GETTING THERE: Williamsburg is in northwest Brooklyn, a 10- to 15-minute train ride from Manhattan via the L train to the first subway stop in Brooklyn, Bedford Avenue.

BEING THERE: Much of the hipster scene concentrates in the blocks surrounding the subway stop in North Williamsburg (East River to Union Avenue and from North 15th Street to Grand Street/Avenue), but South Williamsburg also boasts some happening spots. Shops, restaurants and galleries cluster along Bedford Avenue, bustling North Sixth Street and Grand Avenue, as well as quieter streets closer to the water, such as Berry Street and Wythe Avenue. The Williamsburg Gallery Association posts a good neighborhood walking map at www.williams burggalleryassociation.com and in its free monthly Wagmag (available at area galleries). Performance art and live music happen in coffeehouses, record stores and venues such as Galapagos Art Space (70 N. Sixth St., 718-782-5188), a performance venue/bar housed in a gritty converted mayonnaise factory. Spots to catch concerts range from tiny Pete's Candy Store (709 Lorimer St., 718-302-3770) to major-name draws like Northsix (66 N. Sixth St., 718-599-5103, www.northsix.com) and the Warsaw at the Polish National Home (261 Driggs Ave., 718-387-0505, www.warsawconcerts.com) on the Greenpoint-Billyburg border. Most stores are open during the week, but galleries keep more limited -- mostly weekend -- hours.

STAYING THERE: Williamsburg is not hotel-friendly -- boutique or otherwise -- yet. But the area is just a few subway stops from Manhattan's vibrant Union Square, where overnight options include the priced-for-somewhat-starving-artists Union Square Inn (209 E. 14th St., 212-614-0500, www.unionsquareinn.com, doubles $159 to $179).

EATING THERE: Well-priced coffeehouses, bistros and Thai cafes rule Williamsburg. In a retro-chic space, Diner (85 Broadway, 718-486-3077) serves lunch, dinner and drinks daily, plus a killer brunch (poblano-potato hash, grits with Italian sausage). High-style design draws crowds to trendy Sea (114 N. Sixth St., 718-384-8850), but the food's delicious and cheap. Think lychee cocktails, veggie dumplings ($4) and good curries ($7-$8).

INFO: NYC & Company, 212-484-1200, www.nycvisit.com.