rCheck out all the amazing things to do in Brooklyn, New York City. The biggest and dare I say the best borough in the city? That could be up for debate, but we will let you decide.
Check out our guide to all the best things to do in Brooklyn to fill a lifetime of adventures in the city, from the best museums in Brooklyn, best entertainment options, best food experiences, best tours, and more in our comprehensive guide of over 100 Brooklyn attractions and activities to check out.
Looking for where to stay in Brooklyn during your visit? See our entire guide by neighborhood and budget to help you pick the best area to stay in.
READ NEXT: 30+ Brooklyn Instagram Spots
Table of Contents
The Brooklyn Museum is one of the best things to do in Brooklyn for art lovers. Located near Prospect Park and next to Brooklyn Botanic Garden, this museum houses 1.5 million pieces of work.
The Brooklyn Museum is the third largest museum in New York City and has a notable permanent collection from all over the world. Each collection is organized by culture, geographic locations, or time period.
A few of the popular collections include the Egyptian, American Art, Arts of Africa, Arts of the Pacific Islands, Arts of the Islamic World, and European art sections of the museum.
Famous artists on display include Norman Rockwell, Edward Hopper, Edgar Degas, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Mark Rothko to name a few.
This is the perfect thing to do in Brooklyn for a bit of arts and culture or a perfect rainy day or hot/cold weather day.
Get tickets here or get the New York Pass which gets you access to 100+ attractions, including this one, for up to 10 days or up to 45% off savings on normal admission prices all with this mobile pass!
Admission is suggested but not mandatory, a $10 admission is suggested for adults. Closed Mondays & Tuesdays.
The first Saturday of every month there is free admission from 5-7 pm and special exhibitions.
Brooklyn Historical Society
Brooklyn Heights & DUMBO
If you’re looking to learn more about the history of this borough then you will want to visit the Brooklyn Historical Society.
There are two locations, the main location in Brooklyn Heights and a 15 minute walk away there’s an additional location in DUMBO.
If you’re a history buff, then this is the perfect thing to do in Brooklyn for you. Explore the 400-year history of Brooklyn through their educational center including history related to Brooklyn and the people who have lived here over history.
Besides having a great museum, archive, library, and information the entire historical society is housed in a landmark Romanesque Revival building.
Admission is suggested but not mandatory, a $10 admission is suggested for adults and children and students with an ID are always free. Closed Mondays & Tuesdays
New York Aquarium
Another fun Brooklyn attraction in Coney Island right on the boardwalk is the New York Aquarium. With over 266 species of marine life
You’ll learn not only about the different species housed here, but about environmental issues the ocean and our waters are facing. Learn while seeing playful sea lions, seals, turtles, penguins, sharks, and their famous giant octopus plus more.
Operated by the Wildlife Conservation Society, this aquarium’s main mission to to save wildlife through conservation programs, education, and scientific efforts. Through their efforts, they are working towards local conservation efforts for a healthy marine life around New York’s waters.
Admission is $29.95 for adults and $24.95 for children. Open 7 days a week, closes early during winter hours.
New York Transit Museum
Downtown Brooklyn & Brooklyn Heights
Another fun museum and thing to do in Brooklyn is the New York Transit Museum in Downtown Brooklyn. This historic subway station, the decommissioned Court Street station, has been transformed into a transit museum celebrating the city’s public transportation from its history to modern-day.
See vintage signs, subway cars, buses, exhibits, and more! There are not only subway cars on display but also buses that are from the different eras and decades of the city as early as 1907.
There are even seasonal and temporary special exhibitions where you can ride in an old subway car at the museum.
Get your tickets here or get the New York Pass which gets you access to 100+ attractions, including this one, for up to 10 days or up to 45% off savings on normal admission prices all with this mobile pass!
Admission $10 for adults, $5 for children, closed on Mondays.
Brooklyn Children’s Museum
One of the best things to do in Brooklyn for families is visit the Brooklyn Children’s Museum! Located in Crown Heights, there’s something here for the whole family no matter your age.
The museum houses over 30,000 historical artifacts, educational and interactive exhibits, as well as collections and an educational program to teach children of all ages history of the world, different cultures, science, and nature!
Aside from the incredible exhibits, the Brooklyn Museum dates back to 1899 and is said to be the first children’s museum in the world!
Also, be sure to check out their website for any seasonal festivals or special exhibits they have throughout the year. Be sure to check out more museums in Brooklyn in our guide!
Admission $13, closed on Mondays.
Prospect Park Zoo
Nestled on the northeastern side of Prospect Park is our next pick for best things to do in Brooklyn. Prospect Park Zoo is home to just under 900 animals and almost 200 different species. The zoo houses different exhibits both indoors and outdoors, so be sure to dress for the weather during your visit.
Spot red pandas up close along the Discovery Trail, watch the playful sea lions at the Sea Lion Court, and see a baboon up close at the Animal Lifestyles exhibits to name a few. Also, don’t miss the free-roaming colorful peacocks that call the zoo their home.
Operated by the Wildlife Conservation Society, the zoo’s primary mission is the restoration and conservation of endangered species.
Admission is $9.95 for adults and $6.95 for children, children 2 and under are free. Open 7 days a week.
The City Reliquary Museum
One of the more unique things to do in in Brooklyn is visit The City Reliquary, a community-run, not for profit museum in Williamsburg focusing on the history of the 5 boroughs as well as a sort of shrine to all things New York City.
The museum’s origins are even interesting starting in the first floor of an apartment in Williamsburg where the owner painted a map and directions to any nearby landmarks on the side of the building.
Some of the oddities you’ll encounter here include everything from New York City rat bones, old postcards, fragments of historic landmarks in the city, and other random finds by the community all tied to New York City.
Also, be sure to check out their rotating exhibits they host throughout the year as well. In 2019, they housed a collection of artifacts from New York City Public Schools from the years of 1850-1970 with items like a dunce chair and classroom decorations.
Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for students, seniors, and children. Open only Thursdays through Sundays.
Read Next: Best Things to do in Williamsburg
Brooklyn Navy Yard Center at BLDG 92
Brooklyn Navy Yard
Set in an old Marine Commander’s residence right on Brooklyn’s waterfront, this space has been restored and houses exhibits, public tours, archives, and educational programs celebrating the work of the Navy Yard.
This historic location is home to one of the country’s first naval shipyards and was used as an industrial facility used by the Navy for 165 years.
Today, this is where you’ll find many of the city’s green businesses as well as other manufacturers. You’ll learn not only about the past of the Navy Yard but also more about the current efforts and uses of the property as well as the plans for the future of this site.
Also, you don’t want to miss the shop on site that sells many of the interesting products that are manufactured right here in the Yard from food to art and décor to robotics.
Admission is free to explore the different exhibits inside Building 92, there are also different tours you can join priced between $18-$30 a person. Closed Mondays & Tuesdays.
One of the coolest and under the radar museums and things to do in Brooklyn is Pioneer Works located in Red Hook. The space is named after the historic building its housed in which was built in 1866 for Pioneer Iron Works, who created railroad tracks and other iron products.
A large scale restoration took place to tie in the history of the building to this urban artistic space. Sadly, just months after first opening its doors in 2012 Hurricane Sandy badly damaged the works housed here. But that hasn’t stopped the creative spirit here, artists have continued to create in this unique and one of a kind space in Brooklyn.
This cultural center runs as a not for profit center focusing on the arts and sciences celebrating radical and free-thinking artists to have space and resources to create.
Come and explore the different exhibits by the different artists who are members here, they are truly incredible or even take a class and explore your own creativity!
Admission is free and is closed on Mondays & Tuesdays.
Waterfront Barge Museum
Another historical thing to do in Brooklyn along the waterfront in Red Hook is the Waterfront Barge Museum or Waterfront Museum and Showboat Barge. Dedicated to the historic preservation to the New York Harbor, from the history of passageway for commuters, vital role in the local economy, and water sport and recreation, the museum protects the heritage of New York City’s waterfront.
There are many different exhibits and displays from historic boats from wooden barges to tugboats. Learn about the different people and their stories tied to this waterfront as well as the Lehigh Valley Railroad Barge Number 79, a preserved Hudson River Railroad Barge.
Admission is free, typically open on Thursdays & Saturdays with limited hours. There are seasonal closures so be sure to check before your visit.
Harbor Defense Museum
Another museum with a focus on the city’s maritime history is the Harbor Defense Museum or The Caponier at Fort Hamilton in Bay Ridge. The museum focuses on the history of the city’s coastal defense and how the military protected the city by water from attacks from the Revolutionary War to World War II.
Fort Hamilton is the oldest fortification built on New York Harbor and the second oldest federal post in the country only behind West Point. Detailing the history of the New York Harbor as well as displays of artifacts from history including maps, canons, weapons, uniforms, and other military relics that protected the city from seaward invasion.
Free admission, closed on Sundays & Mondays.
Brooklyn Art Library
Another off the radar of usual things to do in Brooklyn is the Brooklyn Art Library, a home to what might be the world’s largest collection of sketchbooks and doodles. With over 45,000 sketchbooks full of memoirs, doodles, sketches, and whatever creative things or ideas you may fill a sketchbook with.
