Right across the bridge from the bustling island of Manhattan sits Brooklyn, a diverse and eccentric borough home to tons of hip culture and things to do! From art under the Brooklyn Bridge to fine dining in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is home to many hidden gems and attractions that make up the full NYC experience! To embark on the best tour throughout Kings County, these are the best things to do in Brooklyn, whether you’re visiting or simply a local!
1. Explore the Brooklyn Botanical Garden
Among the “Concrete Jungle” lies some of the most beautiful greenery at the 52 acre Brooklyn Botanical Garden! The urban garden “connects people to the world of plants,” allowing visitors to get up close and personal with stunning florals. You can spend hours here…walking through their themed gardens, gazing at the Japanese pond, and admiring the seasonal floral displays. Not to mention there are events, seasonal workshops and activities, plus more! See what’s happening at Brooklyn Botanical Garden here.
2. Walk around DUMBO
DUMBO has become one of Brooklyn’s most prized neighborhoods in recent years, and for good reason. You can spend an entire day in the area, walking around the cobblestone streets. It’s home to plenty of warehouses turned into boutiques, restaurants, and cafes. As for things to do, we recommend strolling through Brooklyn Bridge Park, taking in art at the DUMBO Walls, riding Jane’s Carousel, and shopping at Brooklyn Flea. See our more extensive guide to DUMBO here.
3. Stroll through the Brooklyn Museum
The Brooklyn Museum is NYC’s 2nd largest museum, and is home to 500,000 objects and some of the coolest exhibitions around. On any given day you can roam through their vast collection of Egyptian relics, contemporary art, and American paintings…or check out one of their special exhibits which has included [trackLink link_url=”https://secretnyc.co/spike-lee-brooklyn-museum/”]Spike Lee[/trackLink], Virgil Abloh, Claude Monet, and many over recent years. See what’s on at Brooklyn Museum here.
4. Spend the day in Prospect Park
Prospect Park in Brooklyn is hands down one of the best parks in NYC, and there’s always so much to do no matter what time of year. The 526 acre green area is home to plenty of space to hang out, walk your dog, barbecue, fish, hike, bike, and just about anything you wish! Plus, there’s also the Prospect Park Zoo, an ice rink in the winter (LeFrak Center), a bandshell in the summer, and all sorts of events set up through the Prospect Park Alliance! See everything that’s happening here.
5. Admire the Brooklyn Bridge
One of our favorite free things to do in NYC is taking a stroll across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge! The bridge, which dates all the way back to 1883 is complete with a pedestrian-only top level where you can admire at the Manhattan skyline and East River views for as long as you want! The walk is a little over a mile each way so keep that in mind!
6. Have a pint at Brooklyn Brewery
Thirsty for a beer? Head to Brooklyn Brewery in Williamsburg who’s been serving up for over 30 years! They serve up local brews that are created in-house alongside a laid-back atmosphere which is great for passing time with friends. Or if you have a little more time, book one of their brewery tours that brings you behind the scenes and through the process of making their drinks! Learn more about Brooklyn Brewery here.
7. Catch a game at Barclays Center
The Barclays Center is Brooklyn’s world class arena where on any given night, you can find the Brooklyn Nets hoopin’ it up or your favorite artist playing a sold out concert! It sits right in the revitalized neighborhood of Atlantic Yards, which is only a stone’s throw away from Park Slope and Prospect Heights. See all events happening at The Barclays Center here.
8. Snap a photo along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade
Prepare to witness arguably one of the best views of Lower Manhattan on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, a .3 mile walkway that runs right along the East River. You can People-watch on a bench, bike along and enjoy the view, or simply have that “Big Apple realization moment” of seeing it all before your eyes! There’s also some history you can scout too…like where Cher stood in the film “Moonstruck” and the spot where George Washington allegedly met up his troops during the 1776 Battle of Brooklyn.
9. Get historical at New York Transit Museum
Public transportation has always been an important part of NYC’s history, and you can get up close and personal with it at the New York Transit Museum. This attraction brings the New York City Subway, bus, and commuter rail systems to life, showcasing historical artifacts, a rotating selection of twenty vintage subway and elevated cars dating back to 1907, plus a whole lot more! The best part? The museum itself is located in an old subway stop! Learn more about the New York Transit Museum here.
10. Hunt for treasures at Brooklyn Flea Market
One of the best warm weather activities in Brooklyn is stopping by the Brooklyn Flea Market, where you can shop tons of vendors selling furniture, vintage clothing, collectibles and antiques, jewelry, art, and crafts by local artisans and designers, plus delicious fresh food! It runs on summer weekends in DUMBO, as well as operates the famous Smorgasburg food market which happens in Williamsburg and Prospect Park! Learn more about Brooklyn Flea here.
11. Admire street art in Bushwick
One of Brooklyn’s up and coming neighborhoods Bushwick is full of culture and is a hotbed for creatives, artists, and musicians. Particularly the Bushwick Art Collective’s array of street art, graffiti, and murals that will blow your mind. See all of our favorite street art spots here.
12. Take a trip to Coney Island
Get nostalgic at Coney Island, which is home to the iconic boardwalk, Luna Park Amusement Park, and the historic Cyclone roller coaster. In the summer, it’s the perfect beachfront getaway…a place where you an chow down hot dogs at the original Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs stand, and in the winter you can still have fun thanks to the New York Aquarium, Coney Island Art Walls, and more. Learn more about Coney Island plus upcoming events here.
13. Shop and dine in Industry City
This hoppin’ area of Brooklyn is a “one-stop destination of experiences, eateries, events and everything in between.” The campus made up of 16 buildings on 35 acres of repurposed industrial space is home to waterfront green spaces, immersive retail, and public art installations that you can spend hours exploring! It’s one of our favorite places to eat, shop, and be merry. Learn more about Industry City and see what’s on here.
14. Play at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum
For our Brooklyn explorers with kids, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum is one of the best family-friendly attractions in NYC. Considering this was the first ever children’s museum dating back to 1899, there’s a reason why we recommend it for its exhibits, programs, movies, and events! With over 300,000 children and caregivers visiting a year, their activities rooted in visual arts, music and performance, natural science, and world cultures are so much fun. See what’s on at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum here.
15. Grab a slice at L&B Spumoni Gardens
If you’re indulging in an NYC pizza tour (or you’re just looking for the best slice), our vote goes to L&B Spumoni Gardens located in the Gravesend neighborhood of Brooklyn! Their iconic Sicilian square slice is worth the travel to the south Brooklyn location, and is a short distance from the beaches in the summer.