Summers in Brooklyn are iconic. From epic block parties to alfresco drinks on rooftops with magical views to long walks or bike rides in the park. The creativity, vibe and cultural diversity are unmatched by any other city on the planet. This guide starts you from the northern end of Little Caribbean and takes you to Brooklyn’s hip northside of Williamsburg, along the way supporting local Black, Brown, Women, Immigrant and LGBTQ owned businesses.
Photos: Janluk Stanislas
Stroll through Brooklyn Botanical Gardens
Begin at the Empire Boulevard entrance of the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens where you will be transported to the tropics at the “Plants of Little Caribbean” exhibition. Located in Brooklyn Botanic’s Discovery Garden, this culinary garden features a wide-range of plants used in West Indian cuisine. Brooklyn is home to the largest Caribbean population outside of the islands, and learning about plants and cuisine is a way to get to know about the community. From okra to sorrel to lemongrass to bitter melon, this innovative, community-driven initiative features signs with QR codes linking to Little Caribbean’s restaurants, markets and recipes. While you are at the garden, be sure to catch “For the Birds,” a garden-wide exhibition of site-specific birdhouses created by renowned artists and “Birds of the West Indies” where ornithologist Taryn Simon identifies, photographs and classifies every bird that appeared in the first 24 James Bond films.
Photos: Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Liz Ligon
Vintage Curiosities at Blk Market Vintage
Academics and collectors with Crown Heights roots, Kiyanna Stewart and Jannah Handy curate a collection of vintage books, heirlooms and home furnishings depicting Black Diasporic life. On any given day, you can find collectible Ebony/Jet magazines, Afropicks, Panamanian moles, Shirley Chisholm ‘72 for President pins/posters and NYC street directories dating back to the 1950s. The couple who describes their store as “a curated love story” also offers interior design services and online shipping.
Up Your Dinner Party Game/Pantry at Big Night BK
Described as “a shop for all your dinner party needs,” Big Night BK is a must visit shop for cooks, the perfect picnic or if you simply want to up your pantry game. Owned and operated by the former editorial director of The Infatuation, Katherine Lewin, Big Night was curated as a store where you can pick up all your dining essentials from cheese, olive oil and tinned fish to swoon-worthy vintage coupe glasses, French cutlery, serving platters and tapered candles.
Photo: Janluk Stanislas
If you’re lucky, you’ll pop in when Katherine is hosting one of her chic garden fetes in the backyard. On my recent visit, the spread included the most delicious hummus and a perfect charcuterie board with crudite and summer rosé.
Photos: Janluk Stanislas
A Caribbean Experience at Kokomo
Another “Brooklyn thing” are “clubstaraunts,” restaurants with the vibes turned all the way up even during lunchtime, making you feel like you’re at a music festival or nightclub. Kokomo is a clubstaurant that describes itself as “a Caribbean experience” and is best known for its multi-sensory dining experience.
Photos: Katrine Moite/Kokomo and Janluk Stanislas
This spot is the place to be and has the added benefit of supporting a Black and Immigrant owned business. Kokomo’s daily brunch features a myriad of flatbreads, avocado toast with saltfish and a callaloo frittata. While you’re there don’t forget to try one of their signature cocktails like We Limin’, Rude Gyal or Kokorita.
Located in the old Dr. Brown’s soda factory in the heart of Williamsburg, Bath House is an urban oasis where you can unwind and escape the city’s summer heat and hustle. Inspired by the bath houses of Scandinavia, Russia and Turkey, this underground wellness spa offers therapeutic massage, hammam scrubs, thermal pools, saunas and more.
Photo: Adrian Gaut / Courtesy of Bathhouse
The treatment rooms where you can indulge in a late evening 80-minute massage are industrial chic — mine was outfitted with a vintage anatomy poster, and featured a calming electronic soundtrack. From there, I headed to the communal pool area for an extra long soak before heading upstairs to the restaurant for delicious spinach cashew dip, smoked herring and an organic cold pressed juice.
Photos: Adrian Gaut / Courtesy of Bathhouse
Any way you choose to explore it, Brooklyn offers incredible cultural diversity and lots of opportunities to support local, Black, Brown, Women and Immigrant owned businesses.