Park Slope is one of New York City’s loveliest neighborhoods. Tree-lined streets and historic brownstones comprise the majority of the area, while the many delightful attractions of Prospect Park are just to the west. Fifth and Seventh Avenues are Park Slope’s primary commercial drags, and along their pleasant sidewalks you’ll encounter all kinds of attractive shops, well-regarded restaurants, and hip bars.
Park Slope Neighborhood History
The story of Park Slope’s modern era really begins with the construction of Prospect Park, which was first proposed in 1859 before the start of the American Civil War and for the most part completed by 1873 under the guidance of acclaimed landscape architects Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted. Subsequently, during the 1880s and 1890s a significant number of wealthy New Yorkers began building mansions in the area, in order to take advantage of the park’s many charms and relatively undeveloped (by city standards) surroundings. Many of Park Slope’s defining brownstones can be attributed to this building boom.
The neighborhood changed character several times throughout the twentieth century, with recent decades seeing Park Slope become a poster child for New York City gentrification. Today the area is heavily residential, populated predominantly by well-to-do families able to afford the multi-million-dollar prices that Park Slope’s famous brownstones fetch on the open market.
Exploring Park Slope
Some of Brooklyn’s most popular attractions are located in or near Park Slope. In fact, a couple of New York City’s best places for outdoor fun are to be found here. A visit to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden makes for a beautiful afternoon, as its gorgeous collections of cherry trees, roses, lilacs, peonies, and much more have captivated nature lovers for a century and counting. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden also features themed gardens like the Shakespeare Garden and the Discovery Garden, while its Cherry Esplanade is not to be missed.
Nearby Prospect Park contains almost 600 acres of public green space that contain multiple scenic hiking trails, an athletic complex, tennis center, playgrounds, bandshell, and in winter, an ice rink. No matter your favorite outdoor activity, you’ll be able to stretch out and enjoy it in the midst of this urban oasis. Families with small children will definitely want to make time for Prospect Park Zoo, which consists of a dozen acres within the park where you’ll come face to face with alpacas, marmosets, sea lions, otter, dingoes, aracaris, tamarins, and more.
Situated at the northern section of Prospect Park near the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is the Brooklyn Museum. Though often overshadowed by some of the institutions lining Manhattan’s Museum Mile, the 1.5-million-item collection of the Brooklyn Museum can more than hold its own against any of New York City’s other major art museums. The Brooklyn Museum, for its part, has priceless Ancient Egyptian artifacts, Judy Chicago’s legendary installation The Dinner Party, and temporary visiting exhibitions by artists like Virgil Abloh, Andy Warhol, and Lorraine O’Grady.
Park Slope is one of Brooklyn’s most popular neighborhoods. It’s bordered to the north by Prospect Heights and Fort Greene, to the south by South Slope, to the east by Prospect Park, and to the west by Boerum Hill and Gowanus.
Park Slope Dining
Quality bagels, bánh mì, baked goods, Ethiopian establishments, Korean joints, and Italian restaurants: all these culinary treats and then some are to be found within the Park Slope neighborhood. Whether you want a quick sandwich in a sunlight space, a quiet drink in an elegant wine bar, or you just want to grab something to go from a high-end grocery store, Park Slope’s food scene has you covered.
Particular standouts would have to include Miriam, the beloved Mediterranean restaurant renowned for their brunch; Fonda, where Mexican cuisine meets Le Cordon Bleu-trained chefs; and Ginger’s Bar, a cash-only, lesbian bar that’s been a Park Slope institution for over 20 years.
Park Slope Shopping
Park Slope is one of New York City’s premier shopping destinations, headlined by what many refer to lovingly as “the other Fifth Avenue.” Manhattan’s iconic Fifth Avenue may get more attention on account of its luxury designers and big-name brands, but Park Slope’s Fifth Avenue has its own special appeal. Here you’ll find a terrific assortment of stylish indie boutiques and quirky shops stocking a whole host of specialty items.
A staple of the Park Slope shopping scene would have to be Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store. If you want to come home from your trip to New York City with a thoughtful gift for a loved one or a laugh-out-loud funny present for a friend, this is your place. Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store sells everything from novelty gifts to toys to housewares, knickknacks, and a whole bunch more. Literally two doors up Fifth Avenue from Annie’s is DNA Footwear, a Brooklyn-based shoe company that sells their own brand of sneakers, sandals, boots, and wedges alongside product from other major shoe brands.
There are plenty of other great stores in Park Slope worth checking out, including Brooklyn’s longest continually operating bookseller, Community Bookstore; Beacon’s Closet, a local thrift store chain with an especially good selection of vintage styles; and the one-and-only Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co., which indeed really does sell superhero gear, with all proceeds going to support the mission of the literacy non-profit organization 826NYC.
Explore Park Slope Like a Local
- Big fans of sports and music who find themselves in the area will want to see who’s playing or performing at the Barclays Center. This state-of-the-art arena is located at the northern edge of Park Slope, and it regularly hosts concerts and conventions. The Women’s National Basketball Association’s New York Liberty and the National Basketball Association’s Brooklyn Nets also call the Barclays Center home.
- If you’re a history buff—or you’re looking to expose the kids to something educational in the midst of their vacation—the Old Stone House is another Park Slope landmark worth your time. This twentieth-century reconstruction is a replica of a colonial Dutch-style cottage that once stood nearby and played an important role in the American Revolutionary War’s Battle of Long Island. It’s located in Park Slope’s Washington Park, by the J.J. Byrne playground, and contains enjoyable historical exhibits.