Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Brooklyn On a Budget: How to Have Five Full Brooklyn Experiences on Less Than $20 a Day

Posted By on Tue, Jul 16, 2013 at 9:45 AM

This view is free! Views are always free. But redundant on Instagram. Which, deal with it.
  • This view is free! Views are always free. But redundant on Instagram. Which, deal with it.

You guys! Brooklyn is expensive. Have you noticed? Ha ha. Of course you have, because you've spent at least ten minutes here, so you're aware of, like, the cost of things. But so, while Brooklyn is expensive, it is still totally possible to have a lot of fun here for under, say, twenty dollars a day. Here are five neighborhood tours that will afford you the experience of a lifetime, all for less than 20 bucks.


Notorious for being one of the priciest neighborhoods in New York City—and certainly in Brooklyn—DUMBO can still afford a tourist a well-rounded and reasonably priced sightseeing experience. First off, if you're coming from Manhattan, you need not worry about public transportation, as you can walk right across that more than 100-year-old Gothic marvel, the Brooklyn Bridge. But what to do once you're in Brooklyn? I'M GLAD YOU ASKED. No trip to DUMBO would be complete without a stroll through the beautiful Brooklyn Bridge Park, where you can stroll along the banks of the East River, admire the lovingly restored Jane's Carousel, and perhaps even partake in the summer-specific and totally free pop-up pool in Brooklyn Bridge Park? After all these free activities and breathtaking sights, hey! You've still got twenty dollars burning a hole in your pocket. Make your way over to 68 Jay for some truly exceptional pizza for $7 (without the crazy lines at Grimaldi's) and half-pints of beer for $2. I highly recommend getting the half-pint because a) it'll make you think of Laura Ingalls Wilder, which is never a bad thing and b) pints are $5, so by getting a half-pint you save money! Make up for those savings by tipping your bartender. It's the right thing to do.

68 Jay; 68 Jay Street (duh), DUMBO


Coney Island
Hmmm. Well. Coney Island is a really good place to spend a lot of money without really noticing it. That's a bad thing and goes against our mission of finding cheap things to do. And there is a part of us that wants to recommend you throw caution to the wind and blow all twenty bucks on a ride on the Slingshot, which will throw you up into the sky about the beach in a way designed to make you shriek with delight and terror. Is it worth $20? Yes, absolutely. Please do it. It's a fucking joy. Alternately, though, if you want some money post-ride to grab a beer and a hot dog, go on the Steeplechase. It's evocative of days gone by, when Coney Island had actual horse races and attractions that would never be legal these days. After the Steeplechase, you can stop by Nathan's and indulge in a juicy hot dog that will audibly snap under the pressure of your teeth and crinkly, Nathan fries. Spear them with a fork and feel like Poseidon, the king of Coney Island. But is that a full enough day for you? It should be! Because you can spend a lot of time walking the boardwalk and wading into the ocean, and enjoying the fact that, urban as your setting is, by looking out at the water, you are staring into the Atlantic Ocean, one of nature's most formidable foes. It is the very definition of vast. I mean, whoa. And it's free. That view is free. Be afraid, but in the best possible way.

Luna Park; 1000 Surf Avenue, Coney Island
Nathan's Famous; 1310 Surf Avenue, Coney Island

Pork Slope nachos, commence your drooling
  • Pork Slope nachos, commence your drooling

Park Slope
Known for being the land of brownstones and baby strollers, Park Slope doesn't necessarily spring to mind as a budget destination. But if you venture into the neighborhood on a weekend, you'll be pleasantly surprised. First, fuel up by eating the best damn nachos that New York City has to offer. That's right, go to Pork Slope and order up a small tray for 8 bucks (trust me, unless there's four of you, a small will be sufficient) and a Six Point for five bucks. After tip, you'll still be left with $4. But what to do? Well, I recommend heading up to 7th Avenue where you can check out the weekend flea market at PS 321, where, who knows? You might just get lucky enough to find a double album of the two classic Lerner & Lowe musicals, Gigi and My Fair Lady for three dollars. With that treasure under your arm, go on up to Prospect Park and explore the crown jewel of Olmsted & Vaux (rhymes with fox). Make sure to go to the Vale of Cashmere, because, well, cashmere. It's beautiful in theory and in reality. Enjoy.

Pork Slope; 247 5th Avenue, Park Slope
PS 321; 180 7th Avenue, Park Slope


Oh, Williamsburg. There's so much to do in you, and so much of it is so expensive! But if you really want to get a lot out of your Williamsburg experience, here's what you should do. Head over to SummerScreen one Wednesday night (upcoming movies include Pee Wee's Big Adventure, The Craft and Goonies) and plunk yourself down on the asphalt in McCarren Park, where you can watch an awesome movie for free. Plus, there's some pretty good people watching during SummerScreen, so you don't even need to like the movie to enjoy yourself, though that certainly helps. But what should you eat and drink? Well, SummerScreen has terrific vendors, including the vegan V-Spot and delectable sandwich maker Landhaus and the delicious Selamat Pagi. You can also take your twenty dollars and down a shot or two at the Gibson on Bedford, and follow that up with some cheese and bread that you get from Bedford Cheese Shop, and seriously? Then you're set. What's better than a belly full of cheese, bread, and well whiskey? Absolutely nothing.

The Gibson; 108 Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg
Bedford Cheese Shop ; 229 Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg


Red Hook
Finally, an area of Brooklyn that is traditionally working class. It's bound to be naturally cheap, right? WRONG. Nothing is cheap here, we are all, frankly, living in an economically induced hell. But so anyway, Red Hook on a budget. Well, it's totally possible, I'll lead with that. Just don't, you know, blow your wad of cash at the Red Hook Lobster Pound, delicious though it may be. No, instead, start your day off with a dip in the WPA-era public swimming pool on Bay Street, and then make your way over to Van Brunt. You'll have worked up an appetite from all that (free!) swimming, so treat yourself to a nice, sit-down meal at Fort Defiance. What do I recommend you order? Ahhh...decisions! This is hard, but I'd have to say you should go with the Cheddar Biscuit Egg Sandwich ($9) which comes with country ham and jalapeño jam, and a glass of the refreshing Labrusca ($9). After that, walk over to Valentino Pier and look out over New York Harbor at a view that is both priceless and free, like all the best things in life.

Red Hook Pool; 155 Bay Street, Red Hook
Fort Defiance; 365 Van Brunt Street, Red Hook

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About The Author

Kristin Iversen

Kristin Iversen

Kristin Iversen is the Managing Editor at Brooklyn Magazine and the L Magazine. She has been described as "a hipster buzzword made flesh." This seems pretty accurate.

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