DUMBO on a Dime: A Brokester’s Guide to Hosting Tourists for a Day in Brooklyn

How to show out-of-towners a good time (for cheap) in Dumbo


Yeah, okay, okay, it's really pretty. dumbonyc / Flickr

The start of summer comes with an influx of pests: mosquitos, pantsplainers, street harassers… and of course tourists, some of whom happen to be your friends and family. As quaint as it can be to show them around and do a few touristy things, it can also be exhausting. There’s no doubt you’ll feel a financial strain within minutes of your first meal out, and a mental strain as try you explain to your beloved out-of-towners that he Rainbow Bagel isn’t worth the hype. But the next time your regularly-scheduled programming is interrupted by someone’s first trip to New York City, and Brooklyn at that, you won’t need to flounder for options, because you can simply take them on our Broketown Tours (TM) journey through DUMBO.

First an underutilized waterfront, then a refuge for artists, Dumbo has shifted from an area with one of the highest rents in the city over the course of just a few decades. So bring it back to its roots and still take in everything it has to offer without being an overcharged dumbo! We’ve put together a roundup of neighborhoods spots and sights that cater to tourists and locals alike in both their hype factors and their price points. Pace yourself and split food, and you can probably do most everything on this list for $20. After all, your tourist friends may only be here for a few days, but you live here, and you’ve still got a ways to go before you can afford your next vacation.


A visit to Dumbo wouldn’t be complete without visiting Brooklyn Bridge Park. From either the High St. (A/C) or York St. (F) stops, you can walk the park in its entirety, including stops at all the traditional attractions. As you stroll under the bridges or picnic at the tables set up by Jane’s Carousel ($2, free for ages 3 and under), kick back and enjoy the recently expanded Green Necklace making its way around the borough.

FREE highlights of the park include the public art, frequent events (hello, free summer movies), pickup basketball games and the new environmental education center. For a small fee, the piers also have roller skating ($6) and an all-new climbing wall ($9). All the while, there’s a great view of the Brooklyn Bridge.

While an entire day could be spent walking up and down the park, five minutes away you’ll find the Dorje Ling Buddhist Center (98 Gold St.), free to enter, where prayer flags are woven in between barbed wire fencing and Instagramming tourists are far less frequent. A quiet respite from walking under the deafening N/Q, this Tibetan center was established in 1991 and has since offered free access to activities, events, and practices for holidays.


Indulge your inner (and outer) feminist at A.I.R. via Facebook


The best part about shopping with tourists is that you don’t actually have to buy anything to experience it alongside them. And for a neighborhood so small, Dumbo offers a surprising number of one-of-a-kind boutiques and shops, including two incredible independent bookstores. Powerhouse Arena (37 Main St.) hosts book launches, readings, and signings from authors such as Salman Rushdie, David Sedaris, Joyce Carol Oates, and T.C. Boyle. Great for finding a quick souvenir or a break from the heat, plus a wealth of New York-based artists and authors available to browse. Around the corner is P.S. Bookshop, a secondhand and rare bookstore with reading chairs scattered throughout the musty shelves. While your friends fawn over Jonathan Franzen, you can leaf through that gently used copy of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn you’ve been meaning to read, or just buy it for under $10.

On the first Thursday of each month, dozens of galleries participate in Dumbo’s Gallery Walk (free). But if you happen to visit Dumbo one of the other 30 days of the month, you’ll still trip over galleries almost as much as the cobblestones. Bring the folks to Masters PRJ (91 Water St.) for international contemporary art, get abstract at Minus Space (16 Main St..), or check out feminist gallery A.I.R. (155 Plymouth St.). Don’t forget to keep an eye out for Dumbo’s colorful street art along York street and under the bridges!

Craving some action? The Gelsey Kirkland Ballet (29 Jay St.) is a great alternative to the ballet at Lincoln Center, and tickets are way cheaper at $25-$35. Pro tip: if you can charm the staff members, you can even peek in on daytime rehearsals for free.


Sure, it's a little touristy. But who doesn't love the Shack?


You won’t be alone if you just want to brown-bag it in the park or under the bridge. But don’t force a grocery store lunch on your out-of-towners: a first-timer’s visit to New York wouldn’t be complete without trying the food.

Caffeine lovers can head over to Brooklyn Roasting Co. (25 Jay St.) at their historic roasting headquarters for a seriously good cappuccino. If you’d rather save money for your meal while your tourist friends try the coffee, though, you can just watch and smell the beans being roasted, chat up the knowledgeable staff, or walk through the bookshop that shares a door with the roasters.

