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Brooklyn is the most populous of the five New York boroughs, so it’s worth spending some time exploring the best Brooklyn neighborhoods.
This borough is full of beautiful pockets and communities where you can find lovely art, parks,n and landmarks, as well as enjoy a vibrant nightlife scene. There are so many things to do in Brooklyn, so whatever you’re into, you’ll find an area of Brooklyn that appeals to you.
In this guide, I’ll share the best parts of Brooklyn to help you figure out where to go and what to see. No matter who you’re traveling with, I have no doubt that you’ll find one or two neighborhoods in Brooklyn to explore during your trip!
1. DUMBO, the most scenic Brooklyn neighborhood
It wouldn’t be a visit to Brooklyn without going to DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). This is one of the coolest Brooklyn neighborhoods that’s full of trendy restaurants and shops. Here, you can try the pizza at Grimaldi’s and Juliana’s, amazing Mexican food at Gran Electrica, or comforting dishes made with seasonal ingredients at Vinegar Hill House.
DUMBO is super walkable, so take a stroll along the cobblestone streets and check out the boutiques, cafes, and industrial warehouses from the area’s past. If you’re visiting between April and December, I recommend stopping by the Brooklyn Flea market on Pearl Street for hidden treasures.
Also, don’t forget to stop by Washington Street between Front and Water Streets for an iconic photo op of the Manhattan Bridge. You should also check out the Brooklyn Bridge, one of the top things to see in NYC. Walk across the bridge or head to the waterfront and explore Brooklyn Bridge Park, Jane’s Carousel, and Pebble Beach.
DUMBO is one of the best neighborhoods in Brooklyn, New York, so if you want to make sure you see all the highlights, I recommend this walking tour.
- Recommended accommodation: 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge is one of the best hotels in Brooklyn right by the Brooklyn Heights Promenade along the East River.
2. Brooklyn Heights, an upscale neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY
Brooklyn Heights is a residential neighborhood in Brooklyn that’s known for its upscale brownstone homes and local bars and restaurants. That said, its tree-lined streets give it a cozy charm, and it’s worth walking through and checking out the sights.
This nice Brooklyn neighborhood is right next to DUMBO beside the East River, so you can get lovely views here. Take a walk along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and admire the viewpoint, which offers a picturesque scene of Manhattan. Then, head to Brooklyn Bridge Park, one of NYC’s best parks with stunning views.
The park is a great place to visit with kids, although if the weather isn’t good, you can go to the New York Transit Museum and check out the exhibits, including an authentic 1936 subway station. Brooklyn Heights is home to other museums and institutes like the Center for Brooklyn History and the Brooklyn Historical Society.
- Recommended accommodation: 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge has the perfect location by Brooklyn Bridge Park, between DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights. It’s also one of the best boutique hotels in NYC.
3. Williamsburg, the most vibrant neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York
Williamsburg has a youthful vibe with clubs, bars, and live music venues that attract a fashionable crowd. So, if you’re looking for a trendy Brooklyn neighborhood where you can enjoy the nightlife, Williamsburg won’t disappoint.
The BKLYN Comedy Club and Brooklyn Bowl are two great places to hang out with friends after dark, while the Black Flamingo nightclub will keep you dancing into the wee hours of the morning. For something more low-key, head to the Brooklyn Brewery for drinks in a laid-back atmosphere.
During the day, Williamsburg offers vintage shopping, outdoor areas, and culture, like the City Reliquary. In the southern part of Williamsburg, you’ll find the temples of the Hasidic Jewish community, which is mostly from Romania and Hungary. Williamsburg was originally an Orthodox Jewish community, and the neighborhood still has one of the highest Jewish populations in NYC. You might even see shop signs in Yiddish as you explore the area.
For some fresh air, I recommend Domino Park along the East River, which has a playground, volleyball and bocce courts, a food stall, and scenic fountain steps. McCarren Park is also very nice and has a Saturday farmers market.
Of course, you must also see the iconic Williamsburg Bridge. While you’re there, treat yourself to a scrumptious dinner at Peter Luger Steakhouse, one of the best restaurants in NYC.
- Recommended accommodation: Pod Brooklyn is one of the best cheap hotels in Brooklyn near the Williamsburg Bridge.
4. Park Slope, a beautiful Brooklyn neighborhood to visit
Unassuming and welcoming, Park Slope is one of the prettiest neighborhoods in Brooklyn. It’s full of independent boutiques, record stores, coffee shops, and bookstores, so it’s popular with artists and literary types. If that sounds like you, check it out!
