Home to more than 2.5 million residents, Brooklyn is the most populous borough in New York City. As you can imagine, the list of fun activities is never-ending. From an afternoon at Coney Island to walking the iconic Brooklyn Bridge Park, there’s no shortage of cool stuff to see in Brooklyn. So let’s cover everything you need to know before visiting 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 10 Best Neighborhoods for First Timers & 3 to Avoid). Don’t have time? Here’s my favorite hotel in NYC, hands down.
List of the Best Things to Do in Brooklyn
(Table of Contents)
Table of Contents: Fun Brooklyn Activities
- List of the Best Things to Do in Brooklyn
- Try the Famous Burger at Red Hook Tavern
- Have Rooftop Cocktails at Bar Blondeau
- Relax at Brooklyn Bridge Park
- Learn Something New at the Brooklyn Museum
- Visit the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
- Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge
- Take a Self-Guided Pizza Crawl
- Experience the Cherry Blossoms at Green-Wood Cemetery
- Visit the Time Out Market
- Order the Rib Eye Steak at Peter Luger
- Visiting Brooklyn With Kids? Swing by Domino Park
- Tour the Brooklyn Navy Yard
- Peruse the Brooklyn Flea
- Visit the New York Transit Museum
- Explore Industry City
- Explore Prospect Park
- Spend the Day at Coney Island
- See the Famous Christmas Displays at Dyker Heights (Seasonal)
- Best Places to See in Brooklyn (Post Summary)
- Map of Things to Do While Visiting Brooklyn
Try the Famous Burger at Red Hook Tavern
Red Hook Tavern graces our list of the best burgers in New York City, but not without reason. Inspired by classic taverns and steakhouses, Red Hook Tavern was opened in 2019 by the mastermind behind Hometown Bar-B-Que (arguably the best in NYC).
The juicy burgers at this beloved spot draw a local crowd, and I don’t use “crowd” loosely, the wait is upwards of an hour during weekends. Try to make a reservation or be prepared to wait. The small menu is a welcome change of pace, keeping the focus on some great appetizers, a few salads, and the burgers and steak. Doesn’t hurt that the restaurant oozes old-world charm, great vibes all around!
Have Rooftop Cocktails at Bar Blondeau
Brooklyn offers the most striking panoramic views of Manhattan’s iconic skyline, so it’s safe to say that visiting a rooftop bar is one of the most popular things to do in Brooklyn. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you’ve heard of the super famous rooftop bar in Williamsburg called Westlight (at the William Vale Hotel).
Well, same-day reservations are nearly impossible to score, so allow me to offer an equally great second option. Bar Blondeau at the Wythe Hotel. Located a mere two blocks from the Westlight, Bar Blondeau is much easier to get into last minute and the views are remarkable!
Relax at Brooklyn Bridge Park
Sitting under the shadow of NYC’s most famous bridge, Brooklyn Bridge Park is a beautiful 85-acre waterfront park that stretches 1.3 miles along the East River. Irresistible views of the Manhattan Skyline take center stage as happy couples pepper the lawn with picnic blankets and pizza boxes in tow. The park has a few attractions like playgrounds, sports fields, gardens, and a scenic promenade.
It’s very popular in the summer months when the park hosts outdoor movies. I always make sure to bring out-of-town guests here, especially at sunset. Nobody is immune from the magical feeling of seeing the skyline light up for the night. Relaxing in the park with your special someone is (easily) one of the most romantic things to do in Brooklyn.
You Might Enjoy Reading: 15 ICONIC New York City Parks You Can’t Afford to Miss
Learn Something New at the Brooklyn Museum
The Brooklyn Museum is often overlooked by those visiting Brooklyn for the first time, which is a pity. One of the largest and oldest museums in the country, it was established in 1896 and houses an impressive collection of more than 500,000 objects.
The museums spans various cultures and time periods, offering everything from ancient Egyptian masterpieces to contemporary art. Best known for the extensive collection of Egyptian antiquities, the Brooklyn Museum is a hit with locals due to the innovative rotating exhibits (that tackle social and political themes).
The Brooklyn Museum stands out not just for its vast collection, but also for its commitment to education and community engagement, offering a plethora of programs and workshops for all ages. All told, visiting the museum is one of the most enjoyable things to do in Brooklyn for locals and visitors alike.
Website: Brooklyn Museum
Address: 200 Eastern Pkwy, Brooklyn, NY
Featured in: 15 Exciting Museums in New York City (& What to See at Each)
Visit the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Founded in 1910, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a spot you can’t afford to miss while visiting Brooklyn. Spanning more than 52 acres, the garden is home to more than 14,000 varieties of plants and attracts nearly one million visitors per year.
It’s especially famous for the Cherry Blossom Festival in spring, where over 200 cherry trees blossom in spectacular fashion. In fact, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is mentioned on our list of the best spots to see cherry blossoms in NYC. You can see most of the garden in 2-3 hours, which is why I consider this one of the best things to do in Brooklyn when you have a free afternoon to fill.
Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is an iconic New York experience. Completed in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge is an architectural marvel that was deemed the longest suspension bridge in the world when it was built. Spanning about 1.1 miles over the East River, the bridge connects Brooklyn to Manhattan and takes about 30 minutes to cross. Offering stunning views of Manhattan’s skyline and the Statue of Liberty, this is one of the coolest things to do in Brooklyn with kids in tow.
Did You Know? The Brooklyn Bridge is older than the Tower Bridge in London (by 11 years!). Read: Thought-Provoking NYC Facts You Probably Don’t Know (Yet).
Take a Self-Guided Pizza Tour
Home to some of the best pizzas in NYC, Brooklyn is no stranger to iconic pizzerias. Coming up with a single recommendation is an impossible task because I wouldn’t know where to begin. My mind instantly goes to personal favorites, like Julianna’s and Roberta’s. But then there’s Lucali, a pizza so tempting that Jay-Z and Beyoncé famously skipped the 2012 Grammy’s to split a pie.
Long story short, going on a self-guided pizza crawl is one of the most memorable things to do in Brooklyn. Need some guidance? Here’s a roundup of my favorite pizza spots in Brooklyn.
Explore Industry City
Spanning an impressive 35 acres, Industry City is a cool waterfront complex of abandoned buildings that have been transformed into a dynamic mix of local shops, breweries, and great restaurants. Known for hosting tons of seasonal events, the area is ripe for exploration!
Between the charming bookstores, incredible food, and top-notch sake brewery, you’ll find yourself occupied for an entire day. Any way you slice it, visiting Industry City is one of the best things to do in Brooklyn, so don’t miss it!
Experience the Cherry Blossoms at Green-Wood Cemetery
Green-Wood Cemetery spans 478 acres and the spring blooms simply can’t be beat. The highest concentration of cherry blossoms can be found in the Valley Water and Sylvan Water ponds. There’s also a fascinating art installation called Here Lie the Secrets of the Visitors of Green-Wood Cemetery. It’s a grave designed specifically for secrets! Visitors can write their most intimate secrets on a sheet of paper and finally lay them to rest.
Visit the Time Out Market
In repurposing a massive waterfront warehouse, the Time Out Market is a glorious food hall that houses some of the best restaurants in NYC. This is my go-to spot when traveling with a group of friends who never agree on where to eat because there’s something for everyone.
Make an effort to snatch an outdoor table on the rooftop (which has one of the best happy hours in NYC on weekdays from 4 pm-7 pm). You’d normally have to make reservations a month in advance and slip the host a crisp $20 bill for views like this (seriously).
Order the Rib Eye Steak at Peter Luger
Peter Luger has earned a reputation among locals for offering some of the best dry-aged steaks in New York. Opened in 1887, this cash-only, no-frills establishment is considered one of the most iconic restaurants in New York City.
The restaurant’s unapologetic commitment to time-honored traditions and quality makes it a beloved staple for locals. Savvy tourists know to make the trek as well, eager to experience this quintessential New York dining institution steeped in history. All this to say, Peter Luger’s is one of the top spots to visit in Brooklyn for foodies.
Visiting Brooklyn With Kids? Swing by Domino Park
Opened in 2018, Domino Park is a prime example of how industrial spaces can be transformed into cherished public spaces. Built using salvaged materials from the Domino Sugar Refinery (which was located at this site), this 5-acre park perfectly blends the area’s industrial past with modern design.
Offering spectacular views of Manhattan and the Williamsburg Bridge, the park has a great playground, food stands, a dog run, and water features for kids to run wild. If you’re visiting Brooklyn with kids, you’ll want to add Domino Park to your Brooklyn Itinerary!
Address: 15 River St, Brooklyn, NY
Tour the Brooklyn Navy Yard
Dating back to 1801, the Brooklyn Navy Yard was once the nation’s premier naval shipyard. Celebrating 165 years in operation, there’s a boat-load (ba-dum, tss) of history within the complex. Outfitting vessels from the War of 1812 through the Cold War, you can sign up for a guided tour to learn about the Yard’s rich naval history.
The tours take a deep dive (okay, now I’m done) into the historic ships that were constructed in the port over the years (someone take the mic away, please). There’s a variety of different tours offered, but I consider the Past, Present, and Future to be the best option on offer (it lasts 2 hours).
Fun fact: The USS Missouri, built in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, is dubbed “the most historic battleship in the world.” Japanese officials surrendered on its deck, officially bringing WWII to an end.
Check Out the Brooklyn Flea
The Brooklyn Flea (located in DUMBO) is considered one of the best flea markets in NYC. Started in 2008, the market is open on Saturdays & Sundays from April through December. You can score vintage and handmade goods that support artsy locals and help keep waste out of landfills. If you’re into vintage shopping, I suggest spending some time perusing the market while visiting Brooklyn (you never know what you’ll find!).
