A Day in Gowanus

A river runs through it. That single statement alone is the reason of the (once unthinkable) transformation of Gowanus, from a once-downtrodden industrial area – to a bustling innovative and creative mecca. And those are two of the biggest reasons you have gravitated to the canal to live. But there’s more than just art galleries, bars and a waterway in Gowanus; there’s an active and interesting community here.

Brooklyn Boulders

The only unique way to fully wake up in Gowanus is to get yourself up on the wall. This is why you’re starting your day at Brooklyn Boulders. The indoor rock-climbing complex is the gold standard in recreational sports in New York City. Oh boy, this place is huge. You’ll be faced with more than 22,000 square feet of climbing surface to explore. There’s even a yoga program, on ground level, to help you relax once you’ve summited the rock wall peaks.


Four & Twenty Blackbirds

Once you have calmed down from the morning rush, a trip to Four & Twenty Blackbirds is a must. The chic bakery offers the best selection of gourmet homemade pies in the borough. They offer custard pies like Salty Honey custard pie, Brown Butter Pumpkin and Buttermilk Chess. Also on offer, of course, are chocolate pies like Chocolate Julep (mint, bourbon, chocolate) and Black Bottom Oat.


Pig Beach

The canoe boat trip gets sidetracked by the newest foodie hub on the canal. You’re docked by the brand, spanking new Pig Beach location. The BBQ joint meets dive bar is a rugged version of Dinosaur BBQ, located just a quarter mile down the road. Even though Gowanus is saturated with BBQ joints, this waterside restaurant offers a different touch and lends the canal some character. The BBQ is pretty darn good. You’ll get a choice of smoked pork shoulder, burnt tips, and red hot sausage.


Gowanus Lofts & Galleries

Enough time in Gowanus and you’ve tapped into your inner artist. Before you know it, the inspiration rears its head. There’s a slew of art galleries in the area, but the best way to get yourself known to the locals in the very competitive Brooklyn art circuit is at the Gowanus Lofts & Galleries. Exclusively represented by Ideal Properties Group, the former industrial building was fully renovated to accommodate young professionals, musicians and artists with its rustic yet modern appeal. Even just a visit to the lofts is an experience unto itself, as they’re constantly changing and refining the artwork on display.


Whole Foods Market

Since its grand opening nearly 5 years ago, the Whole Foods Market has become the symbol of Gowanus. Though the prices are high and the crowds even bigger, the experience at this supermarket compels you to return regularly. That’s partially probably because of the gigantic greenhouse on the roof of the market that provides a chunk of the fresh produce sold at Whole Foods. There are even tours of the urban farm that will blow your mind.

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Runner and Stone

With your adrenaline now free-flowing, you need to keep the wake-up call going at the famed Runner and Stone, American-inspired classic farm-to-table eatery. The chef-owned establishment has some of the best baked goods and coffee in the area, and the best time to visit and enjoy – is in the morning. Today, you’ll find a nice hot latte is simply a necessity.


Gowanus Canal Conservancy

You’ll find it impossible here to go a day without a visit to the (in)famous Gowanus Canal. Yes, it’s dirty and polluted. But the superfund site is changing the very culture of the landmark. You’ll discover there’s a very specific charm to the winding waterworks flanked by industrial buildings and street art. Today, just to mix things up, you’re going to the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, a 10-year-old community-based non-profit organization with the ultimate goal of making sure the waste is cleaned up. You spend the late morning planting greens in small areas around the canal, and you even take a canoe ride through the toxic, oily water.


Craft Brewers - Threes Brewing

As you may have noticed at Pig Beach, there’s a decent amount of local craft brews on tap. What you don’t yet know is that majority of those beers are brewed only blocks away. Gowanus has become a hub for craft brewers, and there’s enough of breweries to start your own personal tour. Begin mapping out a trip to the big three: Other Half Brewing, Threes Brewing, and Strong Rope Brewing. There’s a complimentary beer tasting at each, so make sure you drink lots of water. If the craft of brewing inspires you, walk on over to the city’s premiere home brewing shop at Brooklyn Homebrew, which carries the necessary tools to make your customized brew.


L Train Vintage - No Relation Vintage

You can’t walk around the streets of Gowanus without looking stylish. And that’s why you must not pass up a visit to the L Train Vintage store. The consignment store is like Buffalo Exchange on steroids. The selection is vast, cheap and organized — and you won’t walk without a blouse or leather that you don’t love. Make sure to give yourself some time to dig through the clothes, vinyl and pictures. This is truly a hidden treasure trove.

A Night in Gowanus



All the activities and food mongering have you building up a hearty appetite. It’s most fitting that your dinner tonight is a farm-to-table seafood restaurant called Littleneck — as it seemingly sums up your Gowanus experience in every way. The rustic, cozy confines pays homage to the seaside life of yesteryear with its old-school nautical decor. The restaurant sits a block from the canal, and the seafood here is mouthwatering, featuring an array of oysters, clams, mussels and its famed clam roll.


The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club

In Gowanus, the old is always new. And that’s why you have made it to The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club. The environment at this indoor shuffleboard-inspired bar conjures a certain Miami Beach appeal. In fact, you can even rent a “cabana” here. Regardless, the place is HUGE (there are some 10 shuffleboard courts), and the originality of the bar has continued to attract people by the droves. There are even several food trucks located on premises, just in case you get a bit too tipsy.

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Givers & Takers

You may feel like you’re going to roll down 3rd Avenue after your bottomless indulgence in seafood. The good news is that not far from Littleneck is the area’s best watering hole, home to the best digestifs to help you digest those pound of clams. Givers & Takers (located at 286 3rd Avenue – keep an eye out for the door, since there’s no signage!) is more than your average bar, though. This night hotspot has a famous owner. The popular English band Mumford & Sons, whose members reside in Brooklyn, were major investors a few years back and are known to on occasion hold after parties at this pub. So, tonight you just might down a couple of Fernet Branca shots with the originators of Little Lion Man.

Words by Arte Vincent

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Erik Serras
Erik Serras
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