If you’re wondering about some things to do in DUMBO, you’ll be pleased to learn that there are tons of activities and places to visit. DUMBO is short for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, so it has a convenient location right across the river from Lower Manhattan.
DUMBO, NYC is bordered by the East River to the north, the Brooklyn Bridge to the west, York Street to the south, and Bridge Street to the east. This neighborhood has some of the best things to do in Brooklyn, from walking across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge to enjoying the lovely parks and waterfront views. There are also amazing places to eat in DUMBO where you can try delicious NY-style pizza and other tasty dishes.
We’ve visited NYC several times and while our first couple of trips were dedicated to seeing the more touristy areas, there is something special about the lesser-known parts of the city. Brooklyn has a more laid-back feel, and DUMBO is close enough to Manhattan that you can easily make a day of exploring this unique and charming area.
Of course, if you’re short on time, this 2-hour tour is a great introduction to DUMBO, and it’s one of the best walking tours in NYC. That said, if you do have time, I recommend checking out these 15 best things to do in DUMBO and including some of them in your itinerary.
1. Capture the iconic Manhattan Bridge photo op
Given that DUMBO is located Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, it makes sense that it’s one of the perfect places to see this suspension bridge. The Manhattan Bridge connects Brooklyn and Manhattan, extending across the East River and measuring 6,855 feet long.
The famous photo op of the Manhattan Bridge viewpoint is a coveted image among both tourists and photographers. Depending on where you stand along Washington Street, you can capture an incredible photo of the bridge with the Empire State Building popping up beneath it.
If you want the perfect postcard image, you’ll need to find the right photo spot in DUMBO, Brooklyn. I recommend placing yourself at Washington Street, between Plymouth and York Streets. This is an insanely popular spot, so if you want an image with as few people as possible, go around the time of sunrise. The earlier, the better!
For a closer view of the bridge, position yourself between Water and Plymouth Street. That said, if you want a photo that includes the cobblestone street and a frame of red brick buildings, move a few blocks back. You’ll get a picturesque scene with the industrial buildings on either side of the bridge and it’s one of the best views in DUMBO.
2. Jane’s Carousel, a popular attraction in DUMBO, NYC
One of the best things to do in DUMBO is to visit Brooklyn Bridge Park because it has all kinds of attractions. If you’re traveling with kids, you can’t miss Jane’s Carousel, a famous landmark that has been delighting children for years.
This charming carousel in DUMBO, Brooklyn wasn’t moved to NYC until 2011, but it was first built in 1922. The wood-carved horses jump and gallop along to the twinkling tunes of a Gebrüder Band Organ, conjuring up a nostalgic image of childhood.
Interestingly, Jane’s Carousel was the only merry-go-round to be added to the National Register of Historic Places, back in 1975, although it has since been taken off the list.
You can ride this attraction and enjoy the waterfront bridge view in DUMBO for $2. The carousel is open Wednesday to Monday during the summer, and Wednesday to Sunday in the winter.
3. Cross the Brooklyn Bridge, a free thing to do in DUMBO
Whether you walk, jog, bike, or drive, you must cross the Brooklyn Bridge. This is one of the most popular things to do in DUMBO, and one of the best things to do in all of New York City, especially at night. That said, there isn’t a bad time to see this iconic landmark.
The Brooklyn Bridge is over 130 years old and spans about 6,000 feet. It was the longest suspension bridge in the world from 1883 to 1903, and while it no longer holds that title, it’s still worth seeing. The NY skyline views are incredible, and on the Brooklyn side, you can visit Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Brooklyn Bridge Park is one of the top-rated parks in NYC, thanks to its waterfront views along the East River. It also has plenty of fun activities and sites, including sports facilities, green spaces, and Jane’s Carousel. The park is divided into different areas, including courts for basketball, bocce, and other activities.
If you’re visiting with children, check out Pier 6, which has playgrounds and other structures for the little ones to climb on.