Among the bars and casual restaurants here, I recommend the Stone Park Café, which serves an amazing brunch. Then, spend some time exploring the outdoor areas in Brooklyn’s Park Slope, such as the western end of Prospect Park and the Old Stone House, a reconstructed 1699 Dutch farmstead.
Park Slope is also home to the Brooklyn Museum, one of the top museums in NYC where you can browse Indigenous art, contemporary pieces, and an impressive collection of Egyptian artifacts. Other sites you might like include the Brooklyn Public Library, the Brooklyn Conservatory, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, or Nitehawk Cinema.
This Brooklyn neighborhood is close to other popular attractions like the Barclays Center, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and Green-Wood Cemetery, so it’s definitely worth adding to your itinerary.
- Recommended accommodation: Stay at Hotel Le Bleu between Park Slope and Gowanus. It’s modern, comfortable, and one of the best cheap hotels in Brooklyn.
5. Bushwick, an artsy neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY
Bushwick is an artsy district in Brooklyn with a contagious energy. Its edgy, industrial vibe combined with its vibrant artwork makes it a must-see during your visit. This is where you can find some of the best street art in the city, specifically at the Bushwick Collective.
The Bushwick Collective is one of the best free museums in NYC and features murals, graffiti, and street art along Jefferson and Troutman Streets. Local artists and creators from all over the world have contributed to the Bushwick Collective, and you can learn more about their techniques on this street art walking tour.
Besides the Bushwick Collective, there are other galleries throughout this Brooklyn neighborhood, including Microscope and the Bushwick Galleries. If you prefer fashion and style, you’ll love browsing the thrift shops throughout Bushwick. Some of the most popular stores are L Train Vintage, Collections BK, and GG’s Social Trade & Treasure Club.
After dark, Bushwick offers plenty of bars, breweries, and international restaurants. Grab some Italian food at Faro or Roberta’s or indulge in authentic Mexican specialties at Los Hermanos Tortilleria. Then, head out for drinks at the Brooklyn Beer Garden or Kings County Brewers Collective. If you want to party into the night, House of Yes is one of the top nightclubs in the city.
- Recommended accommodation: Hotel RL Brooklyn is affordable, comfortable, and has an intimate café that hosts live music.
6. Greenpoint, another interesting Brooklyn neighborhood to check out
Greenpoint is one of the best Brooklyn neighborhoods and a must-see for everyone. This part of Brooklyn has its own personality and charm thanks to its Polish American community, beautiful views of Midtown Manhattan, and high-profile visitors like Bill Murray and Gwyneth Paltrow.
You can’t visit Greenpoint without popping into one of the Polish bakeries or shops. Karczma and Pierozek are two popular places, and the Polish Community Center often hosts traditional performances, served with delicious pierogies, of course.
You can find other delights and curious items at the Greenpoint Terminal Market, which includes over 100 vendors every weekend. During the week, there are plenty of other things to do, depending on your interests.
For indie flicks and black-and-white movies, Film Noir Cinema is the place to go. If you prefer the live music scene, check out Tørst Bar or Brooklyn Bowl. The Sunshine Laundromat is one of the coolest places in Greenpoint since it’s a laundromat with a hidden pinball arcade and secret bar. I also recommend Westlight, one of the best rooftop bars in NYC.
Among Greenpoint’s galleries, artist studios, and converted lofts, there are several pretty outdoor spaces. WNYC Transmitter Park is a quiet area along the East River, while Monsignor McGolrick Park and the Greenpoint Landing Esplanade are two other nice spots.
- Recommended accommodation: Stay at the Henry Norman Hotel, one of Brooklyn’s best hotels in a unique 19th-century textile warehouse.
7. Prospect Heights, a Brooklyn neighborhood with lots of culture
Prospect Heights is a small, laid-back neighborhood in Brooklyn, but it has a lot to offer. First, you’ll find all kinds of dining options along Vanderbilt Avenue. LaLou is one of the best restaurants here with an intimate vibe and a wine bar, while Ample Hills Creamery has some of the best ice cream.
For something to do during the day, check out Unnameable Books; the Brooklyn Museum, one of the best museums in Brooklyn; or Grand Army Plaza, where you can see the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch. You can make a date of it with a visit to Brooklyn Botanic Garden or a show at the Barclays Center.
You can see all kinds of interesting things just walking around this nice Brooklyn neighborhood. For example, the Frida & Diego mural by Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra is an excellent symbol of Prospect Heights’ Caribbean-American community, and you can find it at 360 Prospect Place. Also, see if you can find the spaceship tank car, which is usually parked on Park Place.
