Contemplate the water: From the top of the Pulaski Bridge, you look over the East River toward the glistening midtown skyline; the breeze is slightly briny, with a hint of fruity fragrance from a nearby factory.
Seaside monument: The Huron Street pier; even covered in trash and hypodermic needles, it’s the neighborhood’s best remnant of the waterfront past.
Stop for a cold one: At the Pencil Factory (142 Franklin St.; 718-609-5858). The wide-planked former longshoreman’s bar has 21 beers on tap and the whiff of the East River blowing through the windows.
Spread the picnic blanket: At the secluded southernmost bench in the virtually grassless Grand Ferry Park, with its perfect downtown skyline views.
Guilt-inducing fried food: A huge, sugary doughnut from Pies ’n’ Thighs (351 Kent Ave.; 347-282-6005).
Place to see the bride kiss the groom: Giando on the Water (400 Kent Ave.; 718-387-7000), the old-school Italian restaurant beloved of Brooklyn wedding parties.
Enjoy local seafood: Have the very creamy New England clam chowder at the surfboard-decorated Surf Bar (139 N. 6th St.; 718-302-4441).
Stop for a cold one: At Rock Star Bar (next to Pies ’n’ Thighs). It’s cash only, there’s good live music, and the décor is provided by vintage ships’ figureheads to reinforce the maritime vibe.
DUMBO AND NAVY YARD
Contemplate the water: From the velvety grassy knolls of the Empire–Fulton Ferry State Park.
Local water-centric art event: The Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition’s sculpture in the park opens June 30.
Pause-worthy nautical landmark: The noble Commandant’s House, the Navy Yard’s oldest surviving structure, has impressive wrought-iron gates redolent of a more gracious past.
Place to see the bride kiss the groom: The end of Main Street, where the Manhattan Bridge frames the Empire State Building, is a favorite for summer-wedding photographers.
End-of-the-day insulin spike: Line up (average wait on a Saturday night: 20 to 30 minutes) at Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory (1 Water St.; 718-246-3963). Get one scoop of peaches and cream, one of strawberry ($5.50).
Contemplate the water: From the end of the walkway off Pierrepont Street, beneath swaying willows and often in the company of an elderly man and his exotic caged birds.
Bring your suit! Starting July 4, the free Floating Swimming Pool is moored between Piers 4 and 5.
Pause-worthy historic landmarks: The Promenade’s many beautiful mansions, whose current real-estate value is too depressing to think about.
When you breathe deeply, you get: A heady whiff of honey locust trees.
Enjoy a fruity exotic cocktail: The lethal mai tais at Lantern (101 Montague St.; 718-237-2594) are meant for sharing.
Seashore indicator: So quiet, you can hear the ding-ding-ding of the harbor buoys all day.
Contemplate the water: From inside Liberty Sunset Garden Center (204-207 Van Dyke St.; 718-858-3400), the most beautiful nursery of Red Hook’s blooming gardening scene. A lone teak table by the petunias at the end of the pier offers the most secluded, fragrant view of the harbor.
Spread the picnic blanket: On the perfectly manicured Valentino Pier park lawn. Watch fishermen reel in striped bass. Bring a towel so you can go wading.
Picnic supplies: Fairway (480-500 Van Brunt St.; 718-694-6868).
Local water-centric art event: Saturday nights in July, the Waterfront Museum at the end of Coffey Street hosts live music of all stripes on Pier 44 off Conover Street.
Enjoy a fruity exotic cocktail: Have margaritas and guacamole on the roof of Alma (187 Columbia St.; 718-643-5400).
End-of-the-day insulin spike: The Swingle, $5, a four-inch frozen Key-lime tart dipped in Belgian chocolate, at Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pie (204 Van Dyke St.; 718-858-5333).
Contemplate the water: From the end of Pier 4, where all you’ll hear is the sound of waves slapping against the pylons and stripers flapping as fishermen pull them from the water.
Guilt-inducing snack: Warm, hand-patted pupusas ($1.50) filled with chicharrón, refried beans, and queso fresco from Ines Bakery. Get at least two (948 Fourth Ave.; 718-788-0594, open 24 hours).
Take a leisurely stroll: Under the BQE along Third Avenue, to admire the the romantically grungy abandoned warehouses, cracked window grids, and cobblestone streets.
