Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn is a fun destination, home to unique art museums, outdoor markets, fantastic food, music events and theater performances. Spend an afternoon recharging surrounded by stunning flower displays at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, go for a stroll in Prospect Park, attend a live music event, or take a walking tour.

Families can head to Luna Park to ride a roller coaster, watch a puppet show at the Toy Museum and interact with hands-on exhibits at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. Satisfy your sweet tooth at a pastry shop and have lunch at one of the mouth-watering restaurants in town. Here are the best things to do in Brooklyn, New York.

»Luna Park, Coney Island

Luna Park, Coney Island

Named after the original park, which burnt down in 1944, Luna Park is an amusement park based on Coney Island and one of the best things to do in Brooklyn. Once dubbed ‘The World’s Largest Playground’, the original park had three huge fairgrounds that provided hair-raising rides, a model off which the recently opened park has built itself on. Luna Park is home to nineteen new attractions and games, including the historic Cyclone Roller Coaster, and the famous Coney Island ‘Funny Face’ Tickler Ride.

There are family-friendly rides, thrill rides, a ‘scream’ zone and a go-kart track, to name but a few of the rides and adventures in the park. The park works on a Luna Card system, whereby visitors buy Luna Credits to spend on rides and amusement as opposed to spending cash, or use an unlimited ride wristband that allows for four hours of ride time on select rides.

1000 Surf Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11224, Phone: 718-373-5862

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»Brooklyn Bridge Park

Brooklyn Bridge Park

Stretching along Brooklyn’s East River, Brooklyn Bridge Park is an 85-acre waterfront park that has been revitalized from the previous post-industrial waterfront. The park runs for 1.3 miles along the shoreline and incorporates the six famous Brooklyn Piers numbered 1-6, the historic Fulton Ferry Landing, and the pre-existing Empire–Fulton Ferry and Main Street Parks.

There are a variety of activities to enjoy in and around the park, ranging from sporting activities such as basketball, volleyball, soccer and boating, or you can take a tour of the park with an expert guide, who will walk you through the history of the park. If you are wondering what to do in Brooklyn today, this is a great place to visit. There are a number of playgrounds for children and Jane’s Carousel is always a popular stop. Have a swim at the pop-up swimming pool, join a fitness class on the lawns next to the river, or enjoy a picnic in one of the secluded hideaways throughout the park.

334 Furman Street, Brooklyn, New York 11201, Phone: 718-802-0603

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»Brooklyn Flea

Brooklyn Flea

The Brooklyn Flea has grown into one of New York City’s top attractions and should not be missed. Fondly known as the ‘mother of all markets,’ the outdoor market starts on the first weekend in April and continues through November, and can be found in Fort Greene on Saturdays and Williamsburg on Sundays. Featuring hundreds of vendors, you will find everything and anything piled on folding tables, from vintage furniture and clothing to a handpicked selection of handmade jewelry, arts and crafts by local designers, as well as an array of beautiful antiques and collectables.

The market is also home to ‘Smorgasburg’, a vast all-food market that takes place in Williamsburg on Saturdays and Brooklyn Bridge Park on Sundays. Gourmands and foodies will delight in the delicious choices of artisanal cuisine on offer. During the colder months between November and March, the market moves indoors and continues trade under cover, while every summer four Flea/Smorgasburg food vendors showcase their wares at the Central Park Summer Stage outdoor concert series.

186 Lafayette Ave, Brooklyn, New York 11238, Phone: 718-928-6603

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»Prospect Park

Prospect Park

Designed by Olmsted and Vaux of Central Park fame, and made up of magnificent sweeps of broad lawns and grand vistas, Prospect Park’s Long Meadow is the longest unbroken swathe of green space in New York. Aiming to create spaces where people could escape the city and crowds, Olmsted’s park boasts a number of notable features, such as Stanford White’s colonnaded Croquet Shelter, and the pools and weeping willows of of the Vale of Cashmere.

The Music Grove bandstand shows Japanese influences and hosts both jazz and classical music concerts throughout the summer. The park has a wide variety of landscapes, from classical gardens dotted with statues to rocky glens with running brooks. A favorite feature of the park is the Camperdown Elm, an ancient and twisted tree planted in 1872, which has inspired many poems and paintings.

There are a myriad of activities to enjoy in the park, from baseball and birdwatching to skating and nature programs.