4. DUMBO Walls, one of the artsiest things to see in DUMBO, Brooklyn
To add a bit more color to your visit, go on an adventure to see the DUMBO Walls. This project originated in 2012 by several local artists and continues to attract all kinds of artists, including street, graffiti, and studio artists, as well as photographers and graphic designers.
The DUMBO Walls are comprised of eight walls along the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE), covering four blocks. Some of the original murals are still there, while new ones have appeared. So, it’s worth coming here again and again since there will always be something new to see.
One of the first art walls here was an owl mural along York Street, which was created by an artist known as CAM. Other New York artists like MOMO and Yuko Shimizu have works here, and the subject matter ranges from animals and characters to city scenes and abstract patterns.
Even if you just stroll along the street to catch a glimpse of these works, it’s a fun thing to do in DUMBO.
5. Eat at Grimaldi’s or Juliana’s, two of the best places to eat in DUMBO
While you’re exploring all the attractions in DUMBO, don’t forget to keep your energy up with some delicious food.
First, I must mention Grimaldi’s Pizza, which has a complicated history. In 1933, Patsy’s Pizzeria opened, but after a family dispute, one of the owner’s nephews opened a new pizza shop and called it Grimaldi’s. That business grew until another disagreement occurred, which led to one of Grimaldi’s owners leaving to open another shop called Juliana’s.
The rivalry between Grimaldi’s and Juliana’s continues to this day, so you’ll have to try a slice from both places to see which one wins! A NY-style pizza is one of the all-time best foods in NYC, so it shouldn’t be too much of a chore for you.
If you want something a bit different, check out Cecconi’s Dumbo, which offers authentic Italian dishes, including wood-fired pizza. The restaurant is right by the water, so you can dine and drink with a view.
It’s also worth checking out Vinegar Hill House, a restaurant that serves New American cuisine in a beautiful garden setting. Finally, Celestine has fresh Mediterranean and Middle Eastern-inspired dishes, plus a great location along the East River.
6. Time Out Market, another cool place to visit in DUMBO, New York
Another cool place to eat in DUMBO is the Time Out Market, which is part of the Empire Stores on Water Street. This huge retailer and dining complex is right on the waterfront and has local food vendors and restauranteurs offering delicious creations.
Here, you can find everything from ramen and sushi to tacos, barbecue, and innovative burgers. Time Out Market also has Indian dishes, Italian cuisine, and bagels from Ess-a-bagel, a New York City staple. In addition to having some of the best food in DUMBO, this venue also hosts community and cultural events, so it’s a great place to hang out with friends.
Gather everyone up for a weekend brunch or try free salsa dancing. The Time Out Stage also hosts an eclectic mix of DJs and other performances, plus there is a lively rooftop where you can get beautiful skyline views.
7. Shop at the Brooklyn Flea, a fun thing to do in DUMBO with friends
If you want to do some shopping in DUMBO, Brooklyn, then the Brooklyn Flea is one of the best places to go. This huge outdoor market is open every weekend from April to December and is located at the Archway on Pearl Street.
As one of the top flea markets in NYC, the Brooklyn Flea is known for having hundreds of vendors offering everything from handmade crafts and jewelry to artwork, furniture, and more. Browse the stalls for antiques and collectibles, as well as vintage and secondhand clothing. If you love to go thrift shopping, this flea market in DUMBO, Brooklyn will be paradise.
You can also find artisan food products and gourmet treats here, so you can snack while you shop. That said, the Flea also organizes Smorgasburg, a food market in Williamsburg that’s open every Saturday from April to October. As for the Brooklyn Flea, it’s open every weekend (April – December) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
8. See a show at St. Ann’s Warehouse, something to do in DUMBO as a couple
For those who are looking for something to do in DUMBO, NYC as a couple, consider seeing a show at St. Ann’s Warehouse. This performing arts center is the perfect place to support the community theater and local artists, so if that’s up your alley, check it out.
