Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Brooklyn, NYC

  • Published 2022/06/18

Brooklyn is one of the five boroughs of New York City.

It is the City’s most populous borough, with 2,736,074 residents as of 2020.

The name ‘Brooklyn’ originates from the Dutch Village named “Breukelen” in the Netherlands.

While it contrasts with the wealthy Upper East Side of Manhattan, there are tons of things to explore in this brownstone beauty.

Here are the best things to do in Brooklyn, NYC:

Capture Moments at the Iconic Brooklyn Bridge

Night lights of Brooklyn Bridge

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In 1869, German engineer Johann Roebling built the Brooklyn Bridge.

This iconic wire-rope suspension bridge links Brooklyn to Manhattan.

Stretching over 6,000 feet, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world upon its completion in 1883.

Did you know that the dark chambers under the bridge were private wine cellars?

View of the sunset from Brooklyn Bridge

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These cellars are just below the ramps that lead up to the anchorages on both sides of the bridge.

While these secret compartments are now closed, the bridge remains a significant attraction.

Do you want to capture your own classic Brooklyn Bridge photos? Make sure to get close to the center pylons.

You can also head to the nearby Pebble Beach and capture the perfect shot of the entire bridge against the breathtaking Manhattan skyline.

Daytime view of Brooklyn Bridge

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Shop, Dine and Stroll at DUMBO

Exterior of a building at DUMBO

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No, this is not the famous baby elephant.

DUMBO is an acronym for “Down under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.”

The Brooklyn Bridge sits to the west of this buzzing hub for everything art, business, and leisure, while the Vinegar Hill is to the east.

Aside from its famous cobblestone streets, DUMBO is a massive outdoor gallery on its own.

Murals of vivid colors and graphic shapes sprawl across the area’s different entry points.

Each mural celebrates a movement close to the heart of its respective artist.

People hanging out under the manhattan bridge at DUMBO

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These artists include Yuko Shimizu, Shepard Faire & Stefan Sagmeister.

DUMBO is also the Pizza Capital of Brooklyn.

Find classic coal brick-oven pizzas from historic pizzerias like Grimaldi’s, which has baked pizzas for over three decades.

The neighborhood is also home to the century-old Jane’s Carousel, a classic three-row machine made of 48 carved wooden horses.

Jane's carousel at DUMBO

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In 1922, this carousel first appeared in Ohio’s Idora Park.

After purchasing it in 1984, Jane Walentas restored it by hand-scraping each horse to reveal its original color and elegant wood carvings.

It opened to the public in September 2011 in a pavilion at the Empire Fulton Ferry section of Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Explore Art & History at Brooklyn Museum

Exterior of the Brooklyn Museum

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Brooklyn Museum is the third-largest museum in New York City.

Currently, it hosts a 500,000-piece art collection.

You can explore various art from the Americas, Africa, Pacific Islands, Europe, and Asia.

You can also check out Islamic art.

Egyptian exhibit in Brooklyn Museum

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It also has a notable collection of ancient Egyptian art deemed one of the largest and finest in the United States.

Brooklyn Museum also supports archaeological excavations in Egypt, Nubia, and Karnak.

Their efforts paved the way for the Egyptian art collection covering the Predynastic Period to the Byzantine eras.

Aside from old pieces, you can also find contemporary art, focusing on Western Art from 1945 to the present, plus thousands of other decorative arts.

People inside the Brooklyn Museum

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Are you a shutterbug?

Don’t fret. The museum is also jam-packed with an evocative photography collection.

It features the notable works of Rudy Burckhardt, Edward Weston and Manuel Alvarez.

The collection focuses on street photography, abstracts, portraits, landscapes, and conceptual photography.

All tickets are for a time entry of 15 minutes.

You can buy only a limited number of tickets for same-day purchases.

Ignite Your Love for Nature at Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Colorful tulips in front of Brooklyn Botanic Garden's conservatory

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The Botanic Garden is an urban botanic garden adjacent to the Brooklyn Museum.

This 52-acre garden has three public entrances at Eastern Parkway, Flatbush Avenue, and Washington Avenue.