As the world is shifting towards everything digital, the Brooklyn Art Library wants to help celebrate creating in physical form whether your fancy yourself an artist or not. The project is to help others stretch their imaginations and just create.
Witness what others have created or even participate yourself by signing up, you’ll get a sketchbook and once it’s full you send it back to be added to the collection. The entire Brooklyn Art Library is funded by participants who purchase a sketchbook.
They also have other cool programs like Pen Pal Painting Exchange where you connect with people from all over the world through sending a stranger a painting made by yours truly.
Better yet, you can even gift this experience to a friend by sending them a sketchbook or pen pal painting exchange program!
Admission free closed on Mondays & Tuesdays.
Another cool thing to do in Brooklyn that was created and run by the community is the Interference Archive. This library, gallery, and archive is run still by a group of volunteers to educate and provide historical information around activism and social movements.
Started in a home with a private collection of social movement memorabilia that even Ph.D. students would come and analyze and study, the owners were invited to put their collection on public display as a part of an exhibit at the Exit Art Gallery in Manhattan.
That was the turning point of the idea of turning this collection into its own museum was idealized and turned into a reality.
Funded almost completely on donations, you can explore the collection from all over the world including almost half of its current artifacts and memorabilia being from outside of the US.
There is no admission, but donations are appreciated. Open on Thursdays through Sundays.
Coney Island Museum
Another fun museum and thing to do in Brooklyn is visit the Coney Island Museum at Coney Island. Focusing solely on the history of the famous boardwalk and beach of Coney Island you can find all kinds of fun historical gems from the world-famous beachfront amusement park.
You can see the crazy funhouse mirrors, retired vintage bumper cars, lost and found items from old beachgoers, and other memorabilia from Coney Island’s history.
There are also other exhibits including “Five Cents to Dreamland,” which is in partnership with the New York Transit Museum, another pick for best things to do in Brooklyn.
Admission $5 for adults and $3 for children, closed in the winter except for the weekends and open during the summer season between Memorial Day and Labor Day Wednesday-Sunday.
Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Flatbush
The green oasis tucked away in the urban jungle. Prospect Park is easily one of the best things to do in Brooklyn and best parks in Brooklyn for anyone looking for a bit of green space or a hangout location to run, bike, sunbathe or have a picnic.
Designed by the same creators of Central Park in Manhattan, Prospect Park is the outdoor space for your recreational activities as well as the location of the Prospect Park Zoo, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn Museum, Litchfield Villa and the Boathouse to name a few.
Believe it or not, Prospect Park isn’t actually the biggest park in Brooklyn, it’s the second-largest behind Marine Park. This has become a hotbed for activity in the summer as there are always free outdoor concerts here, picnics, parties, weddings, sports games, you name it.
See all the best things to do in Prospect Park in our complete guide.
Get your tickets here for attractions like the Brooklyn Museum and Brooklyn Botanic Garden with the New York Pass which gets you access to 100+ attractions, including this one, for up to 10 days or up to 45% off savings on normal admission prices all with this mobile pass!
Park Slope, Greenwood Heights, Sunset Park, Windsor Terrace, Borough Park
One of the more unusual green spaces and things to do in Brooklyn is Green-Wood Cemetery, a giant nearly 500-acre cemetery near Prospect Park between South Slope/Park Slope, Greenwood Heights, Sunset Park, and Fort Hamilton.
This massive cemetery is listed as a National Register of Historic Places and a National Historic Landmark and home to gorgeous architecture including famous monuments, mausoleums, chapel, and gates.
Weave your way through the massive cemetery’s winding pathways passing by gravestones of famous figures from war heroes to mobsters.
Believe it or not, Green-Wood cemetery was built in 1838 as a rural cemetery, little did they know that this area would soon become very much urban not too far later. The cemetery was built as there wasn’t enough space for the remains of those whose lives were lost in the other New York City graveyards.
The graveyard became popular quickly and was often called Brooklyn’s first public park as Prospect Park wasn’t created yet. It became so popular that it inspired the creation to design Central Park, and then Prospect Park.
Admission free, open daily but certain entrances are only open on some days. Be sure to check before you visit. The Main Entrance on 5th Ave & 25th Street is open daily.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO
Another popular park and thing to do in Brooklyn is enjoy the views of the East River and the New York City skyline from Brooklyn Bridge Park located right under the gorgeous Brooklyn Bridge.
Ride a bike or walk through the paths, bring a blanket and have a picnic, or just sit along the rocks enjoying one of the most beautiful views in the city. For the sporty folks, piers 1-6 offer outdoor playgrounds courts to play sports along the waterfront with one of the most epic backdrops with views of Manhattan.
Besides being a lovely green space along the water, there are shops including Tobacco Warehouse and Empire Stores. There are different sections of the park including the Empire Fulton Ferry where you can find Jane’s Carousel.
Keep your eyes peeled for different events that take place here from public screenings of movies, fitness classes, and leisure water activities like kayaking.
There are tons of amazing things to do in Brooklyn Bridge Park as well as some of the best views in the city.
Read Next: Best Instagram Spots in DUMBO
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
One of the best things to do in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park is the beautiful Botanic Gardens. Covering 52-acres you can get lost wandering the different gardens and collections of plants in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
There are over 18,000 plants housed here as well as attractions like the three different plant pavilions at different climates housing different types of plants, and the C.V. Starr Bonsai Museum. The garden has both indoor and outdoor areas to explore.
Outside there is the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, Cranford Rose Garden, Shakespeare Garden, Water Garden, and more. In the spring, between late April and early May, you don’t want to miss the 200 cherry trees when they blossom.
Get the New York Pass which gets you access to 100+ attractions, including this one, for up to 10 days or up to 45% off savings on normal admission prices all with this mobile pass!
Admission free on Tuesdays, other days it’s $15 for adults, $8 for seniors and students with IDs, free for children under 12. Closed Mondays.
One of the newest things to do in Brooklyn when it comes to parks is Domino Park, located on Williamsburg’s waterfront along the East River near the Williamsburg Bridge. Named after the former Domino Sugar Refinery manufacturer that used to be at this site, this park still has old factory equipment on display.
Designed by the same designer who was responsible for the popular High Line in Manhattan, Domino Park has quickly gained popularity despite its youthful age thanks to its location and is easily one of the best Williamsburg photography locations.
Enjoy the elevated walkway, dog area, volleyball & bocce courts, as a children’s playground. There’s even a cute taco stand if you forget to bring your own picnic serving up cocktails if you need a drink.
Read Next: Williamsburg Bridge Walk Guide & Tips
Another popular park in Brooklyn located between Williamsburg and Greenpoint is McCarren Park. This is one of the more busy parks for those who like to play outdoor sports as there’s a running track, bocce ball court, handball courts, soccer fields, softball area, volleyball courts, and other areas to play games and sports.
There are also other special events that take place here from kickball leagues to The Renegade Craft Fair where artists and local crafters sell their designs, collections, and other handmade goodies.
Another feature that makes McCarren Park one of the most popular parks in Brooklyn is their historic pool. Open in the summers, this massive pool went under a hefty restoration after being closed after operating between the years of 1936 – 1984 and reopened in 2012, however, there are mixed reviews of what this experience is like.
East River State Park
Another park that offers incredible views of Manhattan and the NYC city skyline and best things to do in Brooklyn is East River State Park located on the waterfront in Williamsburg. Unlike most parks in Brooklyn, East River State Park doesn’t allow bicycles and has a two dog limit per person. But don’t let that keep you from checking out the stunning views from here.
Located along the East River on the site of a 19th-century shipping dock, there are still traces of the history left behind here like cobblestone streets and old railway tracks.
Besides being an outdoor green space to hang out, other events are hosted here like Smorgasburg, an outdoor food market that takes place at this location in the summer and is another pick for one of our favorite things to do in Brooklyn.
This is also right next to the Brooklyn Flea and the East River Ferry terminal if you’re looking for a quick water ride to Manhattan.
Coney Island Beach
Probably the most famous beach in the city and one of the best things to do in Brooklyn in the summer is visit Coney Island Beach along the Coney Island boardwalk where you might forget you’re in New York City for a moment as it’s complete with fake palm trees and 3 miles of sandy beaches.
Enjoy a day at the beach basking in the sun, playing beach volleyball, basketball, and other outdoor sports along the beach or head to the amusement park rides nearby.
Walk along the historic boardwalk that stretches from Luna Park to Coney Island Beach.
If you happen to be visiting in June you won’t want to miss Coney Island Beach’s annual Mermaid Parade, be sure to check out our full guide to all the best things to do at Coney Island to help you plan your trip.
Another beach of Brooklyn and a perfect summer escape is Brighton Beach located in the Coney Island area of the borough and an extension of Coney Island Beach. Situated along the Atlantic coastline, in the summer New Yorkers flock here for the sandy beaches and proximity to all the fun at Coney Island.
This area is famous to being home to a Russian enclave where you can find different Russian shops and restaurants as well as a great nightlife scene.
Despite being close to Coney Island, Brighton Beach tends to be less crowded and a more quiet place to bask in the sun on a hot day. If you need a break from the sun but still want to relax, check out one of the Russian bathhouses for the ultimate day of relaxation.
