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Things to Do in Brooklyn

Historically known for its multicultural neighborhoods and working-class roots, the New York City borough of Brooklyn has become in recent years the epitome of hip. The city's most populous borough, Brooklyn draws both locals and visitors with its food (particularly pizza), art spaces, brownstones, parks, and views of Manhattan.

The Basics
Lying just across the East River from Manhattan, Brooklyn is home to attractions like Coney Island, Prospect Park, Barclays Center, the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Heights Promenade, and, of course, the Brooklyn Bridge. Popular Brooklyn neighborhoods for exploring include trendy Williamsburg and Bushwick; the former warehouse district of DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass); Park Slope with its brownstones, restaurants, and shops; and Flatbush, home to the 1920s-era Kings Theatre. Walking tours and food tours offer a relaxing way to see the area with insight from a guide about Brooklyn's history, gentrification, and top spots.
Things to Know Before You Go
  • The Brooklyn Bridge spans about 6,000 feet (1,830 meters), and the walk across from Manhattan takes about 20 minutes.
  • For a shot of Brooklyn's most popular photo op—a slice of the Manhattan Bridge between red-bricked buildings—head to the intersection of Washington and Water streets in DUMBO.
  • Top views of the Lower Manhattan skyline can be seen from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.

How to Get There
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is a must, at least one way. Public transport options include several New York City subway lines, MTA bus lines, and the NYC Ferry on the South Brooklyn or East River routes. Alternatively, hop-on hop-off tours provide easy transportation between Manhattan and Brooklyn, where you can hop off at the bus stops that interest you.

When to Get There
Avoid traveling between boroughs during morning and evening rush hours unless you want to fight commuters for a spot on the subway. Otherwise, Brooklyn is great at any time. Go during the day if you're interested in browsing shops, relaxing over coffee, comparing pizza slices for lunch, or walking across the bridge. For live music in Williamsburg or a romantic stroll along the water, visit at night.

Parks in Brooklyn
Near the center of Brooklyn, Prospect Park is the borough's heart, with Park Slope on one side and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden on another. Locals head here to picnic, play sports, and relax by the Boathouse. Fort Greene Park is known for its Revolutionary War history, while Brooklyn Bridge Park provides waterfront green space, gardens, and a bike path. For retro fun, visit Luna Park at Coney Island and take a ride on the 1927 Coney Island Cyclone wooden roller coaster.
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Williamsburg
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36 Tours and Activities

Well-known as the hipster-hub of Brooklyn, Williamsburg is full of creative types and indie venues. It’s safest and most vibrant areas lie near the L train stops, with the main street of the neighborhood being Bedford Avenue and having shops, bars, restaurants, galleries, performance spaces and museums extending out from there. It’s the type of neighborhood where you’ll forever be stumbling across unusual, eclectic and ironically hip spaces. For example, The Brooklyn Flea Market sells vintage clothes, antiques and a variety of artwork, while Buffalo Exchange allows you to buy and trade your clothing for trendy outfits and vintage duds. If you like music and performance, the Knitting Factory puts on concerts and comedy shows and offers old-school video games, cheap beer and quirky art. Artsy folk enjoy one of Williamsburg’s newest additions, Nitehawk Cinema, which shows independent films and serves fluffy homemade popcorn.

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Coney Island
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Located in southern Brooklyn, people head to Coney Island for its famous hot dogs, amusement park and popular beach and boardwalk. Coney Island has been attracting visitors since the 1830s -- especially Manhattan residents who thought it to be easily accessible but still far enough to be a getaway. The destination’s most notable feature is its many rides, circus sideshows and carnival games at Luna Park, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, Scream Zone, McCullough's Kiddie Park, Eldorado Bumper Cars & Arcade and Coney Island Arcade & Games.

The most iconic Coney Island ride is undoubtedly Luna Park’s Cyclone Rollercoaster, a wild wooden coaster so exciting Charles Lindbergh was quoted in Time Magazine as saying it was more thrilling than his first solo flight across the Atlantic. Along with adventurous rides, Coney Island also offers a boardwalk of shops and eateries along almost three miles of sand beach.

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Jacques Torres Chocolate
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Set in a converted brick warehouse in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood, this chocolate wonderland is the flagship of Jacques Torres’ mini-empire of treats. An Algerian-born French pâtissier whose resume includes New York’s famed Le Cirque, Torres not only makes his own dark- and milk-chocolates, he bakes his own croissants – which you can enjoy here at one of two highly coveted café tables.

Often referred to as “Mr. Chocolate,” Torres was of the first chocolatiers to use graphic prints on his confections, as well as unique flavors and ingredients like ancho chile and passion fruit. He creates Champagne-filled chocolate corks, menageries of chocolate animals, and his own signature chocolate lollipops, in addition to ice cream, cookies, and an enormous chocolate bar called the Big Daddy. His popularity has allowed him to open five other locations in Manhattan, including an outpost in Chelsea Market.

