Williamsburg summer survival guide: Where to cool off, hang out, and enjoy an icy treat

August 6, 2019

Photo by Scott Beale

Summer in the city can be a slog, but neighborhoods like Williamsburg turn the dog days into a wealth of seasonal perfection with peerless places, rare and unique tastes, and unbeatable views around every corner. From pools and parks and ice cream parlors for family fun to chic rooftop boîtes overlooking the Manhattan skyline, Brooklyn’s trendiest neighborhood offers endless urban opportunities to beat the heat. Below are just a few ways to keep cool and carry on.

Places to cool off

Photo via Inhabitat/Flickr cc

McCarren Park Pool
776 Lorimer Street, in McCarren Park

Located within the 35-acre McCarren Park, McCarren Pool was one of 11 pools opened by Robert Moses in 1936. Abandoned since closing in 1984, the empty pool reopened in 2005 as a much-loved concert, movie, and event venue. After a full renovation, the Olympic-sized outdoor pool was resurrected in 2012 as part of a year-round recreation center serving northern Brooklyn. The historic bathhouse building and entry arch were preserved, a rare example of the creative public works architecture that was popular in the 1930s. Outdoor pool hours are from 11:00 a.m. through 7:00 p.m. daily, with early bird and night owl lap swim hours. The pool is free (as are swimming lessons for all ages) but the adjacent recreation center requires a membership fee.

Photo by Scott Beale

Domino Park
15 River Street along the East River; entrances are along Kent Avenue at South 5th Street, South 3rd Street and Grand Street.

Another of the neighborhood’s impressive examples of adaptive re-use, this five-acre public park along the East River occupies the grounds of what was once the massive Domino Sugar refinery plant. Designed by the landscape architects behind the High Line, the park features a children’s playground, dog run, volleyball court, bocce court, and playing field. Tacocina restaurant offers food and cocktails seven days a week along the Williamsburg waterfront, and an elevated five-block riverside walkway displays salvaged factory equipment from the historic refinery. It’s all playfully enhanced by an illuminated dancing fountain that shoots water eight feet in the air. Park hours are Monday – Sunday 6 a.m. – 1 a.m.

Photo via Flickr cc

East River State Park
90 Kent Avenue

This seven-acre strip along the shores of the East River reminds Williamsburg residents that they live in a waterfront neighborhood. The space is perfect for concerts and other outdoor activities including the venerable Brooklyn Flea, but there’s plenty of public plaza space to sunbathe, picnic and sip a cold one while enjoying views of the river and the Manhattan skyline.

Photo courtesy of the Brooklyn Barge

The Brooklyn Barge 
3 Milton Street

Located in Greenpoint, Williamsburg’s sister neighborhood to the north, this eclectic waterfront gem is part restaurant and bar, part learning and community center on a floating East River barge (the barge is also available to rent for events and parties). It’s a great way to take advantage of the river–and the fabulous Manhattan skyline–while kicking back in the neighborhood. The bar and restaurant are open seven days a week, 11 a.m. til 2 a.m.

Rooftops to beat the heat

Summerly Rooftop Bar at The Hoxton Hotel
97 Wythe Avenue

The breezy Summerly rooftop bar channels a Hamptons vibe complete with lobster rolls and icy cocktails, all with stunning city skyline views. The Hoxton boutique hotel chain was among the international vanguard of hipster hotels, and it’s right at home in Williamsburg, with a designer lobby, well-curated rooms and several cool options for food and drink.

The Westlight rooftop bar at The William Vale; photo by Noah Fecks

The William Vale 
111 North 12th Street

Another of the neighborhood’s hip and creatively-appointed boutique hotels, The William Vale offers sleek rooms with designer details. For locals, Leuca restaurant offers elegance and Mister Dips serves burgers, fries and ice cream from a retro 1974 Airstream in the hotel’s grown-up playground, Vale Park. On higher ground, a 22nd-floor rooftop bar dazzles with panoramic skyline views. Like many of its kind, the hotel also hosts cultural and arts events for the community.

Photo courtesy of Lemon’s/Wythe Hotel

Wythe Hotel
80 Wythe Avenue

As Williamsburg’s first boutique hotel when it opened in 2012 on the East River waterfront, this now-iconic venue brought rooftop sophistication to the hip and artsy neighborhood. What was once a 117-year-old factory has been converted into a 70-room hotel with a focus on culture, food and community, hosting events for locals on the regular in addition to offering fine hospitality to guests from around the world. Reynard showcases seasonal food, and the hotel’s rooftop bar and lounge–a city-wide favorite for sunset cocktails, dance parties and event after-parties–offers postcard views of the New York City skyline.