In 1910, the botanist Charles Stuart Gager founded the garden, which opened in 1911.

Its first display was native plants.

Today, it is one of the most beautiful parks in New York City.

A bloom calendar is your guide for what’s currently in bloom in these “gardens within the Garden.”

Pathway lined with cherry blossom trees at Brooklyn Botanic Garden

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Among the 12,000 flowering plants you can enjoy here are witch hazels, daffodils, cherry trees, tulips, and azaleas.

Find these plants in 31 different gardens, including a Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden.

It’s one of the oldest and most visited Japanese-inspired parks outside of Japan.

While picnicking is prohibited, you can still enjoy modern vegetarian cuisine at Yellow Magnolia Café, plus other snacks and drinks at their Coffee Bar.

A garden is also an excellent place for a wildlife walk.

See birds, bees, butterflies and rabbits.

Present your museum and garden pass receipt for same-day admission to the Garden for tickets.

Japanese garden of Brooklyn Botanic Garden

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Discover Artisanal Wines at Brooklyn Winery

Brooklyn Winery, set in the heart of Williamsburg, is a boutique urban winery known for its premium small-batch wines.

Its winemaker, Conor McCormac, sources grapes from various vineyards across the United States to showcase the unique profiles of each region.

Locals and tourists love this 8,000-square-foot winery for its elegant, romantic and urban-vintage interiors.

Their beautiful barn wood walls, glass roof, vintage wooden furniture and zinc-topped wine bar will add a unique touch to your special events.

Brooklyn Winery can accommodate up to 300 standing guests or 165 seated visitors.

The best part is you can tour the winery while savoring their artisanal wines and exquisite cuisine.

Brooklyn Winery is also open for selected wine bar hours weekly if you want to put your feet up.

Enjoy the Stunning Manhattan Skyline at Marsha P. Johnson State Park

People having a picnic on the grounds of Marsha P. Johnson State Park

The original uploader was MMZach at English Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Previously known as “East River State Park,” the Marsha P. Johnson State Park is an 11-acre park in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

It was renamed in honor of Marsha P. Johnson, a key figure in the LGBTQ liberation movement and Stonewall Uprising.

It’s the first New York state park named after a gay liberation activist.

The vast green space is famous for providing visitors with a spectacular view of the Manhattan skyline.

Bring your family for a picnic!

Besides sightseeing, the park also offers themed activities, such as a week-long Bird Walk.

This activity gives you a chance to learn the basics of bird identification.

These themed activities vary regularly.

Discover Glass Art at Urban Glass

Founded in 1977, Urban Glass in New York City’s largest public access glass facility.

This 17,000-square-feet studio aims to advance the use of glass as a creative medium.

Join classes in glassblowing, flame work, mosaics, kiln work and neon.

Do you want to take a peek at their studios?

Join Open Glass’ Open Studios summer program, where you can witness professional glassblowers make stunning glass art for free.

You can also learn other exciting projects like bead-making, which involves making glass rods into wearables for a reasonable fee.

Play and Connect at the Old Stone House of Brooklyn

Exterior of the Old Stone House in Brooklyn

Jim alfano, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

They say that old buildings best reflect a city’s cultural history.

The Old Stone House played a significant role in the 1776 Battle of Brooklyn.

It is a reconstruction of the historic Vechte-Cortelyou House, made with solid stone walls and high brick gables.

Today, it’s an educational hub where students and tourists learn about Brooklyn’s history.

In a self-paced exhibit, you can explore the stories of the Kieft War and the Battle of Brooklyn across ten themed areas inside this iconic home.

You can also attend other events such as local theater performances, environmental workshops, and other seasonal programs for individuals and families.

They also host a yearlong Sunday Farmer’s Market.

Admire the Amazing Views from Brooklyn Bridge Park

The grounds of the beautiful Brooklyn Bridge Park

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A trip to Brooklyn is incomplete without stopping by the Brooklyn Bridge Park.

This 34-hectare waterfront park has a little bit of everything.

See elegant landscapes, a panoramic view of the Lower Manhattan skyline, and an expansive roster of restaurants & cafes.

