Manhattan is a dazzling island. The Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island all have their perks. But Brooklyn, rich in culture and lacking in pretension, is the real gem of New York’s five boroughs. Let’s take a look at ten of the reasons many New Yorkers and New York visitors consider Brooklyn the best place to spend time in New York City.

Food

From bagels and donuts to New York Italian and Chinese, good food is abundant in Brooklyn. Many of New York’s best-known food establishments started in Brooklyn, which is also the home of the epicurean extravaganza Smorgasburg.

Live Music

Dozens of live music performances take place every night in Brooklyn. From neighborhood bars with 80-person capacities to large-scale venues like Barclays Center, there are a range of performance spaces for musicians of varying hues.

Comedy

Bars and event venues like The Bell House, Union Hall, and Littlefield Theatre routinely host amateur comedy shows. The stand-up and improv comedians who turn up at these events are often talented enough to make comedians of Louis C.K.’s acclaim proud, the drinks are cheap, and tickets easier to obtain and less expensive than at most Manhattan comedy clubs.

Experimental Theatre

Brooklyn kills it on the performance art front. The big-name, big-money shows may all be in Manhattan, but there is a surplus of talented actors, directors, and choreographers putting on cutting-edge performances in Brooklyn. Many of these shows are performed at black box theatres, with tickets costing as little as $5 and rarely more than $20.

Beach

Brooklyn and Queens are the only NYC boroughs with proper beaches. World-famous Coney Island, a premier summer destination for New Yorkers throughout the first half of the 20th Century, has made a comeback in recent years after a long period of stagnation. An amusement park on the beach in a city often hailed as the best on earth? Now that’s an exceptional offering.

East River Waterfront

Brooklyn boasts the best views of the Manhattan skyline from anywhere in the city. Just spend some time in Brooklyn Bridge Park or East River Park, and see if you don’t agree. In addition to exceptional views, these impressive green spaces host loads of entertainment and community events.

Parks

The parks along the East River waterfront are some of the nicest in the city, and they constitute only a small fraction of Brooklyn’s world-class green space. The borough’s most well-known park, Prospect Park, is considered nicer than Central Park by most New Yorkers who have visited both. Fort Greene Park, Green-Wood Cemetery, and McCarran Park are other amazing Brooklyn green spaces worth checking out.

Street Art

Graffiti is in vogue in Brooklyn, and a walk around the streets of Bushwick is all it takes to see why. Well-known street artists from all over the world have left their mark on Brooklyn, making canvases out of dilapidated warehouses, pavement, and more. Much of this art is commissioned and legal, meaning it can’t actually be considered graffiti.

Brooklyn’s Daughters and Sons

An inordinate number of household names hail from brooklyn. Jay-Z, Spike Lee, Barbra Streisand, Larry David, Alyssa Milano, Marisa Tomei, Bernie Sanders, and Woody Allen just cracks the list.

Population Size

Brooklyn’s population size is not the only people-related reason to love the borough. With 2.5 million inhabitants, Brooklyn has more inhabitants than Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island. The borough’s population is not just large. It’s diverse by any metric, which helps keep it so dynamic and interesting.