Brooklyn Navy Yard: Come for Wegmans, stay for so much more


What else is there to do after you’ve shopped at Brooklyn’s new favorite supermarket? A lot. Photo: Meredith Craig de Pietro

Will the thrill of Wegmans ever cease? After all, it is just a grocery store. (Please put your weapons down and hear me out.) Yes, the insane cheese selection, the Italian pizza oven, the decent supermarket sushi section, the local grass-fed beef, the cannoli-for-one, the lobster steamer, and the affordable prices are all great. No one is disputing that. But to make the trek to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, or to take advantage of the free parking hours in the lot, it has to be worth the inconvenience. Luckily for you, there is more to do après shopping. The Brooklyn Navy Yard encompasses dozens of workspaces and food options where you can imbibe at a new brewery, learn something new at an urban farm, or get world-famous bagels without the wait.  Here’s how to make the most of a visit.

You may not make it to the rooftop for one of Brooklyn Grange’s classes in winter, but you’ll still be surrounded by greenery. Photo: Ben Flanner

Take a class or two

An amazing part of the Brooklyn Navy Yard is how many classes you could take if you had the time. Brooklyn Grange offers workshops geared toward urban farming, gardening, cooking, and using plants for everything from natural medicine to indigo dyeing. You may not make it to the rooftop farm in winter, but you’ll get a dose of greenery in their plant-filled loft space. Winter Rest & Renewal: Yoga, Sound Healing and Chinese Medicine (Feb 2), All About Hot Sauce! (Feb 6), Introduction to Beekeeping (Feb 20), and Pedal Powered Pasta Making Workshop (Feb 27) are all on the agenda this season. Classes sell out quickly, so if you’re interested, get on it! Better yet, sign up for their email so you get the first word. (Clinton Ave & Flushing Ave).

Dieu Donné is dedicated to contemporary art using the process of hand papermaking, and offers  introductory workshops that sell out quickly, but open up a wider range of advanced classes. (Building 3, Suite 602) At Downtown Painting, you can sign up for a semester of oil painting classes no matter what your level either Saturday afternoons or Wednesday evenings. It’s a commitment at five classes for $425 plus materials, but you’ll leave with something to hang on your wall. (63 Flushing Ave., Building 62). If you want to get your hands dirty, you could stop by a BYOB Pottery Experience and Complimentary Wine Classes at Brooklyn Clay Industries, which run often but seem to sell out quickly. If you like it, you can move on to the 10-week class. (63 Flushing Ave. Building 62). If you like to work with your hands but don’t want to get them dirty, why not learn woodworking? At Bien Hecho Academy, you can learn the basics with a weekly intro class or on February 16th stop by a family-friendly (12+ up) one-afternoon cutting board class which includes a tour of BLDG 92. $100. (63 Flushing Ave, Building 3, Suite 1110 (between 5th & 8th Streets)

This outpost of Russ & Daughters might be the biggest secret in Brooklyn right now (besides the Wegmans bar.) Photo: Russ and Daughters

Eat your heart out

You’ve presumably just gone (or about to go) to a grocery store, so you should probably eat and drink at home and save some money. But since you’re in the Navy Yard, venture to Building 77, where you can rejoice in not having to wait three hours in line to get some bagels, schmear and smoked salmon from the Navy Yard outpost of the renowned Russ & Daughters. This may be the biggest secret in Brooklyn right now, and, most likely, it won’t last for long. (Building 77, 141 Flushing Ave.) Also, you can get your Haitian fix at Grandchamps and order pork griot served over white rice with Sos Pwa (black bean sauce). Their Bed-Stuy location is worth the wait, but you can find more space here. (Building 77, 141 Flushing Ave.) If it’s more of a coffee and pastry thing you’re after, Head Hi, a tiny book shop featuring a curated selection of international publications, books, magazines, small press, zines, as well as a selection of coffee, tea and baked goods. (14 Clermont Avenue)

This greenspace is a tranquil oasis any time of year. Photo: Brooklyn Greenway Initiative

Explore history, art and the outdoors

If you’ve got time to kill and you want to take in some history, you could sit down and read Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach. Or you could swing by the Bldg 92 Museum. There are three floors of exhibition space dedicated to the past, present and future of the Navy Yard (plus a Brooklyn Roasting Company cafe). From Tuesday through Saturday from 12pm-6pm, the museum is open, and the best part is admission is free. They even have two-hour guided tours on the weekend if you have the stamina. (63 Flushing Avenue.) If you like the idea of seeing an exhibit, but would rather it be fine art, stop by Dieu Donné’s gallery. Through February there is a group show going on, as well as Love Positive Women 2020 Valentine Pop Up Exhibition. (Building 3, Suite 602). If you would rather be outside, swing by the Naval Cemetery Landscape, on the site of the former naval hospital cemetery (don’t worry, all the remains were relocated to Cypress Hills). The site is now a designated greenspace with events like sound baths, yoga, and beekeeping going on during the warmer months. Off-season, the park is accessible on weekends from 10am-4pm, but come spring it is open during the week as well. (Located on the eastern edge of the Brooklyn Navy Yard and accessed from the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway at Williamsburg St West between Kent and Flushing Avenues.)

There are risks involved with “drinking and grocery shopping,” but we’re just pointing out there are a lot of great options here. Photo: Meredith Craig de Pietro

Cheers to completing your grocery list

First, you should know that during certain hours, you can recover from the stress of grocery shopping at Wegmans with a drink AT WEGMANS. On the second floor, there is actually a bar, so feel free to bring up a slice of Pepperoni and order up an “Italian Old Fashioned” before you leave. Also, the newest addition to the Building 77 food hall is the opening of Transmitter Brewing’s Urban Farmhouse Brewery, which specializes in farmhouse style brewskies. (Building 77, 141 Flushing Ave.) If you need something a little harder, stop by the beautiful Kings County Distillery (which you can see from the Wegmans parking lot), where you can get a whiskey tour or hang out the gorgeous tasting room bar. With its faded glory vibe and stiff drinks, it very well may be one of the best bars in Brooklyn, so it’s worth a visit. (299 Sands Street.) Additionally, on a beautiful spring day, Rooftop Reds will be your favorite place to be. Make a reservation for this rooftop vineyard where you can swing on a hammock with a bottle of red until you don’t mind that all of your frozen groceries are melting around you. (299 Sands St.)

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