Last weekend my boyfriend surprised me with an airbnb in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for my birthday! I was so excited because even though I’m less than a 2 hour train & subway trip to Brooklyn, I’ve never actually been there (besides to go to Islander games where I get off the train, watch the game at Barclay’s Center, and go right back home…so that doesn’t count.)
If you don’t already know by now, I’m the definition of a city girl. Sadly I don’t work there anymore at the modeling agency I used to be at, but I still try to make it there as often as I can because I cannot get enough.
What I love about the city is that there’s always something going on. No matter what time of day it is if you’re just walking down the street you’re going to see people walking around, and you’re bound to find something to do – and that’s right up my alley.
One of my fondest memories is spending the night at the Ritz Carlton in Battery Park, listening to music, sipping wine, and sitting on the windowsill until the very early hours of the morning just watching all the cars and people pass below me and wondering how it’s possible to not feel small in such an overwhelming city.
Blame it on the fact that I’m an Aries and always need to be adventuring and exploring new people and places, or just chalk it up to the fact that New York City is the greatest place in the world. Either way, it’s my one true love.
Williamsburg though is like a whole other world. First of all from where I live Brooklyn involves taking the subway to get there, so that was an experience in itself.
I’ve taken the subway a handful of times before, but I always had the luxury of not having to lead the way. In this case, neither my boyfriend nor I ever had the responsibility of leading the way and figuring out how the subway works, but I (somehow) navigated it correctly and we made it Brooklyn in one piece!
Our airbnb was in Williamsburg, and it was the absolute most perfect place I’ve ever seen – my boyfriend definitely knows my taste in interior decorating, haha. It was very bohemian with white walls, light wood furniture, and plants scattered throughout the apartment, and it even had the cutest little balcony off the living area.
For those of you who don’t know how airbnb works, it’s basically like a hotel except you can rent an entire home/apartment or just one bedroom from someone who either lives there or just owns the home. In our case, this person owned this apartment but didn’t live there themselves – they use it purely to rent out as an airbnb.
So we met the owners there to get the keys, be shown around, and then we were on our own to explore Williamsburg however we wanted! And lucky for us, the weather was absolutely gorgeous! About 70 degrees but with such a nice breeze that though it was pretty hot in the early afternoon as the day went on it got very comfortable, and by nighttime I had switched out my maxi dress and sandals for jeans, a tank, and wedges and was perfectly comfortable, even at a rooftop bar after the sun went down (which I’ll tell you about in a bit because it was the absolute most beautiful view I’ve ever seen in my life!)
We started our day off with a bit of wandering around. Prior to getting to Williamsburg we had done some research both on Google and also on Maps to get an idea of what was around us and if there were any places people suggested to be must-sees.
Our first stop was this bar called Randolph Beer, and we’re super glad this was our first stop because this bar had an actual garage door at the front of it that they had wide open since it was beautiful outside and they had both indoor and outdoor seating.
Plus, besides one other couple we were the only ones there, so we basically had the place to ourselves.
What was also super unique about this bar which I had never seen before was that they had 24 beers on tap that were self-serve! There was a brief description of each beer where you could read about what type of beer it was and get an idea of its taste and to pour it you simply inserted a card that was given to you into this screen and then just poured!
These beers charged by the ounce and what was really cool about this was it meant you were able to taste any beer you wanted without fully committing to ordering a full one just incase you didn’t like it.
The ambiance of this place was also super cool. There was graffiti all over the walls (which I’m a sucker for) and on one section of the walls it had the entire chemical makeup of a beer which was really interesting to look at.
We had two beers each here (IPA’s of course, my favorite) and then went to go check out some of the other bars and shops around us.
We had a packed day ahead of us so though we were thoroughly enjoying this bar we knew we had to get a move on if we wanted to fit all of our plans into our day.
After Randolph we walked around the corner to The Luckydog because this was a bar that I knew I could not miss for one obvious reason – dogs are allowed in here. Yes, I know, it sounds like heaven on earth, and that’s exactly what it was.
Walking into a bar and hearing the sounds of dogs barking all over the place is one easy way to brighten your mood, especially when you take into consideration the fact that the dogs are allowed to run around without leashes and even sit at the bar if they’re small enough, and in that moment I realized that not many things are better than sipping on a PBR as a bulldog sits down next to your stool and lets you pet them.
Seriously, this place was so cute.
This bar also had an outdoor space in the back, though we didn’t go out there because it looked pretty crowded, but it seemed like a really nice place to be on a nice spring day, especially if you and your pup are attached at the hip and you like to take them everywhere you go!
Next was Pink Olive which was the prettiest shop I’ve ever been to and was basically my entire personality thrown into a hole in the wall storefront. From cookbooks, to prints, to pins, to mini cocktail kits, this store was the perfect place to stop into if you had to get a gift for someone and wanted to find something unique.
We spent a good amount of time in here because every single thing in there I wanted to stop and look at – I seriously loved it all. If I had the money I could have easily blown hundreds of dollars in there, but I restrained myself (hardly) and only purchased a pin for my denim jacket.
Species by the Thousands
The next shop we went into was the coolest place I’ve ever walked into – seriously. It was called Species by the Thousands and was filled with crystals, tarot cards, candles, incense, jewelry, sprays…basically everything you could ever hope for if you’re into chakras and witchcraft and yoga and anything having to do with connecting to your inner being.
I thought it was bad enough that I wanted to buy almost everything in Pink Olive, but this place was even worse. I seriously wanted it all.
