There are countless things to do in Brooklyn, thanks to its wide array of art, food, and culture. Many people consider Brooklyn to be the best of NYC’s boroughs since it’s not as chaotic as Manhattan but still offers lots of attractions.
Brooklyn’s ethnic diversity means you can find all kinds of different cuisines and buildings here, not to mention some of the most interesting shops. There are also beautiful green spaces, so you can enjoy a more leisurely pace and many family-friendly Brooklyn activities.
If you want to visit Brooklyn but you’re not sure where to begin, I can help with this guide to the best places to visit in Brooklyn. There is something for everyone here, whether you want to explore the area with kids, enjoy a day out with your partner, or have fun with friends.
So, keep reading to discover the top 10 things to do in Brooklyn, New York!
1. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, the best thing to do in Brooklyn at night
The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most iconic landmarks in Brooklyn, and all of New York, so you can’t miss it. With a span of 6,000 feet, it was the world’s longest suspension bridge until 1903. Today, the Brooklyn Bridge is nearly 140 years old, but it’s completely safe for you to walk, bike, or drive across.
I recommend going on foot so you can admire the skyline views and the different perspectives of the city. The views are gorgeous after dark, and walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the best things to do in NYC at night.
While you’re visiting this massive Brooklyn attraction, it’s also worth checking out Brooklyn Bridge Park, along the East River. In addition to the views of the waterfront, the park offers a variety of outdoor spaces and recreational areas for sports, activities, and leisure. From bocce and shuffleboard to basketball courts and playgrounds, there is something for everyone.
2. Check out DUMBO, a fun thing to do in Brooklyn, NYC
Not far from the Brooklyn Bridge, you’ll find DUMBO, one of the best neighborhoods in Brooklyn. Short for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, DUMBO is one of the trendiest places in Brooklyn with lots of interesting shopping and dining venues.
For example, you can enjoy hot Brooklyn-style pizza at Grimaldi’s or Juliana’s, then go browsing for trinkets and treasures at the Brooklyn Flea. DUMBO is also home to Jane’s Carousel, a popular Brooklyn tourist attraction between the Manhattan Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge.
I also recommend trying to get a photo of the Manhattan Bridge viewpoint along Washington Street. This is one of the hottest photography spots in the city, and you’ve probably seen pictures of it online or on postcards. This is a must-do in Brooklyn, especially if you love photography!
Besides, the surrounding area of Washington Street is full of unique stores, cafes, and breweries, so it’s a great sightseeing experience.
3. Visit Williamsburg, an interesting thing to do in Brooklyn
Williamsburg is another vibrant neighborhood that I recommend checking out. There are all kinds of fun things to do in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, from visiting cultural institutions and green spaces, to enjoying the local nightlife.
One of the coolest places in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg section is Domino Park. This expansive park is next to the Williamsburg Bridge and faces the East River, providing lovely waterfront views. In addition, it’s the site of an old Domino Sugar Refinery, which somehow blends in with the park’s playgrounds, fountains, volleyball courts, and bocce grounds.
Williamsburg may have a hipster vibe, but it’s also the home of lots of ethnic groups like Italian Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Dominicans. There is a large population of Hasidic Jews here, so you’ll probably run into traditional temples or stores with signs in Yiddish.
When the sun goes down, Williamsburg’s evening entertainment comes to life. Along with a few movie theaters, you’ll find the BKLYN Comedy Club and the Brooklyn Bowl, a bowling alley and live music venue.
Without a doubt, Williamsburg is one of the best places to visit in Brooklyn, so if you’re short on time, make the most of your visit with this culture and history walking tour.
4. Spend the day at Coney Island, the best thing to do in Brooklyn with kids
Coney Island may be a bit out of the way, but it’s worth visiting since it’s one of the best things to do in Brooklyn with family. Located in southwestern Brooklyn, Coney Island has long been a popular day trip for New Yorkers.