Spread the picnic blanket: At sunset, at the top of Sunset Park, with its 180-degree view of the harbor and the Statue of Liberty.
Bring your suit: There’s an immaculate Olympic-size swimming pool at the Sunset Play Center (nr. Seventh Ave. and 43rd St.).
Stop for a cold one: Down a couple of pints at the fifties time-warp Rainbow Café (3904 Fifth Ave.; 718-435-0400), where oldies play from a digital jukebox and Brooklyn natives bicker with each other in the dark.
Contemplate the water: Along the gritty, lively 69th Street Pier, always filled with fishermen, Rollerbladers, and loungers.
Unmissable snack: Thin-crust “gramma” pizza ($2) at Nino’s (9110 Third Ave., at 91st St.; 718-680-0222).
Pause-worthy nautical landmark: Nineteenth-century Fort Hamilton.
The kids will go crazy for: The cannons outside Fort Hamilton, perfect for climbing on.
Stop for a cold one: At the Salty Dog, an old movie theater turned faux firehouse, complete with fire truck (7509 Third Ave.; 718-238-0030). The home-brewed lager is $3 a pint.
Spread the picnic blanket: On the hilltop at the southwest corner of Owl’s Head Park (Shore Road and 68th Street) for more sweeping water views.
Contemplate the water: From a bench at the end of Steeplechase Pier, of course.
Bring your suit!: This is a beach, after all.
When you breathe deeply you get: Salt air, mustard, stale beer, fellow unwashed humans.
Vertigo-inducing adventure: The Cyclone—it’s old, it’s wooden, it rattles, it’s terrifying.
Guilt-inducing snack: Fried clams and butter-drenched corn at the Grill House, corner of Stillwell Ave. and the boardwalk.
End-of-the-day insulin spike: Pistachio or banana soft-serve at Denny’s Delight (1212 Surf Ave.; 718-266-9371).
Stop for a cold one: At the venerable, old-photo-covered Ruby’s Old Tyme Bar and Grill (1213 Boardwalk West; 718-372-9079). Nearby Cha Cha’s is an acceptable alternative; both have fairly cheap domestic beer and priceless people-watching.
BRIGHTON BEACH AND SHEEPSHEAD BAY
Contemplate the water: From the boardwalk, surrounded by Russian men in Speedos.
Guilt-inducing snack: A bag of Russian pastries (about $1), from any of the numerous stands along the street.
The midday pick-me-up: An iced coffee at Starbucks, solely to see the bilingual Cyrillic/English menu (607 Brighton Beach Ave.; 718-934-3211).
Stop for a cold one: At Gambrinus Beer Hall (3100 Ocean Pkwy., nr. N. Shore Pkwy.; 718-265-1009).
Spread the picnic blanket: At Manhattan Beach Park, a secluded mini-beach at the end of the neighborhood (walk down Oriental Boulevard and then make a right through Pat Parlato Playground).
GATEWAY NATIONAL RECREATION AREA
Best place to see the water: From atop the dunes past Plum Beach.
When you breathe deeply, you get: Nothing but sea air.
The kids will go crazy for: The bizarre mix of characters inhabiting Floyd Bennett Field’s former airport. In the northernmost corner are the model-airplane enthusiasts, and the south end is Brooklyn’s largest community garden. The eastern coast is where the NYPD does its helicopter training and retired veterans tinker with colorful World War II fighter planes.
For that truly suburban feeling: Hit a few buckets at the Brooklyn Golf Center (3200 Flatbush Ave.; 718-253-6816), then head to the new Aviator Sports and Recreation (Hangar 5, nr. Flatbush Ave.; 718-758-9800) with its two skating rinks, climbing wall, and soccer fields (home to the Brooklyn Knights).
Stop for a cold one: At this strictly BYOB situation—so prepare in advance with a six-pack and snacks. Go over the causeway and put down your blanket on the beautiful white-sand beach at Jacob Riis Park (it’s technically Queens, but nobody’s checking). Close your eyes, and listen to the waves.
By Nicole Davis, Brian Kennedy, Shana Liebman, Rebecca Marx, Tim Murphy, Janelle Nanos, Emma Pearse, Ganda Suthivarakom, and Jill Weiskopf