Over the water from glitzy Manhattan, Brooklyn is often forgotten by visitors to New York City. But there’s loads to see and do, on a day trip or whether you’re staying longer.
It’s one of the city’s many exciting neighborhoods, with some of the best nightlife, some excellent cultural institutions and green spaces.
Take time out in your visit to enjoy the sights and sounds of Brooklyn Heights, BoCoCa, DUMBO, Fort Greene and trendy Williamsburg and you’ll get to experience New York away from the intimidating skyscrapers, the money of Wall Street and the fashionable boutiques that line the shopping streets in and around 5th Avenue.
Here are 10 things to enjoy in Brooklyn:
Plan your travelFor flights, see British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific and KLM
- It’s easy enough to get the Metro from Manhattan to Brooklyn but why not take a walk across that NYC icon, the Brooklyn Bridge, instead? The world’s first steel suspension bridge (pictured above), it opened in 1883 to span the East River and was designed by engineer John Roebling – who died before building began. At its opening, fears that the bridge was going to collapse caused a stampede in which 12 people died. Today, walking across the bridge can be a crush too as pedestrians jostle with impatient cyclists for space but the views to Manhattan are worth the aggro and you get a close-up view of the engineering that supports this immense structure.
- Head right from the bridge and you’ll eventually end up in historic Brooklyn Heights – one of the most beautiful districts in all of New York City. The shaded, quiet streets are full of beautifully restored properties, including those signature brownstones. Head to Montague Street for a lunch stop and then head for Brooklyn Historical Society, housed in a fine building and dedicated to preserving the district and charting its history. It stages regular exhibitions.
Views of Manhattan
- Walk through Brooklyn Heights to the Promenade, a wide path with some of the best views of Manhattan you’ll find anywhere (on a sunny day). Ahead of you lies the East River, alive with ferries, while sightseeing helicopters buzz away in the skies around.
New York Transit Museum
- Want to learn more about the history of the city’s transport networks and how traffic and people are kept moving today? The museum, housed in an old subway station, has what you need. Plenty of interactive displays keep the children amused and there’s a collection of historic subway vehicles.
- A giant of a park designed by Frederick Law Olmstead (the man responsible for New York’s Central Park), Prospect Park makes for a great escape on a warm, sunny day. There’s woodland for shade, a zoo and several playgrounds for children, a regular farmers’ market and nature trails. At Grand Army Plaza, see the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch that honours the defenders of the union during the American Civil War of the 1860s.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
- At Prospect Park you’ll find another green oasis in Brooklyn, the Botanic Gardens. They cover more than 50 acres and boast around 10,000 different plant species, both indoors and out. Nextdoor is Brooklyn Museum, packed with a collection that includes fine art – ancient and modern – as well as Egyptian treasures and mummies.
Fort Greene park
- Brooklyn’s first park opened in the 1840s, on the site of a series of forts from as far back as the Revolutionary War. These days, it’s a place of peace, somewhere to go for a picnic, to play basketball and tennis. There are playgrounds for children. The Fort Greene district is worth exploring for its cafes, restaurants and neighbourhood shops while towards the water you’ll find the old Brooklyn Navy Yards, home to BLDG 92 – a museum that traces the yard’s history.
- Fans of a good market shouldn’t miss Brooklyn Flea, at 176 Lafayette Avenue during spring and summer. Hundreds of stallholders offer handicrafts, retro goodies, antiques, food, jewellery, clothing and a ton of other things. The market moves around depending on the seasons so check the flea website before you head out.
- For several years now, Williamsburg has been billed as one of New York’s most happening of districts. It’s got an artistic, youthful, bohemian vibe and is a neighbourhood where you’ll find a good mix of arts venues, cafes, restaurants, busy bars and clubs. As is often the way, its past was mainly poor and industrial.
- You’ll see the (delicious) products of Brooklyn Brewery in bars throughout New York (and increasingly the world) and it’s possible to tour its Williamsburg site on weekday evenings and at weekends. Check the brewery website for opening times and bookings. The tour itself is free and you can buy tokens for drinks at the bar afterwards.
Getting there and more info…
Discounts to attractions are available with the New York Pass
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