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The East River Ferry to North Williamsburg: 12 Places to Visit

July 5, 2012

The East River Ferry passing by Brooklyn Bridge Park. Photo courtesy of ©East River Ferry

If you have a bucket list for the summer, then put East River Ferry on it.

The East River Ferry at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Photo courtesy of ©East River Ferry

You can take a breezy ride on the East River Ferry to 7 various stops during the week and to Governor’s Island on the weekends. Each ferry stop is a trip in itself, with each neighborhood’s gems waiting for you to explore and discover with your kids.

From South Street Seaport to Greenpoint, there are so many adventures you can have when you embark upon from the East River Ferry. One of my favorite ferry stops is the North Williamsburg landing.  Once you get off the boat there is so much to do there that this ferry stop deserved its own post.

Getting tickets for the East River Ferry. Photo courtesy of ©East River Ferry

I found 12 awesome places for you and your family to shop, play, cruise and chow in North Williamsburg.

Your trip on the ferry:

To help you prepare for your ferry trip:  tickets are $4 for a one way trip between 2 stops (bike is $1 extra) or if you get an all day pass ($12), you can hop on and off various locations. There are 7 stops total: 4 stops in Brooklyn, 2 in Manhattan, 1 in Queens and on the weekends it stops at Governor’s Island. For all the info and maps go to the East River Ferry site here.

If you get hungry on the ferry, you can order a cup of coffee from Brooklyn Roasters or an egg cream.  The ferry had such a great surge of users last summer that they employed bigger boats for the weekends. Now, you don’t have to worry about finding a spot with double the amount of space for you and your family to board and enjoy the ride to your destination.

North Williamsburg East River Ferry Stop
(22 N. 6th Street at Kent Avenue)

East River Ferry Terminal at North Williamsburg. @ East River Ferry Terminal North 6th Street/North Williamsburg Landing 4sq.com/opZPVJ (posted via FlickSquare)

1. Williamsburg Flea
The Williamsburg Flea is a Sunday ritual for our family: with super finds and delicious food vendors, you can spend a whole day just noshing and looking. Located between North 6th and North 7th Streets just south of East River State Park, the Flea is a must-see destination when you get off the ferry. Take a moment to take in the fabulous skyline as well.
Details: Sunday, 10am-5pm, Rain or Shine East River Waterfront (btw. North 6 + 7 St.)

Photo of Williamsburg Flea courtesy of ©Brooklyn Flea

Photo of Williamsburg Flea courtesy of ©Brooklyn Flea

2. Smorgasburg
For gourmands everywhere, Smorgasburg in Williamsburg has become a destination to taste artisan foods and snatch up unique housewares.  Every Saturday at the East River, thousands come to see and taste the vendors’ wares and chow with their friends.
Details: Saturday, 11am-6pm, Rain or Shine  East River Waterfront (btw. North 6 + 7 St.)

Smorgasburg opening day May 21, 2011 Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Photo courtesy of ©Brooklyn Flea

Smorgasburg- chocolate frozen banana! Yum! Photo courtesy of ©Brooklyn Flea

3. Summer Starz
Kudos to Town Square for upping their family programming every year. We’ve been watching them grow for the last six years- and are really impressed. Their big annual summer series is SummerStarz: it’s an annual music and movie series that runs for 6 Thursday nights. The program setup is live music and then a family-friendly movie that both adults and kids will enjoy. The free movies and live music are all kid-friendly and the live music begins at 6;30 pm. The movies start at sunset. The full lineup is here. This is just north of the East River Ferry Stop.
East River State Park (North 8th Street & Kent Avenue, Brooklyn).

Summer Starz

4. East River State Park
The East River Park, which opened in 2007, is a mix of concrete and grass but it has some of the most spectacular views of the city. The playground has new trees and incorporates the historic features of the 19th century shipping dock that previously inhabited the site. There’s a wooden train that lines up with historic railroad tracks embedded in the concrete, a swinging scale, and springy discs. Despite the new trees, there isn’t a lot of shade so bring sunscreen and hats. Watch out for the goose poop. At least you don’t have to worry about the dog poop: this is a state park and they have different rules than city parks:  no alcohol, no bikes, no animals. The park closes at sunset which is a bit of a disappointment for those of us who would love a great sunset view of the city but the daytime view is pretty awesome in itself.
90 Kent Avenue (at North 8th Street), just north of the ferry landing.

