This helpful guide covers the best things to do in DUMBO, one of the hippest neighborhoods in New York City.
What does DUMBO stand for?
Before we chat about the fun things to do in DUMBO you might be wondering, what does DUMBO stand for?
Quite simply, DUMBO is an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. Aptly named, this neighborhood is sandwiched between two iconic NYC bridges: the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge. Don’t you just love it when the answer is uncomplicated and to the point? It’s the New York City way!
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.
Things to Do in DUMBO
Enjoy a Pie at Juliana’s
There is no other way to start a list of the best things to do in DUMBO than with the one, the only, Juliana’s Pizzeria. The restaurant itself opened in 2012, but locals know that the delicious pies at Juliana’s date back 75 years.
It was founded by NYC pizza-making legend Pasquale Grimaldi, who previously spent decades making pies at Patsy’s and Grimaldi’s. Juliana’s stays true to traditional New York pizza (thin crust, perfected tomato sauce and quality ingredients).
They don’t take reservations so you’ll likely have to wait in line, but trust me when I tell you — the pizza is worth it.
Tables clear like clockwork so the line moves quickly and before you know it you’ll be eating at one of the best spots in DUMBO.
Address: 19 Old Fulton St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Walk the Brooklyn Promenade
One of the best things to do in DUMBO is walking the Brooklyn Promenade. It won’t cost you more than the subway ride to get there but the views are priceless.
During the middle of the day it can become a bit of a madhouse, swarming with tourists and locals alike. But if you visit early in the morning – it’s pure bliss.
Or you can enjoy the walk in the evening, during sunset. It’s a romantic and free thing to do in DUMBO that you can add to your routine for an endless supply of charm.
The promenade runs through Brooklyn Bridge Park and isn’t hard to find. Just head towards the water!
Celebrate at Celestine
If you’re looking for a restaurant that’ll make you feel like you’re on an episode of Sex and the City, Celestine checks all the boxes.
Under the towering Manhattan Bridge and offering waterfront views of Manhattan, visiting the restaurant is one of the best things to do in DUMBO.
The Mediterranean restaurant is an ideal place to someone you’re trying to impress or celebrate a special occasion. The floor to ceiling windows and outdoor dining make it a prized destination for sunset dinner-dates.
And fortunately the food matches the brilliant presentation. It’s not uncommon for restaurants with pretty views to skimp on the quality, knowing they’ll attract customers regardless. Celestine doesn’t rest on its laurels, though.
Whether you visit for brunch or for dinner you’ll enjoy fresh plates and a full bar to keep your palate begging for more. Just make reservations online, since dining at Celestine’s is one of the most popular things to do in DUMBO.
Address: 1 John St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Catch a Show at St. Ann’s Warehouse
The Brooklyn Bridge promenade can be a busy place, teeming with shutterbug tourists and chipper locals. So where do you go when you need a break? How about to St. Ann’s Warehouse.
Sitting right underneath the Brooklyn Bridge, the pre-Civil War building is home to the Max Family Garden. It has no roof so you still get views of the bridge, and you’ll gain a wall of separation between you and the crowds.
It’s open to the public so technically the crowds can wander in, but it’s still under most folks’ radar. Odds are you’ll find a place to rest your legs in the small hidden-gem.
St. Ann’s Warehouse is also home to a multi-use venue that’s popular for hosting off-Broadway theater performances. The studio can host up to 700 spectators and the productions are usually short, new plays.
For a full list of this season’s current productions as well as access to tickets, visit St. Ann’s Warehouse’s website.
Address: 45 Water St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Ride the Ferry
Every time I have an out of town guest I make an effort to ride the ferry with them. Tickets only cost $4 so you can ride a boat around New York City without shelling out what it’d cost to take a cruise.
One of the docks for the ferry will bring you right to DUMBO’s front door, which is usually how I introduce my friends my preferred mode of public transportation.
There’s an open-air, second floor deck that’ll have the wind blowing through your hair and smiling ear to ear. Whether you take it to or from, riding the ferry is one of the best things to do in DUMBO.
If you’re not tied to any particular schedule I suggest riding the ferry at sunset (or even better) at night. Downtown Manhattan lights up like a Christmas tree and it’s impossible not to feel giddy.
Local’s tip: There are self-service booths selling tickets for the ferry, but it’s so much easier if you download the app.It’s called NYC Ferry, you can pay from your phone and then scan a QR code to board.
Walk the Brooklyn Bridge
Spanning a little more than a mile the Brooklyn Bridge is a masterpiece of American engineering. It was the longest suspension bridge in the world at the time of completion and has come to be an icon of the NYC skyline.
