Park Slope is a fine mixture of late 19th century elegance and 21st century cool: Brownstones and limestones complete with bow windows, bay windows, turrets and cupolas vie for space along its tree-lined streets with up-to-the minute bistros and bars.

Built to compete with the upscale neighborhoods of that borough across the river, its own version of Fifth Avenue -- Prospect Park West -- was meant to be every bit as opulent as its more famous competitor. It never quite succeeded on that level, but it did draw its own plutocrats and merchant princes.

The main difference is that, even today, many of those mansions remain while much of Fifth Avenue has long since been turned into faceless -- if internally lavish -- apartment houses.

GETTING THERE

By car: Northern State Parkway west to the Grand Central. Follow signs for Jackie Robinson Parkway west. Continue on Pennsylvania Avenue. Turn right on Atlantic, then left on Fourth Avenue, leading to Park Slope.

Mass transit: Take the Long Island Rail Road to Flatbush Avenue, then the M or R subway to the Ninth Street/Fourth Avenue station.

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WHERE TO SHOP

Flirt , 93 Fifth Ave., 718-783-0364

Like the name says, flirty things for women

Maggie's Threads , 411 Seventh Ave., 718-369-0411

Good selection of clothes for kids

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Sweet Charity , 411 Seventh Ave., 718-965-9200

All manner of accessories for the home

Cog & Pearl , 190 Fifth Ave., 718-623-8200

Handmade things, from jewelry to clothing to gifts

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Blue Apron Foods , 814 Union St., 718-230-3180

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Pretty shop selling cookies, cheeses, pâtés

WHERE TO EAT

Applewood , 501 11th St., 718-788-1810, applewoodny.com

COST $-$$

The menu here changes constantly, to keep up with the seasons. The husband-and-wife team who own the place have made it into a neighborhood favorite. Reservations necessary.

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Al di La Trattoria , 248 Fifth Ave., 718-783-4565, aldilatrattoria.com

COST $$-$$$

At some point, everyone eats here. The pastas are fine, the main courses excellent. Since they don't take reservations, the wait can seem interminable -- unless you sit it out in the wine bar around the corner.

Dizzy's , 511 Ninth St., 718-499-1966, dizzys.com

COST $

The classic New York diner serves up all the old faves with a friendly attitude. For dinner, Dad's Favorite Meatloaf is a great choice.

WHAT'S NEARBY

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden , 1000 Washington Ave., 718-623-7200, bbg.org

COST $8

It's one of the Slope's nearby neighbors. While spring is the most popular time to visit, the autumnal mood of the garden is spectacular. The tranquil Japanese garden, in particular, seems a world away from the city's noise and rush.

Brooklyn Museum , 200 Eastern Pkwy., 718-638-5000, brooklynmuseum.org

COST $8 donation

It's one of the city's gems. While it grabbed attention a decade or so ago with its exhibit of a dung-festooned Madonna, the museum's permanent collections, particularly Judy Chicago's famous "Dinner Party," draw steady crowds.