The Brooklyn Museum, one of the largest and oldest in the country, is housed in a 560,000-square-ft., Beaux-Arts building. Among the attractions are permanent and world-renowned collections of Egyptian art. 200 Eastern Parkway, open Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m.
After exploring the museum, be sure to check out the many parks and gardens in the complex, including Prospect Park (where you can rent pedal boats in the summer and ice skates in the winter), the Prospect Park Zoo and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden -- check their Web site to see which plants will be in bloom during your visit.
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan takes an hour or less, and is a great way to get a bird's-eye view of both skylines. The walkway entrance is next to the Federal Court Building (there are stairs on Cadman Plaza East and Prospect Street, and a ramp on Johnson and Adams). Along the route are plaques explaining a little bit about the bridge's history, including descriptions of what pedestrians would have seen on a walk when it first opened in 1883.
Take the only guided bus tour of Brooklyn's best pizzerias -- the A Slice of Brooklyn pizza tour. This 4.5-hour tour includes pizza and soft drinks at Grimaldi's (see more below under "Lunching") and L&B Spumoni Gardens. The 22-seat bus weaves through Brooklyn to sites including the Brooklyn Army Terminal, from which Elvis shipped off to Germany in 1958, and a Bay Ride garage, where scenes from "Goodfellas" were filmed. An audio-visual presentation delves into the history of the borough, its landmarks and -- what else? -- pizza. One caveat: The tour departs from Manhattan.
Even with recent efforts to beef it up a bit, Coney Island is still a bit tawdry, but its nostalgic pull puts it in the must-do category, if only to say you've been there. All the Coney Islands sites are centered on the boardwalk, just off Surf Avenue, about a half-hour drive from Red Hook in traffic. For a thrill, ride the Cyclone rollercoaster and the historic Winder Wheel, or check out the rides at the new Luna Park amusement park. Nathan's famous hot dog stand is also right near the boardwalk and is the perfect lunch stop before -- or, perhaps, after -- getting on the rides. Other attractions include the New York Aquarium and MCU Park, where you can catch a Brooklyn Cyclones baseball game.
The Brooklyn Children's Museum was founded in 1899 -- the first museum created just for kids. There are nine interactive galleries, ranging from "Totally Tots," a space for under-5's that includes a kid-sized quarry and a reading nook, to "Neighborhood Nature," where children of all ages can observe live animals eating, sleeping, swimming and playing -- including resident Fantasia, a 20-foot-long albino Burmese Python. It's located at 145 Brooklyn Avenue; please check the Web site for seasonal hours.
Beer enthusiasts should swing by the Brooklyn Brewery, famous for its pilsner and India pale ale. Free tours are offered on Saturdays from noon until 5 p.m., and happy hours happen every Friday night from 6 until 11 p.m. You'll find it at 79 North 11th St.
Cool tidbit: Brooklyn Brewery's label was designed by Milton Glaser, the same man who designed the "I Love New York" motto.
The popular Brooklyn Flea is a sometimes-outdoor market, offering vintage and handmade fashion and housewares -- the types of items you would expect at a flea market -- but also has a spread of interesting food vendors. On some weekends, you may find popsicles, mini-cupcakes and lobster rolls; others may bring empanadas, fish tacos and pizza fired in mobile ovens. The location changes seasonally, so get directions at before leaving home.
Fort Greene Park, originally named Washington Park, was established on the site of Fort Greene in 1847. Fort Greene, formerly known as Fort Putnam, was the scene of a fierce battle against the British in 1776. During the war, maritime prisoners were held in dismantled warships and then buried in shallow graves; today, washed-ashore bones of prison ship martyrs are kept in a crypt at the Prison Ship Martyrs Memorial. The park also offers more lighthearted fare, such as tennis and basketball courts, playgrounds, chess tables and expansive lawns. Check it out at 85 South Oxford St.
The New York Transit Museum, in Brooklyn Heights, is the largest museum in the world dedicated to urban public transportation history. The museum, housed in an authentic 1930's subway station, exhibits more than 100 years of transit memorabilia, including restored subway cars, antique turnstiles and a working signal tower -- with a nifty gift shop to boot. It's at 130 Livingston St.