Dine: Just one subway stop from Manhattan on the L train, Williamsburg is Brooklyn’s answer to the Lower East Side (LES) down to its shaggy-haired, skinny-jeaned populace and recent gentrification. Like the LES, Billyburg houses some of New York’s best drinking establishments. Sip absinthe at the New Orleans-flavoured bar at Maison Premiere before heading to the outdoor garden to sample raw oysters from their extensive oyster menu and the Louisiana-style gumbo.
Do: Indulge rock star fantasies with a show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. The intimate live music venue is considered the Bowery Ballroom of Brooklyn, and it’s an ideal spot to catch hip indie bands before they graduate to stadium tours.
Stay: While the borough might not have a hotel equivalent to the Plaza, it is home to several stylish new properties, including the hipper-than-hip Wythe Hotel on the Brooklyn waterfront. Housed in a converted red-brick factory with postcard views of the Manhattan skyline, the spacious (for New York) rooms feature locally made furniture, funky artwork and 13-foot ceilings for a true loftlike experience.
See: From Yoko Ono to Shakespeare, performance art to Puccini, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) has been the community’s cultural heart for 150 years. Comparable to Manhattan’s Lincoln Center, BAM offers top-rated theatre, dance, opera and cutting-edge performance art from around the world.
Do: Find that perfect vintage dress, silver bracelet or industrial-chic fruit crate for your herb garden at the Brooklyn Flea Market, nestled in the multicultural Fort Greene neighbourhood that’s also home to BAM. Like Manhattan’s popular Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market, the Brooklyn Flea’s hundreds of vendors help make “antiquing” a verb. It also offers a bunch of tasty lunch options, including Salvadoran pupusas and kimchee-topped hot dogs, from some of the city’s best street food purveyors.
Dine: Is there anything better than a cacophony of gooey cheese, perfect tomato sauce and thin crust? Manhattan has Italian pizzerias like Lombardi’s in SoHo; Brooklyn has Lucali in residential Cobble Hill. Watch chefs prepare the wood-oven pies in this family-friendly joint’s open kitchen. Loyal patrons include Jay-Z and Beyoncé, so don’t be surprised if you catch a celeb stopping by for calzone.
Dine: Did somebody say brunch? Hop the F or G train to Park Slope for falafel, baba ghanouj and shakshuka at Miriam. Its menu of Mediterranean delicacies can’t help but garner stylistic comparisons to Café Mogador in Manhattan’s East Village. Say hello to owner Rafi, who named this always-packed restaurant after his Israeli mom.
Do: Work off that hummus in nearby Prospect Park. Kids will love horseback riding along the bridle path, discovering the wildlife at the Audubon Center and galloping on the carousel, which dates back to 1912! Designed by the same landscape architects behind Manhattan’s Central Park, this 526-acre green space features a zoo, lake, tennis centre, baseball fields and concerts. Give your best Brooklyn “yo” to the runners and cyclists sweating around the five-kilometre loop while you munch on a vegan chocolate chip cookie from the vendors at Prospect Park’s weekly Greenmarket, held every Saturday at the Grand Army Plaza entrance.
See: Hankering for King Tut? Move over MoMA. The Brooklyn Museum is a stone’s throw away. An Egyptian Mummy Chamber, plus American, Islamic, European and African art make this 19th-century Beaux-Arts landmark one of America’s top museums. Bonus: Brooklyn’s Botanic Garden and Public Library are right next door.
Air Canada offers the most non-stop flights between Canada and the New York Metropolitan area, including service to La Guardia, Newark and John F. Kennedy International airports.