For some fresh air, check out Mount Prospect, a small park with an old lookout point that was used during the Revolutionary War. Of course, Prospect Park is a must-see, and you can spend hours getting lost there. If you want to streamline your visit, I recommend this guided Prospect Park tour.
- Recommended accommodation: Hotel Le Bleu is close to Prospect Heights and Prospect Park, so it’s my top choice.
8. Coney Island, the best Brooklyn neighborhood to visit with kids
If you’re traveling with kids or just want to treat your inner child to a day of fun, Coney Island is the best Brooklyn neighborhood to visit. Located in southern Brooklyn, it’s worth the trek to see the Coney Island Beach & Boardwalk and all the sites.
This popular Brooklyn neighborhood is known for its attractions, so be sure to check out Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park and Luna Park, which you can get a ticket for here. Both parks feature all kinds of carnival games and rides. Some of the most famous ones are the B&B Carousell, the Coney Island Cyclone rollercoaster, and Deno’s Wonder Wheel, a 150-foot-tall Ferris wheel with stationary and swinging cars.
After enjoying the amusements, grab a New York hotdog at Nathan’s Famous, then check out the Coney Island Museum or the Coney Island Circus Sideshow, which features live performers, acrobats, fire eaters, and more.
As I said, going to Coney Island is one of the best things to do in NYC with kids, but adults can also have fun. The Coney Island Brewery is the perfect place to go for drinks, while the boardwalk Amphitheater hosts outdoor concerts and events.
- Recommended accommodation: The Best Western Brooklyn – Coney Island Inn is the best hotel in Coney Island with free parking, a gym, and family rooms.
9. Gowanus, a little-known neighborhood in Brooklyn you can’t miss
Gowanus is a former industrial zone surrounding the small Gowanus Canal. It’s an up-and-coming Brooklyn neighborhood with some hidden gems, so if you’re in nearby Park Slope or Prospect Heights, it’s worth checking out.
Gowanus has a creative ambiance that attracts artists, hipsters, and young professionals, so there are lots of recreational activities and nightlife options here. For instance, Brooklyn Glass teaches hands-on glass-blowing classes, while the Morbid Anatomy Museum and Secret Science Club display intriguing exhibits and specimens.
If you want to hang out with friends or mingle with the locals, check out the Lavender Lake Bar, the Bell House, or ShapeShifter Lab, which has live jazz music. The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club is one of the coolest places in Gowanus with a bar, food trucks, shuffleboard courts, and board games. For a sit-down meal, I recommend Pig Beach BBQ or Dinosaur BBQ, where you’ll find amazing food.
Moreover, keep your eyes peeled for hidden treasures like the mini doors of Dennett Place. The homes on this street have their regular doors, as well as smaller hobbit-like doors, but their purpose remains a mystery. Another curiosity is the Central Power Station of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company building. It’s known as the Gowanus Batcave thanks to its run-down look and graffitied walls.
- Recommended accommodation: Stay at Hotel Le Bleu in Prospect Heights. It’s clean, cozy, and close to the Gowanus neighborhood.
10. Sunset Park, another lovely neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York
Lastly, Sunset Park is a multicultural hub, making it one of the best parts of Brooklyn. It’s home to Brooklyn’s Chinatown, where you’ll find scrumptious noodles, dumplings, dim sum, and more. I recommend grabbing a table at Pacificana for roast duck, fried rice, and noodle soup.
Checking out the local Latino community is another must-do in Sunset Park. Tacos el Bronco is amazing, and Maria’s Bistro Mexicano has incredible guacamole and margaritas. The Industry City Food Hall has dishes to satisfy any appetite, and the Industry City Distillery is perfect for after-dinner drinks.
Moreover, as its name suggests, Sunset Park is a nice Brooklyn neighborhood with a beautiful park. It offers distant views of the Statue of Liberty, but it makes for a pretty sunset-watching spot. Another outdoorsy area is Green-Wood Cemetery, a National Historic Landmark covering 478 acres of hills, ponds, walking paths, and mausoleums.
Finally, to round out your day in Sunset Park, check out Next Level Arcade or Melody Lanes, a bowling alley/arcade and bar.
- Recommended accommodation: The Holiday Inn Express – Sunset Park is an awesome resort in the neighborhood with spacious rooms and complimentary breakfast.
Brooklyn neighborhood map
Now that you know where to go, here is a Brooklyn neighborhood map to keep handy during your trip:
I hope this guide helped you plan your visit! Don’t forget to check out our article on the best hotels in Brooklyn if you want to spend the night. Of course, if you have any questions or you’d like to share your experience, leave me a comment below.
Have a great time exploring Brooklyn’s best neighborhoods!