11 Beautiful and Interesting Places to Visit in Brooklyn

Brooklyn is a city for everyone. World-class architecture, food, entertainment, and a fascinating history are only some of the reasons Brooklyn makes an excellent travel destination.

Are you interested in…. anything? Sports? Art? Are you a foodie? A film buff? A fan of the most famous music acts in the world? A fan of the band you knew before everyone else?

Maybe you like dancing to house music with people on stilts and then collecting deli sandwiches, pizza, and halal on your way home at 5am. Or, you like great shopping!

I think you’re getting it, Brooklyn has everything. Even for those who’d like to get away from the crowd, Brooklyn has a multitude of parks, including state parks and miles of beachy coastline to get in touch with nature. 

Clearly, I love Brooklyn. After spending the better part of a decade there, it will always be my favorite city. It’s a daunting task to narrow down a list of beautiful places and things to do in Brooklyn, but I gave it a shot. Here are 11 interesting and beautiful things to do in Brooklyn.

Parks

Already off to a rough start.. This could easily be a list of the top 11 parks in Brooklyn to visit. However, I don’t want to inundate this article with only parks so I’ll include a few recommendations here as a sub-list of the best parks in Brooklyn:

Prospect Park

To me, Prospect Park is to Brooklyn, what Central Park is to Manhattan. This sprawling oasis has dozens of attractions. You can visit the Zoo, the Botanical Garden, Morton Homestead which dates back to 1698, and not to mention the world renowned Brooklyn Museum. But, one of my favorite things to do in Prospect Park happens once a year in summer, when the New York Philharmonic visits with a free concert.

Life is idyllic when you bring your picnic basket, lay out a blanket with friends and family, pop open a bottle of cold rosé, and relax as soft music comes to a crescendo into the buzzing summer evening.

McCarren Park

What a great place to be, especially in summer. Grab a coffee from any of the dozen coffee shops surrounding the park and take a leisurely stroll through the park. Dispersed groups of bohemians bask in a field that doubles as the outfield of local beer softball and kickball leagues, while on the outskirts families get together to grill n’ chill.

There’s a strong chance you will see a large group of people doing Yoga, with someone completely knocking their chakras out of balance with blasting music. 

Watch out for all things wheels, from roller skates to skateboards, I’ve even seen uni-cycles. It’s one of my favorite representations of civilization, a gathering of people from all walks of life, finding a spot in the grass, and feeling free to be exactly who they are. Once you’re through, find a table at one of the many excellent bars and restaurants surrounding the park.

McGolrick Park

Okay maybe I’m biased with this one, it just hits so close to home after living down the street from there for 5 years. In the very Polish neighborhood of Greenpoint, this park makes me feel like I’m strolling through Warsaw itself. A slice of Europe in Brooklyn.

Along with a great Sunday farmer’s market, the park is lined with several great coffee shops, restaurants, and bars. If you’re looking for a uniquely local feel, this is a great place to be.

Bonus park because I have to mention at least one of the coastal parks.. Domino Park

A newer park located on the water in Williamsburg, Domino offers excellent views of the Williamsburg Bridge and the Manhattan coastline. There’s also a taco shop, volleyball courts, a dog park(!!),  a cool fountain display, and is right near great shops and restaurants.

Prospect Park

Prospect Park by Brian Lundquist on Unsplash

Brooklyn Museum

One of my favorite things to do while living in Brooklyn was call out sick and go to a museum. Just pop in some headphones, grab a coffee, and go look at works of art as if I completely understand them. I guess I enjoy feeling like an intellectual for a little while. The Brooklyn Museum is the third largest museum in NYC and features world class collections and exhibits and always has cool events scheduled. 

