Located right across the river from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, Brooklyn is a pretty epic neighborhood to explore in New York City. With museums, flea markets, parks, and cool bars, it’s an area well worth visiting when visiting the city. After all, the Big Apple isn’t just about Manhattan. To help you find the best things to do in Brooklyn, I wanted to introduce you to some of our favorite places not to be missed.
After visiting the best places in New York City and filling our bellies on the tastiest New York donut spots (for research purposes of course 😜), we’ve geared our locations to scouting the best areas in New York to explore . We have been to New York countless times (and always love it)!
Plus, it’s an ever-changing neighborhood with always something new going on.
Now my first love for Brooklyn came while I was studying at university. We had an eight day field trip to New York and I was assigned Brooklyn as my “research project”. I fell in love immediately! It has a really cool (almost unpretentious) vibe that feels more relaxed than Manhattan without sacrificing the excitement.
After this excursion, I’ve come back to Brooklyn on every trip to New York!
That’s why I wanted to show you my favorite and simply the best things to do in Brooklyn when you travel 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 I visit New York City. It doesn’t matter which neighborhood 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 (with a view of Manhattan), which is always good on a sunny day.
Here you You can stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge, rent a bike or skate (if you’ve brought your roller skates), and take in the breathtaking views along the way. The view from the bridge is spectacular.
To date, it’s one of my favorite New York locations and well worth a walk. To avoid most of the crowds, walk over at the first light. While I can’t say the crowd here ever bothers me, New York is all about its people!
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2.) Discover history at the Brooklyn Museum
If you are a history buff then you will easily find the Brooklyn Museum as one of the best things to do in Brooklyn.
There’s a lot of space in the Brooklyn Museum 560,000 square feet filled with over a million works of art and artifacts. In you can see historical works of art of Egyptian treasures next door; African, European, Japanese, Oceanic art.
Give yourself a few hours to stroll around, it’s huge! If you’re blessed with a sunny day, you can explore the Brooklyn Botanic Garden right outside your door – you might even catch the cherry blossom.
For good coffee and bagels, head to Lincoln Station, which makes the best cup of joe!
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3.) Search for treasure at Brooklyn Flea
Brooklyn Flea is one of the most iconic markets to visit during your trip to Brooklyn! In fact, it’s one of our favorites in all of New York.
Open on the weekends, Brooklyn Flea can be found in Dumbo (but there is another flea market in Chelsea too.
You can find every type of vintage goodie you can think of here! From historical memorabilia to 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 where you can equip yourself with epic, loved or locally made items.
Just be aware, it’s not the kind of market that you can get a bargain on! It can be more expensive than most flea markets.
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4.) Explore Dumbo
Dumbo is likely your first stop after walking the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s an area full of small restaurants, flea markets (which I mentioned earlier), and loads of bars and boutiques.
If you want to see this iconic shot of the Manhattan Bridge, go to this point to capture it. It’s right in Dumbo. It’s one of the best things to do in Brooklyn while looking for this iconic shot.
When you get hungry, head to Westville, which we loved for lunch, or Juliana’s for their legendary pizzas. The # 1 pizza is delicious too (with Oregon white truffles).
Do you fancy a ride? Visit Jane’s Carousel just across from Empire Fulton Ferry Park. Pretty iconic, it’s a traditional all weather carousel that is pretty cute.
For cocktails and a delicious dinner, head to Atrium Dumbo. Just reserve a table, this space fills up quickly.
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5.) Stroll through the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Bored of big crowds?
Well, you can visit the beautiful Brooklyn Botanic Garden which, as I said, is right next to the Brooklyn Museum. It’s one of the best things to do in Brooklyn if you want to chill out a bit, especially since the gardens are quite extensive.
The Botanical Garden features thousands of species of flora and the Sakura Matsuri Festival in spring where thousands of locals and visitors visit the blooming Cherry Esplanade. Totally beautiful.
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6.) Visit Prospect Park
Prospect Park is another place that is easily accessible from the Brooklyn Museum. It’s a nice place for both locals and visitors to spend a lazy afternoon.
Here you can Explore the canyon forest or picnic on Long Meadow and Nethermead. After a long, leisurely stroll, head to Olmsted for lunch. Your sizzling scallops are everything!
7.) Spend a night in Williamsburg
In addition to Dumbo and the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Williamsburg feels very similar to Shoreditch in London. With a young atmosphere, it is a great place for an evening out.
Here you can visit some of the rooftop bars and find some of the best, award-winning restaurants in Brooklyn.
If you want watering holes head to Midnights for their imaginative cocktails, head to the Radegast Hall & Beer Garden for your own little Oktoberfest, or head to Westlight for their rooftop bar and seasonal tips.
8.) Coney Island scream
Possibly the most iconic fairground in all of New York City, Coney Island is a throwback to traditional fairgrounds, beaches and seaside taffies.
The first stop must be the historic Luna Park; Ride the Ferris wheel, step on the coasters and scream your heart out.
Then, take a stroll down the famous boardwalk and grab a Nathan’s Famous hot dog for one of their yummy chilli cheese dogs! So good.
If that’s not your style, go see Paul’s daughter on the boardwalk. Their lobster rolls are so good and filled to the brim!
9.) Have a bite to eat at DeKalb Market Hall
If you are a food lover you must visit DeKalb Market Hall. It’s a hell of a tasty place, easier to find if you just follow your nose through the streets of Brooklyn! 😉
Jokes aside, it’s a place really not to be missed if you’re a total foodie like us! You have loads inside Grocery vendors with different cuisines from around the world; it’s incredible.
Here you can sample some of Katz’s Delicatessen’s, the best ice cream from Ample Hills Creamery, and have a sip at the Brooklyn Wine Cellar. Trust me you will leave this place totally crammed.
10.) Visit the Brooklyn Academy of Music
The Brooklyn Academy of Music is a multi-arts hub where you can see live theater, dance, stand-up comedy events, plays, operas, and films! Be sure to check the event schedule before heading to the venue. That way you can secure the tickets and see exactly what you are going to love.
Also occurs every fall the annual world-renowned Next Wave Festival, which features multi-genre multimedia art. It really is one of the best things to do in Brooklyn when visiting.
11.) Explore Brooklyn’s Children’s Museum
Brooklyn’s Children’s Museum was the first museum in the country made specifically for children! Yes, you read that right!
Here you will 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 themselves.
If you’re not traveling with the family, you might want to miss this out and go to the New York Transit Museum instead.
12.) Stroll through Green-Wood Cemetery
Sounds pretty macabre, doesn’t it?
It’s not often that I visit a cemetery while exploring the neighborhood, but the grounds and famous mausoleums can be seen here. It kind of reminds me of a similar site in Milan (Italy) that has the most magnificent statues on display.
Spread Victorian mausoleums, angels and gargoyles, monuments, and a variety of memorials and tombstones of famous wealthy New Yorkers are found in an area of 478 acres.
Doesn’t sound like your thing? Give it a try and check out some of the best things to do in Brooklyn that I mentioned.
Oh, after that head over to Giovanni’s Brooklyn Eats for their amazing meatballs that are so good. I wanted doubles!
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24 Best Things to Do in New York