So it should be no surprise that of the most popular things to do in DUMBO is to take the stroll from Brooklyn to Manhattan (or vice versa). The trip takes about 30 minutes and it’s an activity the whole family can enjoy.
The pedestrian walkway is seldom empty (unless you wake up at the crack of dawn) and it’s a goldmine for photo-taking opportunities. From the bridge you can see most of NYC’s iconic buildings, and even the Statue of Liberty.
So if the weather is nice and you’re in search of one of the best things to do in DUMBO consider walking the bridge. If you do you’ll have some serious bragging rights every time a movie or a show has a clip of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Enjoy a Pint at Evil Twin Brewing
Started by Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergso, an identical twin from Denmark, Evil Twin Brewing seems to have one mission in mind: upset the apple cart.
His twin brother launched Mikkeller Brewing Company in 2006, which Jeppe challenged with Evil Twin Brewing in 2010. One of the best things to do in DUMBO is to swing by the sun-soaked taproom for a crisp brew.
It’s one of the most popular breweries in Brooklyn for a reason. Originally started as a nomadic brewery (without a home base, brewing beers at other breweries in New York City).
After 8 years of the nomadic lifestyle, Jeppe and his wife/business partner Maria, decided to settle down in Queens and then opened a second location in DUMBO.
Expect to find exciting, albeit unusual, variations on classics. As you probably know by know, I’m partial to the IPAs but even I can’t pass up an unusual seasonal delight every now and then.
Address: 43 Main St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Snap an Iconic Photo with the Manhattan Bridge
DUMBO used to be a hub of manufacturing and industry, which is a long way from the Instagrammer’s paradise it is today. Of all the idyllic scenes you’ll find the neighborhood there is one shot that’s made it world famous.
I’m talking about the photo of a cobblestone street with the Manhattan Bridge looming in the background. Sometimes you’ll find photos of the Empire State Building framed by the bridge.
Snapping “the” photo is one of the most popular things to do in DUMBO. The best place to get the shot is at the intersection of Washington and Water Streets.
It’s a popular backdrop for Christmas cards, wedding photos and even proposals. But you don’t have to be commemorating anything to enjoy one of the best things to do in DUMBO, your visit is worthy enough.
Address: Intersection of Water Street and Washington Street
Peruse the Time Out Market
The Time Out Market is a piece of genius. 21 of New York City’s best restaurants under one roof, satiating tourists and locals alike in the most picturesque of settings.
By repurposing a former waterfront warehouse, Time Out created a foodie sanctuary. There’s even a rooftop bar with both indoor and outdoor seating (that boasts one of the best happy hours in NYC).
Visiting is one of the best things to do in DUMBO, especially if you’re hungry. Even if you’re traveling with a group of stubborn friends who can never agree on where to eat (been there), the market options for everyone.
Just be sure to grab a table with views of the Brooklyn Bridge. Normally you’d have to make reservations a month in advance and slip the host a crisp $20 bill for a view like the one at the Time Out Market.
Address: 55 Water St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Grab drinks at at Randolph’s
Visiting Randolph’s Beer is one of the best things to do in DUMBO, just be sure to drink responsibility.
The epic views of Manhattan from the rooftop bar, the reminiscent arcade games, oh, and the self-serve beer station all contribute to the beloved beer garden’s success.
That’s right, Randolph has implemented a “beer ATM,” a self-serve wall of brews. You’ll pre-load a card with money and head on over to the wall. There, you’ll rest the card over the brew you want and pay $.60 an ounce.
It’s a great way to try multiple beers without breaking the bank! Any craft-brew connoisseur will agree that a trip to Randolph Beer is one of the best things to do in Brooklyn, but with the options even a picky-drinker will enjoy.
Address: 82 Prospect St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Ride Jane’s Carousel
Sandwiched between the Time Out Market and The East River is Jane’s Carousel, a surreal children’s ride that oddly fits along with the scenery. It was built in 1922 and got a second chance at life when it opened in DUMBO in 2011.
Housed inside a giant glass building the carousel is open rain or shine. Your little one can ride on one of its 48 wooden horses for only $2, making priceless memories.
The views are breathtaking and the innocent bliss of a child makes a pit-stop at Jane’s Carousel one of the best things to do in DUMBO. For an even more magical experience, be sure to ride around sunset.
Address: 1 Old, Dock St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Get Some Ice Cream
Hot days call for DUMBO. Maybe it’s being by the water, but maybe it’s the great ice cream. There’s two shops I visit without fail, once when I arrive and once before I leave. 😉
The first is right outside the ferry’s gate, Van Leeuwen. It’s housed inside a former fire boat station and they make a variety of delicious flavors, including vegan and gluten-free options.
