The East River forms the western border of Williamsburg, giving the neighborhood a waterfront with spectacular views of Manhattan and myriad other charms. While industrial and residential buildings still claim parts of the waterfront, there are also plenty of open spaces where one can revel in the breezes, the views, and attractions that include ballparks and a food market.
Bushwick Inlet Park. Image: Newkai/Wikimedia
Near the northernmost point of Williamsburg is Bushwick Inlet Park. Nestled between North 9th and North 10th Streets, this city park includes a multipurpose field that hosts soccer, football, lacrosse, field hockey, rugby, and ultimate Frisbee matches. Little ones can cavort in the gated playground, and afterward everyone can gather at one of the bistro tables on the elevated deck for a snack while admiring the skyline across the river.
East River State Park. Image: Shinya Suzuki/Flickr
The East River State Park abuts Bushwick Inlet Park, stretching down to North Seventh Street. Developed on the site of a 19th-century shipping dock, the seven-acre state park offers a scrap of sandy beach to complement the grassy lawns, which are popular spots for picnics and sunbathing on bright and balmy days. Picnic tables, play areas for the kids, and benches for kicking back and relaxing are also available. History buffs will enjoy the educational signs with photos discussing the site’s former life as a rail-marine terminal; eagle-eyed visitors might spy former railroad tracks on the grounds.
Lobster rolls at Smorgasburg. Image: Bex Walton/Flickr
On Saturdays from April through October, Smorgasburg sets up residence in the East River State Park. More than 75 food vendors make this open-air market an epicurean’s delight. Whether your tastes run to burgers and fries or fresh-squeezed juices and salads, steak tartare or Filipino halo-halo (a frozen dessert as lovely as it is tasty), you will find something to sate your taste buds. Last year Pop Pasta’s spaghetti in the form of doughnuts was all the rage; there’s sure to be a new culinary fave this year.
Just a block south of the East River State Park is the North 5th Street Pier and Park. With its boardwalk-style path and plenty of benches, this bijou city park is an ideal spot for exercising your dog before heading into work and for relishing the sunset reflected in the river as day segues into night.
A view of One World Trade Center from Grand Ferry Park. Image: Jason Devaun/Flickr
Another dog-friendly waterfront locale, Grand Ferry Park at Grand and River Streets is only a few blocks south of North 5th Street. Long before the city took it over, it was the Brooklyn terminal for the Grand Street Ferry, which transported goods and passengers to and from Manhattan. Landscaped with native trees and shrubs, including dogwoods, bayberry, and viburnums, the park also has a paved landing with benches where one can look across the river toward One World Trade Center.