95 Prospect Park, West Brooklyn, New York 11215, Phone: 718-965-8951

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»Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Designed by the Olmsted brothers in 1910, this beautiful 50-acre garden holds many delights, including an Elizabethan-style ‘knot’ herb garden and one of North America’s largest rose collections. The garden’s magnificent centerpiece is a Japanese hill-and-pond garden, complete with a teahouse and Shinto shrine. In late April and early May, the park promenade is aglow with delicate cherry blossoms, and hosts an annual Japanese festival, which highlights the country’s distinctive culture, food, and music.

The Magnolia Plaza is home to an exquisite display of creamy, blossoming trees against a backdrop of daffodils on Boulder Hill in April, while the Fragrance Garden is a sensory journey, in which exotic scents float languidly on the air. The conservatory houses one of America’s largest bonsai collections and some rare rainforest trees, whose extracts allow scientists to produce life-saving drugs.

880 Washington Ave, Brooklyn, New York 11225, Phone: 718-623-7200

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»BLDG 92, Brooklyn Navy Yard Center

BLDG 92, Brooklyn Navy Yard Center

Located in Wallabout Basin along the East River, the Brooklyn Navy Yard Center at BLDG 92 is a museum, exhibition and visitor center that celebrates the history of this famous naval yard. Once one of the most active and innovative military shipbuilding facilities in the United States, this unique museum now plays tribute to the importance of the role the Navy Yard played in America’s naval, industrial, and cultural history.

Operated by the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, the museum celebrates the Navy Yard’s heritage through a collection of excellent exhibitions, displays and programs, such as ‘Brooklyn Navy Yard – Past, Present and Future’, which recounts the extraordinary history of this vitally important navy yard, and ‘Designing the Future’, which looks forward to the future of the yard.

89 Flushing Ave, Brooklyn, New York 11205, Phone: 718-907-5992

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»Theater for a New Audience

Theater for a New Audience

Established in the West Village in 1979, Theater for a New Audience has been producing major classic and contemporary plays, including 28 works by Shakespeare, as well as other classic works and distinguished plays. The theater aims to celebrate classic drama, particularly those of the Great Bard, and has produced over 28 Shakespearean works, including The Merchant of Venice and Titus Andronicus.

Other productions include The Lion King director Julie Taymor's The Green Bird, which later opened on Broadway, Howard Brenton’s Sore Throats, W.S. Gilbert’s Engaged, Edward Bond’s Chair, and Adrienne Kennedy’s Ohio State Murders. Drinks and light meals are served at Food & Drink in the lobby of the Polonsky Shakespeare Center before and after performances.

154 Christopher Street STE. 3D, New York, New York 10014, Phone: 212-229-2819

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»Toy Museum of NY

Toy Museum of NY

Established in 1999, the Toy Museum of NY is a traveling museum that produces a magical theatrical performance about the historical toys from its vast collection. Aiming to educate the public on the importance of dolls and toys in our culture and history through art collections and theatrical plays, performances focus on the history of several toys, such as pieces played with during George Washington and Abraham Lincoln’s time.

The museum also features an interactive and educational children's theatre program called ‘Queen Marlene's Toy Theatre’, and features professional actors, original scripts, handmade costumes and fun special effects.

Some of the museum’s interactive shows include ‘The Toy Museum: A Mini Musical’, focusing on the history of certain toys and their origins, ‘Storytelling: The Stories Behind Popular Toy Inventions’, where children can learn about the invention of popular toys such as the Frisbee and the Teddy Bear, and ‘Storytelling with Puppets’, where everyday stories and life lessons are shared through the use of puppets.

90 Kent Ave, Brooklyn, New York 11249, website, Phone: 718-243-0820

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»BRIC Arts Media

BRIC Arts Media

BRIC is a non-profit organization that presents contemporary art, live music, performing arts, exhibitions and community media programs that reflect Brooklyn’s creativity and diversity. Located in one of the country’s most creative artistic hubs, BRIC is at the forefront of providing various platforms and opportunities for an array of Brooklyn artists and media makers to create and present their works.

Some of the exhibitions presented by BRIC include Celebrate Brooklyn! Performing Arts Festival, and BRIClab, as well as community-based television programs such as Brooklyn Free Speech TV and Brooklyn Bulletin Board. BRIC is proudly part of the growing ‘Downton Brooklyn Cultural District’ project, which also includes Theater for a New Audience, UrbanGlass, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s three buildings.