Read Next: Best Beaches in Brooklyn
Manhattan Beach Park
Located on the other side of Brighton Beach near Coney Island Beach is another popular beach and great thing to do in Brooklyn in the summer. Manhattan Beach Park is even less crowded than the other Brooklyn beaches and was once the most upscale of the beach resort towns of yesteryear.
This small, quiet beach is a great place to play outdoor sports like tennis, baseball, basketball, and playing on the playgrounds. This is also a great place for a picnic and sunbathing.
Since this beach isn’t the easiest to get to via public transportation, you’ll notice its significantly less visited than the other beaches in the area. This is also a great place to barbeque if you’re looking for the perfect beach BBQ party location!
WNYC Transmitter Park
Another great park to visit in Brooklyn is the WNYC Transmitter Park in Greenpoint. Named after the WNYC public radio station that used this section of land for broadcasting, this location became unnecessary because of antennas being placed elsewhere in New Jersey and the World Trade Center.
The space was being unused so a park was put in place and now a lovely waterfront park with great views of Manhattan. The park is small compared to others but is still a great place for a picnic, sunbathing, and fun place for the young ones to play on the playground with a spray shower on a hot day.
Also, don’t miss the amazing murals in this park as well.
Bushwick Inlet Park
Another park in Williamsburg and great option for things to do in Brooklyn in the outdoors. Located on the East River on the Bushwick Inlet, hence the name of the park.
This location was used for manufacturing in the mid 19th century and by a few decades later was used for sewage outflow which is surprising as you’d never know that is what this lovely green space was used for in the past.
There are football fields, soccer fields, viewing platforms, lacrosse fields, and a green community center that is powered by solar panels and geothermal heating.
While the park’s development isn’t completely done, it’s exciting to know that it’s just going to get better and better with the years of work to come.
Dead Horse Bay
One of the more odd things to do in Brooklyn is visit the eerie Dead Horse Bay, an area that was the location of a horse rendering plant, manufacturing fertilizer, producing fish oil, waste disposal, a glue factory, and other lovely things that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Why would one visit such a horrible sounding place you might wonder. People are attracted to the creeposity of this location as well as the items that wash up in the bay here including trash like broken glass, bottles, random shoes, and wash and waste from the landfills that are a dumpster divers dream location.
Crafters and artists like to come here to collect items and photographers like to come and photograph this unusual subject. As the old saying goes, one man’s trash is another’s treasure. You can walk along the Millstone Trail where you can find a millstone used to grind horse bones still there today.
Apparently this area is a popular location for fishermen, I won’t be eating that fish but it is an activity you can enjoy here! Many are fascinated with the history here as well as the unique finds along the beach.
Walt Whitman Park
Another pretty Brooklyn park to enjoy named after a Brooklyn native, one of the country’s most influential poets, essayist, and writer Walt Whitman. Whitman lived and worked in Brooklyn for part of his life where some of his most famous works were published including “Leaves of Grass.”
This park doesn’t have the same sports amenities as the other parks but this is a nice peaceful, greenspace to sit on a bench reading a book, relaxing, get inspired, or enjoying some fresh oxygen from all the trees surrounding you.
You’ll also find some of Whitman’s excerpts around the park. So if you’re a American literary or Walt Whitman fan this is the perfect thing to do in Brooklyn for you.
Be sure to check out all the other best things to do in Downtown Brooklyn.
Marine Park Golf Course
Calling all golf lovers, this next thing to do in Brooklyn is for you. Open all year long this 18-hole Championship Golf Course is located in south Brooklyn in Marine Park not too far from Coney Island.
Play golf along the waterfront of Brooklyn, perfect for all levels of golfers. This is the longest golf course in New York City and a great place to tee off.
Dyker Beach Golf Course
Another great golf course in Brooklyn located just below the beautiful and enormous Verrazano Bridge with views of the Atlantic. The 18-hole Championship Golf Course also has a public park and is over 100 years old and one of the more popular courses not only in the city but in the country as well as one of the oldest.
What’s even better is that you can play any season as the course is open all year long.
A beautiful park in Brooklyn named after the neighborhood it’s in, Sunset Park. The public park offers beautiful views of the Statue of Liberty, Manhattan, and the harbor.
Home to a public pool, rec center, and playground this is a great place to spend a hot summer day since you can plunge into the refreshing waters of the public Art Deco pool. Considered to be one of the city’s secret gems you can totally understand when you see the stunning view from here.
Also, Sunset Park is located just steps away from Green-Wood Cemetery, another awesome thing to do in Brooklyn and is home to its own Chinatown, so when you’re done hanging out in the park be sure to head to one of the Chinese restaurants for a tasty meal.
One of our favorite things to do in Brooklyn involves eating, shopping, and even seeing a movie at City Point right off of the Dekalb Subway stop. In the basement of City Point is Dekalb Market which is home to over 40 vendors from cocktails to any kind of food you can imagine.
From classics like Katz Deli to the local cult following ice cream parlor Ample Hills Creamery you can find satellite locations of some of the most iconic places to eat in the city as well as other tasty vendors.
My personal favorite? The soup dumplings at Thankyou Come Again. What’s even better about these food halls is that if you’re with a group there’s easily something for everyone here no matter what they like or what their budget is.
Time Out Market New York
Located in Empire Stores across from Brooklyn Bridge Park in DUMBO is the newly anticipated Time Out Market New York. This refined marketplace and food hall is home to over 20 vendors and growing.
With secondary locations to some of the New York classics and favorites like Fish Cheeks, a popular Thai restaurant in NoHo, southern comfort food at Jacob’s Pickles from the Upper West Side, and Clinton St. Baking Co famous for their pancakes in the Lower East Side.
See our full guide to Time Out Market New York’s best food before visiting!
Don’t miss the second floor either with a gorgeous waterfront rooftop view overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, and of course that gorgeous NYC skyline.
This new marketplace is all the rage and with the location, view, and vendors its no doubt why.
This guide to best things to do in Brooklyn wouldn’t be complete without some of their microbreweries. So we will start off with the most popular and famous of all Brooklyn breweries.
Out of dozens of breweries taking the borough by storm, Brooklyn Brewery was one of the first and one of New York’s first post-prohibition craft breweries starting in 1988. This is also where the craft brew trend started here in Brooklyn.
Come sample their beer in their taproom or take a 45 minute guided tour through the facility. The tours are free on the weekends, but available every day of the week.
Be sure to see our whole guide to the best breweries in Brooklyn.
Other Half Brewing
Carroll Gardens, Gowanus, Red Hook
Considered one of the hottest craft breweries in New York City, our next pick for best things to do in Brooklyn is the craft brewery located on the edge of the Carroll Gardens, Gowanus, and Red Hook neighborhoods.
With nearly two dozen beers on tap this is the place to go and thing to do in Brooklyn if you’re an IPA aficionado. With a selection of juicy, dank, hazy brews on tap all the time you can find some of the finest IPAs the city offers right here in their taproom.
We recommend coming and trying a flight, or two. Better yet you’re just a few streets away from some great restaurants in all three bordering neighborhoods to this brewery location.
Calling all beer connoisseurs, this next place and thing to do in Brooklyn is for beer lovers with an elevated palate. Tørst is a Danish-inspired taproom with 21 rotating taps and a daily food menu.
If you’re not with the biggest beer drinker, no worries there are also craft cocktails and a selection of wines here as well.
This has become the ‘it’ spot to hang out in Greenpoint as the Nordic feeling interior feels like you’re somewhere else across the globe.
Their menu, in general, is at a bit higher price point than other breweries, but if you’re looking for an eclectic selection of brews paired with delicious bites then this is a fun place to check out.
Brooklyn Navy Yard
Finally, for the wine lovers, this next thing to do in Brooklyn is for you! Rooftop Reds is the only rooftop vineyard, yes a vineyard, and rooftop wine bar in the city located in Brooklyn Navy Yard – they even claim it’s the first in the world!
This by reservation only rooftop wine bar in an unassuming old looking warehouse building offers stellar views of Manhattan and that infamous NYC city skyline. Lazy around in a hammock with a glass of rosé on a hot summer day or sip on your favorite vino with that incredible view.
Pilot at Pier 6
Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO
Located in Brooklyn Bridge Park, one of our top picks for things to do in Brooklyn at Pier 6 is Pilot, a floating bar and oyster bar aboard a historic wooden schooner.
There’s no other oyster bar that has more ambiance than being aboard an actual wooden schooner in the East River overlooking the New York City skyline with food prepared by a critically acclaimed chef.
The wooden schooner is nearly a century old and was going after being the fastest sailboat in the world in her heyday. She also circumnavigated the world twice, was a ferry for the maritime military in World War II, and is the longest-serving pilot ship in the US.
Note that Pilot is only open seasonally as it’s an outdoor restaurant on the East River, it’s only open in the warmer months. If you’re visiting on a shoulder season be sure to check to see if the restaurant is open before your visit.
Another seasonal experience and thing to do in Brooklyn as this floating cocktail bar and grill on the East River is in the outdoors. Come by in the summer for this outdoor hang out for a meal and a drink or just for some drinks.
Located close to the WNYC Transmitter Park, the Brooklyn Barge is the perfect meeting place for a social outing that offers stunning views of Manhattan and the NYC city skyline.
