Start your tour in iconic Manhattan before hopping the commuter ferry for a short ride across the East River to Brooklyn, with great views of the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. (Note that as the ferry leaves immediately after the tour starts, you must be on time. We recommend arriving at least 15 minutes early to the meeting point to ensure you don't miss boarding.) Land in Dumbo, named not for the elephant, but because it is “down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass.” Long home to shipping piers and industrial warehouses, this charming and historic neighborhood is now one of the most desirable in Brooklyn because of its access to the waterfront, breathtaking views and historic architecture.
Walk through Brooklyn Bridge Park, built largely on those old piers, to learn how the waterfront changed from a source of food to a thriving industrial area (where entrepreneurs did everything from process tobacco to create the first cardboard boxes), to an unsafe abandoned slum, and finally to what it is today: a beautiful park for recreation and home to modern businesses. Stop at Jane’s Carousel, from a 1920s amusement park. It was purchased by a local artist who restored it, and a glass-enclosed ride offers a view of modern Manhattan from a historic perch.
From there, we head to Smile to Go, a spinoff of a popular downtown restaurant. See where all the pastries are made, watching the bakers at work as you hear about the process. Then sample an array of creative, chef-driven pastries fresh from the oven.
At the Empire Stores, you’ll see the latest transformation. This brick warehouse block is believed to be the first place coffee was commercially roasted and processed, but was abandoned for many years as shipping moved elsewhere. Now, it has been revived as a community space with shops, cafes and restaurants, rotating art exhibits and an outpost of the Brooklyn Historical Society. Take in the panorama of Manhattan from a secret viewpoint.
Walk down the old cobblestone streets to see more of the old warehouses and factories that have been converted into lofts, restaurants and art galleries. Stop at Powerhouse Arena. It’s a bookstore specializing in books on art and photography, as well as a space for art exhibitions and literary events, including book readings, launch parties and panel discussions. Meet a manager to talk about the community activities that happen here, and about the literary and art communities that inspire and visit the space.
Pass under the Manhattan Bridge archway and into another part of the neighborhood to visit the Brooklyn Roasting Company. It is housed in an old building that was part of the historic Arbuckles’ Coffee company, whose roasted coffee was a favorite of cowboys for years. Brooklyn Roasting has brought the coffee tradition back to the waterfront. Learn about their history and how it ties into the neighborhood’s past. Of course, sample some of coffee, which is curated and blended from beans from all over the world.
Head farther into Dumbo and learn about the growing startup and tech world in the neighborhood. Stop for a quick bite at Untamed Sandwiches, which uses sustainable and local food for its braised meat and vegetables. You might stop instead at Cuper, an unassuming cafe inside the Made in NY Media Center, a co-working space and incubator where you can usually find artists discussing projects and business people making deals. Finally, stop at the hidden gem of Randolph Beer. Craft brewing is all the rage, but the Randolph goes it one better and serves its beer where it’s made. Learn about the growing craft beer scene in Brooklyn, and pull your own beer from the tap. (You can’t get much more local than that!) End the tour sipping your beer and reflecting on how far Brooklyn has come, yet how close it remains to its roots.
New York Times Reading List:
Inclusions: Local English-speaking guide, pastry, coffee, gourmet sandwich, pour-your-own beer, ferry ticket.
Exclusions: Additional food and drinks, souvenirs and personal shopping, tips/gratuities for your guide.
Dress standard: No special attire required. Dress comfortably and appropriate for the weather.
Your Trip: For your New York Times Journeys/Urban Adventure you will be in a small group of a maximum of 12 people.
Confirmation of booking: If you have your voucher, your booking is confirmed. We'll see you at the start point. Get in touch if you have any concerns or require more information via the email address or phone number (business hours only) on your voucher.
Additional Information: Please note that this tour starts with a ferry ride, which boards immediately after the tour start time. Please allow plenty of time to reach the meeting point, as any delays would cause the entire group to miss the ferry. We cannot guarantee your guide will wait for late arrivals.
Child Policy: This is a child-friendly tour. Children between the ages of 6 and 11 inclusively are permitted on this tour at the rate listed above. Please select ‘child’ above when booking. Children under the age of 6 are permitted to join this tour free of charge. Please inform us at the time of booking if you’ll be bringing a child under the age of 6. You can do so in the special request box on the checkout page.