Bushwick in Brooklyn may not be the first neighborhood that comes to mind when traveling to New York, but you should really consider it.
I appreciate travel as a wonderful way to explore our world, but it can be just as rewarding to explore my own backyard of New York City. For me, that’s meant seeing different parts of New York City over the last few months. There’s so much to see in this city and even after more than four years of living here, I don’t feel I’ve seen it all.
When friends – based in the USA and internationally, alike – ask me for tips on what to see in New York, my first question usually is how long they’ll be here for. It’s not always realistic to map out a lot of activities in a short amount of time (also to give yourself time to breathe and absorb). Not to mention, I’m a firm believer in immersion and truly experiencing a place one neighborhood at a time.
Exploring Bushwick, Brooklyn
When I heard about fellow travel enthusiast and native New Yorker, Jessie Festa of Jessie on a Journey, offering a local tour, I was excited to join her for it. In addition to being a travel blogger, Jessie is a certified guide and offers custom tours through her company, NYC Tours and Photo Safaris. What sets her tour apart is that she’s a native New Yorker full of fun, historic insights while sharing the hyper local, authentic spots (not to mention she captures the essence of these places through beautiful, high res images…a phone picture doesn’t quite compare). I love the ability to see what locals recommend during travel, as I think it adds a layer of authenticity.
I had been to Bushwick before, but after taking Jessie’s Bushwick Beer, Bites and Art #Instawalk, I learned entirely new things about this artsy, historic neighborhood that made me see it in a new light.
Historically speaking, Bushwick was once the hub of German immigrants, who established its brewery industry presence, known as Brewer’s Row. According to Festa, “Before Prohibition, this small area was home to 14 breweries. Again, it’s said 1 in 10 beers in the country was from Bushwick. However, the advance of inexpensive rail transportation and mechanical refrigeration allowed entrepreneurs in other cities to make inroads into the market and brewing in Brooklyn declined. The closing of the remaining industry created an economic depression of the area.”
Italo’s: A Pit Stop for Delicious Cappuccinos
After admiring architecture and exploring history for a bit, we stopped at the lovely Italo’s BK. When you walk into Italo’s, its easygoing, cozy vibes mesh well with the passion that’s clear in the coffee that the Italian owner serves – and how he serves it. If you’ve been to Italy, the taste of a cappuccino can really brighten anyone’s day. Lucky for us, we not only sipped delicious cappuccinos and tried some of the treats at Italo’s, but watched how the cappuccinos were made with love! On this particularly chilly day, stopping by Italo’s gave us the perfect break to decompress and talk about what we’d seen on the tour already.
Street Art from all over the World
Bushwich is an incredibly diverse neighborhood, and is known for being home to a vibrant, street art community. On any given corner, you’ll see a beautiful mural or some other artistic statement.
On our way over to the Bushwick Collective, we came across a building adorned in musical instruments and other materials. The building houses what’s known as Castlebraid, where residents live in an artist collective. I loved the architectural details, and beyond that, the idea of a supportive, artistic living community under one roof! The Bushwick Collective, an outdoor street art gallery, perfectly captures this artistic spirit with works from street artists.
Here are just a few snap shots from our walk along the Bushwich Collective together:
As you can probably imagine, after walking around for a bit, we were ready to grab a small bite nearby. And, Jessie found a great spot for us to do that: Hops & Hocks. In addition to being a craft beer store, Hops and Hocks also offered a great charcuterie selection. This place was unpretentious, has attentive service and was an all-around fun stop to refuel!
Satisfying your sweet tooth in Bushwick
The final stop on the walk ended on a sweet note at the Fine & Raw Chocolate Factory. This chocolate-making factory relies on “using conscious ingredients innovative low heat techniques to keep the chocolate’s raw vitality and flavor,” according to its website. I personally loved the chocolate with sea salt though there’s something for any choco lover.
If you’re planning a trip to New York City, I’d highly encourage you to consider Bushwick. If you have a few hours, it’s worth taking in street art, local flavors, and having a break from Manhattan. And, if you do decide to go to Bushwick, connecting with Jessie is a must! She’ll show you a great time focused on her favorite local places to see, and tell you about their history.
If you’ve been to Bushwick and want to share a story/tips, leave a comment! Or, if you have questions, ask away!