There are lots of cool things to do in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, so if you’ve never been to this Brooklyn neighborhood, it’s worth checking out.
Known for its large communities of immigrants and artists, Williamsburg has a multi-ethnic atmosphere full of art, fashion, and music. Its diversity also applies to the food scene, as you can find everything from artisan products and gourmet meals to kosher delicacies.
The nightlife in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is also vibrant and exciting, so if you’re visiting as a couple or with friends, be sure to grab drinks or catch a movie here. It’s one of the best things to do in Brooklyn.
Of course, this neighborhood is great for all ages, and you’ll find everything from shops and museums to green spaces and recreational activities. Plus, Williamsburg’s western edge is bordered by the East River, so you can get beautiful views of Lower Manhattan.
To help you plan your trip, I’m sharing the 12 best activities in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, as well as the top restaurants and where to stay.
1. Visit Domino Park, the best thing to do in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
One of the best places in Williamsburg, Brooklyn that you can’t miss is Domino Park. It’s one of the best parks in NYC, and it’s right along the East River, so you can get beautiful waterfront views and a nice breeze.
The park got its name from the Domino Sugar Refinery that once stood here, and a few tanks are still there. Another popular part of the park is the central area, which has a performance space and a fountain. It’s a relaxing hangout spot where you can people-watch and catch views of the Williamsburg Bridge.
In addition, Domino Park is a great place to enjoy outdoor activities in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Along with a playground and dog run, there are volleyball and bocce courts that are open to the public. Also, keep an eye out for the Tacocina food truck that shows up seasonally.
2. Williamsburg Bridge, a must-see in Williamsburg
The Williamsburg Bridge is one of the major bridges in New York City, connecting Manhattan’s Lower East Side, one of the top neighborhoods in NYC to Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood. You can’t come here without seeing this spectacular suspension bridge, and I recommend biking or walking across it, although you can also drive or take the train.
The bridge opened in 1903, sitting 135 feet above the water and spanning 1,600 feet across the East River. A peculiarity are the signs at the end of the bridge, which reference the area’s Yiddish-speaking population. One says, “Leaving Brooklyn: Oy Vey!” while the other says, “Leaving Brooklyn, Fuhgeddaboudit!”
Also, on the Brooklyn side of the bridge, you’ll find landmarks like Domino Park and the Continental Army Plaza, known for its statue of George Washington. Peter Luger Steak House, one of the best restaurants in NYC, is also nearby.
3. Grab drinks at the Brooklyn Brewery, a fun thing to do in Williamsburg with friends
This neighborhood is known for its hip culture and buzzing nightlife, and the Brooklyn Brewery gives you the best of both worlds. Located at 11th Street and Wythe Avenue, it’s Williamsburg’s hottest microbrewery and one of the best places in Williamsburg, Brooklyn to hang out with friends.
The bar was established by a James Beard Award-winning brewmaster and has become well-known for its seasonal ales and limited-edition beers. Depending on when you visit, you can order a pumpkin ale or the Brooklyn black chocolate stout. There are also tried and true classics like Brooklyn Lager.
The Brooklyn Brewery also has its own premium brews like the tropical Pulp Art Hazy IPA and The Stonewall Inn IPA, which was created in partnership with local LGBTQ+ organizations. The dedicated bartenders and lively patrons are all super friendly and welcoming, so it’s an awesome atmosphere.
In addition to beer, the brewery serves sodas, non-alcoholic drinks, and snacks, and also hosts events like movie screenings, parties, live music, and comedy shows. You can even do a tasting tour to learn about brewing science, beer history, and the brewing process. The tours are offered for free on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Of course, even if you just pop in for a quick beer, this is one of the best bars in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, so I highly recommend it.
4. Admire Williamsburg’s unique murals and street art
Another fun thing to do in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is to check out all the cool street art. There are murals throughout the neighborhood, although there are few that you must see.
First, the Fight for Street Art mural is one of the most famous pieces of public art in Brooklyn. It’s located at North 9th Street and Bedford Avenue and was created by Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra. While it’s a vibrant, colorful mural, it’s actually a reference to the 1985 black-and-white photo of artists Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Kobra has another piece in Williamsburg, specifically at Fabiane’s restaurant on Bedford Avenue. It’s known as the Elvis Presley War is Hell mural and depicts Elvis clad in military gear and a helmet that says, “War is Hell.”
Another must-see in Williamsburg is the Mona Lisa of Williamsburg at the corner of Broadway and Bedford Avenue. This iconic mural was a collaboration between Colossal Media and high schooler Steven Paul, who won a photography contest. His award-winning photo was transformed into a four-story mural through a partnership with The Alliance for Young Artists and Writers.