This venue has a long history, starting as the former Church of St. Ann’s and the Holy Trinity. In 1980, the church was converted into a classical music hall, and in 2000, it was relocated to an old spice milling factory in DUMBO. However, the venue moved again to the historic Tobacco Warehouse, giving it its current name, St. Ann’s Warehouse.
Throughout the years, St. Ann’s has hosted all kinds of concerts, ranging from rock and roll to jazz. It has also hosted famous stars like David Bowie, Lou Reed, and Joe Strummer. Interestingly, the art of puppetry is popular here, and The Lab at St. Ann’s serves as an experimental performance venue for puppet artists.
Not only that but St. Ann’s hosts an annual summer concert series with free performances every Wednesday night. The theater is located in Brooklyn Bridge Park, another great attraction in DUMBO, so consider spending a few hours here taking in the arts.
9. Jacques Torres Chocolate, a delicious place to go in DUMBO, NYC
For those who have a sweet tooth, a visit to Jacques Torres Chocolate is one of the best things to do in DUMBO.
In 2000, French pastry chef Jacques Torres opened this shop (his first in NYC) and brought his European-style treats to the city. He began perfecting his craft at age 15, later becoming an Executive Pastry Chef and earning the prestigious Meilleur Ouvrier de France medal in Pastry. Upon opening his shop in DUMBO, he became the first chocolatier in New York City to make his own chocolate.
These handcrafted candies are free from artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, and Torres uses traditional techniques and his classic bean-to-bar method to create delectable goodies. In addition to chocolate, the shop has caramels, cookies, truffles, bonbons, and more. Stop in for some hot chocolate or get a gift basket or sampler to bring home.
10. Powerhouse Arena, one of the coolest places in DUMBO
The Powerhouse Arena is another interesting attraction in DUMBO. Given its name, you may expect to see a wrestling match or body-building competition here, but that’s not the case. Rather, this venue is part bookstore, part exhibition space, and full of all kinds of literary and artistic masterpieces.
This independent bookstore has a wide array of book titles and categories, plus a great children’s book section, so coming here is a fun thing to do in DUMBO with kids. You can also check out Powerhouse’s live programming, which includes things like book launches, author talks, community events, and gallery shows.
If you’re a bibliophile or art lover, you can get some shopping done and buy unique prints, books, photographs, and more. Or you can simply browse the shelves and find new inspiration.
11. Visit Pebble Beach and Main Street Park, a free thing to do in DUMBO, Brooklyn
Not far from Brooklyn Bridge Park, you’ll find another park in DUMBO that’s worth visiting. Main Street Park is located under the Manhattan Bridge and offers a scenic respite from the looming buildings and crowds of people.
The park has a nice green space with a playground, a dog run, an Environmental Education Center, and public restrooms. You can also get a unique viewpoint of the Manhattan Bridge and its neighbor, the Brooklyn Bridge.
Main Street Park is also home to Pebble Beach, a small, rocky beach that’s known for its gorgeous sunset views. Take a seat on the sand, the large rocks, or the tiered seating area, and admire the golden glow over the city skyline. From here, you’ll be able to see the Brooklyn Bridge and the Lower Manhattan skyline with the Freedom Tower front and center.
Be mindful that this isn’t a swimming beach; you can dip your feet in the water, but people come here for the views.
12. Go shopping at Empire Stores, something to do in DUMBO if it rains
Earlier I mentioned the Time Out Market, but it’s also worth noting that it’s part of a larger complex, the Empire Stores. This group of old warehouses is now a bustling shopping center with local retailers, food businesses, and even live performers.
In addition to Time Out Market, there are other restaurants where you can sit down to a good meal. For example, Cecconi’s, one of the places to eat in DUMBO that I recommended already, is located here. Throughout the year, there are pop-up markets and events, too, so there’s always something going on.