647 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, New York 11217, website, Phone: 718-683-5600

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»Free Tours by Foot

Free Tours by Foot

Free Tours by Foot offers free tours in and round New York with one aim in mind – to educate and entertain guests with fantastic tours of New York City that showcase the history, heritage and culture of the city. Tours are led by passionate guides who love their city, want to share their knowledge, and give visitors the best sightseeing experience possible. These tours have no upfront costs, however you can determine what you think a tour was worth at the end and award the guide.

Take a Free Tour by Foot through Brooklyn and experience this independent district’s vibrant energy and atmosphere. Although Brooklyn is the city’s second largest borough, the Free Tour by Foot of Brooklyn takes you to all the most important sights and attractions of this city within a city, allowing you to get a real feel for the district.

Walk across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge and learn about its heritage and history; ride the East River Ferry and discover the waterfront neighborhoods while taking in spectacular vistas of Manhattan Island; amble through Brooklyn Heights and the trendy suburb of Williamsburg, and stop for a delicious lunch in Dumbo (website).

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»Buttermilk Channel

Buttermilk Channel

Tucked away in Carroll Gardens in a part of Brooklyn that is yet to be overrun with restaurants, Buttermilk Channel is a cozy eatery with warm hospitality and just as welcoming cuisine. Named after the strait between Brooklyn and Governors Island, the restaurant’s corner location offers lovely views from pretty windows on two sides, buffed wooden tables, shiny brass fittings and glowing sconces on the walls creating soft light.

Distinguished by a slight emphasis on comfort food, the menu offers a delicious variety of classics with a twist. Start with popovers in lieu of bread, followed by buttermilk fried chicken or duck meatloaf. If you are looking for romantic date ideas in Brooklyn, this is a great place to visit. Don’t miss the sublime desserts, like the made-to-order, warm, crunchy apple cider doughnuts or the sublime pecan pie sundae. The restaurant has become increasingly popular and only accepts bookings for parties of five and up, so if you are a walk-in, be prepared to wait for a table.

524 Court St, Brooklyn, New York 11231, website, Phone: 718-852-8490

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»Smorgasburg

Smorgasburg

Smorgasburg is Brooklyn Flea’s giant all-food market, held every Saturday in Williamsburg and Sunday in Brooklyn Bridge Park from April through November.

Boasting over 70 vendors selling a range of delicious culinary treats, ranging from freshly baked cookies to quinoa falafel, the market has fast become one of the most popular experiences in New York. Hailed as ‘the Woodstock of Eating’, the market is open from 11 am to 6 pm, where you will find packaged and prepared foods, a variety of beverages, and other gourmet delights.

Food aficionados and gourmands will love the artisan food on offer, and you’ll get to taste cuisine from all over the world, but be prepared to stand in line and pay a bit more than you would elsewhere (website).

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»Rucola

Rucola

Nestled in the heart of historic Boerum Hill is a little slice of Northern Italy. Rucola rests on a historic corner in rootsy Brooklyn and offers a fantastic farm-to-table experience in a rustic-chic setting.

Inspired by the slow food movement in Piedmont, the menu, wine list and cocktail menus change seasonally, and the rich, rustic dishes promise to delight even the most hardened critic. Ornate ironwork, natural woods and stylish bric-a-brac create a comfortable and cozy ambiance, true to Northern Italy. Enjoy delicious starters such as pan-fried veal spiedini, or hearty green lentil soup laced with Parmesan.

Homemade pastas smothered in chunky Bolognese sauce and plump rosemary-infused chicken are winners on the mains list, while dark chocolate pudding dressed in sea salt and olive oil is a must for dessert.

190 Dean St (corner of Bond St), Brooklyn, New York 11217, website, Phone: 718-576-3209

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»Get Up and Ride

Get Up and Ride

Get Up and Ride offers fantastic bike tours, sightseeing experiences, and outdoor and urban adventures. Based in Brooklyn, bike tours are designed to take you off the beaten track and see New York as never before, highlighting beautiful parks, bustling markets, impressive architecture, local arts and crafts, interesting history and heritage and of course, great food. Get Up and Ride bikes are modern, priority brand bikes that are designed for city cycling, are easy to handle and very reliable.