I also suggest the colorful artwork on the National Sawdust building at North 6th Street and Wythe Avenue, as well as The Chronicles of New York City in Domino Park. If you’re super interested in graffiti and street art, this walking tour is the perfect way to see more creations and learn about the history and culture of Brooklyn’s murals.
5. Stroll through the Jewish Quarter, something you must do in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
As I mentioned, Williamsburg is a multicultural neighborhood, and it’s best known for its Hasidic Jewish community. Thousands of Hasidic Jews live here, and it’s actually the headquarters for the Satmar Hasidic faction.
They started coming here shortly before World War II, led by several Hasidic leaders. Then, in the 1990s, the Hasidic Jewish population grew again, and now this area is known as Williamsburg’s Jewish Quarter. It’s specifically in South Williamsburg, around Lee Avenue, so if you come here, you’ll notice signs in Yiddish, kosher bakeries, synagogues, and men dressed in traditional black clothing, fedoras, and yarmulkes.
Without a doubt, visiting the Jewish Quarter is one of the most unique things to do in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, so if you want to learn more, consider taking this bus tour. It’s a contrasts tour that’ll take you across the different cultures of Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and the Bronx, and it’s one of the top tours in NYC.
6. Marsha P. Johnson State Park, one of the best places in Williamsburg
The Marsha P. Johnson State Park is the best place to go in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for some fresh air. Formerly known as East River State Park, it was renamed in honor of Marsha P. Johnson, a prominent figure in the LGBTQ+ rights movement in NYC.
The park spans 11 acres along the East River, offering views of Midtown Manhattan and the Williamsburg Bridge. It has plenty of large grassy areas for you to lounge, sunbathe, or have a picnic. There are also tables and benches scattered throughout the park, as well as a playground and dog run, so it’s not uncommon to see lots of kids, adults, and puppies mingling here.
So, if you want to enjoy some outdoor activities in Williamsburg, this is a great place to go. It’s right on Kent Avenue, close to many restaurants and some of the best hotels in Brooklyn.
7. Bedford Avenue, the best place for shopping in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY
Another thing that Williamsburg is great for is shopping, so if you want to pick up some souvenirs during your trip, you’ll find plenty of stores and retailers here.
The main shopping street in Williamsburg is Bedford Avenue, which stretches for 10 miles through the neighborhood, from Flushing Avenue to Division Avenue. Some of the best shops on Bedford include Spoonbill & Sugartown Books, Catbird jewelers, and the vintage boutique Think Closet. Awoke Vintage is another awesome vintage shop in Williamsburg, New York with lots of items from the 1970s and 80s.
Another interesting street to check out is Berry Street, which runs from Division Avenue to McCarren Park. Lots of cool Williamsburg attractions can be found here, including Nitehawk Cinema. I also recommend walking along Wythe Avenue, another important street. It runs parallel to Berry Street and has a large cluster of bars, restaurants, and shops.
8. Go thrifting at Brooklyn Flea and Artists & Fleas in Williamsburg
While I mentioned the vintage shops on Bedford Avenue, I must recommend two markets in particular: Brooklyn Flea and Artists & Fleas, the best flea markets in NYC. Going thrifting is one of the best things to do in Williamsburg, Brooklyn since you can find one-of-a-kind and handmade products here.
First, the Brooklyn Flea is a huge flea market at 6th Street and Kent Avenue. It’s known for its wide array of treasures, from vintage clothing and accessories to antiques, collectibles, and furniture. You can also shop for handicrafts from local designers and artisan food items. The Brooklyn Flea is open every weekend from April to December.
Right next door, you’ll find Artists & Fleas, another popular weekend market. It’s in an old warehouse with over 50 vendors selling artwork, clothing, and other vintage pieces. In addition to the unique items, you can also buy from local brands, so it’s a great indoor activity in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, especially for shopaholics.
9. Check out McCarren Park, an outdoor activity in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
McCarren Park is another green space to check out in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It’s on the border of Williamsburg and Greenpoint and has all kinds of facilities and services to make for a fun day out.
On any given day, you’ll see dog walkers, joggers, children, and groups of friends hanging out here. The park covers 36 acres and is one of the best places in Williamsburg to attend free events or get some exercise. If you visit during the summer, you can pick up fresh produce and other items at the farmer’s market.
The McCarren Play Center is a recreational center here with a weight room, an outdoor swimming pool, and other facilities. The rest of the park includes barbecue areas, a playground, and sports fields for handball, soccer, softball, volleyball, and tennis.
10. Watch a movie at Nitehawk Cinema, a couples’ thing to do in Williamsburg
If you’re staying here after dark and you’re looking for things to do in Williamsburg, NY at night, consider a movie at Nitehawk Cinema. This independent movie theater shows a variety of first-run, art house, and cult-classic films, although it sometimes shows mainstream movies, too.
