Post Overview: Things to do Williamsburg Brooklyn
Williamsburg, Brooklyn can be described in one word: colorful. The description applies to more than just its buildings too. The locals, the food, the music, they’re all high-spirited and contagious.
Originally its own city until 1855 when it was annexed by Brooklyn (which was then annexed by New York City in 1898), Williamsburg has its own strong and independent identity.
There is a vigorous art scene in the neighborhood which is can be appreciated by merely walking the street. You’ll also find entrancing nightlife at any of the local bars.
And if you’re looking for the best things to do in Williamsburg you’ve come to the right place. I’ve spent the better part of a decade living in Williamsburg and wrote this article to share my neighborhood with you. Even through trying times (I’m looking at you, COVID-19) the neighborhood has managed to be a bright spot in NYC.
So if you’re looking for the best places to eat, things to see and things to do in Williamsburg, Brooklyn I say we dive right in because we have a lot of ground to cover!
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 Williamsburg Brooklyn
#18. Spend the evening at Domino Park
Hanging out at Domino Park is one of the best things to do in Williamsburg thanks to the impressive Manhattan skyline that looms across the East River. The views are unrivaled and there’s a magic that comes with being by the water (especially during sunrise & sunset!).
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. They have giant reclining chairs that are a great place to tan or otherwise just enjoy the view.
Domino Park is also 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. With that said, during the summer you’ll find all the kiddos swarming around the two water features the park offers in a blissful frenzy.
Address: 15 River St, Brooklyn, NY 11249
#17. Grab brunch at Sunday in Brooklyn
The founders of Sunday in Brooklyn wanted to create a staple restaurant that would be a neighborhood hot-spot regardless of the time of day. Not only did they want the best cocktails and dinner, they also wanted to serve the best brunch in NYC.
After more visits than I have fingers I can confirm we have a winner. Sunday in Brooklyn checks all the boxes you want in a brunch destination which is why swinging by with friends is one of the best things to do in Williamsburg.
The restaurant feels open and bright, similar to a living room that you could lounge in for hours. During the summer months they open up their rooftop garden to guests. In the winter every dining area has a wood burning oven to add to the homelike feeling.
The biscuits and gravy are my go-to. Cheddar biscuits are smothered in a warm sausage gravy that gives diners all across America a run for their money.
They also serve some of the best pancakes in NYC. Hazelnut maple praline syrup with brown butter melts over some seriously thick pancakes. The perfectly rounded edges make it seem like they came out of a mold and after one bite you’ll understand why brunch at Sunday in Brooklyn is one of the best things to do in Williamsburg.
Address: 348 Wythe Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249, United States
#16. Devour a boozy ice cream flight at Tipsy Scoop
Tipsy Scoop is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Simply put it’s the adult version of an ice cream shop! Serving booze infused ice cream, splitting a delicious flight here is unquestionably among the best things to do in Williamsburg Brooklyn.
This adult ice cream parlor hits it out of the park with everything from presentation to taste. The staff is incredibly friendly and always eager to offer guidance and samples. It’s honestly unbelievable that an adult could enjoy eating a frozen delicacy made for children this much, but Tipsy Scoop makes it happen.
The concept is cheeky and fun and you won’t regret swinging by. Given that this is one of the best things to do in Williamsburg, don’t be surprised if there is a line out the door (especially when the weather is nice).
Local’s Tip: Tipsy Scoop offers courses like boozy ice cream making or ice cream + cocktail mixology classes. Check out the fun events you can sign up for if you’re looking for more things to do in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Address: 270 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211,
#15. Spend a rainy day at McNally Jackson
When looking for charming New York City bookshops, run, don’t walk, to McNally Jackson.
This beloved bookstore was originally founded in 2004 by Sarah McNally — whose parents own Canada’s largest independent bookstore chain.
The flagship store is located in the heart of SoHo and — to nobody’s surprise — spread like wildfire over the course of 15 years. There’s currently three locations across NYC and one of them happens to be in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Visiting is one of the best things to do in Williamsburg, the store is huge, clean and modern. It’s easy to get lost among the shelves as you pick up titles that catch your eye, looking for gems.
The bookstore is warm and inviting for people of all backgrounds so its become a neighborhood hub for bookworms. Visiting is one of the best things to do in Williamsburg with kids since they have a dedicated seating area and book selection.
Address: 76 N 4th St Unit G, Brooklyn, NY 11249, United States
#14. Soak your stress away at The Bathhouse
I know I’m not the only one with enough knots in my back to warrant a badge from the Boy Scouts. Luckily one of the best things to do in Williamsburg is to stop at The Bathhouse to relax and unwind.
