If you’re looking for the best things to do in Brooklyn, you’ve come to the right place.
Brooklyn is a lot bigger than most folks realize, in fact it is New York City’s most populous borough. If that’s not impressive enough, here’s a fun little fact; If Brooklyn was a city it would be the fourth largest city in the country by population — pretty daunting right?
No worries, that’s where I come in. As someone who has called the borough home (and loved it!) I know from first-hand experience how overwhelming it can be to find things to do, especially to those from out of town.
In this article I’m going to lay out some of my favorite things to do in Brooklyn in hopes it’ll spark some ideas as to how you want to spend your time in the borough.
I’m going to include some things that are easy for the first time visitor, as well as some that are new to the longtime local.
From where to eat to where to party, I’ve got you covered. But enough of the small talk, let’s get into the best things to do in Brooklyn.
Visiting New York City? If you haven’t decided where to stay (yet) check out our helpful guide on Where to Stay in New York City (The best neighborhoods for first timers +2 to avoid). Don’t have time? Here’s our favorite hotel in NYC, hands down.
Best Things to Do in Brooklyn
#25. Get lost at Books Are Magic
The name alone is worth a visit to this interesting Brooklyn bookstore, no?
Book Are Magic is an independent bookstore founded by well known (and local) author, Emma Straub.
Supporting this small business is one of the best things to do in Brooklyn, since Books Are Magic is the sole independent bookstore in the neighborhood.
Inviting and vibrant, the interior is best described as “industrial Scandinavian” and visiting is the one of the best things to do in Brooklyn on a rainy autumn day.
Also, can we talk about that awesome bright pink neon sign?! So cool. And the mural out front? Chef’s kiss.
Check out their unique subscription services as well and don’t miss the plethora of book signing events and panels, there’s always something going on at this beloved Brooklyn bookstore.
Address: 225 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11231
Further reading: 12+ Charming New York City Bookstores You Can’t Help But Love
#24. Have brunch at Cafe LuLuc
I first stumbled into Cafe LuLuc by complete accident in the fall of 2016. After one bite I realized visiting for brunch is one of the best things to do in Brooklyn, and have come back with friends an unbelievable amount of times since.
There are omelettes galore, including my brother in law’s sworn favorite – the Open-Face Western Omelette. The omelet boasts sausage, red peppers, scallions and red onions so I can understand why he swears by it.
As far as sweets go, you’re in for a treat because the pancakes are beyond belief. The beautiful flapjacks are moist and fluffy, easy to cut into with a fork and practically melt in your mouth.
The black bear syrup and fresh fruit compliment the pancakes like peanut butter and jelly. You know what? I might have to finish this post later… my stomach is growling just thinking about them.
Address: 214 Smith St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Something to note: Cafe LuLuc is a cash only establishment, so come prepared.
#23. Visit the Brooklyn Navy Yard
The Brooklyn Navy Yard served as a military ship-building facility for 165 years, which means there’s a boat-load (ba-dum, tss) of history within the complex. Taking a tour is well worth it, and one of the best things to do in Brooklyn.
The tours take a deep dive (okay I’m done) into the countless ships that have been made here and the nearly 70,000 workers who kept the place afloat (now I’m really done).
What’s more, a large portion of the yard is still in use thanks to tenants ranging from woodworkers to coffee roasters. With the yard catching a second-wind, there’s a new chapter being written and adding on to an already rich history.
There’s a variety of different tours offered, but I consider the Past, Present and Future tour one of the best things to do in Brooklyn. For more options, times and tickets be sure to visit the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s website.
Fun fact: The USS Missouri, built in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, is dubbed “the most historic battleship in the world”. Japanese officials surrendered on it’s deck, officially bringing WWII to an end.
#22. Have Coffee at % Arabica
Stopping by % Arabica for coffee is one of the best things to do in Brooklyn thanks to it’s picturesque setting and enormous half-dome windows that perfectly frame the iconic Brooklyn Bridge.
It’s easy to lose track of time while snapping photos of your coffee, and I’m sure the workers get a kick out of all of us trying to find the perfect frame. I’ve given up hope, realizing my iPhone will never do the view justice.
Furthermore, with in-house roasting machines you truly get to experience the freshness and boldness of the coffee, which makes the experience that much more memorable.
Address: 20 Old Fulton St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Further reading: 10+ Enjoyable Brooklyn Coffee Shops (You’re Guaranteed to Love)
#21. Visit Green-Wood Cemetery
Alright, who invited the party pooper? Because I’m here and I brought cookies.
