A Brooklyn Itinerary

by Gray Cargill on August 27, 2010

Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge

I just took my fourth trip to New York City this summer.  It was only my second time setting foot in Brooklyn.  I finally did what so many New York tourists are encouraged to do: Walk the Brooklyn Bridge. The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the country (finished in 1883), and is nearly 1600 feet long.  My cousin, who moved to Brooklyn this summer, was more than game to join me, as she hadn’t walked the Bridge yet, either.

I highly recommend the walk.  As long as you’re in reasonably good health, it doesn’t take that long (20-25 minutes if you’re not stopping to take photos every few minutes, but you probably will be).  You can walk across from Manhattan and then take the subway back; take the subway to Brooklyn and walk back; or do what my cousin and I did: Walk both ways.

Brooklyn Bridge

Cables, cables everywhere

It was a neat experience.  There are cars passing down below, and at times, you can feel the bridge move.  If you go mid-day, you’ll see all kinds of people–tourists, joggers, bicyclists, school groups; you name it.  Keep to the right, because otherwise you’ll get run over by bicyclists or rollerbladers.  Men and women set up shop with their coolers selling cold bottles of water for a dollar on the bridge.  (The downside being that if I heard the chant “Cold water, one dollar” one more time, I was going to scream.)

New York Ferry

View from the bridge

The main reason to walk the bridge (aside from being able to say you did it) is the view.  You can get terrific views of the harbor, Staten Island, the Statue of Liberty and ferries, along with the Manhattan skyline, Brooklyn, and nearby bridges.

NYC Skyline

View from the Bridge

To make the experience complete, you’ll want to stop for lunch on the Brooklyn side just to say you did.  I recommend a place most New York City guides won’t:  No, not Grimaldis, that’s the one the others recommend.  Me, I prefer not to have to wait in line in the hot sun for pizza–no matter how good it might be.  I recommend trying No. 1 Front Street, which is next door to Grimaldi’s in a beautiful old bank building.

No 1 Front Street

No 1 Front Street

Oh sure, we headed for Grimaldi’s first, because that’s what everyone does.  But when we arrived, already overheated from the walk across the bridge, there was a line.  In the direct sun.  And it wasn’t moving.  My cousin, God bless her, is a lot like me when it comes to needing to eat on a regular basis.  We were both pretty famished by this time.  We looked at each other, then at the restaurant we’d just passed in a white building on the corner, and said “Let’s try that place instead.”  We were so glad we did.

No 1 Front Street bar

No 1 Front Street bar

No. 1 Front Street has a lovely white stone exterior and equally lovely brick  interior with lots of dark wood, a bar area with seating and plenty of two top tables in front of large windows.  It also has glorious air conditioning, which is most welcome on a hot day.

No 1 Front Street

No 1 Front Street

I was a little nervous when we first went inside, because we were the only customers, and you know what they say about the quality of food in empty restaurants.  But apparently, they had just started serving lunch in June.  My cousin got the BLT sliders (mini-Angus burgers with bacon, lettuce and tomatoes), I got the portobello sandwich, and both of us got sweet potato fries.



Those were the best sweet potato fries I’ve ever eaten outside of Vermont.  (I have very high standards when it comes to my sweet potato fries.)  The sandwich was pretty tasty, too.  It was plenty enough food to fill us up, so dessert was out of the question.  Plus we still had to walk back across the bridge again.  Not something you want to do on an overly full stomach.

Portobello Sandwich

Portobello Sandwich

Service was fantastic–whether because for most of the time we were there, we were the only customers, or because it’s always that way, I can’t say.  Our waiter was very attentive, and the manager even took the time to see to it we were happy with our meal.  We had an enjoyable lunch and the best part?  We each got to order what we wanted (as opposed to making compromises over a shared a pizza).  We left the restaurant with full bellies, quite pleased with our discovery.

At No. 1 Front Street

Having lunch at No. 1 Front Street

Michael Gonchar September 22, 2010 at 12:47 am

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge is one of my favorite NY things to do. Now that you have that under your belt, you should try the other bridges – the Manhattan (with great views of the Brooklyn Bridge) and the Williamsburg. I have yet to do the GW Bridge – that’s next on my list!

Anonymous September 22, 2010 at 4:40 am

LOL, will do. Not sure when I’ll be in NYC again, though.

the destination india September 14, 2010 at 7:55 am

great pictures.

Flights to Johannesburg September 4, 2010 at 10:23 am

Very nice article.Brooklyn Bridge is so beautiful.The buildings look like as they have been painted very beautifully.statue of liberty is viewable from here.

Anonymous August 29, 2010 at 4:52 pm

I love finding the off-the-beaten path restaurants that no one else knows about (especially if they’re cheap!). 🙂

Anonymous August 29, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Yeah, the views are magnificent.

Grrrltraveler August 29, 2010 at 3:26 pm

You put me to shame. I’ve lived there for 8+ years and I never thought to write about the Brooklyn bridge. But it’s a great experience that locals and tourists enjoy. Also, kudos to you for finding your own cool restaurant find vs. going with the often picked! That’s what NYC is all about- exploring. NYC is filled with SO many great restaurants– obvious and dive, expensive and cheap… such that I never felt like rankings meant much. I used to have a few hole-in-the-wall places *cheap* awesome food and always packed. Not ranked.

Sabina August 27, 2010 at 11:53 pm

I’m so glad you got to walk the Brooklyn Bridge! The Brooklyn side offers such great view of Manhattan. And it’s good that you found that unknown place to have lunch. Now maybe people will know.

Anonymous August 27, 2010 at 10:38 pm

Thanks for your advice, Ctjwa. I’m glad you enjoy Grimaldi’s. You’re one of many, otherwise it wouldn’t be as popular as it is. I don’t regret our decision at all that day, and I think it’s good for people to know that Grimaldi’s isn’t the only place to eat once they get over the bridge in Brooklyn. Options are a good thing.

Ctjwa August 27, 2010 at 3:40 pm

I admire that you were open to changing plans, but good things do come to those who wait, and Grimaldi’s is one of them. You can get sliders and fries at any dive bar in any town in America, but a legendary coal oven NY pizza only comes from across the street. Their pizza really does live up to expectations.

If you had put a little more thought into planning the day, your outcome could have been much better. For example, stay cool by taking the subway to Brooklyn at 11am to get there for Grimaldi’s opening at 11:30. Even if you miss the first “wave” of seats, people dont take that long to eat a pizza, so you’ll be in by 12:30. After lunch, walk back to Manhattan over the Brooklyn Bridge, because then you’ll be walking toward the city view that everyone wants to see. Once you make it to the other side, if you’re hot and tired, you can always walk down to South Street Seaport for a cool beverage or ice cream outside on the wharf.

The road less traveled can be filled with amazing surprises, but sometimes the main road really should be the destination!

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