Visit the New York Transit Museum
Founded in 1976, the New York Transit Museum is located inside of a decommissioned subway station in Downtown Brooklyn. The museum offers a fascinating look at the city’s robust transportation system (one of the busiest and oldest in the world!).
Visiting the New York Transit Museum is a great Brooklyn activity for families with young kids. The museum covers a century of subway history through the use of vintage subway cars that date back to 1903. The cars display era-appropriate ads, which are both fascinating and comical.
You’ll find everything from old tokens and turnstiles to historical maps and signage, alongside interactive exhibits that tell the story of the immense effort and engineering feats behind New York’s impressive public transportation network. This Brooklyn museum provides a unique educational experience and a nostalgic trip down memory lane, it’s fun for the whole family!
Explore Prospect Park
Prospect Park was designed by Frederick Olmstead and Calvert Vaux (the architects responsible for designing Central Park). Much like Central Park, Prospect Park is massive and is full of pretty lawns, mature trees, and even areas for BBQ pits (take that, Central Park!).
Folks tend to congregate around the top attractions, like the Long Meadow (spanning 90 acres), the Prospect Park Zoo, the charming Boathouse, the 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. Locals tend to outnumber tourists, so the vibe is more relaxed.
But mind you, there are 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, relaxing at Prospect Park is easily one of the most relaxing things to do in Brooklyn.
Spend the Day at Coney Island
Coney Island is a legendary amusement park in Brooklyn, New York. A place steeped in nostalgia and brimming with thrill-seekers, this iconic destination has been a local hotspot for decades. Known as the site of America’s first roller coaster (the “Switchback Railway” which opened in 1884), Coney Island is home to the famous Cyclone roller coaster, a landmark since 1927.
The area draws millions of visitors each year, not just for its rides, but also for the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, a quirky Fourth of July tradition since 1916. Besides the adrenaline-pumping amusement parks, Coney Island is home to the New York Aquarium, a famous boardwalk, and sandy beaches. If you have the time to spare, spending a day at Coney Island is one of the most iconic things to do in Brooklyn.
See the Famous Christmas Displays at Dyker Heights (Seasonal)
Few neighborhoods in NYC go all out for the holidays like Dyker Heights. The neighborhood has become the go-to spot for Christmas (and Halloween) decorations, but not without reason.
Residents spare no expense when decorating their homes with outlandish displays. There’s definitely a sense of (friendly) competition among neighbors! Just when you think you’ve seen the brightest, most colorful house, boom! There’s a more impressive one down the block. This neighborhood is worth a detour for anyone researching the best things to do in Brooklyn during Christmas.
Local’s Tip: Dyker Heights Christmas Light (DHCL) is a tourism company run by the residents of Dyker Heights. The company offers bus-tours of the neighborhood (paid) with convenient pick-up and drop-off points in Manhattan.
Visiting Brooklyn (Post Summary)
- Watch the sunset at Domino Park
- Visit the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
- Spend an afternoon at Coney Island
- Visit Timeout Market
- Check out the Brooklyn Museum
- Order the Rib eye at Peter Luger steak
- Explore Prospect Park
- Walk the Brooklyn Bridge
- Go on a self-guided pizza crawl
- Explore Brooklyn Bridge Park
- Enjoy drinks at Bar Blondeau
- Pop Into Industry City
- Revel in the lights at Dyker Heights
- Visit the Brooklyn Transit Museum
- Check out the Brooklyn Flea
- Visit Green-wood Cemetery
- Visit the Brooklyn Navy Yard
Map of Things to Do in Brooklyn
Frequently Asked Questions: What to Do in Brooklyn
Yes, Brooklyn, NY is worth visiting for its vibrant cultural scene, diverse neighborhoods, delicious food, and stunning views of the Manhattan skyline.
Brooklyn offers a plethora of activities including exploring cultural landmarks, enjoying diverse cuisines, attending live events, and relaxing in its numerous parks.
Brooklyn, NY is known for its vibrant cultural diversity, iconic landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge, the revitalization of neighborhoods such as Williamsburg and DUMBO, its thriving arts scene, and its culinary offerings ranging from artisanal eateries to traditional ethnic cuisines.
The best neighborhoods in Brooklyn include Williamsburg for its trendy vibe and arts scene, Park Slope for its family-friendly atmosphere and beautiful brownstones, and Brooklyn Heights for its historic charm and picturesque views of the Manhattan skyline.
Yes, Brooklyn is definitely worth visiting on a first trip to New York for its distinct neighborhoods, diverse culture, iconic landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge, and vibrant culinary scene, offering a unique perspective on the city.
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And there you have it, a list of what I consider to be the best things to do in Brooklyn. I hope it helps you plan your trip to Brooklyn, don’t hesitate to reach out with questions, I’m here to help!