Gowanus is aptly named, as it encompasses the area around the Gowanus Canal. Once a neighborhood known for its industrial properties, the area has undergone a revival and is now an up-and-coming place with a cool, Brooklyn vibe. It extends from the Gowanus Expressway/I-278 north to Wycoff Street and spans the section from Hoyt Street east to Fourth Avenue. It's location puts it fairly close to lower Manhattan and the government and commercial centers in Brooklyn. Within its borders are several subway stops. The R train stops at Ninth Street and Union Street, both along Fourth Avenue, and the F and G lines end at the Fourth Ave/Ninth Street Station. Several bus routes travel through the local streets, with most of them either going east/west along Ninth or north/south along Third.
The neighborhood is definitely convenient in terms of shopping. It's home to big names like Lowe's, Harbor Freight Tools, and Whole Foods, with the first two being located near several other home stores near the expressway. All of them, like many other commercial businesses in Gowanus, come with large parking lots, which is something that's not always easy to find in New York. Restaurants are evenly distributed around this part of the city. Many of them are smaller establishments with elements like open kitchens and exposed brick walls that make for a fun atmosphere. There are some well-known spots here, such as Dinosaur BarBQue and Ample Hills Creamery. There's plenty of night life as well, with bars like Canal Bar and Strong Rope Brewery drawing good crowds in the evening.
Some green spaces include the Thomas Green Playground, where people can skate, play basketball, or play racquetball, as well as the Ennis Playground that's ideal for small children. Not too far in either direction are significantly larger parks in Red Hook and Park Slope.