The second is the Brooklyn Ice Cream factory, which feels like a small town ice cream shop. They have bright outdoor seating and less options, but it’s a better ambience than Van Leeuwen since you can sit.
Either way you’ll be enjoying some of the best ice cream in New York City and one of the best things to do in DUMBO. Just be sure to grab two scoops because the first one will melt before you walk away from the stand!
Address: 1 Water St, Brooklyn, NY 11201 & 14 Old Fulton St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Enjoy a Movie with a View (Seasonal)
Seasonal but worth mentioning, the Brooklyn Bridge Park is one of the best places to watch outdoor movies in NYC and catching a flick is one of the best things to do in DUMBO.
The East River, the views of Manhattan, and the greenery all come together in a seamless display of magic. Depending on the film, it could be one of the best things to do in DUMBO with the whole family.
Smorgasburg vendors provide food starting at 5PM, and there’s pre-movie DJs dolling out easy-going summer vibes. I usually try to show up early for a bite and to get a good spot when they open the lawn at 6PM.
The movies begin at sundown (from June to August that’s generally between 8 and 8:30PM) on the Harbor View Lawn. There will be eight movies played this year, all on Thursdays with the unifying theme “We Are Family.”
2023 Brooklyn Bridge Park Movies With A View Lineup:
- July 6th – E.T. Extra Terrestrial
- July 13th – Smoke Signals
- July 20th – Top Gun
- July 27th – Psycho
- August 3rd – GoodFellas
- August 10th – Despicable Me
- August 17th – Everything Everywhere All At Once
- August 24th – Public’s choice (voting here)
Address: 80 Furman St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Order Something Sweet at Jacques Torres
Jacques Torres specializes in chocolate and because of his mastery of chocolate is unparalleled. So much so, that I consider Jacques Torres’s chocolate chip cookie as some of the best cookies in NYC.
Address: 66 Water St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Test Your Luck at the Brooklyn Flea
One of the best flea markets in NYC also happens to be one of the best things to do in DUMBO, called the Brooklyn Flea. It opened in 2008 and has become a weekly ritual for locals.
The Brooklyn Flea is open Saturday and Sundays under the DUMBO Archway, April through December.
The goodies are vintage or handmade quality goods that you can feel good about buying. You’re helping a small business by shopping local and helping keep waste out of our landfills.
And it doesn’t hurt that the items sold are cute too. Cool totes, hard to find records and vintage cameras are all for sale. Swinging by the Brooklyn Flea is one of the best things to do in DUMBO, you never know what you’ll find.
Address: 80 Pearl St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Pop into % Arabica Coffee
If you’re searching for one of the most memorable coffee shops you’ll ever visit, route your GPS to % Arabica Coffee in DUMBO.
The dreamy coffee shop, which can be found on a lovely block corner, has large half-dome windows that wonderfully frame the famous Brooklyn Bridge and offer stunning views of lower Manhattan.
It’s impossible to not break out your phone for a photo.
But don’t mistake its gorgeous aesthetic for fancy packaging; their coffee stands on its own two feet. You can taste the freshness and robustness of their coffee thanks to on-site, cutting-edge roasting equipment.
Securing a corner seat and nursing a latte while people-watching with the Brooklyn Bridge as your company is one of the most romantic things to do in DUMBO (especially on a rainy day).
Address: 20 Old Fulton St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
List of the best things to to in DUMBO NYC
- Enjoy a Cup of Coffee with the Brooklyn Bridge
- Rummage through the Goodies at the Brooklyn Flea
- Walk the Brooklyn Promenade
- Order Something Sweet at Jacques Torres
- Peruse the Empire Stores
- Enjoy a Movie with a View
- Cool Down with some Ice Cream
- Ride Jane’s Carousel
- (Responsibly) Drink Your Fill at Randolphs
- Peruse the Racks at 2nd Street
- Eat Your Fill at The Timeout Market
- Snap “The” Iconic Picture
- Down a Cold One at Evil Twin Brewing
- Walk the Brooklyn Bridge
- Stretch Your Creativity at Usagi
- Ride the Ferry
- Catch a Show at St. Ann’s Warehouse
- Celebrate at Celestine
- Hang out Under the DUMBO Archway
- Inhale a Pie at Juliana’s
Fun DUMBO Activities (Helpful Map)
And there you have it, the best things to do in DUMBO according to yours truly.
As always, don’t hesitate to let us know if we missed anything. Cheers!