Brooklyn is known as a hip and trendy borough in New York City that is filled with amazing food and art and celebrates diversity and creative ideas. Many first-time travelers get caught up in all the tourist attractions of Manhattan, but a trip over to Brooklyn is equally rewarding to experience the local vibe and find lots to see and do. Here are the best things to do when you visit Brooklyn.
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Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge
One of the structures that this borough is most famous for is the Brooklyn Bridge, and it’s fun to take a walk across it to really experience the architecture and atmosphere. This is a busy commute route for cars, but it’s also very iconic so it’s nice to walk or bike across it. The best time to avoid crowds and congestion is early in the morning.
Soak Up the Vibe in Williamsburg
Williamsburg is a popular Brooklyn neighborhood that has been a haven for artists and hipsters. It a mix of edgy and mainstream where you can find both chain stores and local mom-and-pop shops. Some of the many great restaurants in Williamsburg include Best Pizza, Kings County Imperial, and Bamonte’s Restaurant. There are lots of bakeries and cafes to check out here too, as well as vintage thrift stores, classic dive bars, and the famous Brooklyn Brewery that offers tours.
Art Galleries in DUMBO
Another part of Brooklyn that should be on your must-visit list is DUMBO. A neighborhood with a funny name, this part of town used to be industrial but is now very artsy and a great spot for foodies and high-rise apartments. Catch a neighborhood art show here and browse the interesting shops. DUMBO is just on the other side of the river from Lower Manhattan. Check out the DUMBO Walls that have interesting murals, the famous boxing gym of Gleason’s Gym on Water Street, and the upscale flea market of DUMBO Flea. Main Street Park, Pebble Beach, and the Brooklyn Historical Society are also local attractions to add to your itinerary when you’re in Dumbo.
Experience Coney Island
Coney Island is a New York treasure that has been enchanting visitors for generations. You can check out Luna Park at Coney Island, which is an amusement park with thrill rides, kid-friendly rides, and lots of adventures. The amusement park has revived Coney Island’s charm and brings in hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. There are also nice beaches here and events, such as concerts and a Mermaid parade. You’ll feel like you’re a world away from New York City when you escape to this fantasy land with its iconic boardwalk, an aquarium, and festive eats.
Eat Like a Local
Eating well is a big part of spending time in Brooklyn, so do yourself a favor and check out some of the local favorite spots. There are several restaurants under one roof at the Time Out Market in DUMBO. Popular spots include Archie’s in Bushwick for late-night pizza, pasta at Lillia in Williamsburg, and gastropub favorites at Spritzenhaus. Other options are Miss Ada in Fort Greene, Olmsted in Prospect Heights, and Tanoreen in Bay Ridge.
Walk Around Prospect Park
To get a dose of nature and relax for a bit during your day in Brooklyn, take a walk through scenic Prospect Park and enjoy the green space. There are lots of different landscapes here, including brooks, trees, glens, and statues in the garden. The park spans about 526 acres and is a great place for a picnic. The park offers ice skating in the winter, sports fields, a carousel, Audubon center, zoo, and playgrounds.
Browse a Local Market
Farmer’s markets are a way of life in Brooklyn, so try to visit one while you’re in town. It’s fun to check out Brooklyn Flea, which is a huge outdoor market that runs from April through November. Here you’ll find lots of different things to browse and buy, including locally made crafts and jewelry. There’s a food market here called Smorgasburg that features lots of vendors and delicious foods. Brooklyn Flea has DUMBO and Williamsburg locations. Also check out the Brooklyn Borough Hall Tuesday Greenmarket for produce, baked goods, and sustainable meat.
Learn at the Brooklyn Museum
To get your art fix, you can also stop by the Brooklyn Museum to browse the collections here. Here you can learn about art from different periods of American history, Native American art, Southwestern art, African art, European art, and more. This museum is great because it’s usually less crowded compared to the more famous museums in Manhattan but still has some incredible works to see. Daily public tours are free with admission and focus on various art themes.
See the Arch at Grand Army Plaza
Known as the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch, this iconic landmark is worth seeing in Brooklyn. It was built in the late-1800s and located in Grand Army Plaza. The arch measures 80 feet high by 80 feet wide and 50 feet in diameter. It features equestrian sculptures and statues that represent the spirit of the U.S. Army and Navy. Many people come here for photoshoots, and the Brooklyn Public Library is nearby.
Relax at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden was designed by the Olmsted brothers and spans about 50 acres in size. It has a large rose collection, a Japanese garden, and cherry blossoms in the springtime. This is a quiet oasis in Brooklyn that is near Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Museum. Also, don’t miss the Shakespeare garden, herb garden, and other themed areas of the park. Check the website’s event calendar to see what’s going on during your trip.