Note that the Brooklyn Barge is only open seasonally, you’ll want to check before your visit to double-check if they are open as they do close during wet weather as well, even in the summer as the bar is completely outdoors.
Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory
There’s something about ice cream and this city. Believe it or not, even non-ice cream super fans like myself don’t want to miss a scoop of the homemade Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory ice cream.
This classic ice creamery was originally located where an Ample Hills Creamery, another pick for best things to do in Brooklyn food-wise, at Fulton Ferry Landing Pier in DUMBO in an old fireboat house from the 1920s – more on that later.
The new location of this classic creamery is in Greenpoint where you can sample their homemade hot fudge and old fashioned ice cream that’s freshly made. They keep it simple, there are 8 flavors to try and be warned, their servings are generous.
Said to be one of the best ice cream spots in the city, you don’t want to miss a scoop of this famous ice cream on your next visit to the city, especially on a hot day!
Read Next: Best Things to do in Greenpoint
One of the most famous things to do in Brooklyn for foodies and pizza lovers is head to grab some pie at Grimaldi’s Pizzeria. This coal brick-oven pizzeria is located right under the Brooklyn Bridge. Not only home to the best pizza in DUMBO but some of the best in the entire city!
While there are now several locations of Grimaldi’s, this location in DUMBO is the most famous and the original. When Patsy Grimaldi learned how to make pizza at the age of 10 in Harlem, he knew that he always wanted to own a pizza shop.
Since coal-fired brick overs were made illegal in Manhattan, and he knew they made the best pizzas, he had to open his establishment, Grimaldi’s Pizzeria in Brooklyn, which they claim is the pizzeria that made the Brooklyn Bridge famous.
That’s a big claim but even Zagat has named Grimaldi’s the number one pizzeria in the city, which is a huge deal. Don’t come expecting to grab a famous New York slice though, they only sell pizzas by the pie here.
Note that Grimaldi’s Pizzeria is a cash-only establishment, there is an ATM on site but come prepared if you don’t want to get dinged with ATM fees!
To make things confusing for you we are going to mention this pizzeria as another best thing to do in Brooklyn. Get ready to unload the pizza wars of Brooklyn.
Former owner of Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, Patsy Grimaldi retired and sold his famous pizza spot which was franchised and taken over under new management. Unfortunately, Grimaldi’s wasn’t able to maintain the same location in the original building and had to move next door.
Patsy Grimaldi decided that he really wasn’t ready to give up the pizza business and was able to snag the original location of his Grimaldi’s Pizzeria and started a NEW pizzeria named Juliana’s Pizza which now has a rivalry with his former restaurant Grimaldi’s Pizzeria.
So if you’re looking for the ‘original’ pizza made famous by the Patsy Grimaldi, you’ll want to head to Juliana’s which was named the best pizza in America in 2015!
Another food hall and amazing thing to do in Brooklyn for foodies! Gotham Market at the Ashland near Barclay’s Center and BAM making it the perfect stop for food if you’re attending any events in the borough.
While this food hall, or market I should say isn’t as large with as many vendors as the others there are some great places to check out in Gotham Market including The Flamingo, a tiki-inspired sushi bar with amazing cocktails.
There’s also a beer hall and kitchen, a Bolivian restaurant, and coffee shop on the premise.
Also, check out our full guide to all the best things to do in Fort Greene for more great ideas and food options.
Tucked away in Sunset Park in an old industrial warehouse complex turned to a thriving collaborative community where restaurants, artists, and the cool kids in Brooklyn hang out along the waterfront.
Japan Village is the go-to spot for anyone wanting to find an incredible array of different Japanese cuisine, culture, and market in Industry City. Decked out with different Japanese inspired murals from the exterior of the building with giant koi fish to the sakura flower painting up the stairs inside the Japanese Village.
Inside the village, you’ll find an izakaya, bar serving up different Japanese beers on tap, a grocery store, and tons of different stalls serving up everything from savory ramen to okonomiyaki and takoyaki.
Explore Japan’s food culture through each bite in the city’s only Japan-themed marketplace.
Ample Hills Creamery
DUMBO/Brooklyn Heights & Multiple locations in Brooklyn
One of our favorite things to do in Brooklyn, even though we aren’t the biggest ice cream fans, is get Ample Hills Creamery ice cream. It’s THAT good.
Their new flagship is in the old Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory location in Brooklyn Bridge Park at Fulton Ferry Landing Pier in an old fireboat house from the 1920s. There are also 5 other locations around the borough including Dekalb Market Hall.
Started by a couple who were scared that no one would show up to their new ice cream shop they were surprised when their shop caught on like wildfire and they sold out in the first 4 days of opening!
News spread like wildfire and since their homemade and signature, ice cream flavors have taken the country by storm. Boasting that they have the ‘freshest’ Brooklyn ice cream as their dairy products are pasteurized right here in NYC and they’ve won many awards including the #1 ice cream in the US by the Food Network.
See what the fuss is all about, you won’t regret it and you may end up shipping yourself a few pints home as they can mail you your favorite flavors believe it or not!
Four & Twenty Blackbirds
Calling all pie lovers, this next thing to do in Brooklyn is for you. With a clever name from an old nursery rhyme, Four & Twenty Blackbirds in Gowanus and the edge of Park Slope is a pie focused shop run by two sisters who have mastered the craft of pies.
With a successful New York Times Selling Cook Book all about their pies, these ladies have taken the pie scene in the city by storm.
Their pies use ingredients sourced locally and they are experimenting with different ingredients and making the most unique flavors of pies like matcha custard, the also have the classics and if you’re not sure where to start, they are famous for their Lemon Chess pie.
Also, check out our entire guide to the best things to do in Gowanus.
Greenpoint & other locations
This is our last ice cream stop, I promise! For those who consider ice cream one of the staples and best things to do in Brooklyn, this again is for you! Discover the world of artisan ice cream through Van Leeuwen.
Started in a yellow ice cream truck that used to drive around NYC, this New York creamery makes all their ice cream from scratch in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
Van Leeuwen serves up original ice cream as well as vegan ice cream for our plant-based friends. Less is more with Van Leeuwen, they use the most basic ingredients to create their perfect ice cream.
Find one of their trucks or locations while exploring all the best things to do in Brooklyn and taste their signature flavors like honeycomb, brown sugar chunk, salted caramel, earl grey tea, and more as well as their current specials.
Best yet, if you love their ice cream you can find them at retailers like Whole Foods to enjoy at home too!
One iconic foodie thing to do in Brooklyn is eat at Nathan’s Famous at Coney Island! Their signature is their hotdog since 1916 and is where the famous annual Hot Dog Eating Contest is held!
Started by a Polish immigrant, hotdogs used to be for sale for $.05 in 1916 and was the original Coney Island restaurant on the corner of Surf and Stillwell. The hot dog contest was started that year too when four immigrants got into an argument over who was the most patriotic, how did they solve this debacle? They had a hot dog eating competition, duh.
Nathan’s went on to be a New York City icon and attracted celebrities and even mobsters like Al Capone who would eat here whenever he was in Brooklyn. Nathan’s became an American icon and soon opened more doors and President Roosevelt even took a hot dog to the Queen across the pond!
This is the location of the original Nathan’s Famous hot dogs having been open 365 days a year since 1916 except for a few months after damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Nibble on a bit of iconic American history while you’re in Brooklyn here at Coney Island, plus its one of the most iconic Brooklyn food to try!
Read Next: Best Coney Island Instagram Spots
Gowanus & Greenpoint
Another great place to grab a beer and thing to do in Brooklyn if you’re looking for a nice hangout spot in the Gowanus neighborhood as well as a location in Greenpoint. Threes Brewing is one of the best craft breweries here in the borough offering a laid back environment to enjoy a brew and socialize.
In the summer, their backyard patio area in Gowanus is popular with groups gathering here. There’s also a cozy indoor bar that’s great for an afternoon break or an after-dinner drink.
Their specialty are their lagers, but they have an array of other beers to try as well as special brews they release. You’ll probably want to take a few cans home with you too once you see the artwork. Not only do they taste good but they look good too!
The Bagel Store
Try one of the most famous bagels in the world! The rainbow bagels from The Bagel Store in Park Slope actually broke the internet, well not really, but they did take social media by storm by their Instagrammable nature.
This is one of the best things to do in Brooklyn if you’re looking for some of the most photogenic food!
Are you a fan of trinkets, antiques, arts & crafts, and just shopping or thrifting in general? Then this next thing to do in Brooklyn is for you! The Brooklyn Flea is a popular gathering with hundreds of vendors selling just about everything from vintage clothing and furnishings to collectibles, jewelry, and work by local artisans.
There are two locations, one in DUMBO and one in Williamsburg where you can shop til you drop. If you get hungry from all the shopping and browsing don’t worry, there are food vendors at Brooklyn Flea location in DUMBO too!
Be aware that the Brooklyn Flea runs seasonally, so while you might be itching to go to the Flea in the winter you’re not completely out of luck as there are winter markets on the weekends too. Check Brooklyn Flea’s website for the most current information during your visit.
What happens when artists and creatives get ahold of a decaying industrial manufacturing complex with a bunch of old warehouse buildings? It turns into a playland of art, murals, shopping, eating, drinking, and playing!
Industry City is one of the newer things to do in Brooklyn that’s rapidly expanding and growing in popularity!
