A Beautiful Mess Guide to Brooklyn

A Beautiful Mess Brooklyn guideVisiting New York City can feel overwhelming, especially when you don't have friends or family letting you know about all the real deal spots to visit. I might be a bit biased, but as a Brooklynite, I think Brooklyn should always be first on the visiting list! There are so many layered pockets to visit and explore here. 
I have so many favorites. One thing is for sure, you won't get bored when you visit! 
Places I normally visit and love:
A Beautiful Mess Guide to Brooklyn (click through for more)I will be the first to admit, I'm not much of a tea drinker. Well, unless I am sick, pregnant, and or trying to be super cool. Bellocq is a go-to for many visitors and locals who want to sit back and relax in their beautifully decorated fern room. It's lush and always camera-ready. If you are a tea drinker, then you'll like this atelier even more. 
A Beautiful Mess Guide to Brooklyn (click through for more) There's no shortage of coffee here in the city. And with each person you meet, you will get a different coffee recommendation. I have many favorites, but one that stands out is Blue Bottle Coffee. On any summer day, I suggest you grab the New Orleans. 
A Beautiful Mess Guide to Brooklyn (click through for more)  We have a few favorite brunch spots here in Brooklyn, but anytime I really want to sit and enjoy a delicious homestyle brunch, I visit Egg. We try and go during the week, as it's a hot spot during the weekend. 
A Beautiful Mess Guide to Brooklyn (click through for more)   We love watching movies, plays, talks, and shows at BAM. There is always something happening there, and usually everything is fairly priced. It's a Brooklyn arts must. 

A Beautiful Mess Guide to Brooklyn (click through for more)    A Beautiful Mess Guide to Brooklyn (click through for more)    I love how every little neighborhood in Brooklyn has it's own character and style. One minute you are surrounded by factories, next you're amongst colorful row houses, and within a few minutes, you'll be wrapped up in mansions that go back to the early 1800s. It's what I love most about living here. There's constantly so much to take in, and you're never given the chance to really get bored. If you happen to get bored, just hop on over to another neighborhood and explore. Things are always changing. 

A Beautiful Mess Guide to Brooklyn (click through for more)      Dough. This place has the best donuts in Brooklyn. Hands down! A lot of cafes sell their donuts now, but you're missing out if you don't go to their first location right in Bedstuy Brooklyn. Everything is made there and is always fresh! 

A Beautiful Mess Guide to Brooklyn (click through for more)       I absolutely love going thrifting here. It's more expensive than leaving town to go thrifting, that's for sure. But still, there are so many little shops, and so much to purchase secondhand and love. I feel like the list for kids' clothing is pretty short though. I adore Lulu's Then and Now. If you're here and need to purchase a few things, I highly suggest shopping here. There are lots of new things plus some vintage. And usually everything is in pristine condition. 

A Beautiful Mess Guide to Brooklyn (click through for more)        Momufuku has delicious ice cream, great coffee, and weird (good weird) tasty pastries.

A Beautiful Mess Guide to Brooklyn (click through for more)          I can always count on Black Forest for a delicious meal and beer with kids or without. It's huge and spacious. Plus, it's located right next to Atlantic Terminal, where you will find just about every reliable train. So it's a go-to if you want to enjoy a meal, but don't want to veer too far off. 

A Beautiful Mess Guide to Brooklyn (click through for more)           As a plant lover, I think I enjoy the purchasing portion of owning a plant the most. Homecoming effortlessly mixes my love for coffee, flowers, and plants. They also have a well-curated home knick knack section as well. 

A Beautiful Mess Guide to Brooklyn (click through for more)            (source: habanaoutpost.com)

Habana Outpost is a hot spot for the warmer months. If you're visiting Brooklyn during that time, then you have to grab a bite here. Even though I love the food, it's not really the food you come for. It's decked out in everything yellow, orange, green and blue. It's a complete splash of color, true eye candy. This is a picture of their eco bathroom. They have outdoor movie night, kids' events, and they're always playing good music. 