Hear me out on this one. I know some folks might consider me listing a cemetery as one of the best things to do in Brooklyn morbid, or even immoral, but it’s true.
Green-Wood Cemetery spans 478 acres and the spring blooms simply can’t be beat. The highest concentration of cherry blossoms can be found by the Valley Water and Sylvan Water ponds, both areas are exceptionally beautiful.
Birding at Green-Wood Cemetery is also one of the best things to do in Brooklyn thanks to the serene landscape.
Oh, and I should mention a fascinating 25-year creative installation located at the cemetery.
The installation, called Here Lie the Secrets of the Visitors of Green-Wood Cemetery, is a grave designed specifically for secrets. Visitors can write their most intimate secrets on a sheet of paper and finally lay them to rest.
Address: 500 25th St, Brooklyn, NY 11232
#20. Check out the Brooklyn Flea
The Brooklyn Flea is the creme de la creme of flea markets, and the notorious crowds prove it. Founded in 2008, the market has amassed an enthusiastic fan base that that consider it one of the best things to do in Brooklyn.
Vendors span the gamut, from vintage clothing to antiques, jewelry, and furniture. Indeed, the Brooklyn Flea was named one of the best markets in America and the world by multiple reputable publications (Travel + Leisure, Country Living, Budget Travel, and Fodor’s).
Address: 80 Pearl St, Brooklyn, NY 11201 from April to December.
#19. Visit the Brooklyn Transit Museum
Dating back to 1904, New York City’s robust transportation system is one of the busiest and oldest in the world. Thankfully, visitors can take a walk down memory lane and explore vintage subway cars parked in a decommissioned subway station.
Visiting the New York Transit Museum is one of the best things to do in Brooklyn, especially with kids. The museum covers a century of subway history and each car displays era-appropriate ads, which makes for some fun, age-appropriate humor.
Visitors are able to explore the inside of vintage cars, some dating back to 1903, sit inside the driver’s cabin and admire vintage walk signs and transit furniture.
Make sure to study the impressive photographs that highlight the evolution of the subway system. Finally, swing by the gift shop before heading out, it’s well curated and has tons of fun transit inspired souvenirs.
Address: 99 Schermerhorn St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
#18. Revel in the lights at Dyker Heights (seasonal)
Few neighborhoods in NYC go all out for the holidays like Dyker Heights, which is why I consider visiting one of the best things to do in Brooklyn. The neighborhood has become the go-to spot for Christmas and Halloween decorations, and for good reason.
The locals spare no expense when decorating, and you can sense a bit of the friendly competition when each house is decked out a little more than the last.
Just when you think you’ve seen the brightest, most colorful house, boom! There’s a more-impressive one down the block.
It’s hard to wipe the smile off your face as you explore the neighborhood, which is why I consider visiting one of the best things to do in Brooklyn!
DHCL Tourism is a tourism company run by the residents of Dyker Heights. The company offers a bus-tour of the neighborhood that conveniently picks up and drops off folks in Manhattan.
#17. Wander Industry City
Making a pit-stop at Industry City is one of the best things to do in Brooklyn. Think of a one-stop shop for all your needs in a beautiful setting with enough entertainment to keep you there well after you’re done shopping.
Comprised of 16 buildings across 35 acres, Industry City sits on the Brooklyn waterfront in Sunset Park.
The large industrial space was established in the 1890’s, being used for manufacturing and distributing. Today it’s become one of the best things to do in Brooklyn.
Chock-full of events, eateries and shops, Industry City has it all. You can spend hours getting lost, roaming from place to place and still barely scratch the surface.
In between the buildings you’ll find colorful courtyards decorated with pumpkins and fall decor creating the most charming backdrop for a photo.
Address: 220 36th St, Brooklyn, NY 11232
#16. Have dinner at Misi
My wife went to Misi with her girlfriends before coming home and singing it’s praises for hours. When I finally got to visit the following weekend, I too became a believer. Date nights at Misi have become one of our favorite things to do in Brooklyn.
Misi makes all their pasta by hand and every bite is a testament to their skill.
I’ve tried the spinach and mascarpone filled tortelli, sheep’s milk ricotta filled occhi, and buffalo butter fettuccine and making me choose just one is akin to making me pick my favorite child.