The museum hosts “First Saturdays”, which means free entry the first Saturday of the month, creating access for many underserved communities in Brooklyn and beyond. Sometimes there’s live music as an added bonus! Visiting the Brooklyn Museum is a must have on your list of things to do in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Museum

Brooklyn Museum by Nicholas Ceglia on Unsplash

Bridges

Uh-oh, another sub-list. Two awesome bridges to visit while in Brooklyn:

  • Brooklyn Bridge: Because you have to, it’s iconic. It’s one of the best places to visit in Brooklyn, hands down. I will say, try to find less busy times to go such as during the week, in the winter, or early in the morning. It’s obviously very touristy, but it’s undeniably beautiful. One of the most photographed places in the world, and for a reason. Grab an ice cream cone and walk on over to Chinatown with amazing views along the way.
  • Williamsburg Bridge: A less touristy option is the Williamsburg Bridge. And maybe it’s less touristy because, let’s face it, she’s not the prettiest. Industrial and graffiti-ridden, the bridge offers a more authentic bridge experience. However, stretching over the same East River as the Brooklyn Bridge, it also offers incredible views of Brooklyn and Manhattan. The Brooklyn bridge is a must, but let’s expand our horizons and try new things.
Williamsburg Bridge

Williamsburg Bridge by Lerone Pieters on Unsplash

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

One of the most pleasant places to go in Brooklyn in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Located within Prospect Park, the 52-acre garden makes a perfect respite from the surrounding concrete madness. Peaceful and tranquil, spending a summer day here will tempt you to hug a tree. The garden was founded in 1910 and features thousands of different kinds of trees and flora including cherry blossoms in my favorite part, the Japanese Garden. 

During the winter, admission is free during weekdays and offers an opportunity to see a different, less busy side of the gardens. While not as lush and green as during the summer, still worth the trip. Another particularly impressive collection is the Desert Pavilion, which features all sorts of cacti and desert thriving plants from all over the world.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Brooklyn Botanic Garden by Pascale Amez on Unsplash

Smorgasburg

For your taste buds. Particularly when the warm weather hits, Smorgasburg is a really cool thing to do in Brooklyn. It’s is a weekly open air food market with several locations throughout the country, starting in Brooklyn in 2011. There are locations in Prospect Park and on the Williamsburg waterfront. The market features dozens of local vendors serving up delights ranging from lobster rolls to donuts and everything in between. 

It’s a wonderful way to spend a Saturday or Sunday, filling up on all different cuisines, laying out in the grass belly-up, staring at the clouds roll by wondering if you’ll eat again. In the Williamsburg location, you can look out on the Manhattan skyline and the ferries float by.

DUMBO

Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass. The site of many films, shows, and movies with good reason. Its cobble-stoned streets and beautiful waterfront views make it one of the prettiest areas in Brooklyn. You’ve seen the photo, two beautiful red-brick buildings create a valley for the Manhattan Bridge to gaze down at the admirers. This spot on the corner of Washington and Front street has surely been sprinkled into your Instagram feed. And, I get it, it’s beautiful. 

Aside from being highly Instagrammable, DUMBO has a lot of great food, bars, shopping, and historical sites. I’d recommend visiting Time Out Food Market (I love food markets), which is located in the really cool, really old Empire Stores buildings. Brooklyn Bridge park (I love parks) is another highly recommended pit stop.

DUMBO

DUMBO by Anas Hinde on Pexels

Get on the Water

Another one of our favorite weekend activities during the summer was to hop on one of the NYC ferries and visit a neighborhood we were less familiar with. The fun was two-fold, the views of Manhattan and Brooklyn from the ferry are incredible, and they can take you to a bunch of different neighborhoods to explore.

Some of the ferries also sell drinks and snacks and honestly, just taking the ferry is a thing to do on its own. You can take the ferry all the way from Williamsburg to Coney Island and the whole time you can have the wind blowing in your hair like Rose and Jack, before you get kicked off for standing on the banisters. 

It’s a great way to check out many of the awesome places in Brooklyn in one shot. One cool neighborhood to visit off the ferry is Sunset Park, which is home to Industry City. Self-described as a “creative ecosystem of experiences, eateries, events and everything in between.” The East River ferry is cheap and easy to use with the NYC Ferry app.