This is also a good place to do some shopping in DUMBO, especially if you want to support local businesses and small creators. Along with the stores, there is an art gallery and a rooftop garden where you can chill out with friends and enjoy the beautiful views.
13. Check out The Archway, another interesting thing to do in DUMBO
The Archway is one of the most notable structures in DUMBO, NYC, and it’s also where the Brooklyn Flea takes place. This outdoor plaza is located on Water Street, specifically under the Manhattan Bridge. Here, you can take shelter under the 45-foot-tall stone passageway, which is one of the liveliest spots in the area.
Besides the Brooklyn Flea, the Archway is the site of performances and community events that occur throughout the year. For example, during the summer, there is a free series of events that include live music, dancing, and pop-up art exhibits.
Even if there isn’t anything going on when you visit, it’s worth taking a stroll through this unique space. There’s also a cute café in front of the Archway (the Archway Café), where you can get a bite to eat.
14. Listen to live music at Bargemusic, one of the coolest things to do in DUMBO
Bargemusic is another place where you can listen to live music, as well as enjoy a beautiful view in DUMBO. This floating concert hall is next to Brooklyn Bridge, at the Fulton Ferry Landing. Its location isn’t the only thing that’s unique about it, in that this intimate venue is actually a converted coffee barge from the late 19th century.
Today, it’s a cozy space to hear classical music and admire the crescendo of a live orchestra. This is a lovely place for a date night, as you and your partner can take in a classical show while admiring the DUMBO waterfront. If you’re a fan of Mozart, Beethoven, or Brahms, I highly recommend it.
Moreover, Bargemusic offers a series of free concerts that include an hour-long performance and a Q&A session with the musicians. So, if you’re a classical music lover or looking for a unique thing to do in DUMBO, this is a great option.
15. Jay Street Connecting Railroad, a little-known attraction in DUMBO, Brooklyn
Finally, one of DUMBO’s coolest attractions is actually hidden among the cobblestone streets of this bustling neighborhood. The Jay Street Connecting Railroad may have fallen into obscurity, but during its heyday, it was a main contributor to DUMBO’s economy.
This railroad transported goods and supplies to the various factories and warehouses in the area but stopped functioning in 1958 with the increased use of trucks in New York City. These days, you can see parts of the old, abandoned railroad on the eastern end of Jay Street.
As the tracks travel along Plymouth Street, you can see that they take on a curious curve. This undulation helped the trains navigate the tight turn from Jay Street to Plymouth, where they continued on past the Manhattan Bridge toward John Street and the Jay Street Terminal.
Another interesting part of the railroad is at the intersection of John and Jay Streets, where the tracks merge, then diverge and extend down either street. This relic of the past may not be well-known, but it’s a hidden gem in DUMBO, NYC that adds to this neighborhood’s charm.
Where to stay in DUMBO, Brooklyn
If you plan on visiting lots of different attractions in DUMBO, it’s worth staying overnight. Given its convenient location by the East River and the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, DUMBO is a great place to stay. You’ll have easy access to Manhattan while enjoying the more relaxed environment of Brooklyn.
These are my recommended hotels in DUMBO, New York:
- 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge – This is one of the best hotels in Brooklyn, with 5-star facilities, beautiful rooms, and a spa.
- Hampton Inn Brooklyn Downtown – If you’re on a budget, this is one of the best cheap hotels in Brooklyn where you can enjoy a cozy balcony suite or connecting family rooms and on-site parking.
- The Tillary Hotel Brooklyn – This hotel is closer to downtown Brooklyn and has an indoor/outdoor beer garden, family-friendly amenities, and a spa and fitness center.
I hope you enjoyed reading this guide and that you learned about some new things to do in DUMBO! Don’t forget to download this map of DUMBO with all the attractions, restaurants, and hotels I mentioned:
Also, if you still have questions, feel free to leave me a comment below. I’d also love to hear your tips for visiting DUMBO, NYC.
Until next time, have an awesome trip!