A Beautiful Mess Guide to Brooklyn (click through for more)             Places I highly recommend:

Prospect Park– It's like Central Park, but for Brooklyn. Maybe even better? Depends on who you ask. 

Brooklyn Botanical Gardens– Visit in the spring when the blossoms are blooming. 

Ample Hills Creamery– My husband thinks it's the best ice cream in Brooklyn. I kind of agree. 

L Train Vintage– Super duper inexpensive vintage pieces located in a warehouse. You will thank me!

Baby's All Right– A chill venue that hosts some of the best artists and events in New York. 

East River Ferry–  Perfect for a day trip. 

Jane's Carousel– Carousels aren't just for kids. 

Madiba– Best and only South African food I've had in New York. 

The Brooklyn Children's Museum– So many great rooms and activities for little hands. 

A Beautiful Mess Guide to Brooklyn (click through for more)         I really have so many great things to do and see in New York! I feel like I'm just tapping the ice with this list. But I hope if you do visit, you will find this list helpful, also delicious and fun, depending on what you're doing. Enjoy! LaTonya

Credits: Author: LaTonya Staubs, Photography: Peter Staubs (unless otherwise noted). Photos edited with The Signature Collection

  • I wish I would’ve had this guide when I was interning in New York! I lived in Crown Heights near Prospect Park and I did like it more than Central Park, I especially loved going on a run through Prospect Park. Will definitely keep this list in mind when I go back!

  • Visited New York last year and loved it, this post just makes me want to go back to Brooklyn and explore more. Thank you. Also as a South Africa, great that you love our food :-). Come to Johannesburg next it is such a vibrant, challenging and wonderful city you will love it.

  • My sister lived in Brooklyn for a few years and we always visited Bergen Bagels ๐Ÿ™‚ Their chive cream cheese is the best!

  • This couldn’t have come at a more perfect time! I just booked a last minute trip to Brooklyn for next week. So excited to check out some of these gems <3

    (I also really love the layout of this post!)

  • As a native New Yorker, I know the struggle of creating a guide to our huge city. I think LaTonya did a great job. I would however love to see a few more old school NYC establishments to the list. To those exploring Greenpointโ€” check out Peter Pan Donuts (or get a Polish-style donut, Paczek, at Rzeszowska bakery), some ready-to-eat smoked sausage, Kabanosy, at Kiszka, or some delicious and cheap pastries, coffee and cakes at Cafe Riviera. Try some Polish food at Lomzynianka!

    I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a sucker for the new wave of retail and dining establishments, but I think a lot of New York’s older establishments have that unpretentious vibe that is most true to New York.

  • I just moved back to the NJ from living in BK for a few months and it honestly very versatile and fun i was never bored. neither was my dogs, where I was the community was great.

  • LaTonya, where did you get that fierce tannish, leather-looking jacket?! I feel like it’s a must-have if I’m ever going to traipse around that borough. ๐Ÿ˜‰ P.S. I’m in LOVE with your style.

  • another recommendation.

    the brooklyn art library
    103a n 3rd st.

    it is a library only of sketchbooks, nothing else. all sketchbooks from people all around the world. it is run by art house co-op. they host the annual sketchbook project. i suggest not only checking out the library if you’re in the area but also signing up for the project (or their other projects). a fun thing about the library is when you get your library card you search for a theme or category for book and you get a book related to your search and a random book as well. it’s always good to have random inspiration.

    also they’re right next to mast brothers chocolate. perfect right?

  • Hi Joanna!

    I totally hear you! I was also born and raised in New York, and my heart will always be with the older establishments. Peter Pan was a regular when we lived in Bushwick. But yes, most of these place are rather new-ish (within the last 10 years) with the exception of BAM. It was super difficult to round them out, and I think with the older things, I would love to add more history to each explanation.

    I will for sure look into doing a post like that in the future.


  • Loved this article!!!! Feel like I’ve just taken a ten minute vacation to a really cool place. Thanks for the tour. It was the best.

  • I’ve only been to Brooklyn a few times, and that was over a year ago before I moved to the West Coast (so different from the East). But I do visit family that lives in New York and we stop in Brooklyn sometimes, so this is definitely going to come in handy! I have never heard of these places before and based off these pictures and your review I cannot wait to go there. I am a huge tea fan, Bellocq is so up my alley.