This warehouse complex houses incredible places to eat from the Japan Village, another one of our picks for best things to do in Brooklyn for foodies, to a food court and all kinds of restaurants from BBQ to Korean.
Besides that ahhhmazing food scene there’s also a great shopping scene here from vintage clothing resellers to artisans who work and create in their very own retail space. There’s also a great coworking space, places to grab a drink, and events that take place here too.
One of the best parts about Industry City as well are the art installations and murals they have commissioned out to artists from all over the world, from small spaces outdoors and indoors to giant paintings covering the entire building like the vibrant colorful mural by artist Camille Walala’s piece covering an entire side of the building at Industry City.
Their outdoor spaces between the buildings have been transformed into a beautiful hang out, play area, and gathering place with waterfront views or views of colorful murals. There’s something for everyone here.
In one of the most popular areas to explore in the borough, right on the waterfront, next to Brooklyn Bridge Park, and sweeping views of Manhattan in DUMBO are the Empire Stores located in a transformed 19th-century industrial warehouse building.
This is one of the coolest spaces to shop and a great pick for things to do in Brooklyn if you’re exploring the DUMBO area.
You can’t miss the gorgeous brick building with giant windows and wrought-iron shutters that’s so aesthetically pleasing. Inside are just as cool retailers like West Elm, Feed Supply, more shops, and the Timeout Marketplace.
One of the best parts of Empire Stores, except for its prime waterfront location in one of the most scenic parts of the city, is the rooftop beer garden with awesome unobstructed views of the NYC city skyline, Manhattan Bridge, and Brooklyn Bridge.
L Train Vintage
Multiple locations in Brooklyn
If you’re a fan of thrifting or finding a good vintage gem then this next thing to do in Brooklyn is for you! L Train Vintage offers multiple locations throughout Brooklyn selling a curated collection of vintage finds!
While many vintage or thrift stores in the city have a hefty ‘finders fee’ and price tag, L Train Vintage is considered one of the more reasonable and affordable vintage resellers in the city.
Shop both men’s and women’s fashions and find a truly unique item to add to your wardrobe on your next visit to Brooklyn.
Artists & Fleas
Another hot spot for shopping for one of a kind items and cool work made my local artisans is Artists & Fleas in Williamsburg. Selling things made by all kinds of creators and creatives the Williamsburg location has over 75 different sellers to shop from.
Whether you’re looking for a unique gift for someone or just something for yourself, there’s something for everyone at Artists & Fleas.
What’s awesome about this shopping experience is that its not really a traditional flea market meaning you don’t have to wake up early to sift through all the vendors goods to try and find that diamond in the rough before someone else does.
These are independent shops and artisans selling their goods and just an overall fun shopping experience where you’re bound to find something for anyone.
Brooklyn really is home to some of the best thrifting and vintage shopping in the world! Erie Basin is located in the Erie Basin of Red Hook, the waterfront neighborhood that was once considered the busiest place in the New York Harbor.
This vintage jeweler and reseller not only has a clever name that ties in with the history of the city but they also sell a unique collection of antique jewelry and home furnishings that are surprisingly trending and modern.
This critically acclaimed and internationally known location is the perfect place to buy your beaux, friend, family, or yourself a rare and unique statement piece that’s been repurposed.
Black Gold Records
We’ve covered a lot of the vintage and thrifting inspired type of shopping as great picks for things to do in Brooklyn, but we haven’t covered any cool vinyl or old record shops, which Brooklyn has quite a few of!
Black Gold Records in Carroll Gardens is easily one of the best of these in the city, many of the other best record shops in the city just couldn’t survive, but Black Gold Records is still thriving.
Besides selling a great collection of records you can also shop antiques and grab a coffee all in this one dynamite location. The staff knows their stuff, so if you need help or personal flair to your shopping experience, you’ll get it here.
Brooklyn Superhero Supply Store
Calling all superheroes and people who have a sense of wonder and want to unleash their inner child in themselves! This next thing to do in Brooklyn is for you! The Brooklyn Superhero Supply Store in Park Slope is a quirky shop selling superhero capes, masks, and supplies!
What kind of supplies you ask? How about a can of the speed of light, a jar of anit matter, or a canister of invisibility? These novelty items aren’t actually real, sorry spoiler alert! But they do make a fun gift for a co-worker, friend, or parent that needs some extra encouragement and recognition for the superhero they are.
What’s even better about this place is that its actually a front for the 826NYC Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides after school tutoring and workshops for struggling students and youth. From helping non-native speaking children learn English to tutoring on any subject.
This place is truly a unique gem and thing to do in Brooklyn, so be sure to check it out and support an awesome cause.
Read Next: Best Things to do in Park Slope
Books Are Magic
One amazing piece of news in a world of bad news is that small, independent bookstores have made a resurgence and those that have survived online goliaths like Amazon and are thriving and as popular as ever. That’s why we love that there are so many great independent bookstores in Brooklyn.
Books Are Magic bookshop in Cobble Hill as an awesome thing to do in Brooklyn. After novelist Emma Straub’s favorite independent book shop didn’t survive to see this resurgence, it made her sad and want to start her own in Cobble Hill.
Books are Magic opened her friendly book shop took over the location of her favorite little book shop that didn’t survive.
Selling everything from bestsellers to all different genres and rare books, Books Are Magic is a great place to visit if you’re looking for your next read or want to see what a cool, independent book shop scene is like.
There are also events held here and the knowledgeable staff can help you pick out your next read! Don’t miss the cute mural outside on the side of the building either!
For anyone ‘in the know’ about the cult following skate brand Supreme this next thing to do in Brooklyn is for you! This American skateboarding shop and clothing brand was born in NYC and if you’ve ever been past one of their shops you’ll likely see lines and lines of people waiting and hoping they can get their hands on a piece of their merchandise.
Supreme doesn’t sell their merchandise online, you have to come buy in person. This scarcity makes the demand crazy and people eat it up.
Supreme opened up a second location in New York City in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The space is much larger than the first and if you think that doesn’t mean there’d be lines, you’d be wrong.
If you or someone you know is a Supreme junkie, this thing to do in Brooklyn is for you. Be sure to plan your visit and be ready for a possible line with other super Supreme fans.
DUMBO Bridge View
Easily one of the most instagrammable and favorite things to do in Brooklyn with visitors is get the epic and iconic photo from Washington Street in DUMBO. It’s not hard to find this spot as it gets very popular with tourists every day to get the famous photo of the Manhattan Bridge with the Empire State Building perfectly framed under the bridge.
This has become one of the most recognizable photo locations in Brooklyn. The trick to getting a photo without tons of people we recommend getting there early morning, think sunrise or coming on a brutally cold winter day. Otherwise, you’ll have to bear the fact that others might also be in your photo as this is a hot spot!
Also, most people only know that you can walk across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, but you can also walk across the Manhattan Bridge! Check out our guide to the Manhattan Bridge walk to plan your visit to this less crowded and scenic bridge walk!
Another one of our favorite views and picks for best things to do in Brooklyn is at the Brooklyn Promenade in Brooklyn Heights. Also referred to as the Esplanade, this gorgeous waterfront walkway has amazing views of Lower Manhattan and the harbor.
Come here to find a quiet bench with a view, walk, rollerblade, or even run!
We recommend walking down the picture-perfect Pineapple Street before or after your visit to the Brooklyn Promenade. This street is lined with gorgeous townhouses and brownstones.
Located on the rooftop at the 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge is one of the best sweeping views of New York City. Harriet’s Rooftop is an outdoor bar with endless views of the Lower Manhattan skyline serving cocktails and light food.
If you’re a non-guest to the hotel you can only visit by reservation only and pay a $20 cover fee. You can sip on cocktails looking at one of the best views in Brooklyn and dip in the plunge pool that makes you feel like you’re floating or swimming over the city.
Red Hook’s Statue of Liberty View
Want to see a great view of the Statue of Liberty? One of the best things to do in Brooklyn is to head to the Red Hook neighborhood for some of the best views of Lady Liberty herself from across the East River.
We recommend going to Louis Valentino Park and Pier for a stunning view of the Statue of Liberty, Lower Manhattan, Governor’s Island, and even Staten Island.
Westlight at William Vale Hotel
Another rooftop bar that also provides a stunning view and is a top pick for best things to do in Brooklyn is the Westlight rooftop cocktail bar at The William Vale Hotel in Williamsburg.
Located on the 22nd floor of the hotel is the sophisticated rooftop cocktail bar with bar snacks and pairing menus all while offering sweeping views of Manhattan in one of the coolest neighborhoods in Brooklyn. If you look bars with views, check out more of the best rooftop bars in Williamsburg.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO
Already mentioned as one of the best things to do in Brooklyn under the parks category and worth mentioning again for the views category is Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Enjoy the unobstructed views of the East River and the New York City skyline from Brooklyn Bridge Park located right under the iconic Brooklyn Bridge.
Ride a bike or walk through the paths, bring a blanket and have a picnic, or just sit along the rocks enjoying one of the most beautiful views in the city. Or for a whimsical experience, ride Jane’s Carousel with that stunning backdrop.
