A Day WELL Spent: Brooklyn, Part 1
New York has no shortage of amazing places to explore on your wellness journey: From buzzed about barre studios to the latest craze in bone broth or matcha drinks trending on Instagram, wellness seekers flock to the concrete jungle in search of greener pastures…and juices.
The great thing (or one of a million great things!) about New York is that every neighborhood has its own personality, and its unique offerings by way of culture, restaurants, inhabitants and incredibly fun things to do and explore – including the wellness scene. Turn down this quiet street and discover your next favorite meal; duck into this unassuming shop and meet your new spirit guide/wellness guru.
After nearly seven years on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, I recently moved to the small Brooklyn enclave of Clinton Hill. Sandwiched between Fort Greene and Bed-Stuy, Clinton Hill is a relatively quiet neighborhood bursting with charm. From coffee shops that spring up from the garden level of a brownstone to wine bars the size of your living room, this sweet spot – and its neighbors – offers the opportunity to relax at a slower pace than you’ll find across the bridge while still satisfying the wellness offerings you crave.
My favorite thing about a day off in New York? Exploring my newly adopted neighborhood and all it has to offer.
After throwing on my Boston Red Sox baseball hat (sacrilege in New York, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do!), I trot down the front steps of our apartment and across the street to Clementine Bakery for a hot latte and a gluten-free scone. This all vegan, all organic spot is a favorite of locals, and for good reason: incredible food, strong coffee, a beautiful atmosphere (hello, plant envy!) and outdoor seating make it ideal for watching the world go by. Plus, it’s where the neighborhood dogs congregate. And speaking of dogs…
I head back across the street to round up Linus, our lovable 10 month old AmStaff rescue. With coffee in one hand and his leash in the other, Linus and I walk through neighboring Prospect Heights to his newest favorite playground: the verdant Prospect Park. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux after they completed Manhattan’s Central Park, Prospect Park boasts one of the New York’s best greenmarkets (some say it rivals the one in Union Square!). Whether you’re in search of fresh herbs for dinner or bunches of eucalyptus to infuse your apartment with fragrance, this is the place to find whatever your heart (or stomach!) desires. No cash? No problem. Head on over to the customer service tent, where they’ll run your credit card and give you wooden chips you can redeem at any of the stalls. Delicious food, fair prices and zero waste: this is a do-gooder city dweller’s dream come true!
After meandering through the farmer’s market, Linus and I head to the lawns tucked behind Grand Army Plaza. There, we work on obedience training that ends with him rolling around with his new-found four legged friends while I nibble my fresh organic apple and take in some much needed Vitamin D on my winter worn skin. Heading back toward home, I pop in to Mermaid’s Garden, a sustainable seafood store that purveys some of the best fish I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. (In town for an extended period of time? Mermaid’s Garden runs a neighborhood fish share that supports local fishermen and delivers a fish-of-the-week to its members, complete with recipe suggestions and a comprehensive background on the type of fish and how its sourced.) After selecting some halibut steaks and getting friendly, easy to follow advice on how to best to cook it, Linus and I head home.
I walk over to Dou Yoga to re-center myself after a crazy week. Though I’m by no means a yogi, the teachers at Dou make me feel welcome immediately. Dou Yoga also offers an “Angry Yoga” class, which utilizes principles of Chinese Medicine coupled with yoga to address these emotions as they arise. As anyone who has ever ridden public transportation can attest, we New Yorkers need every tool in our spiritual toolkit to combat negative emotions. I’m adding this one to my calendar.
After all the walking, dog training and yoga, it’s time for some sustenance. I duck under cherry and magnolia trees, sidewalks littered with their pink blossoms, to neighboring Fort Greene for lunch. Tiny (yet mighty!) Baba Cool is calling my name. Specifically, I need their Baba Bowl in my belly, STAT! Roasted butternut squash, kale, pickled beets, rosemary mushrooms, sunflower seeds, green goddess dressing and wild rice tantalize the tastebuds and satisfy any and every kind of texture I’m craving. Plus, their Golden Milk Latte (with espresso, coconut milk with turmeric and ginger) is so divine, “life altering” would be an understatement.
I arrive at Jill Lindsey, a Fort Greene boutique that also doubles as a wine bar. And a coffee shop. And a pilates studio. And did I mention they have spirit animal and tarot readings, and sometimes braid bars, and…
To say this place is my Mecca is putting it mildly. When my boyfriend discovered it for the first time, he came home, handed me a business card and said, “This place is an Amy store.” Thoughtfully curated clothing from local designers, hand poured candles, woven textiles and eye-catching home goods, plus a green beauty selection make this a one-stop-shop for gifting, decorating, or spoiling yourself rotten. Plus, with an events calendar that’s always chock full with wellness and spiritual happenings, you may find yourself coming in for a sundress but staying for the “woo woo” and workout classes. I wouldn’t blame you one bit.
A holistic facial at Treatment by Lanshin in Williamsburg is exactly what I need to close out the weekend. My friends have been raving about the talented Melani, Senior Holistic Esthetician, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to experience her healing hands. Though I am well-versed in self care and take great pleasure in my non-toxic beauty rituals, I rarely make the time for something as decadent as a facial. Sandra Lanshin’s studio weaves together Chinese Herbology, Massage, Acupuncture and other alternative modalities to create the ultimate skin (and spirit) healing experience. As a patient of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and Five Elements Acupuncture, I am thrilled to be applying these ancient techniques to caring for my skin.
Skin glowing and serenity restored, my boyfriend and I walk to Aita, where rustic Italian dishes merge with neighborhood warmth to create an experience that begs diners to linger on until dessert. And coffee. And maybe just one more glass of wine. The seasonal menu boasts heirloom tomatoes and burrata this time of year, but we’re both eyeing the oyster mushrooms and the asparagus. Any attempt to exercise self control flies out the windows, open now to the street for a full view of the flower pots that spill over in a riot of color. I order the fish, he orders the linguine and we decide to split the appetizers, chalking it up to supporting local business.
Living well in Brooklyn, it turns out, is as easy as venturing out your front door.