I didn’t take any pictures because this store was a bit small and I wasn’t sure if I’d be allowed, and I unfortunately forgot to take a picture of the storefront, but I will say that it was super cool looking and even if I didn’t know about this store beforehand I know for a fact I would have walked into it anyway just after seeing how it looked from the outside.
We didn’t spend too much time in this shop because there was a rooftop bar we had plans of going to and we wanted to stop back at the airbnb and change and make it to the bar before it got dark out, but if we weren’t on a time schedule I have no doubts that I could have spent hours in this place just looking at everything there was to see and asking questions about it all.
Definitely, definitely recommend this place if you ever make it to Williamsburg!
So after a quick stop at the airbnb to shower, change, and recuperate, we called an Uber and made our way over to Westlight (this bar was definitely walking distance from our airbnb but being tipsy and wearing super high wedges isn’t the best combination, so we chose to take the safe route and Uber there, haha.)
We were both super excited for this bar because we actually wound up making friends with 2 guys in the apartment below us since from our balcony we were able to see onto their deck, and they were outside enjoying the nice weather. We told them we were going to be going to Westlight and they told us that the view from there was the best view of New York City that you could get, so that made us even more excited than we already were.
We had to wait online outside for about 15 minutes, but this didn’t surprise me because of the three other rooftop bars I’ve been to there was always at least some wait – especially when the weather is as beautiful as it was this past weekend!
The second you walk out of the elevator up there though you’re already hit with some of the amazing view, and once you actually get to the bar area you might literally gasp – the two of us did at least. In fact we didn’t even make it to the bar right away, we immediately walked outside to the balcony to get a better view – and the view was absolutely breathtaking.
From one side of the outdoor patio you could see literally all of Brooklyn, and when you walked to the other side you saw the entire New York City skyline.
Of course I sat there taking thousands of pictures and videos, and what made it even better is that we were there while it was still light out so we were able to see the sunset from there and also see the same view but at night when the entire city was lit up – I’ve never seen a view like that in my life and I’m not sure if any other views will ever top it.
Now I’m not going to lie this bar was a bit pricey, especially if you order cocktails rather than beers, but you have to expect that at a rooftop bar. It came out to about $75 for 4 drinks, but the drinks were definitely delicious.
The first drink I got was called the Firing Squad, and it was tequila, pomegranate, and lime…and it was delicious. I don’t remember the name of the second cocktail but it had champagne and strawberry syrup in there and was also very, very good. I definitely recommend these two drinks if you ever make it to this bar – which you absolutely should!!
My boyfriend had to basically force me to leave this place because it was just so beautiful I didn’t want to leave, but at this point it was around 9pm and we still hadn’t eaten dinner so I reluctantly gave into him eventually.
This was the first time we ever spent the night in the city, or really anywhere in fact, and didn’t make dinner reservations. Our thought process was that we wanted to do things on our own time. Since neither of us had ever been to Brooklyn before we didn’t know what to expect when it came to what we would be doing and how much time we’d be spending in each place, so we figured we didn’t want to be tied down with having to be at dinner at a certain time.
I definitely like how this plan worked out and will probably do it again in the future as long as we know we’re not going to be going anywhere that requires reservations.
I google mapped what was around us and saw Oaxaca Taqueria which is my favorite place in the city to get vegan Mexican food (it’s also the only vegan Mexican place I know of in the city, but hey, it’s still delicious!) so we decided to head there for dinner.
Going here worked out perfect too because it brought us back towards our airbnb and also to the last bar we wanted to try out.
What’s good about Oaxaca is that they’re not entirely vegan, so if you’re with one of those people who refuses to eat vegan you don’t have to worry – there’s definitely something on the menu for them too.
I got the vegan 3 taco combo with 2 of the frijoles negro tacos because they’re smothered in black beans with I love, and 1 of the papas y rajas tacos because they’re made with potatoes and though potatoes in a taco sound a bit bizarre it’s actually very, very good. This meal also comes with rice and beans on the side, and their rice is to die for.
If you plan on going here expect to leave very, very full (especially if you also decide to order a side of guacamole and chips like we did). Their food is delicious though and I definitely recommend trying them out.
Radegast Hall was the last bar we went to and it was actually much bigger than we expected. They had a live band playing which was really cool, and they were also very good. It was definitely a nice change up from the other bars. The band did eventually leave though and a DJ came out, so if you’re not into live music don’t worry…they won’t be there all night.
We wound up making a friend with the guy sitting next to us (me and my boyfriend literally cannot go anywhere without making friends) and ended up staying there til around 1am just hanging out and talking to him.
Since I turned 23 at 12am my boyfriend had the bartender bring me over a cup of ice cream with a candle on it and some of the bartenders sang happy birthday to me, and that was pretty cool – I’ve never had that happen to me in a bar haha.
After Radegast we walked back to the airbnb and just hungout on the back balcony for a bit people watching – my absolute favorite thing to do in the city.
We only stayed one night since we had already had other plans for the weekend before this trip was booked, but if you’re a newbie to Williamsurg like we were I definitely recommend staying more than one night. There’s seriously so much to see and do and I know there are definitely some things we didn’t get to see that we would have liked to, so don’t cut your trip short!
Have you ever been to Williamsburg? If you have please, please let me know in the comments below! I’m definitely going to make my way back there in the summertime and would love to hear some recommendations from people rather than just searching on google and yelp.
And, if you’re a Williamsburg newbie like we were, I definitely recommend checking out all the places listed above, my number one recommendation being Westlight. Even if you only go up there and stay for one drink, or don’t even drink at all, the views are unbeatable and you’re definitely going to want to take a look!