The spa pulls all the stops to make you comfortable, located inside a former warehouse it has a cool and mysterious allure. There’s an array of pools and saunas to loosen up your tense muscles but you can take it a step further.
The Bathhouse offers a slew of massages (that can be booked as a couples massage, too) to get you back to tip-top shape. They even offer prenatal massage and although I’ve yet to be a mom, I can understand how it’d be heavenly.
And as if it’s not already one of the best things to do in Williamsburg, The Bathhouse even offers scrubs. They have packages you can book where you can exfoliate your body and leave you looking like a newborn baby.
Even if massages aren’t for you (you can’t control if you’re ticklish) odds are someone you know would think this is one of the best things to do in Williamsburg. For a full break-down of the plans, pricing and even gift cards check the official website.
Address: 103 N 10th St, Brooklyn, NY 11249, United States
#13. Take a ferry to Williamsburg
I’m going to let you in on one of my most treasured activities in New York City: riding the ferry. A part of New York’s vast public transportation system a ride costs $4 (as of 2023).
Not only is taking a ferry to Williamsburg one of the best things to do, it’s one of the best ways to see the city! Sandwiched between both the Manhattan skyline and the Brooklyn skyline the views are jaw-dropping.
If you’re lucky enough to ride the ferry after sundown when the city’s lights come on you’ll be enjoying one of the best things to do in NYC at night.
My suggestion is to get on at Pier 11 and take the East River (ER) ferry up to either South or North Williamsburg. From there you can hop off and explore the neighborhood while doing other fun things in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Once you’re tuckered out and ready to head back home, either take the subway back or better yet — another ferry.
Local’s Tip: To save you a lot of confusion, download the NYC Ferry app and purchase your tickets through the app. You’ll also be able to see the routes and arrival times so it’s well-worth the download!
#12. Enjoy a waterfront dinner at Giando on the Water
One of the perks of NYC waterfront restaurants are the iconic skyline views. Giando on the Water is the perfect example, you can see the One World Trade Center in all its glory while enjoying a romantic dinner date.
Giando on the Water is an Italian restaurant so you already know to expect warm pasta dishes that will leave you satisfied and in a carb-induced coma. I’ll admit the prices seem a little inflated for the food, but ultimately you’re paying for the location, charm and because it’s one of the best things to do in Williamsburg.
Giando on the Water is also one of the best waterfront restaurants in Williamsburg for events. If you’re planning a wedding, baptism or any other celebration the restaurant warrants consideration.
This also means you should verify they’re open for dinner service before heading out that way (and not rented out for an event). While you’re on the phone with the restaurant make a reservation, they’re strongly recommended.
Address: 400 Kent Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249
#11. Eat your weight in goods at Smorgasburg
If you consider yourself a foodie, even in the slightest, one of the best things to do in Williamsburg Brooklyn is to welcome the return of Smorgasburg, also referred to as “The Woodstock of Eating.” It’s one of the most anticipated events in New York City during the spring and you’re not going to want to miss it.
Smorgasburg is the largest weekly outdoor food market in the U.S. Vendors from all across the Big Apple pitch canopies and come together enabling you to try a variety of the city’s best cuisines all in one place.
Smorgasburg is hosted in 3 NYC neighborhoods, and stopping by for a bite is one of the best things to do in Williamsburg. Hell, the Williamsburg location is the original (and most popular) location in NYC! They set up shop every Saturday from April to October at Marsha P. Johnson State Park from 11AM – 6PM.
With more than 60 vendors you’ll find a broad variety of eats, and if you do it right you’ll have to be rolled home. Plus, the portions at Smorgasburg are usually on the smaller side, enabling you to try a plethora of options.
Don’t just take my word for it. This event is so popular it draws 20,000 – 30,000 visitors every weekend!
Address: Marsha P. Johnson State Park, 90 Kent Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211
#10. Celebrate a special occasion at Peter Luger
The unforgettable steaks at Peter Luger makes indulging your weight in meat one of the best things to do in Williamsburg, 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).
We celebrated my husband’s 30th birthday at this iconic NYC restaurant and landed on the porterhouse for two. 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 on our next visit to this iconic Williamsburg favorite.
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).
Address: 178 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11211
#9. Catch some sun at McCarren Park
Right on the border between Williamsburg and Greenpoint, McCarren Park is a hotbed for anyone hoping for a breath of fresh air. It’s impressive that the more than 100 year old park has managed to remain a popular stomping ground for locals.