And do yourself a favor, when visiting make sure to order the whipped ricotta toast, you’ll thank me later.
Address: 329 Kent Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249
#15. Enjoy drinks at Westlight
What better backdrop for a photo than the sweeping views of New York City? Westlight is a rooftop bar located on the 22nd floor of The William Vale hotel in Williamsburg that provides that and more.
The well-curated drinks and delicious small bites are just one of the many reasons why making to trip to Westlight is one of the best things to do in Brooklyn.
The bar has floor to ceiling glass panels that offer a 360° view of the city and makes for one of the best Instagrammable places in NYC.
I’ve come both during the day and at night and can confidently say the vibe is epic regardless of what time of day you decide to visit.
Address: 111 N 12th St, Brooklyn, NY 11249
#14. Have traditional Yemeni coffee
Qahwah is the Arabic word for coffee, and Qahwah House is a Yemeni coffee shop in Williamsburg. Stopping by for a Yemeni Latte is one of the best things to do in Brooklyn, and an experience you won’t soon forget
Serving authentic and organically sourced coffee directly from Yemen, this coffee shop provides a change of pace to the usual big-box coffee shops.
The smell of freshly roasted coffee is guaranteed to embrace you the moment you walk through the door at this charming cafe. If you’re interested, there is a cool map that shows the worldwide distribution of coffee stemming from the Port of Mocha in Yemen.
Qahwah House also offers traditional Yemeni delicacies. Ordering the Khaliat Alnahl, (a cheese filled buttery roll with honey) is non-negotiable, I honestly could not tell you how I lived life this long without it.
Address: 162 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211
#13. Have a drink at Talea Beer Co.
What happens when two well-established women quit uninspiring corporate careers and take on an industry predominantly run by men? They end up opening one of the best breweries in Brooklyn, to no one’s surprise.
TALEA (pronounced tah-lay-uh) Beer Co. is the passion project of Tara and LeAnn (the brewery’s name is a blend of their first names), an endeavor they took on because they wanted to make craft brews more approachable and inclusive.
This is the only woman-founded brewery in Brooklyn so it’s no surprise that visiting is one of the best things to do in Brooklyn. They strive to make easy drinking, fruit-forward beers that lack acidity in an effort to capture folks that are convinced they don’t enjoy beer.
“From confusing packaging and bearded bros with attitudes to dark, industrial taprooms, the male-dominated industry was lacking an approachable, inclusive perspective and voice.”talea
In addition to the creative brews pouring into every glass, my biggest reason for considering TALEA Beer Co. one of the things to do in Brooklyn is the welcoming atmosphere. Everyone is embraced and everyone leaves happy.
Further reading: 10 Thirst-Quenching Brooklyn Breweries Guaranteed to Impress
Address: 87 Richardson St, Brooklyn, NY 11211
#12. Party at House of Yes
As one of the most popular clubs in New York City, it should come as no surprise that partying at House of Yes is one of the best things to do in Brooklyn.
Located in a former ice-making warehouse you’ll find the dance floors are spacious enough to break out any of those saucy moves you have up your sleeve.
Hanging out at House of Yes has become one of my favorite things to do in Brooklyn with my friends for no other reason than it’s fun. Drink in hand, flashing lights and meeting new people has never been more fun than at House of Yes.
Local’s tip: because House of Yes is so popular some night will require tickets for entry. Check out the website for a full schedule on events, themes and tickets.
Address: 2 Wyckoff Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237
#11. Explore Brooklyn Bridge Park
If you’re looking for one of the best things to do in Brooklyn and crave the outdoors look no further than Brooklyn Bridge Park.
The irresistible view of the Brooklyn Bridge takes center stage as happy couples pepper the lawn with picnic blankets and pizza boxes in tow.
These folks definitely know how to keep the romance alive, I tell you what. All you need to do is watch the sun set over Manhattan’s epic skyline to see what all the fuss is about.
The 80-acre park also hosts outdoor movies, which deserve mention as one of the best things to do in Brooklyn during the summer. All this to say Brooklyn Bridge Park is a magical place to be, and one you won’t want to miss.
Further reading: 15 ICONIC New York City Parks You Can’t Afford to Miss
#10. Devour a slice of Brooklyn’s best pizza
New Yorkers treat pizza like religion and Brooklyn is the Mecca, as such the borough is no stranger to great pies and pizzerias.
Coming up with a single slice recommendation is practically impossible. I can mention Julianna’s, which was founded by one of the most famous pizza makers to come out of NYC.
