We admit it. We love Red Hook. But we also know that getting there can seem daunting, especially for first-time visitors from other boroughs. Or so they tell us when they break our lunch date at Fort Defiance.
The NY Water Taxi Ikea Ferry offers the most picturesque approach, with its views of the lower Manhattan and Red Hook waterfronts. The ferry leaves from Pier 11 in lower Manhattan, where Wall Street meets the East River, and lets you off in Erie Basin Park, behind the Ikea. Check the schedule, though, before you decide on this option: ferries run once or twice an hour, 2pm–8pm on weekdays and 11:20am-8:40pm on weekends.
BY SUBWAY AND/OR BUS
If you’re coming from somewhere other than lower Manhattan, subways and/or buses may be your best choice. To figure out the best way to get there from where you are, you can check out the MTA Trip Planner (mobile) or HopStop (mobile)–but we’ll give you the broad strokes below.
The nearest subway stop to Red Hook is the recently renovated Smith-9th Street Station, serviced by the G and F lines. With an elevation of 87.5 feet, it’s the highest subway stop in New York and, in terms of elevation above ground level, the highest in the world.
Why have a subway station so high? You can thank the tall-mast ships that once navigated the nearby Gowanus Canal. Fortunately, the station now features escalators and offers views of Brooklyn, lower Manhattan, and even the Statue of Liberty.
When you get off the train, head away from the Gowanus Canal in a westerly direction towards Court Street.
That’s where you’ll find the stop for both the B57 and B61 buses. You get a free transfer here, as long as you use the same MetroCard you boarded the train with. You can easily walk the distance to the waterfront, but a free anything in New York City is something you should always accept.
About these buses: If you’re coming from South Slope, Downtown Brooklyn, or one of the BoCoCa neighborhoods, you can skip the subway and just take the bus. The B57 bus connects Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, and Carroll Gardens with Red Hook—basically going down Court Street, turning around at Ikea, and then going back up Smith Street (before going up Flushing Avenue to Queens).
The B61 is the southern half of the route that follows the old Crosstown Line streetcar route, which goes from Park Slope to Red Hook and then up to downtown Brooklyn. (The B61, like the Crosstown line used to continue all the way through Williamsburg and Greenpoint to Long Island City. Tragically, in 2010, this enormously useful route was split in two, with the northern half becoming the B62 line. But we digress.)
Get off at the IKEA bus terminal at Beard Street to begin your tour of the Red Hook waterfront.