It’s also a dine-in theater, so you can get cocktails and small plates delivered to your seat while you watch the film. The cinema is one of the top landmarks in the neighborhood, and a great example of Williamsburg’s artistic culture.
If you want to experience the nightlife in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, or you’re looking for something to do for date night, you can’t go wrong with a movie. Nitehawk Cinema shows special screenings like “Anime After Dark” and adults-only films, although it does have kid-friendly matinee shows, too. You can visit the theater’s website to see current screenings and showtimes.
11. City Reliquary, one of the most fun attractions in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
If the weather is bad or you want to dive into more New York City history, head to the City Reliquary. As one of the best museums in Brooklyn, you can expect all kinds of interesting knick-knacks, artifacts, and memorabilia.
This small, non-profit museum chronicles Brooklyn’s past and includes relics from the other NYC boroughs. The walls are adorned with all kinds of items, such as old objects from New York’s most famous hotels and landmarks, like a brick fragment from the Flatiron Building.
You’ll also find geological items, Statue of Liberty collectibles, old Dodgers portraits, and original objects from the 1964 New York World’s Fair. The City Reliquary also has a rotating roster of community collections, and it occasionally hosts workshops, artist’s lectures, and film screenings.
So, if you want a closer look at the area’s history, this museum in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is a must-see. It’s open Saturdays and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
12. Bike along the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, something to do in Williamsburg as a family
Finally, if you’re short on time but still want to do some sightseeing in Williamsburg, rent a bike and cycle along the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway. It’s a wonderful outdoor activity to do in NYC, especially as a family.
The Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway stretches 26 miles and connects to various parks and greenspaces across the borough, from Greenpoint through Williamsburg, all the way to Bay Ridge. Specifically in Williamsburg, it travels along Kent Avenue, under the Williamsburg Bridge, and runs parallel to the East River and Domino Park. Then, it continues past Bushwick Inlet Park towards Greenpoint.
Given the scenic views and length of the path, it’s not unusual to see lots of cyclists, runners, and pedestrians along the Greenway. Parts of it are still under construction or only in the planning phase, but the section through Williamsburg is complete.
Best of all, this activity in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is accessible to locals and tourists. If you don’t have a bike, you can rent a Citi Bike at one of the kiosks in the neighborhood, such as the ones at 4th Street and Wythe Avenue, or Metropolitan Avenue and Wythe Avenue.
Where to stay in Williamsburg
If you decide that you want to extend your visit to Williamsburg, Brooklyn with an overnight stay, I recommend staying in one of these accommodations:
- The Williamsburg Hotel – This is one of the best Brooklyn hotels with luxurious rooms and a convenient location between McCarren Park and Bushwick Inlet Park.
- Pod Brooklyn – Located near the Williamsburg Bridge, this is one of the best cheap hotels in Brooklyn where you can enjoy lovely facilities without breaking the bank.
- The William Vale – This hotel has one of the best rooftop bars in NYC, not to mention glamorous facilities and excellent service. It’s also one of the few hotels in NYC with a pool.
Where to eat in Williamsburg
This neighborhood is known for its melting pot of cultures and art forms, and that includes food. Below are my top recommendations for where to eat in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
First, Peter Luger Steak House is one of the best restaurants in New York City right by the Williamsburg Bridge. This Michelin-star restaurant serves USDA Prime meats that are dry-aged for the best flavor. In addition to delicious ribeye, strip steak, and sirloin, it serves hearty sides like mashed potatoes and creamed spinach.
For something quick and easy, head to Joe’s Pizza on Bedford Avenue. They serve amazing NY-style pizza, one of the best foods in NYC that you must try while you’re in the Big Apple. Also on Bedford Avenue is Martha’s Country Bakery, which has a variety of cakes and pies, as well as danishes, strudels, tarts, cookies, and New York egg creams.
Another restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn you should check out is Radegast Hall & Biergarten. This lively beer hall has live music and is open for brunch and dinner. It’s the best place to get grilled meats like bratwurst and kielbasa, as well as sandwiches, soups, and salads. You can also come here for beer or wine and appetizers like latkes.
Finally, the Williamsburg Smorgasburg at Marsha P. Johnson State Park is a food market with over 75 artisan and gourmet food vendors. It’s open every Saturday from April to October.
Map of Williamsburg, Brooklyn
That’s it from me! Don’t forget to check out my map with all the hotels, restaurants, and attractions in Williamsburg, Brooklyn that I recommended.
If you have any questions or you’d like to suggest your favorite thing to do in Williamsburg, leave me a comment below. I’d be happy to hear from you! Have a fantastic trip!