By Tanner Saunders
November 19, 2019
Julienne Schaer/NYC & Company

When it comes to neighborhoods worth getting to know, New York City is not lacking. There are neighborhoods that are fast and furious, like Manhattan’s Midtown and FiDi on a workday. Some neighborhoods, like the West Village, are picturesque, charming, and perfect for a stroll, coffee in hand. Other neighborhoods are brash and loud, full of warehouses, artists, and graffiti-lined streets (here’s looking at you, Bushwick). But when it comes time to just relax and feel like you’re part of a community, it’s time to head to Greenpoint.

Located in Brooklyn — an easy commute from Manhattan via train or ferry — Greenpoint is a quaint neighborhood chock full of charming bars, vintage shops, and a mix of chic and timeless restaurants that people from every New York borough seek out. Home to a large Polish community, Greenpoint is the sort of place where you eat pierogies by the dozen before heading to an indie show on a rooftop.

On a beautiful September day, a handful of Travel + Leisure employees took some time to explore the neighborhood tucked away in their own backyard. Here, how to spend the perfect day in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, according to people who did it themselves.

Tanner Saunders

Grab Coffee at Café Grumpy

If you’ve ever watched an episode of the hit HBO show Girls, you should be familiar with Greenpoint — and the beloved coffee shop often seen in the show, Café Grumpy. Here you can live out all out your favorite scenes from Lena Dunham’s comedy-drama, or just sit back and enjoy a great cup of coffee. Founded by Chris Timbrell and Caroline Bell, Café Grumpy sources and serves excellent brews from around the world. 

On our Greenpoint journey we had the opportunity to experience a coffee cupping — the process to make sure the beans are producing the perfect cup — with Joseph, Café Grumpy’s in-house coffee expert. During this process we sniffed, slurped, and judged each roast to make sure it lived up to its reputation as some of the best in the city. “Knowing all the thought and care that goes into artisanal processes makes me even happier to support these smaller enterprises,” Christine Bower-Wright, T+L’s design director, said of the experience.

Cuppings aren’t available on the regular, but the cafe is willing to accommodate those true coffee aficionados who reach out well in advance.

Tanner Saunders / Abigail Williams

Play Pinball to Your Heart’s Desire at Greenpoint’s Coolest Bar

We can all agree that laundry is no fun, but in Greenpoint laundry is different. Though it seems like your run of the mill NYC laundromat, hidden behind a secret door that looks like a regular washer/dryer combo is an adult playground full of perfectly restored pinball machines — and a bar.

Sunshine Laundromat & Pinball is the perfect place to spend a few hours relaxing, sipping on local beer — like Greenpoint’s very own Black Duck Porter — while feeding quarters to machines that light up and buzz as much as Times Square. The machines have all been fully restored and work like a charm. Interesting fact, The Addams Family machine once belonged to O.J. Simpson. Oh, and there are two adorable dogs that might be roaming around.

"After walking into a working laundromat and finding a hidden pinball emporium, you'll think you've uncovered Sunshine Laundromat's secret," said Abigail Williams, T+L’s senior audience engagement manager. "But the surprises don't end there: the menu includes personal Roberta's pizzas and a truly staggering selection of beer, as well as frosé I still dream about. Doing laundry is about to become your favorite activity."

Tanner Saunders

Make Your Own Masterpiece at Wilcoxson Brooklyn Ceramics

Greenpoint is home to a thriving arts community, and at Wilcoxson Brooklyn Ceramics you can make your own beautiful pottery without having to take the helm of a pottery wheel. Here, Kevin Wilcoxson and his talented crew create some of the most stunning ceramics in the entire city — and they let you join them to create your inspired work. Offering workshops on the weekend, this boutique studio gives guests the chance to create their very own mugs, planters, jewelry, and accessory dishes during classes that last a few hours.

Tanner Saunders

What we found magical about this class is that Wilcoxson helps you realize it’s best to lean into the imperfections of the piece you create and let the ebb and flow of the process make your design natural. After the experience they’ll fire your masterpiece in the kiln at a whopping 2,250 degrees to make a dishwasher- and food-safe homeware people will think you paid a pretty penny for.

Just Get Yourself to Greenpoint

Ultimately, there’s plenty of love to be found in Greenpoint. It’s down to earth, it’s comfortable, and it really needs to be on your radar.

“For a full, rich life it is important to examine other parts, ideologies, and cultures outside of your immediate environment,” Karen Harvey of T+L reflected. “Spending an afternoon at the places we visited made me want to return on a Saturday and explore some more.”

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