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12 Best Things to Do in Red Hook, Brooklyn (Besides Ikea, Of Course)

Best things to do in Red Hook Brooklyn

Red Hook has quickly become one of my favorite neighborhoods in Brooklyn. We discovered it innocently enough. While strolling through the charming streets of Cobble Hill, drawn to a particular brewery advertising spectacular views of Lady Liberty, we ventured further west until we stumbled upon this delightful area.

Smitten by the relaxed vibes and friendly locals, we promptly returned with more friends, soaking up the last days of summer. Looking for a reprieve from the crowds in Manhattan, we bound ourselves on the Red Hook bound ferry in January and were happy to learn that the neighborhood is just as wonderful in 40°F too. Here’s a roundup of our favorite things to do in Red Hook, Brooklyn (hope you enjoy!).

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 (10 Best Neighborhoods & 3 to Avoid). Don’t have time? Here’s our favorite hotel in NYC, hands down.

The Best Things to Do in Red Hook, Brooklyn

(Table of Contents)

Red Hook Tavern Burger

Enjoy a 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.

Enjoying a meal at Red Hook Tavern feels intimate and relaxed, the restaurant has such a great vibe! Which is why this is one of the best things to do in Red Hook for first time visitors.

Strong Rope Brewery Red Hook Brooklyn

Relax with a Pint at Strong Rope Brewery

Strong Rope Brewery is known for two things: good brews and epic views of the Statue of Liberty. As a New York State Farm Brewery, this family-owned brewery is committed to using local ingredients almost exclusively. Their approach to brewing is unique, focusing on exploring the capabilities of regional malt and hops while working closely with local farmers for unique ingredients.

This results in a diverse range of beers, from classic styles to innovative seasonal creations. Better still, Jason Sahler, who was an award-winning home-brewer before co-founding Strong Rope Brewery, graduated from New York University with a degree in Sustainable Development, underlining the brewery’s focus on sustainability and community engagement​​​​​​.

Hometown Bar-B-Que in Red Hook Brooklyn

Visit Hometown Bar-B-Que (Best BBQ in NYC)

Hometown Bar-B-Que made headlines for serving the best Texas-style barbecue in New York City. Famous for large portions and irresistible flavors, the restaurant serves phenomenal brisket (with a distinctive crusty bark) and arguably the best pork ribs in the city.

The spacious venue exudes a genuine Texas BBQ joint vibe and has locals waiting more than an hour during the summer months.

Steve's Key Lime Pie Red Hook Brooklyn

Visit Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pie

Serving the neighborhood for more than 20 years, visiting Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies is one of the best things to do in Red Hook for foodies. Churning out tangy key lime pies and tarts, this spot is perfect for anyone looking for a quick treat while visiting Red Hook.

My go-to order is a unique treat called “Swingles,” which are key lime pies frozen and covered in chocolate, served on sticks. But honestly, the traditional pies are hard to pass up. If it’s your first trip to Red Hook, start with the classic personal pie, hard to go wrong with that!

Sunny's Bar Red Hook

Imbibe at Sunny’s Bar

Dating back to 1890, Sunny’s Bar is a storied dive bar oozing nostalgic vibes. Having been in the same family since openings, the live music and affordable drinks at Sunny’s attracts a local crowd. The bar’s appeal lies not just in its historical significance but also in its relaxed, almost timeless ambiance.

Full of random trinkets, the bar was once a saloon for longshoremen and continues to embody the spirit of a bygone era. The pints are as cold as your landlord’s heart, make no mistake, but the focus is less on variety and more on the experience of enjoying a drink in a living piece of history. All this to say, popping in for a drink at Sunny’s is one of the most relaxing Red Hook activities.

Rooftop at Brooklyn Crab

Indulge at the Rooftop at Brooklyn Crab

Famous for fresh, sustainably-sourced crab and seafood dishes, this local restaurant has the best outdoor seating in Red Hook. Offering stunning views of the New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Crab knows how to keep locals happy by providing fun activities like mini-golf and cornhole.

The relaxed, beachy atmosphere only proves the point that visiting Red Hook feels like vacation. This blend of great food, stunning views, and leisurely activities solidifies Brooklyn Crab’s status as a top destination in Red Hook.

Defonte's Red Hook

Try the Famous Hero at Defonte’s Sandwich Shop

A culinary landmark, Defonte’s is a no-frills (cash-only) sandwich shop that dates back to 1922 (102 years!). Known for making generously-sized Italian heroes in NYC, everything is made fresh to order at this neighborhood staple.