Food trucks are everywhere in this increasingly commercial area, but for a cheaper option, split a pie at Grimaldi’s (1 Front St.), voted one of Brooklyn’s best coal-oven pizzerias. Pies start at $12. Alternatively, show your insider knowledge by heading to Juliana’s (19 Old Fulton St.), opened by Grimaldi’s founder, and located just next door. Pies start at $16.

If you’d rather do something without table service (splitting the bill has been known to end many a friendship) or those famished from a day of sightseeing, Shake Shack (1 Old Fulton St.) is great for picking up a to-go bag and doing a parkside picnic. Sip on one of their signature Four & Twenty Blackbirds pie-infused concrete shakes while taking the East River ferry ($4) for a cheap and ‘gram-worthy route to Manhattan or Greenpoint. (For anyone not blessed with a Shake Shack in their home state, this really can be a truly religious experience.)

On a hot day, the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory (Pier 11, Fulton Landing) is irresistible. Cones are around $5. But if the lineup is long or you’d rather indulge for cheaper, you can always take shelter in the air-conditioned and less expensive Jacques Torres Chocolate (66 Water St.), where chocolates run about $1.80 per piece.


<img src=”http://cdn2.teen.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/drunk-dumbo.gif” alt=”” width=”450″ height=”300″ />

Good job, champ. Now go get Dumbo drunk.


You made it! You got through a whole day of sights, nosh and cultural experiences in Dumbo with tourists in tow, and you didn’t break the bank (we hope). Here at Brokelyn, we believe that deserves a drink. A cheap drink, of course. So here’s a list of great happy hours to enjoy with friends or family after a day well-spent:

Before heading home for the day, take advantage of these great happy hour specials:

From 2-7pm, 68 Jay Street Bar has $2 Yuengling bottles, $3 drafts and $4 glasses of wine.

From 4-7pm, Superfine (126 Front St.) features $3.50 well drinks, $3 draft beers, and free pool tables.

From 4-7pm, Olympia Wine Bar (54 Jay St.) touts $5 glasses of wine, plus a $12 cheese plate.

The quintessential “Brooklyn” experience? Following Rebecca on Twitter: @viewfromthest


Originally published on 5/16 in Brokelyn.

DUMBO on a Dime: A Brokester’s Guide to Hosting Tourists for a Day in Brooklyn

JUS by Julie’s Call for Artists: Mural for the Wall Outside the Nassau G

Originally posted on 2/9/16 on Greenpointers.com

JUS by Julie Entrance
JUS by Julie, opening at 629 Manhattan Ave by mid-February. Photo by Rebecca Stevens.

“I get excited every time I drive in – I love it here, and I’m excited to build relationships here,” Danny Laniado, retail project manager at JUS by Julie, commented as he surveyed his shop’s construction.

At the corner of Nassau and Manhattan, JUS by Julie is building its fourth Brooklyn location. “All this was supposed to be a Starbucks,” Laniado continues. “[but] I woke up one morning and I said, ‘this might be something.’ Next stop: Greenpoint.” 

JUS by Julie, opening in about a week, touts 100% vegan, certified kosher, GMO-free, and gluten-free soups, juices, cleanses, and salads made with ingredients from local farms and blended in their central Brooklyn warehouse. “The benefit that we have as a company is that we don’t blend on site, so there’s no noises…we can communicate with customers, and give them a place to relax and enjoy,” Laniado said.

Unlike Greenpoint’s assortment of competing juice bars, JUS by Julie is promoting a blended alternative to cold-press juices with more nutrients staying intact, and a knowledgeable staff that includes a certified nutritionist onsite for consultations. (Psst…they’re also looking to hire more.) “There’s no designated juice bar that can help people understand the health benefits…all our employees have to study [our products] forwards and backwards,” said Laniado.

JUS by Julie Mural Wall
This 16’x21′ Wall outside of the Nassau G stop, will soon be home to Greenpoint’s newest mural. Photo by Rebecca Stevens.

On the building’s exterior, a 16’x21’ wall lines the corner of the intersection, right above the northwest entrance to the G. “I know this is such an artistic community, and I want to be able to give them something…this is your wall,” said Laniado. JUS by Julie makes a point to personalize each store for their individual locations to best reflect the community, both in interior and, now exterior design.

To that end, Laniado and JUS by Julie want to enlist Greenpoint’s artists for a mural. The design is open-ended and the artist is being selected from the Greenpointers.com community of readers. Interested parties should contact Danny Laniado, retail project manager, at danny@jusbyjulie.com with pitches, sketches, and past work with “Greenpoint mural” in the subject line.

