Just over the river from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, Brooklyn is a pretty epic neighbourhood to explore whilst in New York City. With museums, flea markets, parks and cool bars, it’s an area that’s well worth visiting whilst visiting the city; after all, the Big Apple isn’t just about Manhattan. So, to help you find the best things to do in Brooklyn, I wanted to share some of our total favourite spots that you can’t miss.
After visiting all the best places in New York City and filling our tummies at all the tastiest New York doughnut spots (for research purposes, of course 😜), we set our sites on exploring the best areas in New York to explore. We’ve been to New York countless times (and always love it)!
Plus, it’s a constantly changing neighbourhood that always has something new going on.
Now, my first love of Brooklyn came when studying at University. We had an 8-day long field trip to New York and I was assigned Brooklyn as my ‘research project’. Instantly, I fell in love! It’s got a really cool (almost unpretentious) vibe that feels more relaxed than Manhattan, without having to forgo any of the excitement.
After that field trip, I’ve returned to Brooklyn on every trip to New York!
This is why I wanted to show you my favourite and easily the best things to do in Brooklyn when you head to New York. Take a look below and have the best trip!
1.) Walk the Brooklyn Bridge
This has almost become a staple for me when visiting New York City. It doesn’t matter what neighbourhood I visit, I have to walk across the river to Dumbo or Lower Manhattan. It’s almost like our own little ritual now!
You see, the Brooklyn Bridge connects Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn Heights (facing Manhattan) that’s always good on a sunny day.
Here, you can stroll over the Brooklyn Bridge, hire a bicycle or skate (if you’ve brought your rollerskates) and see the amazing views along the way. The view from the bridge is spectacular.
To this day, it’s still one of my favourite viewpoints in New York and well worth the stroll. To avoid most of the crowds, head across at first light. Though I can’t say the crowds ever bother me here, New York is all about its people!
Oh, and don’t forget to check out all the incredible Brooklyn tours and tickets to secure before you visit (below). You want to make sure you secure your entry to all the spots before they get booked up.
2.) Explore History At Brooklyn Museum
If you are a history lover, then you’ll easily find the Brooklyn Museum as one of the best things to do in Brooklyn.
Inside the Brooklyn Museum, you’ve got a whopping space of 560,000-square-foot that’s filled with over one millions pieces of art and artefacts. Inside, you can see historical artwork of Egyptian treasures, alongside; African, European, Japanese, Oceanic art.
Give yourself a good few hours to stroll around, it’s huge! Oh, also, if you’re blessed with a sunny day, head around the Brooklyn Botanic Garden that’s right outside – you might even catch the cherry blossom.
For some good coffee and bagels, head to Lincoln Station who brew up the best cup of joe!
3.) Search for treasure at Brooklyn Flea
Brooklyn Flea is one of the most famous markets to visit during your trip to Brooklyn! In fact, it’s one of our favourites in all of New York.
Open on the weekends, you’ll find Brooklyn Flea in Dumbo (but they also host another flea market in Chelsea, too.
Here, you’ll find every type of vintage goodie you can think of! From historical memorabilia, and kawaii cuteness to vendors selling street food; it’s a market that has it all. Not only that, with all the vintage clothes and accessories; it’s a place to kit yourself out with some epic pre-loved or locally made items.
Just be aware, it’s not the kind of market you go for a bargain! It can be pricier than most flea markets.
4.) Explore Dumbo
Probably your first port-of-call after walking the Brooklyn Bridge, Dumbo is an area that’s filled with little restaurants, flea markets (that I already mentioned) and a heap of bars and boutiques.
Also, if you want that iconic shot of the Manhattan Bridge, head to this point to grab it; it’s right in Dumbo. It’s one of the best things to do in Brooklyn if you’re looking for that iconic shot.
Fancy a ride? Head to Jane’s Carousel that’s just across from Empire Fulton Ferry Park. Pretty iconic, it’s an all-weather, traditional carousel that’s pretty cute.
For cocktails and a delicious dinner, visit Atrium Dumbo. Just be sure to reserve a table, this place fills up fast.
5.) Stroll the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Bored from heavy crowds?