The shop’s old-school charm and the consistently delicious, hearty sandwiches have made it one of the most iconic spots in Red Hook. Surprisingly enough, the most popular item on the menu is the humbling potato and egg sandwich, a hefty meal that requires a walk.

Red Hook Coffee

Take a Break at Red Hook Coffee

Red Hook Coffee House is an idyllic neighborhood cafe equipped with cozy leather couches, a friendly (and perfectly sassy) barista, great coffee and laptop-absorbed locals mingling over a second round of lukewarm drinks.

Celebrated for its warm and inviting atmosphere the Red Hook Cafe is a mainstay in the neighborhood. Known for expertly crafted coffee and a diverse menu of locally-sourced treats, it oozed a cozy ambiance and strong community vibes. A vibrant part of the local scene, Red Hook Cafe is a must-visit for anyone exploring Red Hook.

Widow Jane Red Hook

Sample Local Spirits at Widow Jane

Founded in 2012, Widow Jane Distillery distills whisky in Red Hook using non-GMO ingredients and pure limestone mineral water sourced from the historic Rosendale Mines (100 miles north in upstate New York).

The limestone from these mines were used to build the foundation of NYC’s most iconic structures, like the Empire State Building, the Statue of liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge. Embracing history, Widow Jane Distillery captivated visitors with locally-made whiskeys and impressive craft cocktails.

The distillery offers tours and tastings that provide an educational opportunity to learn more about the whiskey-making process. This blend of historical intrigue, artisanal spirits, and cultural activities makes a trip to the Widow Jane Mine an unforgettable experience in Red Hook.

Stroll Louis Valentino Jr. Pier at Sunset

Louis Valentino Jr. Pier is a scenic pier named in honor of a local firefighter who lost his life in the line of duty. The pier provides breathtaking views of the Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor, and the Manhattan skyline. As the sun sets, the area is bathed in golden hues, creating a mesmerizing backdrop perfect for photographers and romantics.

The pier’s serene atmosphere offers a peaceful retreat from the city’s hustle, ideal for picnics, leisurely strolls, or simply relaxing by the water. The combination of stunning views, tranquil surroundings, and its historical significance makes strolling down Louis Valentino Jr. Pier at sunset one of the best things to do in Red Hook.

Pop Into Open Invite for Fun Gifts

Open Invite in trendy local boutique that has a curated selection of items that range from stylish home decor to unique gifts and artisanal locally-made products. What sets Open Invite apart is its focus on local craftsmanship and sustainable goods, offering products made by local artisans and designers.

Take at Class at Raaka Chocolate

I’m a huge fan of chocolate, I have secret stashes at my in-laws house and love chocolate enough to derail vacations if I discover a chocolate shop within a 2-mile radius. Imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon Raaka Chocolate in Red Hook.

Raaka offers a few different classes, but my favorite is the bean to bar class. You start by choosing beans (deciding between Ugandan or Tanzanian) and go through the entire process of cracking through the shell, grinding the beans, and then tempering and molding it into chocolate. Taking a class at Raaka is one of the most romantic things to do in Red Hook, highly recommend!

Visiting Red Hook (FAQ)

Is Red Hook worth a visit?

That’s an easy yes. Red Hook is absolutely worth a visit! Often overlooked, this Brooklyn neighborhood feels like an underrated gem. With stunning waterfront views (not to mention epic views of the Statue of Liberty), visiting Red Hook feels like vacation.

What is Red Hook NY famous for?

is famed for its rich maritime history, artistic vibe, and stunning waterfront views. Once a bustling industrial port, it’s now known for a unique blend of old-world charm and modern creativity.

Red Hook Brooklyn Things to Do (Post Summary)

In sum, here’s a quick list of the best things to do in Red Hook.

  1. Enjoy a Burger at Red Hook Tavern
  2. Grab Drinks at Strong Rope Brewery
  3. Visit Hometown Bar-B-Que (Best BBQ in NYC)
  4. Visit Steve’s Key Lime Pie
  5. Imbibe at Sunny’s Bar
  6. Relax on the Outdoor Rooftop at Brooklyn Crab
  7. Try the Famous Hero at Defonte’s Sandwich Shop
  8. Take a Break at the Charming Red Hook Cafe
  9. Sample Local Spirits
  10. Stroll Louis Valentino Jr. Pier at Sunset
  11. Pop Into Open Invite for Fun Gifts
  12. Take at Class at Raaka Chocolate