I can recommend Di Fara, where a family business has turned into a family’s legacy. Or why not Lucali? A pizza so good Jay-Z and Beyonce skipped the 2012 Grammy’s for it. Long story short, chowing down on some pie is one of the best things to do in Brooklyn, no matter where it’s from.
Further reading: Check out our deep dive into the 12 Best Brooklyn Pizza Spots That’ll Keep You Coming Back!
#9. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge
Walking the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the best things to do in Brooklyn. How do I know? Well, for starters, my mom has visited me six times since I’ve moved to New York City and we’ve walked across this bridge every single time.
I don’t even fight her on it when she suggests the trek, it’s iconic and I love this popular NYC activity regardless of the amount of times I’ve crossed the bridge. Adding this to my list of best things to do in Brooklyn was a no-brainer.
The bridge spans one mile and takes about 15-20 minutes to walk across, but you should allocate more time because you’ll want to take photos (you can see the Statue of Liberty from here!).
P.S. The Brooklyn Bridge is older than London’s famous Tower Bridge by 11 years (and other thought-provoking NYC facts you probably don’t know).
#8. Explore Prospect Park
Many folks make the mistake of overlooking Prospect Park during their first visit to New York City but I will not let that happen to you. Prospect Park was designed by Frederick Olmstead and Calvert Vaux, the same architects responsible for designing Central Park.
Much like Central Park, Prospect Park is massive (covering 526 acres, to be exact). It’s full of great lawns, mature trees and even has BBQ pits (take that, Central Park!) making visiting one of the best things to do in Brooklyn.
Folks tend to congregate around the top attractions, like the Long Meadow (spanning 90-acres), the Prospect Park Zoo, the charming Boathouse, Picnic House and Concert Grove. If you’re visiting during the summer, check out the list of free concerts hosted at the Prospect Park Bandshell.
Another clear advantage of this beautiful New York City park is that locals tend to outnumber tourists, so the vibe is more relaxed.
But mind you, there’s some heated debates between New Yorkers as to which park is best — since both Brooklyn residents and Manhattan residents are passionate people. Regardless of the wrangle, one thing is certain, Prospect Park is easily one of the best things to do in Brooklyn.
#7. Ride the Ferry
If you’re anything like me and jump at any opportunity to feel like you’re in a movie- listen up! Catching the city skyline from a ferry is one of the best things to do in Brooklyn, but at night?, WOW!
Seeing the city lights is an experience straight out of a rom-com. Catching the Big Apple lit up in its prime is euphoric and magical. Let your hair down, you’re enjoying one of the best things to do in Brooklyn.
Taking the ferry is like taking the subway. Both have a fare of $2.75 (one way) and are easy to figure out. I suggest using Google maps or Apple Maps (Those are my go-to resources when I’m trying to travel anywhere in the city).
Local’s Tip: Download the ferry app. You are able to see the ferry’s schedule and purchase tickets in advance. Once you buy the tickets you just scan your QR code at the dock.
#6. Chow down on a Peter Luger steak
The unforgettable steaks at Peter Luger makes them one of the most iconic restaurants in New York City, and one of the best things to do in Brooklyn.
Dating back to 1887, this cash-only establishment takes great pride in focusing on perfectly cooked dry-aged steaks and keeps frills to a minimum (luckily for us).
The steak came out sizzling hot (generously buttered, of course) and within one bite we found ourselves speechless. The filet minion portion of the cut had a velvety smooth texture that is hard to put into words and get out of your head.
We opted for the creamed spinach side dish and found ourselves impressed, but the bacon at the neighboring table looked too tempting to pass up the next time we visited, further cementing dining Peter Luger as one of the best things to do in Brooklyn.
Address: 178 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Local’s Tip: If you’re visiting during the lunch hour make sure to order the burger (often considered one of the best burgers in New York City).
#5. Check out the Brooklyn Museum
The Brooklyn Museum is often overlooked by first time visitors but I’m here to tell you that visiting is one of the best things to do in Brooklyn.
Housing 500,000 pieces and spanning 560,000 square feet, this is the third largest museum in New York City. The museum is best known for its impressive Ancient Egyptian collection, considered one of the finest in the world.
There is also an impressive rotation of exhibits, so even if you visit once it’s worth it a second pit stop. Currently on display is an exhibit on Virgil Abloh, the late fashion designer.
