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The best things to do in Bay Ridge

Visit the coolest spots in hidden-gem Brooklyn neighborhood Bay Ridge—before the rest of New York does

Photograph: Sarah Mulligan
Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

Bay Ridge: Not just for Peggy Olson and Tony Manero anymore. This tranquil, southern-Brooklyn neighborhood is starting to attract outsiders, and with good reason. While (thankfully) far from the hipster invasion, the area has been seeing a new crop of businesses opening up in the past few years—most of which are focused on attracting younger generations. Combine these new kids on the block with old-favorite spots, and you have a neighborhood that perfectly balances the old world and new. Grab a seat on the R train, and consult our list to find out for yourself.

Longbow Pub and Pantry

Tired of the ironic trappings at Brooklyn’s watering holes? You won’t find any at this handsome four-year-old Welsh drinkery, which attracts a cast of regulars who seem like they’ve been glued to their stools since the good old days. (7316 Third Ave between 73rd and 74th Sts; 718-238-7468, longbownyc.com)

The Family Store

This modest Mediterranean-and-beyond spot has been serving the ’hood’s sizable Greek population for more than 30 years. You won’t find any seating, so sidle up to the store’s counter for some semolina cheesecake, eggplant moussaka, homemade mozzarella, and to-die-for three-bean salad with lemon and mint. (6905 Third Ave between Bay Ridge and Ovington Aves; 718-748-0207, familystorecooks.com)


Bay Ridge’s historically large Italian population has made the competition among red-sauce eateries pretty fierce. But locals swear by this white-tablecloth restaurant, which has held onto steady customers since it first opened in ’64. (7414 Fifth Ave between Bay Ridge Pkwy and 74th St; 718-748-1698, ginosbayridge.com)

Narrows Botanical Gardens

One of the most overlooked green spaces in Brooklyn, this four-and-a-half-acre respite boasts rose gardens, a monarch-butterfly sanctuary (complete with milkweed plants to attract the flyers) and more bucolic attractions. Stop by this summer for movie night (next up: the original Taking of Pelham One Two Three on July 25), and postvisit, walk down to the American Veterans Memorial Pier for a stunning view of lower Manhattan. (Shore Rd between Bay Ridge Ave and 72nd St; narrowsbg.org)


Skinflints has had many different incarnations—an ice cream parlor, a Hell’s Angels hangout—and it’s the ginormous burger (served on an English muffin) that keeps locals coming back since 1975. With decor touches like 100-year-old stained-glass windows and tin ceilings, the corner restaurant retains a lived-in, old-world vibe. (7902 Fifth Ave between 79th and 80th Sts; 718-745-1116, iloveskinflints.com)

brooklynONE Productions

This theater company has been serving the community as a sanctuary for experimental and alternative works since 2006. Founded by Anthony Marino and lifelong Bay Ridge resident Tom Kane, brooklynOne does more than just showcase theater by emerging talent—they have their very own Jazz Orchestra, Youth Ensemble and Vince Mazza One-Act Festival. Whether they’re putting on a production of Waiting for Godot or Leslye Headland’s Bachelorette, brooklynONE always aims to be bold. Catch their upcoming performance of Romeo & Juliet on August 2. (461 99th St between Fort Hamilton Pkwy and Fourth Ave; 347-746-4002, brooklynone.org)

Paneantico Bakery Café

This 14-year-old corner joint packs a double punch—here you can find sandwiches and salads as big as your head alongside cases of pastries and freshly baked bread. While the cannoli here are what keep many coming back, they shell out everything from muffins to tiramisu, fruit tarts, cakes and any other classic Italian pastry you could imagine. Always bustling, you can choose to sit down and enjoy a hero filled to the brim with prosciutto, mozzarella and grilled eggplant, or take out some desserts and even more options at the prepared-foods counter. (9124 Third Ave at 92nd St; 718-680-2347)

Kaleidoscope Toy Store

Kaleidoscope may sell toys for children catered toward the educational variety, but adults can find something here to satisfy their game-night cravings as well. The shop aims to sell products that “enrich young minds,” and the friendly staff can help you find something like a color-mixing set or magic kit in addition to a good ol’ stuffed animal. After 15 years, they know what’s good here. While you’re there, pick up a game of Bananagrams or Monopoly for yourself and make a night of it. (8722 Third Ave between 87th and 88th Sts; 718-491-2051, kaleidoscopekidstoys.com)