  • Don’t forget Brooklyn Roasting Company http://www.brooklynroasting.com/cafe in Jay street.
    (If I as a non Brooklynite and actually living some 7000 km over the Atlantic can add).
    I loved how Brooklyn made me feel like home and loved. ๐Ÿ™‚ With all the trees and bricked houses/buildings… Almost as if it hugged me every time I was walking the streets…

    Thanks for the amazing guide… Can’t wait to come again and explore some of the places mentioned.


  • We just took our first trip to Brooklyn last weekend! So much fun. Happy to announce we hit a few of these places and most importantly those donuts. WOAH! Can’t wait to go back and try out some more of these fun spots!

  • Very inspiring post! I’m from Sweden and I just love the idea of Brooklyn. Some day I will live there… Please check out my art at tillymalo.blogg.se xoxo

  • This could NOT have come at a better time! We move a lot and are heading to Brooklyn this summer for three months. I’m not a city girl and have been feeling quite anxious about the big move, as excited as I am about living in New York! I will definitely have to check some of these places out and add them to my ever growing list! Thank you so much!

  • I’m planning a long weekend in Brooklyn and this has come just in the nick of time! The Botanical Gardens and Baby’s All Right are definitely added to my list (plus your incredible coffeehouse recommendations)!

  • As a former Brooklynite, I’ve got to say that if you’re in Park Slope and you’re hungry, just head down 5th Ave to find tons of awesome restaurants and bars. Also, if you wanna go to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, it’s free entry Saturdays before noon (and their bonsai museum is AWESOME). If you’re in a beachy mood, skip Coney Island and take the N or Q to Brighton Beach. It’s a quirky Russian neighborhood with fantastic authentic (non-touristy and affordable) boardwalk eateries.

    dani @ http://blog.shopdisowned.com

  • I’ve been to New York only once for my 23rd birthday (about 5 years ago). We stayed at a friend’s place in Brooklyn. I must agree with you, the place was great all on it’s own even before I stepped onto Manhatan island. We were staying in Brooklyn Heights (?). I remember my friend’s appartment was slented so bad you could leave a pen on the floor and it would roll all the way down the lenght of the place. I’m from Canada’s Capital (Ottawa) so, that was a really big change of pace. I also remember this little French restaurant near his place. I’m French Canadian so when the waiter started asking for my order in an accented English, I just answered in French and he was so surprised and pleased he went to see the owner/chef who came out and gave us a lot of goodies for free because we were “cousins” (a lot of French people call Quรฉbรฉcois (French Canadians) cousins). Anyway, Brooklyn was great and I’d love to check out your list of hot spots once I go back (my current boyfriend has never been to New York so I’m hoping to convince him to go in the near future).

  • Planinng a 3 months trip in USA so travel guides are the best posts for me right now, as i feel overwhelmed with all the places i wanna go!

  • Yay Brooklyn! I’ve been in Willimasburg for about 9 months now and I love it! I moved here to help start a cupcake cafe, Sweethaus. LaTonya, you should definitely bring your kiddos by for a sweet treat! (135 Metropolitan btwn wythe and berry ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve added some of these spots to my list of places to explore!

  • I just love love love this post with so many great recommendations; I am keeping this for my next trip there, thank you!

  • You make me want to travel to Brooklyn right away! Even though I live on another continent I so much wish I could visit New York some day!

  • wow!!! now all i want to do is run off to new york and hit all these places! but im stuck here at work. dang it! but thank you so much for sharing this- and i love hearing from latonya!

  • What a fun treat. As a former Brooklynite, I wish I had done some more exploring while I was there. I just discovered Dough in Flatiron- it’s heavenly!

  • SO happy to see a Brooklyn guide that doesn’t center around Williamsburg! Great job, LaTonya ๐Ÿ™‚

  • There are a lot of good places for coffee and delicious food in Greenpoint. I really enjoyed Scalino G.P. It’s an Italian restaurant and the food there is amazing!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.