East River Water Taxi,  places to visit in Brooklyn

New York Water Taxi by Daniel Hamilton on Pexels

Bedford, Williamsburg

For the person or people who like to shop and eat, this is a good place to start.

This street is lined with trees, bars, restaurants, and all types of shops from jewelry to vintage.

There were countless Saturday mornings where I’d wake up with not a clue of what to do that day, so my wife and I would just walk down Bedford Ave starting from the aforementioned McCarren Park and see what happened.

We always ended up finding a new shop to peruse, a bar we haven’t tried, something delicious we haven’t tasted, or find ourselves in some sort of art exhibit (good or bad). Not to mention, it’s A+ people watching.

Don’t be scared to venture off of Bedford Ave down one of the many off-shoots, Williamsburg as a whole is filled with a lot interesting and fun things to do during your visit to Brooklyn.

Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg,  places to visit in Brooklyn

Bedford Avenue Stop by Max De Rohan Willner on Unsplash

Transit Museum

Good ol’ fashioned family fun. Located in downtown Brooklyn in an old subway station, the Transit Museum holds a collection of vintage subway cars and amazing photography.

The exhibits are also interactive. You can walk through the subway cars to get a feel of what it was like to be commuting in one of them way back when. I enjoyed sitting in the 60’s subway cars looking at the old cigarette ads pretending I’m Don Draper smoking a cigarette of his own and thinking up a brilliant ad-campaign. 

Seeing the old photos and reading about how the subway was built is a truly fascinating look into the history of Brooklyn. Life did not seem easy for the guys building those systems.. Makes me appreciate my cushy life just typing away.

New York Transit Museum,  places to visit in Brooklyn

New York Transit Museum by Dan Gold on Unsplash

The Green-Wood Cemetery

The Green-Wood Cemetery is not only a cemetery, but a 478-acre outdoor exhibit of art, history, and nature. Located in the Sunset Park area of Brooklyn, the cemetery is home to many famous politicians, war heros, and artists. It was also the setting of many important battles such as the Battle of Long Island during the Revolutionary War, Civil War battles, and even took part in WWII when the wrought irons surrounding some of the prominent burials were melted down for the war effort.

Founded in 1838, the park was one of America’s first rural cemeteries and was one of the most popular attractions in New York during the 1900s. It even rivaled Niagara Falls. 

While it has a park vibe, recreational activities such as frisbee are not allowed, so just take a stroll and enjoy the peace and serenity of this Brooklyn landmark, appreciating the history and people that live there.

Green-Wood Cemetery,  places to visit in Brooklyn

The Green-Wood Cemetery by Joy Ernst on Unsplash

The Bushwick Collective

One thing I love about Brooklyn is that you’re pretty much surrounded by art everywhere you go. Even the most mundane scenarios like a joyous visit to the DMV, you probably drove or walked by a giant colorful piece of art. I’m referring to Brooklyn’s street art.

In pretty much any neighborhood you visit, somewhere you’ll be able to find a huge wall decorated by an amazing mural bursting with powerful colors and often powerful messages. The Bushwick Collective is a perfect place to go in Brooklyn to appreciate some of the best street art talent in the city and around the world as many famous and well-known artists have contributed to this collective. 

Enjoy this open-air gallery by hopping on the L-train Brooklyn bound and jumping out at the Jefferson stop. Walk down Troutman and you’ll be surrounded by murals. When you’re dizzy from the colors, there are a lot of cool bars and restaurants to rest in including some of my favorites, Roberta’s Pizza and Momo’s Sushi Shack.

Bushwick Collective Image, places to visit in Brooklyn

Bushwick Collective by Nelson Ndongala on Unsplash

Did we miss any of your favorite places in Brooklyn?

Let us know in the comments if there are anymore places in Brooklyn you’d like to see on our list!

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