Address: 200 Eastern Pkwy, Brooklyn, NY 11238
Further reading: 15 Exciting Museums in New York City (& What to See at Each)
#4. Visit Timeout Market + Jane’s Carousel
We’ve all been there. Hangrily trudging along during a trip through an unknown city, not knowing when we’ll be able to rest our aching feet. Finding a place to eat sometimes feels impossible and everyone is growing crabbier by the minute.
Then, like a light at the end of the tunnel, you come across the Time Out Market. This place has single-handedly saved countless vacations and cemented itself as one of the best things to do in Brooklyn.
Timeout Market is a collection of some of the best restaurants in New York City. By bringing 21 unique dining experiences together under one roof, Timeout has made choosing a place to eat so much easier.
The views of Manhattan are hard to beat when you have a drink in hand and a full belly. I’d plan to show up during the evening since the sunsets are immaculate and one of the most memorable things to do in Brooklyn.
Local’s tip: Along the water outside the Timeout Market you’ll find Jane’s Carousel. Take advantage and take a photo in front of it, and if you have little ones consider giving them a ride.
Address: 55 Water St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
#3. Hang out at Coney Island
Coney Island’s famed amusement parks and beaches are hot commodities during New York City’s summer months. I’ve spent entire days here with friends hanging out on the beaches enjoying one of the best things do in Brooklyn.
Pack snacks from home and bring a beach towel to get some color under the sun. If action is more your speed, bring a football or volleyball so you can work on your beach bod with some friends.
And of course, going for a dip in the ocean is one of the best things to do in Brooklyn.
This vibrant neighborhood holds a lot of history and has fun things to do for all ages. Peruse the boardwalk and take in the shops and carnival rides. You’re never short of fun summer activities in this Brooklyn neighborhood.
#2. Visit the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Founded in 1910 and hosting nearly a million visitors annually, Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a spot you can’t afford to miss when searching for the best things to do in Brooklyn.
The 39 acre green-space is like a museum in that the garden has different collections and exhibits showcasing a unique collection of plants.
In terms of what to check out I suggest visiting the Japanese Hill & Pond Garden, especially in the autumn when the fall foliage is running rampant. There are three Japanese maples that turn to a fiery red during peak colors that I make an effort to visit every year.
Since the Brooklyn Botanical Garden really isn’t all that big I suggest making an afternoon of it. You can comfortably take it all in about three to four hours making it one of the best things to do in Brooklyn.
Local’s Tip: Book your tickets online for faster entry, remember children under 12 are free.
Address: 990 Washington Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11225
#1. Watch the sunset at Domino Park
Domino Park is my favorite park in all of New York City, and taking in sunset from it’s shore is one of the best things to do in Brooklyn.
The five-acre park sits on the Williamsburg waterfront and offers ample seating facing the water where many New Yorkers find come to clear their minds.
The views of Manhattan are unrivaled and there’s a magic in the air. This is especially true both as the city wakes up in the morning and as the evening lights turn on.
Domino Park is a great place to bring kids to burn off energy if you’re in need of a break. Along with plenty of room to run around there is also a playground for kids to enjoy. During the summer you’ll find all the kiddos swarming around the two water features the park offers.
Something to note: Domino Park is currently under construction, but the area closest to the East River are open to the public.
Address: 15 River St, Brooklyn, NY 11249
Places to go in Brooklyn (Post Summary)
- Watch the sunset at Domino Park
- Visit the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
- Hang out at Coney Island
- Visit Timeout Market + Jane’s Carousel
- Check out the Brooklyn Museum
- Chow down on a Peter Luger steak
- Ride the Ferry
- Explore Prospect Park
- Walk the Brooklyn Bridge
- Devour a slice of Brooklyn’s best pizza
- Explore Brooklyn Bridge Park
- Party at House of Yes
- Have a drink at Talea Beer Co.
- Have traditional Yemeni coffee
- Enjoy drinks at Westlight
- Have dinner at Misi
- Wander Industry City
- Revel in the lights at Dyker Heights
- Visit the Brooklyn Transit Museum
- Check out the Brooklyn Flea
- Visit Green-wood Cemetery
- Have coffee at % Arabica
- Visit the Brooklyn Navy Yard
- Have brunch at Cafe LuLuc
- Get lost at Books are Magic
Map of activities in Brooklyn
And there you have it, a list of what I consider to be the best things to do in Brooklyn.
I hope you found it useful, cheers!