Well, you can hit the beautiful Brooklyn Botanic Garden that, as I said, is right next to the Brooklyn Museum. It’s one of the best things to do in Brooklyn if you want some chill time, especially as the gardens are pretty vast.
The Botanic Garden features thousands of types of flora and the Sakura Matsuri Festival in the spring, where thousands of locals and visitors head to see the blooming Cherry Esplanade. Totally gorgeous.
6.) Visit Prospect Park
Another spot within easy reach of the Brooklyn Museum, Prospect Park is a lovely place for both the locals and the visitors to spend a chilled afternoon.
Here, you can explore the Ravine forest or picnic on the Long Meadow and Nethermead, too. After a long, leisurely, stroll head over to Olmsted for lunch; their sizzling scallops are everything!
7.) Spend a night in Williamsburg
Beyond Dumbo and the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Williamsburg feels a lot like Shoreditch in London. With a young vibe, it’s the kind of place that’s great for an evening out.
Here, you can head to some of the rooftop bars and find some of the best, award-winning, restaurants Brooklyn has to offer.
For watering holes, head over to Midnights for their inventive cocktails, visit the Radegast Hall & Biergarten for your own little Oktoberfest or pop into Westlight for their rooftop bar and seasonal tipples.
8.) Scream at Coney Island
Possibly the most iconic fairground in all of New York, Coney Island is a throwback to traditional seaside fairgrounds, beaches and taffy.
First, stop has to be the historic Luna Park; ride the Ferris wheel, hop on the coasters and scream your heart out.
Afterwards, take a stroll on the famous boardwalk and grab a hot dog from Nathan’s Famous for one of their yummy chilli cheese dogs! So good.
If that’s not your style, head to Paul’s Daughter on the boardwalk itself. Their lobster rolls are so good and filled to the brim!
Oh, and if you’re travelling from Manhattan, book a full-day NYC neighbourhood and Coney Island tour that’s so much fun.
9.) Grab a bite at DeKalb Market Hall
If you are a food lover then you must visit DeKalb Market Hall. It’s one heck of a delicious place that’s easier to find if you just follow your nose through the streets of Brooklyn! 😉
Jokes aside, it’s a spot you really shouldn’t miss if you’re a total foodie like us! Inside, you’ve got heaps of food vendors with different cuisines from all over the world; it’s incredible.
Here, you can grab something from Katz’s Delicatessen’s, the best gelato from Ample Hills Creamery and grab a tipple at the Brooklyn Wine Cellar. Trust me, you’ll leave this spot totally stuffed.
10.) Head to the Brooklyn Academy of Music
The Brooklyn Academy of Music is a multi-arts centre where you can see live theatre, dance, stand up comedy events, plays, opera, and movies to boot! Just be sure to check their program of events before getting to the venue; this way you can secure the tickets and see exactly what you’ll love.
Also, every year during fall occurs the annual world-renowned Next Wave Festival which features multimedia, multigenre art. It really is one of the best things to do in Brooklyn when you visit.
11.) Explore Brooklyn’s Children Museum
Brooklyn’s children museum was the country’s first museum specifically made for children! Yup, you read that right!
Here, you can find a unique collection of around 30,000 objects, including musical instruments, masks, dolls, and fossils. It’s a great place for kids to have fun and enjoy.
Though, if you’re not travelling with family, you might wanna give this a miss and head over to the New York Transit Museum instead.
12.) Stroll through Green-Wood Cemetery
Sounds pretty macabre, right?
It’s not often I’d say to visit a cemetery when exploring the neighbourhood but the grounds and iconic mausoleums are something to be seen here. It kind of reminds me of a similar site in Milan (Italy) which has the grandest statues to see.
Spread across 478 acres and features Victorian mausoleums, cherubs and gargoyles, monuments, and a variety of memorials and tombstones of famous wealthy New Yorkers.
Doesn’t sound like your thing? Give it a miss and head to some more of the best things to do in Brooklyn that I mentioned.
Oh, afterwards, pop over to Giovanni’s Brooklyn Eats for their incredible meatballs which are so good. I wanted doubles!