East River State Park

East River State Park JJ Playground

5. The Meatball Shop
This delicious place is the perfect stop for a lunchtime meal. Choose your “balls”: beef, chicken, vegetable and sauce: parmesan, tomato, mushroom gravy and more. Their menu does offer other options if you aren’t into meatballs.  Don’t forget to leave room for some of the best ice cream sandwiches around. There’s even a selection of tastes for those: peanut butter, ginger snap, brownie or chocolate chip.
Details: 170 Bedford (btw N. 7th and N. 8th) 718- 551-0520

The front of the Meatball Shop

Interior of the Meatball Shop

6. Frolic
Located at The Edge’s brand new luxury waterfront property, Frolic! is a 5,00o square foot space that features an indoor play area, private party rooms and class rooms. This relatively new play space is just 1.5 blocks from the East River Ferry North Williamsburg stop. The vibe throughout Frolic! can best be described as psychedelic rock meets ultra-modern style. With elements like the interactive 1970 Volkswagen bus recreated by Roto (the award-winning children’s museum designers),  a concert-stage with “back stage” area to crawl around, magic mushrooms and super-sized butterflies, kids can play at being inside a magical world. You can’t just stop in for the day since it’s a membership-based space, but they do offer a Classic Frolic! Preview Pass card for non-members to try out the space (3 days of play and 1 Little Rock-its music class- all for $125 which would be applied towards annual membership): http://www.frolicplayspace.com/membership.html.
Frolic! at The Edge, Williamsburg 34 North 6th Street  Brooklyn, NY 11249  (between Kent Avenue and the East River)  718-388-3100

The playspace. Image courtesy of Frolic!

The coffee lounge. Image courtesy of Frolic!

7. Cubana Social
Try this place with your more adventuresome eaters, though with menu options from roasted pork to eggs, almost everyone will find something they like. The restaurant uses a lot of organic ingredients which makes us like this place even more. Sometimes they project old movies on the wall, which is super for occupying the kiddies while you tear into your yucca fries.
Details: 70 N 6th St  (between Wythe Ave & Kent Ave)   Brooklyn, NY 11211

The front of Cubana Social

The bar at Cubana Social

8. Mini Jake
Mini Jake is a huge loft space full of design-heavy children’s furniture and toys.  Children will be occupied at the open activity tables or by one of uber cool modern rocking horses while you peruse the vast collection of kid stuff.  They don’t just do decor: they carry all the baby essentials like strollers, carriers, blankets and more. On occasion, they have fun events and contests so I stay up on the latest via their Facebook Page.
Details: 178 N. 9th Street  718-782-2005

Mini Jake

Chinese New Year Celebration at Mini Jake

9. Flying Squirrel
At Flying Squirrel you’ll find the best in new and nearly new merchandise for infants, kids and parents… like the popular Ergo Baby Carrier and micro mini scooter. I especially love looking through the shoe bins as I always seem to find a pair that fits one of my kids’ needs. While I shop, my children are completely occupied by the used and new toys and books.  Local crafters show their wares too- which means you can find special items from onesies to barrettes.
Details: 96 North 6th Street between Berry & Wythe. Phone: (718) 218-7775 www.flyingsquirrelbaby.com

Store front of Flying Squirrel

Inside Flying Squirrel

10. Smoochie Baby
This little store has a tightly edited collection of everything from socks, tights, ties, shoes, active wear and dressy wear all tucked neatly on shelves, rolled in baskets or hung on wall-length clothing racks.  They have one of the best local collection of shoes- hip versions of all the classic looks.  You can find every kind of t-shirt shape (cap sleeve, double sleeve, tulip sleeve and no sleeve). And now you know where to get skinny black ties for that night out!
Smoochie Baby 110 Berry Street  Brooklyn, NY 11211  tel. 718.384.3340

Smoochie Baby Store front

Smoochie Baby

11. Grand Street Playground
If you are looking for a nearby playground, I have heard about this simple, neighborhood one.  Formally called Williams Sheridan Playground and locally, “Grand Street Playground”,  I have never been there myself. So, thanks to reader Christy Denes, I got the scoop: “There is a large basketball court area, two handball courts (fenced off) and a big open concrete “yard” that is used by the school during the weekday and otherwise frequently has kids riding bikes or playing baseball. Then there is the playground. It’s very popular, used by several local preschools in the morning and quite crowded after school. There are 2 play structures that look like the ones in every NYC park: one is geared toward smaller kids and the other to bigger kids. There is a swingset area and in the summer there are sprinklers. No grass. There are benches around the perimeter, a big tree in the middle and small young trees around the edge but honestly there is very little shade, especially for the kids playing. In the summer the swings (all baby swings) are often too hot to use because they are sitting in direct sun (though to be fair the sun is welcome in the winter!). We go there a lot because it’s close and our friends can usually be found there but it’s not my favorite playground. I find it to be crowded and would prefer shade. (My favorite local playground is McGolrick Park)”
Details: Grand Street between Wythe and Berry Streets. It’s behind elementary school PS 84.

Grand Street Playground. Photo courtesy of http://tourdebrooklynplaygrounds.blogspot.com

Grand Street Playground. Photo courtesy of http://tourdebrooklynplaygrounds.blogspot.com

12. Teddy’s Bar & Grill
We go to Teddy’s when we are looking for a dark, cool place to have a beer and comfort food. It’s a “no-frills” place with average to good pub fare. It’s a no-brainer for families: there’s plenty for kids to choose from on the menu and the prices are fair.
(718) 384-9787 44 Berry Street (btw N. 8th and N. 9th Streets) Brooklyn, NY 11211‎

Exterior of Teddy's Bar and Grill

Inside Teddy's Bar and Grill

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post paid for by the East River Ferry Service. All selections of locations to review and mention are our own.