The park is divided into eleven portions: Brooklyn Bridge Plaza, Empire Fulton Ferry, Main Street, John Street, and Piers 1 through 6.

Each portion offers its version of coziness for visitors of all ages.

Main Street, for example, offers an expanded and elevated lawn and a nautical-themed playground.

Aerial view of the Brooklyn Bridge Park

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Besides Pebble Beach, Main Street is also known for ‘The Cliffs,’ one of the largest outdoor bouldering areas in North America.

There are also tons of family-friendly activities you can do at Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Try kayaking, handball, and roller skating.

“Black Atlantic” is also a new addition to the park’s existing exhibitions.

It is a group show featuring monumental sculptures reflecting the African diaspora in America.

Drop by the park and witness each piece placed strategically from Piers 1 through 3.

A soccer match at Brooklyn Bridge Park

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Embark on the Ultimate Gastronomic Adventure at Smorgasburg

A vendor cooking ribs at Smorgasburg

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A trip to Brooklyn is also incomplete without experiencing a wild food venture.

The best way to do this is at Smorgasburg, the largest weekly outdoor food bazaar in the United States.

Dubbed “The Woodstock of Eating,” Smorgasburg has attracted thousands of people every weekend since 2011.

People eating at Smorgasburg

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It has two locations in Brooklyn, one at Marsha P. Johnson State Park and another in Prospect Park.

From the fluffiest pancakes to the freshest sushi rolls, there’s nothing that won’t stimulate your appetite at Smorgasburg.

Visit them today with your friends and loved ones!

Tasty-looking burgers at Smorgasburg

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Unleash Your Inner Artist at the Bushwick Collective

A street artist painting a mural at Bushwick Collective

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Bushwick Collective sprung from a powerful desire to heal.

Its founder, Joseph Ficalora, figured that the best way to recover from the tragic death of his father was through art.

In 2011, together with artists from across the globe, Ficalora launched Bushwick Collective.

It’s a transformative Graffiti and Street Art open gallery.

A mural at Bushwick Collective

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Over the years, their murals have entirely transformed a rough industrial neighborhood into a vibrant and supportive community.

The range of art here includes ancient architectural elements, graffiti styles, lifelike images and abstract surrealist styles.

Do you want to unleash your inner artist?

Send samples of your recent work and your concept to their team to get a wall to paint on!

Colorful mural at Bushwick Collective

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Challenge Your Friends at Brooklyn Bowl

Entrance sign of Brooklyn Bowl

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They say it’s not how you bowl. It’s how you roll.

At Brooklyn Bowl, you can get a lucky strike, jam to the hippest music, and chow down a sumptuous meal.

Launched in 2009, Brooklyn Bowl is a bowling alley, music venue, and restaurant.

No wonder Rolling Stone named it “one of the most incredible places on earth.”

A band performing in Brooklyn Bowl

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This 2,000-square-foot space houses a 16-lane bowling alley and music floor.

Their bowling lanes operate on a first-come, first-serve basis, so book in advance.

Guests of all ages are welcome during their Family Bowl weekends.

Brooklyn Bowl is also open to special events, whether large or small.

Rap performance in Brooklyn Bowl

Steven Pisano from Brooklyn, NY, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Unwind at Prospect Park

Aerial view of Prospect Park

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Do you want to see dramatic landscapes? How about stunning vistas?

Prospect Park is a place where you can reflect on nature peacefully.

It is a 585-acre urban park next to the Brooklyn Museum and Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

The grounds of Prospect Park

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As the second-largest public park in Brooklyn, Prospect Park offers many things to see and do in this beautiful green space.

Its main attractions include a zoo, picnic house, villa, tennis center, and rink.

Their zoo is home to many animals, such as baboons, dingos and red pandas.

You can also enjoy animal feedings and various animal exhibits with your family.

A historic bridge at Prospect Park

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Final Thoughts

It’s no secret that Brooklyn is a perfect example of why New York City is America’s melting pot.

A trip to this Brownstone beauty evokes your deep love for history, art and culture.

Start planning your Brooklyn trip today!

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