Grand Army Plaza
An epic monument and thing to check out when you’re exploring Brooklyn is Grand Army Plaza at the northern corner of Prospect Park. The plaza is home to the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch, statues dedicated to Civil War generals and other notable figures like John F Kennedy, and at the Bailey Fountain all at the main entrance of Prospect Park.
Built in 1867, Grand Army Plaza is built on the site of the first major battle of the American Revolution, soon after the Declaration of Independence was signed, the Battle of Long Island.
The arch is dedicated to the soldiers and sailors who fought in the Union Army of the Civil War. Today, this is a spot is a giant traffic hub as it connects many neighborhoods in Brooklyn, serves as the entrance to Prospect Park, and is where you can find the outdoor farmers’ markets weekly.
It’s worth checking out, especially if you’re exploring Prospect Park!
Old Stone House
Park Slope, Gowanus
Located on the border of the Park Slope and Gowanus neighborhoods is the historic landmark, Old Stone House nestled in Washington Park right off of Park Slope’s bustling 5th Avenue.
The Old Stone House is listed as a National Register of Historic Places monument and is a restored version of a Dutch stone farmhouse built in 1699 owned by Dutch immigrants who farmed the land here and harvested oysters.
The Old Stone House was an integral part of the 1776 Battle of Long Island, or the Battle of Brooklyn, the largest fight in the Revolutionary War. On August 27, 1776, the Old Stone House was where the Americans led and commanded the fight against the British and General Charles Cornwallis.
The Battle of Brooklyn was a loss for Americans, the British won this fight and occupied Brooklyn and Manhattan for seven years to come. However, George Washington and his troops escaped the British to fight again and win the war.
In more recent history, the house was used as a clubhouse for what we know today as the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO
Probably one of the most iconic things to do in Brooklyn is walk across the infamous Brooklyn Bridge. Connecting the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn, you can cross one of the oldest roadway bridges in the United States for free by car (there aren’t many free driving routes into Manhattan) or by foot.
To take in all the glory of the Brooklyn Bridge we recommend walking. Just be aware that there is a bicycle path and a walking path. If you don’t want to upset locals or get run over, be sure to stay clear of the bicycle path when you’re walking and when you’re posing for photos.
Like other iconic things to do in Brooklyn and NYC, this Brooklyn attraction gets quite crowded, so much, in fact, it can put a bit of a damper on the experience. If you’re visiting during peak tourist season we recommend trying to do this first thing in the morning so that you can avoid crowds.
If not, it’s still a magical experience even with the crowds, you just might have to push your way through a bit. But we can help you plan the best experience, follow our guide to walking the Brooklyn Bridge for all our tips on how to do it, best photos spots, when to go, and how to get there.
Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM)
One of the best things to do in Brooklyn for arts and culture lovers is checking out a show at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, or BAM. This performing arts venue is famous for its’ cutting edge and avant-garde performances.
The original structure was built in 1861 for the Philharmonic Society of Brooklyn in Brooklyn Heights but burnt to the ground in 1903. The current building was built in Fort Greene in 1906 to replace it where theater and opera would use as a performance venue.
BAM is considered as one of America’s oldest performance arts centers and offers archives of the history and different performances even to today including theater, opera, music, dance, and visual art performances.
There’s even a movie theater in BAM where you can see many of the latest blockbuster hits in this historic building.
Lefferts Historic House
Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Crown Heights
Located in Prospect Park is another historic landmark and great thing to do in Brooklyn. The Lefferts Historic House is a museum of family life in Brooklyn in the 19th century and the former home of Continental Army Lieutenant Pieter Lefferts built in 1783.
The home was kept in the Lefferts family for 4 generations before being turned over to the city due to rapid urbanization of the area, which gave the home protection of historical preservation and used as a museum.
Brooklyn Borough Hall
Our next monumental and historic building and thing to do in Brooklyn is Brooklyn Borough Hall, the oldest public building in the borough. This beautiful Greek revival building was the original City Hall and a National Registered Historic Place.
Brooklyn was its own city until 1898 after Brooklyn was incorporated as a part of New York City the City Hall changed its name to Brooklyn Borough Hall.
One of the most notable features of the Borough Hall is the rotunda, the two-story lobby with black and white marble floors and the Courtroom with elaborate wood paneling, a domed ceiling, and ornate details.
Deno’s Wonder Wheel
Another one of the most recognizable Brooklyn attractions and fun thing to do in Brooklyn is the famous Deno’s Wonder Wheel at Coney Island. The Wonder Wheel itself has become an icon in history dating back to 1920 when it was constructed.
When you’re high up on the Wonder Wheel 150 feet in the sky, you can see majestic views of the Atlantic and the famous Riegelmann Boardwalk of Coney Island.
Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park is also a part of this area, not to be confused with Luna Park, which are right next to eachother. Deno’s Amusement Park features 5 rides for adults and 16 rides for kids. The Wonder Wheel itself actually is older than the park and opened in 1920.
Whether you ride the Wonder Wheel or not, this is one of the most iconic symbols in history for the borough of Brooklyn and Coney Island.
Brooklyn Cat Café
You’ve got to be kitten me right meow! This is the best thing to do in Brooklyn for kitty cat lovers! This non-profit cat café is actually a cat adoption center and is partnered with animal rescue groups.
Walk in or make a reservation to spend some time with these kitties! You don’t have to adopt or find a forever home for the cats you come see, but this facility has successfully helped find homes for cats since their opening.
Support the cause by visiting, your entrance helps keep the facility running and help finding homes for these friendly felines.
Can’t make it? Check out their kitty cam on their website to see inside the cat café from anywhere!
Closed on Tuesdays.
Alamo Draft House
One of our favorite things to do in Brooklyn and an awesome thing to do here for cinephiles is catch a flick at Alamo Draft House at the City Point Center. Check out any current movies playing and even some random cult classics in style in recliner and leather chairs with service.
You can order a chilled craft beer on draft from their long tap list selection, snacks, or an entire meal all from the comfort of your chair while you enjoy the movie.
What makes this movie theater even more special is their love for cinema. This Austin based chain takes the movie experience to a whole new level. For big movies, they create a special themed menu of food and drinks around the film as well as a featured snippet made by movie experts on the topic of the film that plays before the regular trailers. This will give you a reason to show up early.
What’s even better about this location is that in the basement of City Point is the Dekalb Market Food Hall, so your dining options are pretty much endless!
Before or after your show also be sure to check out The House of Wax, a cocktail bar and rare collection of turn of the century wax collection featuring the anatomy of the body. The collection was called Castan’s Panopticum from Berlin. The exhibit started in 1869 until 1922. Now the collection has traveled and its home is here in Brooklyn in the bar at the first floor of Alamo Drafthouse. Creepy, but cool!
Insiders tip: The front row of the theater are the only seats that recline, the rest are just comfortable but do not offer a reclining feature.
Williamsburg & Park Slope
One thing we love about this city are the successful independent businesses that are thriving. One great example of that and our next pick for things to do in Brooklyn for entertainment is Nitehawk Cinema.
This independent cinema is what we think the movie experience was more like in the golden age. Sit back and relax while watching a film and order a meal or a cocktail while you’re enjoying the show.
This was the first movie theater in New York to get a liquor license and first in the city to offer dining while you watch the movie.
There are two locations, one in Williamsburg and one in Park Slope. The location in Park Slope is in a gorgeous landmark Art Deco building. We love the concept of a boutique cinema experience and supporting an independent theater!
Next time you want to see a movie, support a local business and have a unique experience.
Technically separate from Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, but you’d never know as they are right next to eachother at Coney Island! Luna Park is the American iconic amusement park at Coney Island.
With all the flashing lights, over a quarter million to give you an idea, this amusement park has been in operation since 1903.
Luna Park is easily the most famous amusement park throughout the history of the US. With 28 rides and 13 carnival games, you can have a whole lot of fun here! There is no shortage of things to do in Brooklyn at this historic attraction.
Admission anyone over 43 inches $48, anyone under $31
Shuffleboard at Royal Palms
Looking for a fun thing to do in Brooklyn with a group or party, or even just a friend? Check out Royal Palms Shuffleboard, a cool tropical hangout spot with a bar, 10 shuffleboard courts, and other games in Gowanus.
If you’re not a fan of playing games you can still have fun at the bar watching others play and to honestly just hang out in the cool, tropical vibe they have going on here. Even the bathrooms are gorgeous with flamingo wallpaper.
Insider tip: Leagues play on Mondays & Tuesdays, so it will be harder – but not impossible – to play on these days.
One of the most popular things to do in Brooklyn in DUMBO at Prospect Park is ride the famous Jane’s Carousel right on the waterfront. This carousel probably has one of the best views in the world, okay maybe Paris has them beat, but you do have one amazing view of the Manhattan skyline and East River while you take a whimsical ride around the carousel.
Jane’s Carousel has 48-horses and dates back to 1922. It was originally built for an amusement park in Youngstown, Ohio known as Idora Park and the carousel itself used to be called Idora Park Merry-Go-Round.
In 1984, Idora Park closed and the carousel was auctioned off and moved to Brooklyn for repairs and restoration. It wasn’t moved to this spot until 2011 and to protect it a building around it was designed, which also makes it a great all season activity!
Jane’s Carousel was also the first carousel to ever to be listed as a National Register of Historic Places.
