New York City is full of interesting neighborhoods with their own personality and character, and Dumbo (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) is one of those areas. Located in Brooklyn, just steps from the East River, Dumbo is quiet, expensive and (relatively) small. It’s the place where of-the-moment tech companies like Etsy, the popular peer-to-peer craft site, have chosen to base their offices, and thus, during the day, it’s common to see young programmers and crafty types riding their bikes or walking into the office on Washington Street. Due to Dumbo’s size and price tag, it’s easy to miss some of the local gems and find yourself in crowded Brooklyn Bridge Park and other tourist traps. But reference this guide the next time you’re “down under,” and you won’t go wrong.
How to Get There
On a beautiful day, one of the easiest ways to get to Dumbo from Manhattan is to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Once you’ve stepped off the iconic structure, turn left toward Washington Street and the river. By foot, it’s likely you’ll see a film crew setting up shop under the Manhattan Bridge — if the area is blocked off, look for the set sign to see what film or TV show is shooting. By subway, take the F to York Street, the A or C to High Street or the 2 or 3 to Clark Street.
Where to Shop
If you have some travel cash burning a hole in your pocket, Dumbo is a great place to spend it. Washington Street is lined with the neighborhood’s finest boutiques like Zoë, a high-end women’s shop that carries runway apparel from designers such as Alexander McQueen, Adam Lippes and Diane von Fürstenberg. Nos, a women’s shop on the corner of Front and Adams streets, sells classic luxury clothing and accessories, and has a fantastic selection of shoes. The area is also home to West Elm and its sister store, West Elm Market, which houses home goods, some select apparel and a coffee bar. If you’re interested in antiquing, head south and you’ll find plenty of well-curated shops on Atlantic Avenue between Court and Nevins streets — though that’s a bit further into Downtown Brooklyn, about a 30-minute walk just outside of Dumbo.
Where to Dine
Dining in Dumbo is refined and fresh. We’d suggest making eating a whole-day affair in the neighborhood, starting at One Girl Cookies for a slice of quiche or a bowl of homemade yogurt and granola paired with a latte. For lunch, take a seat at the bar at Almar, a cash-only Italian trattoria famous for its soups and panini classico, a prosciutto di parma and mozzarella panini. (There’s an ATM in the back in case you’re short on bills.) Dinner at Atrium Dumbo, an inventive café on Main Street, requires ordering the Brooklynite cocktail (Vizcaya VXOP Cask 21 rum with honey syrup, lime and Angostura bitters) with your meal. Though Atrium offers a four-course tasting menu every Friday and Saturday evening that highlights the season’s freshest ingredients, the rest of the week is just as special — the culinary roster includes fresh oysters, housemade pastas and a divine roasted duck with radish, plum, orange and wild flower honey.
Where to Stay
Dumbo is a residential area — expect to see children on their way to school and their parents walking dogs in the morning. Unless you plan to stay in a friend’s high-end flat, the nearest luxury accommodations will be found in Williamsburg, a pocket of Brooklyn known for its local pride and artistic flare. Wythe Hotel, located a short 15-minute drive from Dumbo, features details from across the borough (original art and Goldie’s natural toiletries) while, at the same time, showing off exposed beams and other industrial touches reminiscent of its past life as a sugar-barrel factory.
Brooklyn is home to one of the fiercest pizza rivalries and, unless you’re careful, you can end up on the wrong slice of pie. Sixteen years ago, Frank Ciolli bought the famed Grimaldi’s Pizzeria from its original owners. Today, the line there often stretches down the block, but savvy diners peek around the corner to find Juliana’s, which serves classic pies from a coal-fired stove, operated by original Grimaldi’s owner, Patsy Grimaldi. Now, when it’s time to walk off that margherita pizza, some people would suggest heading over to Brooklyn Bridge Park. While we certainly find that a great idea, we want to make sure we point you toward the less-congested Main Street portion of the park. Framed by the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges, the 4.8-acre space is great by day or by night. Now, if you’re traveling with children, go to the Empire Fulton Ferry section to see the restored 92-year-old ride, Jane’s Carousel. Rumor has it Beyoncé and Jay-Z recently brought their daughter, Blue Ivy, for a spin.