The park has plenty of fields and courts that enable you to partake in a variety of sports. The ability to play soccer, softball, tennis, and volleyball all within the park makes visiting one of the best things to do in Williamsburg.
As you’d expect, this is also one of the best things to do in Williamsburg with kids. With tiny NYC apartments the park is a gem that provides energetic littles to burn off some steam.
The park even has a pool! Since it’s operated by the city you can enjoy one of the best things to do in Williamsburg for free, the pool will only cost you a brief wait in line! For opening dates and FAQ’s check the NYC Park’s website.
Address: 776 Lorimer St, Brooklyn, NY 11222
#8. Enjoy some of the best pasta in Brooklyn at Misi
Before I receive any hate mail, yes I am fully aware Misi is a new kid on the block in a town full of historic Italian restaurants. However, I’d be remiss not to mention it as one of the best things to do in Williamsburg, the food is damn good!
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 a favorite child.
And do yourself a favor, when visiting make sure to order the whipped ricotta toast, you’ll thank me later. Pair it all with a glass of wine and you’ll understand why enjoying a meal at Misi is one of the best things to do in Williamsburg!
Address: 329 Kent Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249
#7. Go for a stroll in Marsha P. Johnson State Park
Running under the Williamsburg Bridge, the Marsha P. Johnson State Park is a beloved green space for both locals and those just looking for exercise. Unlike most parks that are sprawling fields of grass and trees, this park runs along the river and is more of a promenade.
The views of Manhattan can make even the most dilapidated couch potato a burst of motivation, even if it’s just for a brisk walk. There are a few pockets of greenery where you can unfurl a picnic blanket and enjoy a nice snack, too.
And for those of you who might be confused thinking I’m talking about East River State Park, that’s because I am. The park was renamed from East River to Marsha P. Johnson in 2020. Johnson was a transgender woman of color and staunch advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and a fitting person to be honored.
Also – if the name sounds familiar that’s because this is where another one of the best things to do in Williamsburg takes place, Smorgasburg!
Address: 90 Kent Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211
#6. Show off your skills with axe throwing
Whether you’re just trying to impress a date or you need to let off some steam, one of the best things to do in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is to throw some axes. And yes, it’s just as therapeutic as it sounds!
At Hatchets & Hops folks can enjoy one of the best bars in Williamsburg while literally chucking axes at targets.
I suppose in retrospect mixing booze and sharp weapons sounds a tad dangerous… but Hatchets & Hops does a great job at creating a safe and welcoming environment. The bar sticks to beer and cider and leaves the liquor for “throwing axes in the woods” — their words not mine.
Oh and not to mention there is a highly trained instructor hanging out with you the whole time. Between the instructor and the cages that surround the targets safety is paramount when you’re enjoying one of the best things to do in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Address: 98 N 11th St, Brooklyn, NY 11249, United States
#5. Go on the hunt for the best coffee shop
Sure, going from bar to bar is a good way to spend an evening, but what if you don’t drink or you’re bored on a random Tuesday at noon? To that I say, go cafe hopping!
If you’re in the neighborhood and are searching for fun things to do in Williamsburg Brooklyn, I challenge you to bop around coffee shops to find the best one.
Williamsburg is renowned for having some of the NYC’s best cafes. You can easily walk the busy streets and come across numerous coffee shops that overflow in the area. You’ll find joints that specialize in intricate coffees and others that serve an exceptional Americano.
You’ll be hard pressed to find a list of things to do in Williamsburg that doesn’t mention the elite coffee scene, so might as well see what all the fuss is about!
Quick round-up of the best coffee shops in Williamsburg:
- Qahwah House
- Partners Coffee
- Hungry Ghost
Further reading: Need more options? Check out 10+ Bold Brooklyn Coffee Shops.
#4. Sift through the racks at Awoke Vintage
A single brick and mortar store in Williamsburg has grown to three thrift stores in New York City in only 10 years. Awoke Vintage is growing in popularity, for good reason.
I walked passed Awoke Vintage on my way to Domino Park at least half a dozen times before finally deciding to make a pit stop. The store is charming, and the neon sign outside made it impossible not to stop. I wish I would’ve stopped sooner because I walked out with a full bag, it was one of the best things to do in Williamsburg!
Thrift stores in New York City are hard to consistently shop at sometimes because you never know when that fabulous piece will show up on their shelves. Luckily, Awoke Vintage has found a way to minimize the guesswork.