The Bell House
Looking for some more entertainment options? Then this next thing to do in Brooklyn is for you. The Bell House is an awesome bar/venue in a former warehouse in Gowanus where up and coming talent and big names perform.
Be sure to check their calendar to see any special seasonal events or what their latest music, special events, or comedy line ups are. This location also has been used to film Netflix comedy specials!
Prospect Heights surrounded by Fort Greene, Boerum Hill, Clinton Hill, Downtown Brooklyn, & Park Slope.
In the center of many of Brooklyn’s neighborhoods is the giant indoor arena home to the Brooklyn Nets basketball team, New York Islanders NHL team, and concert venue Barclays Center!
Most visitors come here for the sporting events or concerts. Getting here couldn’t be easier as the subway station connects to the 2, 3,4,5, B, D, N, Q, R, & W lines as well as the Long Island Railroad (LIRR).
The Brooklyn Strategist
This next thing to do in Brooklyn is for the game board lover! The Brooklyn Strategist is a board game room with over 500 games in their collection, bring a friend or make one here and play games for hours while hanging out and ordering something tasty from their café in Carroll Gardens.
They also sell over 500 games in their store! So if you fall in love with a new game you just tried, you can take it home or get it as a gift for someone else.
To sit and play here its $10 per person for 4 hours of playing time! Not bad, this is the perfect rainy day or cold day activity too!
Bar Great Harry
If you’re looking for a cool spot to hang out and have a drink this next thing to do in Brooklyn is for you! Bar Great Harry is not only a great place to try tons of different craft beers or drinks from their full bar, this bar has a retro pinball parlor inside of it!
Get a little loose with liquids then play pinball machines and classic games while you drink in this fun atmosphere. Have a dog? This bar is dog-friendly so you can bring Fido!
Want to impress your friends with one of the coolest things to do in Brooklyn? This under the radar pinball arcade/museum and bar is hidden in plain sight in a laundromat! You could easily walk past this unassuming laundromat and never know that there’s a treasure inside!
With different beers on draft, you can drink and play in the back at this cool hangout spot and bar. Heck, you can even do laundry while you play and drink! We might just go out of our way to do laundry next week.
To find the bar and pinball arcade just go to the back of the laundromat! Your friends will think you’ve gone crazy until you reveal the most fun hidden fun zone in the back.
Looking for laughs? This next thing to do in Brooklyn is for your fun night out full of drinks and comedy! EastVille Comedy club in Boerum Hill is an awesome venue for comedy shoes with often featuring big names like Tracy Morgan, Amy Schumer, and Sarah Silverman to name a few as well as new emerging comedians in the comedy scene.
This is also a venue for other events and shows besides comedy. Unlike many other comedy clubs in the city, EastVille Comedy has no drink minimums, so if you’re a non-drinker or want to pregame a bit you aren’t obligated to spend a ton on drinks once you’re inside the club.
Another awesome venue and thing to do in Brooklyn is visit Union Hall in Park Slope. This bar is an all out fun time frenzy zone. In the lower level, you have an entertainment venue for live music, comedy shows, dance floor, karaoke night, and more. In the upper level, you have a bar with two bocce courts for nonstop fun.
In the warmer months, there’s also an outdoor area and bar. Did we mention there’s food too? This is a one-stop spot for a fun night out, be sure to check their website for their latest events or reserve a whole space out for a private party!
House of Yes
Looking for more nightlife and entertainment? The House of Yes is an awesome choice for things to do in Brooklyn for partyers and those who love a great nightclub! Named by Timeout as one of the best 50 things to do in the world, not just Brooklyn!
See what the fuss is about in this wild and weird night club with people hanging from the rafters, or aerialists, circus performers, dancers, body painters, and more from local artists Kae Burke and Anya Sapozhnikova who created this eclectic club.
The House of Yes feels like something straight out of Hollywood fiction, but its very much real and you can feel alive any night or at any of their themed parties. Be prepared though, you’ll want to come in costume so you can blend right in this awesome place full of fun!
Prospect Park Carousel
Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Crown Heights
Another carousel to add to your best things to do in Brooklyn bucket list! The Prospect Park Carousel, located in the children’s area of the park, technically could fall under cool historic landmarks in Brooklyn too as the carousel is over 100 years old being built in 1912.
First, for Coney Island, this majestic carousel didn’t make its way to Prospect Park until 1952. This is not the first carousel in the park, the original was placed here in 1874 and was actually powered by horses! The original was moved in 1885 and was burned, then a new one replaced it in 1935 which also burned down. In 1952, this carousel was brought over from Coney Island.
Ride on one of the 53 horses, deer, lion, giraffe, or dragons! The ride contains real animal products from real horse hair on the horses and real deer antlers.
What’s even cooler about this carousel is that you can rent it out for birthday parties! Have the entire Prospect Park carousel to yourself for you and your friends. This is also one of the world’s only wheelchair-friendly carousels too! High five to accessibility.
Open March through November only.
Another awesome thing to do in Brooklyn for cinephiles! Spectacle Theater in Williamsburg, this community-run theater is where you can see cool art house films as well as rare and independent films for only $5 a person!
Located in an old bodega you can’t deny that this screams Brooklyn and Williamsburg all over it. When rent prices were increasing the community also successively ran a fundraising Kickstarter campaign to keep the doors open.
The cinema is small, they actually call it a microcinema with only 30 seats. Volunteers are who keep the screens going and the cinema running and keeping a cool, affordable cinematic experience in reach for locals and people of the community.
So next date night or day you’re craving for a new movie, skip Netflix and go support an awesome local cinema and see some cool independent film you may never have thought of seeing.
This next cool and unique thing to do in Brooklyn requires you to hop on a subway for a hidden art installation in the underground of Brooklyn.
Masstransiscope is a hidden Zoetrope in the subway leaving Dekalb Avenue subway station. What’s a Zoetrope? We also had to look this up, a zoetrope is a sequence of drawings and or photographs to show motion used in pre-film animations.
The artist Bill Brand created a large scale, 300-foot zoetrope so you can see it as a viewer as the train is moving. This under the radar gem is really one of a kind. Believe it or not, Masstransiscope has been around since 1980 and has been restored twice.
To see Masstransiscope get on any train leaving Dekalb Avenue subway station towards Manhattan and look out the right-hand side of the windows as you take off.
Another cool thing to do in Brooklyn in the Williamsburg neighborhood. Are you surprised, we aren’t. Whether you’re good at bowling or not this fun bowling alley isn’t like your old childhood local neighborhood bowlorama.
Brooklyn Bowl features a music venue and restaurant alongside their bowling alley lanes! Bowl alongside your next show or just come to bowl or just to listen to music. This venue has so much fun going on you’re bound to have a good time.
Besides being a whole ton of fun, Brooklyn Bowl also has received praise for its high-tech green construction on the building. Even Rolling Stone named Brooklyn Bowl as one of the best music clubs in the country!
Another awesome thing to do in Brooklyn if you want to catch a movie is Syndicated Bar Theater Kitchen in the Bushwick neighborhood. Many movie theaters in the city will run you upwards of $20 a ticket, but here at Syndicated, the tickets are always $7. Can’t beat that!
An intimate 50 seat theater gives you a personalized cinema experience where you can eat and drink while you watch your movie. They have all kinds of fun cocktails on their menu, many of which are themed, burgers, and more.
They typically show cult classic movies, that’s why they are able to keep the prices affordable. This is a fun way to spend an evening while eating some delicious savory food from the kitchen and one of your favorite films.
If you’re not ready to leave after your show, head to the restaurant and bar attached for more fun. Also, be sure to check out their latest events. Besides showing films they sometimes will screen big sporting events in their cinema!
Read Next: Best Things to do in Bushwick
Another unique venue and amazing thing to do in Brooklyn is check out the Montauk Club in Park Slope. This gorgeous social club dates back to 1889. Started as an exclusive men’s social club for the elite and today is also used as a venue for awesome events in this beautiful Venetial Gothic-style building designed by Francis Kimball.
You can host your own event or join one of the events on their calendar from Book Club to 2 for 1 drink happy hour specials, and you don’t even need a membership like the old days.
And if you’re a fan of Boardwalk Empire, they filmed scenes of the series right here in Brooklyn’s Montauk Club!
Another fun bowling alley experience and fun thing to do in Brooklyn! The Gutter Bar is a bar and bowling alley serving up what they consider ‘circus food,’ craft brews, cocktails, and of course bowling on their straight out of the 70s or 80s looking bowling alley lanes.
Gather a group of friends for this dive bar, retro bowling alley action. You can rent lanes by the hour and even eat and drink at them. Before or after your bowling you can hang out and drink and eat more!
Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
One of the most famous things to do in Brooklyn during the winter holiday season are the Dyker Heights Christmas lights! This neighborhood holds an annual tradition of over the top Christmas displays. Houses and neighbors outdo eachother with their festive displays that involve loads of lights and all things themed holiday decor.
Remember Clark Griswold in Christmas Vacation? Imagine that in person one house after another. That’s the best way to describe the feeling you get when walking through the Christmas lights in Dyker Heights.
From Thanksgiving to New Years you can explore this neighborhood from 11th to 13th Avenues and from 83rd to 86th Street for lights galore and a true holiday spectacular! This has become so popular that it attracts over 100,000 people a year to the neighborhood to see all the twinkling lights and displays.
