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Tomorrow's forecast is windy and rainy, but does that even matter when there are vintage stores to scour and shuffleboard games to play? In the past few years, Gowanus—nestled between Carroll Gardens, Red Hook, and Park Slope—has moved beyond its Superfund-site reputation and emerged as one of Brooklyn's buzziest creative hubs. Join us as we spend a day exploring, rock-climbing, terrarium-building, and stuffing out faces with salted caramel apple pie.
Bright, warm and airy, bakery-slash-restaurant Runner & Stone (285 Third Avenue) serves up pastries and breads in inventive flavors like anise fig. Other must-tries are the farmer's market quiche, French toast, chef's omelet, and roasted squash salad.
If enjoying brunch in the minimalist setting of Runner & Stone has you inspired, head to Rico (546 Third Avenue) to find similarly pared-down furniture, art, and lighting for your home. The shop is smartly edited to feature a selection of interior-transforming pieces that are contemporary and sleek, yet with a timeless quality that make them well worth the investment.
If you're going to get a hat, do it right. At Tracy Watts (119 8th Street), you'll be measured for your custom hat so you know you'll love the way it looks and fits for years to come. Plus the experience of visiting this designer's studio harkens back to the days when a hat was the necessary finishing touch to a polished look. And while Watts's techniques may be old-fashioned, her designs aren't—shoppers can choose from modern styles like leather baseball caps and woolly cloches.
Roll up your sleeves and get ready to dig - it will be well worth it. L Train Vintage (654 Sackett Street) is packed wall-to-wall with the kind of downtown-cool vintage staples you can‘t live without but don't want to splurge on, like printed babydoll dresses, denim jackets, quirky slogan tees and flannel shirts. Prices for many items are in the $8 to $15 range, so you can really stock up here.
Kool Chez (524 Third Avenue) represents a diverse mix of decades and styles in its inventory. Knick knacks, home goods, shoes and accessories live alongside the carefully picked vintage clothing, all in great condition. Keep an eye out for exotic prints and globally-sourced jewelry.
A gritty salvage yard filled with treasures, antiques, oddities and junk - that would take days to fully dig through - makes a trip to Gowanus all the more worthwhile. Even if you don't find anything at New York Old Iron (118 Second Avenue), there are plenty of Instagram-ready gems. Prepare to enjoy the thrill of the hunt, and you may very well leave with a mannequin, an old trunk or a chandelier.
More digging for treasure is in store in Gowanus, but this time with a Tinseltown twist. Film Biz Recycling (540 President Street) is a garage stuffed with props, set pieces and wardrobe items that have been used in film and movie shoots. FBR is a non-profit that seeks to recycle these goods instead of wasting them - and you can reap the benefits by purchasing everything from a quirky, recognizable prop from your favorite movie or an on-trend statement necklace that was only worn for a moment in a commercial.
Instead of splurging on a trendy terrarium, craft your own little environment. At Twig Terrariums (287 Third Avenue), you can pick up a DIY kit or catch one of the studio's classes. If you're not in the crafty mood, you can choose a ready-made plant world, but the appeal of being able to add quirky elements like dinosaurs or cowboys might be something you don't want to miss.
Take your workout to new, exhilarating heights at Brooklyn Boulders (575 DeGraw Street). The rock-climbing gym will have you feeling like you've left the city for an adventure with its expansive layout of walls to scale. Classes and instructors on-hand make the gym just as friendly to first-timers as it is to seasoned climbers.
Go from rock climbing to Floridian game-playing at Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club (514 Union Street). Flamingo décor and patio furniture sets the scene for a relaxed, kitschy experience. Sign up for a lane and get competitive, whether you're with one other person or a group. And don't worry, staff members will give you a refresher if you're rusty on your shuffleboard skills. Stay hydrated the vacation way with fruity cocktails, and for food, check out the rotating food trucks the club has on deck.
All that climbing and shuffleboarding has helped you work up an appetite, hasn't it? Good thing it's snack time, better thing you're by one of the most decadent treat spots in the city. Four and Twenty Blackbirds (439 Third Avenue) serves slices of handmade pies made from local ingredients. On the fall menu? Flavors like salted caramel apple, birch beer float, pink peppercorn chocolate, chocolate julep and plum streusel.
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