As the name suggests, Coney Island is on a small peninsula, so you can enjoy the surf and sand at Coney Island Beach or Brighton Beach. That said, what makes Coney Island an iconic Brooklyn site are the two amusement piers, Luna Park, and Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park.
First, Luna Park is a replica of the original Luna Park from 1903 with an arcade, family attractions like the B&B Carousel, and the famous Cyclone rollercoaster. Spending the day at Luna Park is one of the best things to do in NYC with kids, and you can get your ticket here.
Moreover, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park is named after the legendary Wonder Wheel, a 150-foot-tall Ferris wheel with stationary and traveling cabins. The park is full of fun attractions like kiddie coasters, a carousel, bumper cars, and the thrilling Phoenix rollercoaster.
If thrill rides aren’t your thing, you can visit the Coney Island Museum or see a performance at the amphitheater or the Coney Island Circus Sideshow. When you get hungry, you’ll find your favorite boardwalk foods like Nathan’s Famous Hotdogs, funnel cake, French fries, and pizza.
5. Stroll through Brooklyn Botanic Garden, a romantic thing to do in Brooklyn, NY
If you’re looking for things to do in Brooklyn as a couple, I highly recommend visiting Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Here, you can stroll through 52 acres of specialty gardens, so it’s the ideal spot for a romantic, outdoor date.
One of the most notable areas of the garden is the Japanese Hill and Pond Garden, which features cherry blossoms, Japanese maples and irises, and a Shinto shrine. There is even a traditional wooden bridge and torii (gateway), so it’s like having a little piece of Japan in Brooklyn.
The Cranford Rose Garden is gorgeous, as is the Shakespeare Garden, which mimics an English cottage-style garden. There is also an Herb Garden, a Rock Garden, and a Native Flora Garden where you can learn about the plants and flowers that once grew all over the New York City area. The Water Garden has lots of pretty trees, ferns, and aquatic shrubs, so it’s also worth seeing.
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is also home to the Steinhardt Conservatory, which contains a bonsai museum, themed plant pavilions, a glass aquatic plant house, and an art gallery. Without a doubt, spending the day here is one of the best things to do in NYC as a couple.
6. Check out Brooklyn Museum, something to do in Brooklyn if it rains
If the weather doesn’t cooperate during your trip, don’t worry because you can find fun things to do in Brooklyn on a rainy day. For example, the Brooklyn Museum is one of the best museums in NYC, with over 500,000 art pieces.
The museum is housed in an impressive Beaux Arts-style building and has an extensive permanent collection of art from around the world. Some of the most notable galleries include those dedicated to Asian, Islamic, Egyptian, and American art. There are also beautiful decorative art examples from the 1880s to now, which you can explore through period rooms.
In addition, the Brooklyn Museum hosts temporary exhibits, and it has a sculpture garden with dozens of ornamental statues, sculptures, and facades. So, if you love art, this is a great Brooklyn attraction for you, whether it’s a rainy day or not.
Moreover, Brooklyn is home to other museums and cultural institutes, so if you want to museum-hop, I also recommend the Brooklyn Children’s Museum and the New York Transit Museum.
7. Relax in Prospect Park, one of the best things to do in Brooklyn
Prospect Park is one of the best New York City parks, and one of those places in Brooklyn you must visit. The park, which encompasses 526 acres, is a New York Scenic Landmark, and it’s not hard to see why.
Here, you’ll find sprawling expanses of green spaces and lawns, historic structures, quiet walking paths, and all kinds of recreational activities. There is something for everyone here, any time of year, which makes it one of the top tourist attractions in Brooklyn.
Year-round, you can peruse the Greenmarket at Grand Army Plaza, located at the park’s northern entrance. During the summer, you can catch live performances at the Bandshell or enjoy a picnic in the Long Meadow.
At the southern end of the park, there is Prospect Park Lake and the Parade Ground, which is now an athletic park with sports fields. The LeFrak Center next to the lake offers indoor and outdoor activities like boating and ice skating.