There is a variety of bike models to choose from, including front baskets for memorabilia picked up along the way and riders are equipped with walkie-talkies so they can communicate with the tour leader. Tours are led by licensed, professional bike guides who know every nook and cranny of the city, and promise an unforgettable day of fun with friends (website).

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»Brooklyn Historical Society

Brooklyn Historical Society

Founded in 1863 by Henry Pierrepont, the Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS) is an urban history center that reflects on, preserves, and emboldens Brooklyn's fascinating 400-year history. Housed in a magnificent 19th Century landmark building in Brooklyn Heights, which was designed by George Post and has been described as “one of the City's great architectural treasures”, the BHS is also home to a museum, the Othmer Library and an educational center.

The BHS offers a wonderful variety of programs to suit a wide range of audiences, including exhibition-related lectures, musical events, history and current affairs topics, walking tours, readings and plays. The Othmer Library has an extensive collection of historical maps, atlases and genealogy collections.

128 Pierrepont Street, Brooklyn, New York 11201, website, Phone: 718-222-4111

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»Patisserie Colson

Patisserie Colson

Echoing Hubert Colson’s beloved establishment of the same name in Mons, Belgium, Patisserie Colson is a little slice of confectionary heaven. Established by Parisian-born filmmaker Yonatan Israel in 2006 to satisfy his craving for the French patisseries of his youth, he has reproduced a number of Colson's famous French and Belgian recipes, including croissants, waffles and financiers. And the top five sweet treats to try according to the experts?

Chocolate financiers (little dark chocolate sponge cakes), fluffy apple turnover, waffles with dollops of cream or ice cream, melt-in-your-mouth croissants, and rice macaroon tarts meringue in almond cream.

374 9th Street (at 6th Avenue), Brooklyn, New York 11215, website, Phone: 718-965-6400

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»Brooklyn Children’s Museum

Brooklyn Children’s Museum

Founded in 1899, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum was the first museum to be designed specifically for children and since then has inspired more than 250 museums for children across the country. Located next to Brower Park and housed in high-tech building dating back to 1976, the museum layout is a network of interconnected passageways, running off the main ‘people’ tube, a huge drainage pipe that connects four levels.

The emphasis throughout the museum is on hands-on, interactive exhibits, exploration and discovery, with displays and exhibits made to be touched, experienced or played with – there is even a walk-on piano! The Brooklyn Children’s Museum is one of the best things to do in Brooklyn with kids. Special educational exhibitions teach children about other cultures, the planet, or how to resolve fears, problems, and squeals of delight can be heard from every corner. Read more

145 Brooklyn Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11213, Phone: 718-735-4400

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»Cafe Regular du Nord

Cafe Regular du Nord

Café Regular is just that – a regular little corner coffee shop that serves great coffee with friendly smiles. Located on Berkley Place, mornings are packed with locals and sometimes the line snakes outside the front doors.

There is very little seating inside – just two cushioned window seats, which are ideal places for sitting, sipping and watching the world go by.

158 Berkeley Pl, Brooklyn, New York 11217, website, Phone: 718-783-0673

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»Brooklyn Unplugged Tours

Brooklyn Unplugged Tours

Brooklyn Unplugged Tours aim to share their passion and love for Brooklyn through fun and education walking tours, which highlight the magical energy and vibe that Brooklyn is fast becoming known for. Groups are generally quite small to ensure a personalized experience and private or customized tours can also be arranged, where logistics are planned from scratch with the guide, to create a totally exclusive and unique Brooklyn experience.

The company’s signature tour is the ‘Best of Brooklyn Walking Tour’, which takes place in Brooklyn’s trendy district of Williamsburg and serves as a great introduction to Brooklyn and its culture, local lifestyle, history and street art. The company also offers several other walking tours, which cover Brooklyn's most popular and significant neighborhoods, such as Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn Heights, Coney Island and the Brooklyn Graffiti and Street Art Excursion (website).

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»Brooklyn Museum

Brooklyn Museum

Designed by New York architects McKim, Mead & White, the Brooklyn Museum aimed to be the largest cultural edifice in the world. While only one-sixth was completed, the museum today is one of the top influential cultural institutions in the United States, and home to a permanent encyclopedic collection of over one million pieces.

The museum houses one of the finest and most extensive art collections in the country, including an unrivalled collection of Native American art from the Southwest; American period rooms; exquisite pieces of ancient Egyptian, Islamic and African Art; and important American and European paintings.