McCarren Hotel & Pool
160 North 12th Street

Not to be confused with that other McCarren Pool, this sparkling retreat deckside to a glittering boutique hotel in the heart of the ‘burg offers luxury amenities top-notch service. The hotel also offers rooftop dining at Urban Vegan Kitchen, a rooftop bar and, of course, well-appointed guest rooms.

Photo courtesy of Berry Park

Berry Park
4 Berry Street

This classic neighborhood beer garden and vast rooftop bar has been a go-to for brunch and booze since way back when. Also here is the Brooklyn Backyard, an indoor ball field for all ages and soccer facility that offers lessons and league play for neighborhood youngsters.

Night of Joy
667 Lorimer Street

This northern Williamsburg favorite is more DIY than diva–but definitely chill and welcoming–with an antique-accented garden and an adorable urban rooftop strung with fairy lights. Indie-darling stars DJ at night and lazy afternoons feature frozen margarita specials.

Spots for an icy treat

Photos courtesy of Oddfellows Ice Cream

Oddfellows Ice Cream Co.
175 Kent Avenue

This hyper-local ice cream mini-chain offers small-batch ice cream, sorbet and soft serve in a rotating list of flavors like Buttermilk Honey Blueberry, Miso Cherry and Chorizo Caramel Swirl. Vegan options are available, too.


View this post on Instagram


Can’t wait to enjoy warmer weather ☀️ • • • ?: ???

A post shared by -321˚ Ice Cream Shop® (@321icecreamshop) on Jan 15, 2019 at 4:57pm PST

-321 Ice Cream Shop
368 Grand Street

This futuristic ice cream spot is more lab than parlor: Order your favorite flavor, and it gets made right before your eyes in a cloud of vapor courtesy of liquid nitrogen.

Photo courtesy of Gelateria Gentile

Gelateria Gentile
253 Wythe Avenue

This old-fashioned Italian gelateria satisfies your cravings with homemade gelato from traditional family recipes in a storefront that recalls a little shop in Southern Italy.  Coffee and pastries complete the delicious picture.

ice cream, booza, stretchy
Photo by Noah Fecks, courtesy of Republic of Booza

Republic of Booza
76 North 4th Street

What is booza, you ask? It’s Middle Eastern ice cream that lays claim to being the frozen dairy treat that started it all. This Williamsburg shop offers the “world’s first modern booza brand,” which covers the intense-flavored original stuff (quashta or “candied cream”) and a whole spectrum of classic (vanilla, chocolate, strawberry), global (from cannoli to key lime pie), and experimental flavor offerings (salted oreo) plus special collections like a collab with Murray’s Cheese. All flavors are vegetarian, and vegan options are available.

Van Leeuwen, UWS, Where I Work
Van Leeuwen co-owner Ben Van Leeuwen scooping their Planet Earth flavor. Photo by James and Karla Murray for 6sqft.

Van Leeuwen
204 Wythe Avenue

The story of this now-iconic ice cream mini-empire began in a Brooklyn kitchen, progressed to a food truck, and the rest is history. The by-now iconic ice cream brand has earned its larger-than-life reputation by churning (no pun intended) out perfect artisan scoops made from  scratch in Greenpoint, Brooklyn from fresh milk and cream, cane sugar and egg yolks. Vegan scoops are just as perfect, crafted from cashew milk, organic coconut milk, organic extra virgin coconut oil, organic cane sugar, pure cocoa butter, and organic carob bean.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Francesco Slechta (@francesco212) on Jul 1, 2019 at 8:18am PDT

Surf Bar
139 North 6th Street

This local clam shack with sand on the floor, umbrellas in the drinks and seafood on the menu is the perfect late-summer hang. Also: Scorpion bowls. Need we say more?


View this post on Instagram


It’s spritz o’clock out ???

A post shared by The Commodore (@thecommodorebar) on Mar 16, 2019 at 11:46am PDT

The Commodore
366 Metropolitan Avenue

This beloved Williamsburg restaurant from Pies ‘n’ Thighs alum Stephen Tanner serves up crave-worthy comfort food in the form of fried chicken to die for. Add a signature pina colada-amaretto float and try to find an unoccupied spot to enjoy every last bite.


CLICK HERE to learn more about the Barak | Blackburn team and see all of their current listings.

Interested in similar content?

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *