkling rose while looking at the skyline, and share a Mediterranean meal in a former glassworks factory. You could even build your day’s schedule around an event at the 60,000-square-foot Brooklyn Expo Center or a performance at Kingsland Wildflowers. One evening I attended a free concert in a field of rooftop flowers, drinking wine with an old friend, watching a violinist and Brazilian band playing while the sun set over a wastewater treatment plant. It was an exceptionally Brooklyn experience.
Grab your best friend or a date and spend a long leisurely afternoon in the neighborhood. Attend a craft fair, a concert or a tarot class—get out of your comfort zone. Healthy options abound: eat mostly vegan if you’d like and have meat at dinner, order sparkling wine at a bar followed by alcohol-free cocktails at a teetotaling lounge. You have 10 hours to tap into how you feel and to find your center before the night is over.
2pm: Have a slice at Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop
Paulie Gee’s has been impressing pizza snobs since 2010 with a restaurant where it is impossible to get a reservation. Now, there is the Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop so all of us can go on a whim. This location has all of the pizza that the restaurant is known for—yes, don’t worry, there is the Hellboy (pepperoni with hot honey). There are also delicious vegan options, Sicilian options, and experimental options. Inside, it’s the pizza parlor from your past that you dream about—wood paneling, an original Atari game ready to play, red booths and a checkerboard floor. With all that nostalgia, you may opt to order a plain cheese slice, which is guaranteed to be better than anything from your childhood. Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop, 110 Franklin St., Greenpoint.
3pm: Pick up some summer reading at WORD
I judge a neighborhood by how good its bookstore is, and by this meter Greenpoint is thriving, considering its two great booksellers. Archestratus Books + Foods (160 Huron St.) is a curated cookbook store and cafe that also throws cookbook-themed dinners. WORD, which has been around since 2007, is one of those independent bookstores where you can still make new discoveries and attend events downstairs. It’s small with a good selection of gifts, fiction, and a separate kid’s closet/room. You should probably pick up a novel from your summer reading list for later in the day if you enjoy chilling out in a beautiful park with a book. Looking for recommendations? Booksellers here recommend On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous and Daisy Jones and the Six; our reading list includes The Nimble Cook by Ronna Welsh, Leaving the Witness: Exiting A Religion and Finding a Life by Amber Scorah and Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner. Word, 126 Franklin Ave., Greenpoint.
3:30pm: Indulge your green thumb (or not) at Greenery
Greenery is a great place to go if you know about flora and have a garden where you love to spend the day tinkering. It’s also a great place, if, like me, you know nothing about plants and end up killing all the ones that you purchase. It’s a beautiful store, an oasis, really, with pink terracotta walls and a tangle of greenery everywhere you look. Sit in the swing chair for a few minutes and feel your body relax, while your lungs inhale fresh air. The store calls itself “the world’s first biophilic design store, blending the science of horticulture with the art of design.” They will lend their expertise to customers who wish to purchase grow lights, containers, potting soil or fiddleleaf ferns. But they will also leave you alone if you just want to sit among the indoor jungle. Greenery, 91 West St., Greenpoint.
4pm: You deserve a cookie
At this point, you probably have digested your pizza and you might be ready for a little treat. Across the street from Greenery is Ovenly, a sweet little bakery/cafe, where you’ll find a rotating batch of cookies, cakes and baked goods. (This is also a good place to get me a pick-me-up coffee if you need one.) I ordered a salted chocolate chip cookie, which they say is “secretly vegan” replacing the egg and butter with oil and water. The cookies aren’t advertised as vegan, and when you eat them you’d never know they were. Moist, hearty and perfect. Also on offer were a pretty Lavender Lemon Cake, a Babka Bun and a Hot Chocolate Cookie that makes me salivate just thinking about it. Ovenly, 154 Franklin St., Greenpoint.
4:30pm: Hang at Transmitter Park
Is it even a relaxing summer day without a park hang? Transmitter Park sounds like it was named by a marketing department, but the park, which opened in 2012, is called this because it was once the location of WNYC Transmission Towers. Now the park is a pretty waterfront greenspace with extraordinary views. On the day I was there, a passerby actually commented, “This park looks very zen.” (It did.) There were a sprinkling of people lying on benches soaking up the sun, others petting puppies, and about 10 people gathered in what looked like a healing circle picnic. The only issue I have with the park is the trees are still young, and provide limited shade. Bring your hat and sunscreen, grab a seat, and crack open that new novel you just bought. WNYC Transmitter Park, West St. between Kent Ave. and Greenpoint Ave.
5pm: Shop for pretty little things
I really like shopping, but I hate trying on clothes. When I’m with friends I prefer shopping for objets d’art, pretty little things that are more fantastic than functional. This stretch of Greenpoint has that in spades. First make a stop at Bellocq, (104 West St.) the most gorgeous tea atelier you’ve ever seen. Behind an unmarked wooden door is a world of tea accouterments. This is not a cafe, but there is a pretty space for sitting. Instead, it is a place for buying tea, ceramics to drink tea out of, spoons to stir tea, and candles to light while you drink your tea. Even if you’re not tea crazy, you’ll enjoy the beauty of the store. Then, make your way to Maha Rose, (97 Green St.) where if you are lucky, you’ll be in time for a breathwork class, a tarot reading, a past life regression, or another healing class. All of the teachers here are devoted to your wellness and you really can’t go wrong with trying any workshop. Their recent expansion now includes a store where you can find high vibes books, crystals, and smudge sticks, so even if a class isn’t going on you’ll most like be drawn to something to help you on your journey. Finally, at the gem of a shop, Foa, (89 Freeman St.) which stands for Friends of All Collective, you’ll find creations like handmade canvas totes, rugs, decorated eye masks, and a local beauty and candle line by Goldies which is made in Rockaway Beach.
6pm: Happy Hour (or Two)
By this time you are probably ready for a drink. What is a staycation without a cold glass pressed into your hand? Here you’ve got lots of options. The Springs (224 Franklin St.), a bar with a bright open-air patio, is an Instagram Influencer’s wet dream. A picture perfect mural to use as a backdrop? Check. A colorful summer drink that comes with an umbrella? Check. (Try the Watermelon Ginger Margarita Slushie.) A hundred people that you want to be friends with? Check. On the day I was there, the outdoor space was too crowded for our mood, so we escaped to Achilles Heel (180 West St.), a low-key bar by the water, where the paint on the wall is peeling, the oak bar is comfortably worn and the sidewalk seating is aimed towards the water. The decor is inspired by an old dockworkers bar from the 1900s, and like every other Andrew Tarlow-owned establishment, it instantly becomes “your place.” This is what everyone’s favorite bar should be: quality drinks in a comfortable setting. I ordered a sparkling rose, which could have easily turned into a bottle if I didn’t have dinner reservations.
7:45pm: Get your morning brew ready
On your way to dinner, you can get a souvenir and some caffeine for the morning at Champion Coffee by ordering a tin to go. They close at 8pm, so plan accordingly. The drip coffee is solid and the tin it comes in is perfect to upcycle as a holder for all your pens, pencils or paintbrushes. As a bonus, if you buy a canister of the beans, you’ll get a free cup of joe if you want it, which might be nice if you want a quick pick me up if you overindulged during happy hour. Champion Coffee, 1107 Manhattan Ave., Greenpoint.
8pm: Dinner at Glasserie
Glasserie feels like a special occasion restaurant. Situated on the river’s edge, in the middle of nowhere, it feels eventful just to find the place. The exposed brick and wood floors strike the right note of elegance and warmth. It’s the kind of place you want to snuggle into during the winter and cool down from the heat in the summer. I’ve been with large groups for a birthday party and an intimate dinner with a friend and it was great both ways. Share plates and linger. Order the flatbread, the lamb sausages, the smoked eggplant and any other small plates that catch your eye. The Mediterranean menu is light and perfect for accompanying long conversations. Get a bottle of wine, stay for dessert. You’re in staycation mode now. Glasserie, 95 Commercial St., Greenpoint.
10pm: A Nightcap without the booze is still a nightcap
Why is an alcohol-free bar called Getaway? What is it that we are getting away from? Alcohol? Drunk tech bros? Sloppy pickup lines? Late night debauchery? Bad decisions? Beer goggles? Openly crying about how much you love your cat? All of this. At Getaway, you sit in a well-designed cocktail bar and drink beautiful beverages that don’t have alcohol in them. We ordered two “Daters Gonna Date” which tasted like chalky virgin pina coladas and sat civilly among tables of confused patrons. Most people felt the need to explain to the room that they did drink, but they had a big day tomorrow, or that they were on a cleanse, or that they had already been drinking all afternoon (ok, that was me). It’s commendable that all these people tried something new. What should you do in a bar where the air is not electrically charged with liquor? No one really knew. Without the messy confidence of alcohol, you’re just strangers sitting in close proximity, drinking expensive juice. But, here’s what happens after the novelty wears off: you can focus on the company you’re keeping, have a real conversation, act like a human, and recognize when it’s time to go home. The bar closes at midnight, which is a civilized time to call an Uber. Your liver will thank you. Getaway, 158 Greene St., Greenpoint.