Getting here is sort of a pain by public transport with no trains that run directly here, more like a 20-minute walk from the nearest subway station and a bus ride. If you don’t want to Uber it we recommend joining a guided tour.
This 3 hour guided Dyker Heights Christmas Lights tour starts and ends right at a subway stop so its super easy and straight forward to get to Dyker Heights. Your knowledgeable guide will take you to all the best spots for the most extravagant Christmas light displays in the neighborhood and learn about the local’s traditions in this neighborhood.
The group tours are small and you don’t have to worry about getting lost or navigating the streets to find the best homes!
The Great DUMBO Drop
Another fun seasonal thing to do in Brooklyn in DUMBO is the annual Great DUMBO Drop held in September! This giant block party in DUMBO holds an annual DUMBO drop where they send thousands of small elephant souvenirs down into the masses in a parachute, like the movie Dumbo!
They have the classic DUMBO drop where you get the regular souvenir parachute elephants or later the Disco Drop which are light up souvenir elephants!
There’s even a prize for the elephant that reaches a target for participants. There are also great street eats, live music, parties, and more activities to enjoy!
Do you love food? Well you’re in luck if you do as Smorgasburg is the best thing to do in Brooklyn from April through November for foodies! This outdoor food bonanza features over 100 vendors selling all things food from snacks to meals.
The same people who brought us Brooklyn Flea are who put on Smorgasburg. To check out what locations they are at you’ll want follow their website as it changes.
Don’t miss out on munching your way through Brooklyn.
A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tour
One of the best tours and best things to do in Brooklyn is a pizza tour! Hop on a bus and get taken around to many of the best Brooklyn neighborhoods for a slice of New York famous pizza while passing famous landmarks, filming locations all with a local guide!
Come hungry and leave full while learning about Brooklyn’s culture, history, and of course pizza! The tour starts in Union Square in Manhattan where you’ll get on a luxury bus before crossing the iconic Brooklyn Bridge.
From DUMBO where you’ll try one of the best pizzas in the country at Grimaldi’s without having to wait in line to pizzerias in Bay Ridge, Coney Island, and more!
Besides being a delicious and informative tour you will get to see alot of Brooklyn all in one day. All food, soft drinks, and transportation is included in the tour price!
Book your Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tour
Best of Brooklyn Walking Tour
Check out the best of Williamsburg and some of the best things to do in Brooklyn in this Best of Brooklyn Walking Tour. This 3 hour walking tour takes you through the best of the Williamsburg neighborhood with a knowledgable guide.
See all the trendiest spots in this neighborhood while learning about the history and its influence on the contemporary culture of Brooklyn. See the different street art and murals, find out what the coolest local spots are, and learn about the historic buildings as you pass.
You won’t want to leave Williamsburg after!
Another awesome thing to do in Brooklyn is join the Boozy Brooklyn food and drink tour! Taste the best of Williamsburg foodie and drink scene while learning about one of the city’s hippest neighborhoods.
This small tour is held on Sundays and is a walking tour through Williamsburg including food and beer. You’ll make stops at a local flea market, tastings at Brooklyn Brewery, spot som street art, and learn about the best spots in this awesome neighborhood.
Come hungry as you’ll be filling up on this tour! There are vegetarian options as well, just be sure to state it in your booking.
Best of Brooklyn Food, History, and Culture Tour
This half-day tour takes you through the best of Brooklyn paired with history, culture, and most importantly food! Hop aboard a luxury bus for this 5-hour tour with tastings in some of the coolest neighborhoods in Brooklyn. This is easily one of the best ways to see the best things to do in Brooklyn with a local expert and guide.
You’ll make stops at traditional eateries featuring cuisines from all over the world, see why this city is a melting pot of cultures through your taste buds. You’ll also visit the trendiest neighborhoods and learn about the history and iconic landmarks in Brooklyn along the way.
Your tour ticket includes all your tastings, transportation, a bottle of water, and a guide! They can accommodate to dietary requirements when you make your booking too.
Brooklyn Brewery and Beer Tasting Tour
One of the best things to do in Brooklyn is drink their local craft brews from their emerging and incredible beer scene! This beer tasting walking tour lasts for 3 hours with a local guide. Get the insider knowledge on the best beer in Brooklyn through the neighborhood of Williamsburg.
You’ll get behind the scenes access to some of the best breweries in the borough and try loads of different beer and also have a pizza break for lunch that’s all included as well as a brewery map so you can continue the boozy fun times after your tour ends.
Book your Brooklyn Brewery and Beer Tasting Tour
Flavors of Williamsburg Food Tour
Another awesome food tour that covers the trendy neighborhood of Williamsburg. Don’t make the mistake of coming without a completely empty stomach on this 3-hour food journey through one of the most popular areas in Brooklyn.
You’ll learn about the rich culinary history, visit iconic restaurants and eateries, and sample amazing treats along this small-group tour with an expert local guide!
You’ll also get to see some of the best views in Brooklyn while you learn the history. If you have dietary restrictions please contact the tour company after you book they can accommodate to your needs ahead of time.
Book your Flavors of Williamsburg Tour
Historic Brooklyn with Madame Morbid’s Trolley Tour
Want to learn about the dark past or spooky stories of Brooklyn? This is the best thing to do in Brooklyn if you love spooky or haunted history!
400 years of history will be unleashed on you in this 90-minute vintage trolley tour that takes you through the history of the Revolutionary War battles that took place here, mob murders, alien abductions, crime, and more!
The trolley itself is even an ancient relic from yesteryear! Your guide will teach you all about Brooklyn’s dark history and other surprising stories like the site of a plane crash in the middle of Brooklyn, brothels, and more historical moments that took place here!
Brooklyn Hip Hop Tour
Did you know New York City is the birthplace of hip hop? One of the best things to do in Brooklyn for music or hip hop lovers is this Brooklyn Hip Hop Tour. In 3 hours you’ll learn about the history of Brooklyn’s hip hop scene and the legendary artists who came from here.
You’ll pass by some of the original homes, hang out spots, and more locations from the borough’s most popular hip hop artists and filming locations for hip hop music videos.
Artists like Jay Z, The Notorious B.I.G., Busta Rhymes, Lil’ Kim, and more all got their start or inspiration from the streets in Brooklyn you’ll cover in this tour. You’ll also discover Spike Lee’s production company location and more.
Book your Brooklyn Hip-Hop Tour
This Pacsafe Shoulder Bag slings over your body and is the perfect size to carry your day essentials while exploring Brooklyn. This lightweight bag has anti-theft features so you can enjoy Brooklyn with ease of mind with Pacsafe’s anti-theft patent products whether you’re in a crowded area or on the subway.
This Pacsafe Anti-theft Backpack is another essential for Brooklyn or any city trip. This backpack has a patented anti-theft design with lockable zippers and slash-proof material in this sleek and comfortable designed backpack.
Avoid high tech thieves with this 15 pack of RFID blocking sleeves that doesn’t require you to buy a special travel wallet, you can carry your favorite purse, wallet, or backpack by simply putting your credit cards and sensitive information in these RFID blocking sleeves.
Upgrade your wallet with this RFID Blocking Wallet by Pacsafe is the perfect pick. Always have your identification, bank cards, and credit cards protected from high tech thieves with this RFID blocking wallet in this sleek and slim design.
One of the best ways to keep valuables safe when you travel is this Portable Safe by Pacsafe. This is ideal when you’re hotel has a safe that is too small for your belongings, with it’s sleek and compact design so it doesn’t take up much space in your luggage offering maximum security with its stainless steel wire mesh covered in a piece of cut-resistant canvas fabric. You simply lock this portable safe to a secure fixture in your hotel room when you leave.
This iPhone crossbody case is perfect for sightseeing as you can easily grab your phone for that perfect photo moment on the fly as well as keep your phone secured to your body and safe from pickpockets!
We recommend Allbirds Women’s Wool Runner as well as the Allbirds Men’s Wool Runner for an everyday walking shoe that’s breathable, comfortable, and feels like you’re walking on clouds. Your back and feet will thank us later, plus they are all the rage in the city at the moment.
A good reusable water bottle is one of the best things you can have in your day bag or on you at all times, plus New York City has some of the best drinking water in the country, cut back on single-use plastic and have a good reusable water bottle for your trip.
Don’t leave the house without a good power bank. Don’t spoil your fun exploring all the fun neighborhoods and things to see in Brooklyn by having your battery die on you. If you’re anything like me you’ll be using your phone to take photos, navigate, and post to social media while you’re exploring.
When it comes to the city, this weather is not forgiving and you don’t want to get caught out and about in the rain without an umbrella. That’s why we recommend this compact wind resistant travel umbrella for what to pack for Brooklyn.
Are you a sensitive sleeper? A good pair of earplugs are essential for your Brooklyn or city trip, especially if you’re not from a big city.
Travel Insurance is one of the most important things travelers can get. If you’re traveling over 100 miles away from home, you should get travel insurance. We recommend World Nomads Travel Insurance because you can buy anytime before or during your trip no matter where you are.
Covering everything from lost or stolen documents, electronics, or if you get sick unexpectedly, don’t leave home without it!
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