To the east, you can see the beautiful Prospect Park Waterfall and the Beaux Arts-style Boathouse, as well as take a quiet stroll through the Ravine, the only forest in Brooklyn. I recommend relaxing here as long as you can, although if you don’t have much time, this tour will show you the highlights of the park.
8. See the art at the Bushwick Collective, another cool thing to do in Brooklyn, New York
The Bushwick Collective is a series of outdoor art and murals, and one of the best free things to see in Brooklyn.
The Collective originated in 2011 and has grown to include works from local, national, and international artists. Combining graffiti, street art, and murals, the collection includes pieces on social commentary, lighthearted themes, visual interpretations of emotions and thoughts, and more. For all these reasons, it’s one of the best museums in Brooklyn.
If you want to do a self-tour of the Bushwick Collective, a good starting point is Flushing Avenue, near Jefferson Street Station. However, if you want to make sure you don’t miss anything, I recommend this Brooklyn street art tour.
Also, if you’re visiting in the summer, check out the Collective’s free annual street art showcase with music, food, artists, and local vendors.
9. Enjoy the views from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade
Also known as the Esplanade, the Brooklyn Heights Promenade is a pedestrian walkway alongside Brooklyn Bridge Park. It leads to the Brooklyn Bridge so it’s a great place to do some leisurely sightseeing.
The Promenade is lined with trees and has lots of benches, so you can take your time walking along the pathway. Depending on which part of the Promenade you’re on, you can get beautiful views of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Staten Island, or the Statue of Liberty. You can also see Governor’s Island and Ellis Island.
Best of all, the Promenade is a free Brooklyn attraction and is typically open from dawn to dusk. The entrance is under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway at Remsen Street, and the walkway ends right before Brooklyn Bridge Park.
10. See the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights, something to do in Brooklyn during the holidays
Finally, if you’re visiting New York City at Christmastime, I recommend going to Dyker Heights, a popular spot in Brooklyn during the holiday season.
The Dyker Heights neighborhood is in southwestern Brooklyn and is known for its strong Christmas spirit. Many of the neighbors here decorate their homes with elaborate displays, transforming a few city blocks into a glittery atmosphere of holiday cheer.
You’ll see everything from sparkling lights and lawn ornaments to Christmas-themed setups with garland and wreaths. Some people even go all out and include music and synchronized light shows. So, take a break from the Manhattan festivities and check out Dyker Heights because it’s one of the best things to do in Brooklyn in the winter, especially as a family.
The Christmas lights stretch along Dyker Heights Boulevard from 83rd Street to 86th Street, and they’re usually lit until around 9 p.m. If you want to experience everything and mingle with some locals, check out this bus tour through the Dyker Heights displays.
Where to stay in Brooklyn
With all the different areas to visit in Brooklyn, you may decide to spend the night. In that case, these are my top picks for where to stay:
- The Williamsburg Hotel – This luxurious resort is one of Brooklyn’s best hotels and boasts elegant rooms with private balconies. There is also a rooftop pool, a 24-hour gym, and a gourmet restaurant.
- Pod Brooklyn – This is one of the best cheap hotels in Brooklyn and a great option if you’re traveling solo. In addition to the clean, cozy rooms, there are communal spaces like a courtyard and a rooftop bar.
- 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge – This 5-star, eco-friendly hotel is perfect for families, thanks to its lounge area, pool, spa, and large rooms with city views.
You can find more ideas and recommendations in our guide on where to stay in NYC.
Map of Brooklyn, NY
I hope this guide helps you plan your visit and choose which Brooklyn activities you want to do. I’m also leaving this map with all the Brooklyn attractions and hotels I mentioned.
If you have any other questions or you’d like to share your favorite things to do in Brooklyn, feel free to leave me a comment below. I’d be happy to hear from you! Until then, have a great time exploring Brooklyn, NY!