By following their Instagram shoppers can check out their stories and send them DM’s on items they want to buy, after that they respond with an invoice and shoppers have an hour to pay before the item goes back on the shelf. There’s the option to ship or pick up in store.
Here is a quick round-up of other great vintage stores in Williamsburg:
- Brooklyn Woke Vintage | 158 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249, United States
- Chickee’s Vintage | 135 Wythe Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249, United States
- L Train Vintage | 629 Grand St, Brooklyn, NY 11211, United States
- Monk Vintage | 500 Driggs Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211, United States
Address: 132 N 5th St, Brooklyn, NY 11249, United States
#3. Enjoy drinks on a rooftop at Westlight
What better backdrop for a photo than the sweeping views of New York City? Westlight is one of the best rooftop bars in Brooklyn located on the 22nd floor of The William Vale hotel in Williamsburg.
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 Williamsburg. As you soar high in the sky the food tastes better, the vibe feels just right and the drinks are more refreshing.
The Brooklyn rooftop bar has floor to ceiling glass panels that offer a 360° view of the city. I’ve come both during the day and at night and can’t decide which offers the better view, I’ll let you decide that one on your own. 😉
This is my go-to rooftop bar in Brooklyn and one of my favorite things to do in Williamsburg when I have friends visiting from out of town. After every visit I fall more in love with the NYC skyline. I highly recommend ordering the fries here, I dream about them often!
Address: 111 N 12th St, Brooklyn, NY 11249
#2. Grab beers at Brooklyn Brewery
Brooklyn Brewery needs no introduction. This New York City microbrewery has made headlines for their perfectly balanced lagers that can be found in stores across the country, heck I even saw them in a grocery store in Paris.
Visiting has to be one of the best things to do in Williamsburg whether its for a casual hangout or date night. You’re greeted by cozy leather couches, wood-trimed everything and ample picnic tables. Come to think of it, it’s very reminiscent of those epic basement hangouts we all dreamed of in high school.
And as if it wasn’t already one of the best things to do in Williamsburg, the Brooklyn Brewery makes ordering a breeze. Every table is equipped with a QR code, simply scan and place your order. The food and drinks will be delivered when ready!
I’m a big fan of the Bel-Air Sour, can’t recommend it enough if you like brews that keep you on your toes. 😉 But let’s get real — it’s hard to go wrong with anything churning out of this popular New York brewery, so try as many as you (responsibly) can.
Locals tip: Brooklyn Brewery offers brewery tours, if interested, you can read about the small batch tours
Address: 79 N 11th St, Brooklyn, NY 11249
#1. Hang out at the pier
There are few places in New York City as relaxing and calming as Williamsburg. Having so much access to parks along the water the vibes are simply too elite to replicate. With so many public spaces to choose from, one of the best things to do in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is to plant yourself on the pier and relax.
Formally known as North 5th Street Pier and Park, the space is prefect for anyone looking for solace in this hectic city. The killer skyline views are reason alone to visit. You can expect to see folks using the pathways for daily exercise, picnic blankets being splayed out and every bench filled.
Since hanging out at the pier is considered one of the best things to do in Williamsburg plan to spend a few hours here. Pack a lunch, some card games and a blanket and get comfortable.
The hours fly by and before you know it you’re watching the sun set over the magnificent New York City all while enjoying one of the best things to do in Williamsburg.
Address: Kent Ave. bet. N. 4 St. and N. 7 St.
Quick recap of the best things to do in Williamsburg NYC
- Hang out at the pier
- Grab beers at Brooklyn Brewery
- Enjoy drinks on a rooftop at Westlight
- Go thrifting at Awoke Vintage
- Go on the hunt for the best coffee shop
- Show off your skills with axe throwing
- Go for a stroll in Marsha P. Johnson State Park
- Enjoy some of the best pasta in Brooklyn at Mini
- Catch some sun at McCarren Park
- Celebrate a special occasion at Peter Luger
- Eat your weight in goods at Smorgasburg
- Enjoy a waterfront dinner at Giando on the Water
- Take a ferry
- Spend the day at the Bathhouse
- Get lost in McNally Jackson’s
- Devour a boozy ice cream flight at Tipsy Scoop
- Grab brunch at Sunday in Brooklyn
- Spend the evening at Domino Park
Things to do Williamsburg (Helpful Map)
And there you have it folks, my rundown of the best things to do in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. As always, don’t hesitate to let me know if we missed anything.