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Brooklyn Heights
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Known as the “first suburb of America,” Brooklyn Heights is a mere five minutes from Manhattan on the subway and maintains its unique character and historic charm in its fast-moving city. With rows of brownstones and mansions, tree-lined streets and perhaps the best possible views of the New York City skyline, it’s easy to see why Brooklyn Heights is a coveted neighborhood.

Stretching from Old Fulton Street near the Brooklyn Bridge south to Atlantic Avenue and east from the river to Court Street, the area is known for its classic architecture, restaurant variety and vibrant culture. There are also several historic churches to see throughout, while pedestrian-only Montague Street, which ends at the scenic Brooklyn Heights promenade, is a favorite for visitors and locals alike. A stroll along the East River waterfront is also a popular pastime and great for taking in the views of the Brooklyn Bridge and New York City.

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Dumbo
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Located in Brooklyn, Dumbo, or “Down Under The Manhattan Bridge,” is a small, artsy neighborhood offering clear views of Manhattan, the New York Harbor and Statue of Liberty, as well as creative galleries and quirky shops. For the best views from Dumbo, stroll down Front Street to snap memorable photos from different perspectives, or walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. To experience the neighborhood’s creative side, take in an innovative performance at St. Ann's Warehouse or walk down Front Street and browse the many art museums and galleries like the Dumbo Arts Center, the Nelson Hancock Gallery and 5+5 Gallery. For artsy eats, ReBar is an indie movie theater with an extensive food and drink menu, while the Archway Cafe is like an eatery and gallery in one.

To get to Dumbo there are various options. One scenic way, as mentioned above, is to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and follow the pedestrian path to Dumbo. Another option is to take the subway.

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More Things to Do in Brooklyn

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

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5 Tours and Activities
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Prospect Park

Prospect Park

9 Tours and Activities
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Brooklyn Brewery

Brooklyn Brewery

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8 Tours and Activities
While the first beer was brewed in Brooklyn in 1822, this homegrown brewery founded in 1988 by a couple of neighbors, led the charge towards a new trend in borough-local micro-brewing. While it began with just a single lager, Brooklyn Brewery’s lineup now includes a pilsner, an IPA, a brown ale, a few seasonal brews, and a number of rotating small-batch brews. These days, the Brooklyn Brewery label (designed by graphic artist Milton Glaser of “I <3 New York” fame) is ubiquitous in the pubs, tavern and markets of New York City. Due to Brooklyn zoning laws, neighbors and home-brewing enthusiasts Steve Hindy and Tom Potter originally had to open their operations in Utica, New York, but were finally able to move to their present Williamsburg digs in 1996. Garrett Oliver, Hindy and Potter’s first apprentice, has been their brewmaster since 1993 and is now one of the most famous faces in the beer industry.
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Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

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Sunset Park

Sunset Park

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Now home to Brooklyn’s Chinatown, this historic area is bordered by four neighborhoods: Greenwood Heights (north), Borough Park (east), Bay Ridge (south), and Upper New York Bay (west).

Originally a European immigrant community that grew up around the Bush Terminal, the largest shipping, warehousing and manufacturing complex in the U.S., and later the Brooklyn Army Terminal, Sunset Park experienced its greatest boom between 1895 and the end of World War II. The building of shipping and trucking facilities in nearby New Jersey gave rise to suburban sprawl, and many of Sunset Park’s European immigrants left the area in the 1950s and early ‘60s in pursuit of employment.

The area’s empty rowhouses lost value, creating real estate opportunities for new immigrants from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Mexico. These immigrants brought a vibrant mix of Latin shops, design and flavors to the area, some of which still remains today.

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Artists & Fleas

Artists & Fleas

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Domino Park

Domino Park

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Carroll Gardens

Carroll Gardens

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A gracefully gentrified neighborhood in South Brooklyn, Carroll Gardens was originally considered part of more working-class Red Hook, just a few blocks to the south across the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. First settled by Dutch farmers, then Irish, Italian and Norwegian merchants, and now a combination of French immigrants, American yuppies and aging couples, this evolving area retains traces of all its past inhabitants. Most renowned for what it has preserved, Carroll Gardens today is increasingly full of independent-owned cafes, boutiques and antique stores, most set along Smith Street.

Named for Charles Carroll, a Revolutionary War hero and senator from Maryland and the only Roman Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, the neighborhood is centered on tree-lined Carroll Park. Around and near the park is the Carroll Gardens Historic District, comprised of 19th-century brownstones with elaborate gardens out front.

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Brooklyn Navy Yard

Brooklyn Navy Yard

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Set on the Brooklyn shore of the East River’s Wallabout Bay, directly between the Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges, this shipyard was once America’s largest. Utilized by the U.S. Navy since 1801, it saw the building of some of the country’s most renowned fighting ships, including the USS Maine and USS Missouri. Remaining attractions within the Yard include a 24-acre Naval hospital campus and a dry dock that pre-dates the Civil War and is still in use for ship repair today.

The Navy Yard reached its peak of operations during World War II, when 70,000 employees worked here around the clock. After a period of decline in production, the shipyard was decommissioned in 1966 and a few years later the entire yard was purchased by the City of New York.

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Flatbush Avenue

Flatbush Avenue

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