Innovative, cutting-edge exhibitions and programs showcase a contemporary view of historical and traditional, as well as modern works, and engagement with some of today’s most important artists and ideas. Read more

200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, New York 11238, Phone: 718-638-5000

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»Building on Bond

Building on Bond

A favorite meeting place for locals from the neighborhood, Building on Bond is a trendy bar-café that serves as a perfect pit stop for a quick coffee or Balthazar sticky bun before hitting the stores in Atlantic Avenue’s shopping district. It’s also a super-cool spot to hang out over beers after work and listen to one of the local performing artists that are hosted there.

Industrial-style interiors with wood-slab tables, rusted metal file cabinets and exposed piping create a stylish vibe, which plays hosts to a variety of music events, ranging from monthly dance parties that showcase up-and-coming Brooklyn DJs, as well jazz trios, psychedelic rock and Elvis cover bands. Don’t miss vinyl nights on Wednesdays where budding DJs get the chance to show their talents.

112 Bond St., Brooklyn, New York 11217, website, Phone: 347-853-8687

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»Waterfront Museum

Waterfront Museum

Founded in 1985 and housed aboard the 1914 Lehigh Valley Barge #79 in Red Hook, the Waterfront Museum is an eclectic institution dedicated to preserving and promoting the heritage of New York’s waterways and maritime history. Interesting exhibitions document the history of the river, the industries based around it and railroad barges. The museum’s permanent collection houses a nearly one-century old wooden barge, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Waterfront Museum is ideally located right on the river opposite the Fairway Market. There is a long wooden pier along which to stroll and soak up the views, beautiful gardens to picnic in, and unbeatable vistas of the magnificent Lady Liberty.

290 Conover Street, Brooklyn, New York 11231, Phone: 718-624-4719

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»Wyckoff House Museum

Wyckoff House Museum

Standing in M. Fidler-Wyckoff House Park, the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum is New York City’s oldest house and first official landmark, dating back to 1652. The house was built by Pieter Claesen Wyckoff, a farm laborer who arrived in 1637 from the New Netherlands and who became a successful magistrate in the area known today as the East Flatbush-Flatlands in Brooklyn.

Designed in the vernacular farmhouse architecture of the Dutch-American farms of Brooklyn and Queens, the history of the farmhouse includes the enslavement and consequent freedom of African slaves by Dutch-American landowners, as well as the use of European immigrants as farm laborers. Owned by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, the museum can only be viewed on a guided tour, so be sure to book ahead.

5816 Clarendon Road, Brooklyn, New York 11203, Phone: 718-629-5400

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»Vinegar Hill House

Vinegar Hill House

Vinegar Hill House is a cozy, home-away-from-home retreat that serves comfort food with a twist – an ideal refuge for those wanting an escape from the kitchen and cooking in a warm and welcoming environment. Rustic wooden tables, vintage wallpaper and interesting odds and ends gathered on travels and from flea markets are dotted about the interior, which is warmed by the glow and crackle of fire from the large wood-burning oven in the open kitchen.

The log cabin ambiance is enhanced by fresh seasonal flowers on the tables, and a snug downstairs den where you can relax with a post-dinner drink. And the cuisine is just as comforting - uncomplicated, beautifully prepared and mouth-wateringly delicious. Chicken liver mousse with vinegar onions and pistachios is out of this world.

72 Hudson Ave, Brooklyn, New York 11201, Phone: 718-522-1018

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»Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM)

Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM)

Founded in 1858 and home to the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra, the Academy of Music (BAM) is Brooklyn’s oldest and leading cultural venue, producing outstanding innovative and avant-garde performances. Among the other greats who have performed here include ballerina Anna Pavlova, actress Sarah Bernhardt, musicians Pablo Casals and Sergei Rachmaninoff, and statesman Winston Churchill.

The BAM Next Wave Festival, which usually runs over the last three months of the year, has presented contemporary artists such as musicians David Byrne and Phillip Glass and choreographers Pina Bausch and Mark Morris. The BAM also runs the Harvey Theater nearby, a movie theater now used for dance, drama, and music events. BAM Rose Cinemas show first-run independent films and BAMcinématek has classics, retrospectives, festivals, and sneak previews.

30 Lafayette Ave, Brooklyn, New York 11217, Phone: 718-636-4100

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25 Best Things To Do in Brooklyn, NY