JUS by Julie will be opening their fourth store at 629 Manhattan ave. before mid-February, with an exclusive 3-day cleanse (18 juice) promotion for Greenpoint patrons.

JUS by Julie’s Call for Artists: Mural for the Wall Outside the Nassau G

The Psycho-symptomatic Mania of the Flu

This past week, I had the pleasure of entertaining one of my dear friends from out of state for New Year’s Eve. She had a lot of firsts while she was here: first plane ride, first big trip, first cab ride, first taste of street meat, etc. But I think her biggest first was seeing a crazed and frothing madwoman nearly faint on the subway before sneezing herself awake.

That madwoman was me.

For the first time in years, I decided not to get a flu shot. Because hey-I’m invincible, right? And so this past week, I learned that the only thing more trying than navigating Times Square (she insisted) over the holidays to head to the Empire State Building is doing so with a 101 fever. I found myself wanting to passive-aggressively lick everything and everyone I could, in between strange fantasies about melting into the sidewalk grates, or of ink pouring out of everyone’s mouths.

But now, one z-pack later and after lots of rest, I can confidently advise others in my situation on how to survive entertaining an out-of-towner when not in peak condition.

First off, relax: this may be easier than you think. Obviously you want to be at the top of your game when friends or family visit-to see as much as possible, to make as many memories. But I found that while I was expecting to sprint from place to place showing off my favorite hidden pockets of the city, those guests who aren’t used to walking all day will be more than grateful to stop and rest, and maybe get a cup of hot tea. And if you’re lucky, they’ll associate those dark circles under your eyes as a symptom of the city that never sleeps, not GI distress.

Secondly, make the flu part of the NYC tour experience. Remember the Rite Aid that used to be a roller rink and still has that crazy disco ball inside? Check it out-and hey, they conveniently sell Day-quil.

And thirdly (now this one was a toughie for me) remember that they’re here to seeyou. While having my friend run to the bodega across the street to pick up broth wasn’t exactly what I wanted of one of her last days in town, it was kind of great to send her out into the world on little adventures, and to let her have that great experience of just walking the streets alone, and exploring Brooklyn solo—if only within a four or five block radius of my apartment.

Now, at some point, you’ll have to rally. For me, it was New Year’s Eve: the festivities started after a leisurely dinner and drinks, where we headed to Prospect Park for a lovely alternative to the Times Square madness before hitting the town.

Here’s where old-school medicine kicks in:

Do not underestimate the power of a hot toddy in times of poor health. And with that logic, do not underestimate the power of multiple hot toddies. Follow these simple guidelines, and despite any illness or speed bump, you can keep your guests happy and (hopefully) healthy.

**Originally published in TwentysomethingNYC on January 3, 2015**

The Psycho-symptomatic Mania of the Flu

Making (and Keeping) Merry

Who doesn’t love Christmas in New York City? The Lords are a-leaping, the geese are a-laying, and there are so many tourists, you feel like you signed up to be an extra in Seth Rogan’s and Joseph Gordan-Levitt’s newest pet project.

While Christmas reminds us to relive that sense of child-like wonder, stare up at the city’s beautiful architecture, and stop to admire the magic and miracles of Christmas, it can be nearly impossible when thousands of selfie-taking, slow-walking tourists decide to do just that during my commute to work. They’re all sipping cocoa, ice skating, and singing carols, and I’m trying to hail a cab like

To be fair, it’s partially my fault, working in an office so close to one of many bustling holiday attractions. But as much fun as the post-work pop-up holiday bazaars and ugly sweater contests can be, I find that the best way to ease my tourist rage is a little something I like to call Toast to Tourists: Christmas Edition.

The rules are simple: set up shop at a window seat in a bar near your favorite tourist spot, and take a drink every time you see a tourist

  1. arm-in-arm with a group, clogging the sidewalk
  2. litter
  3. refusing to tip after spending more than anticipated (bonus points if you buy a drink for the untipped bartender)
  4. violently brandishing an umbrella as if they hate order, spatial awareness, and eyeballs
  5. with multiple visible articles of I NY merchandise

After a couple rounds, you should feel enough of the holiday spirit to remember the reasons we love tourists. They bring money into our city, and love it almost as much as we do. And although it can be fun to make fun of them, I’d like to think it’s because—especially around the holidays—misery loves company.

**originally published in TwentysomethingNYC on December 24, 2014**

Making (and Keeping) Merry