Brooklyn is best known for its iconic Brooklyn Bridge, which connects the Brooklyn waterfront to Lower Manhattan. Many of the borough's top museums offer free admission regularly or on select days. For low-cost transportation, New York City's renowned rapid transit subway system connects dozens of neighborhoods to Manhattan and other area destinations. Some attractions are free only on certain days – please check before you go.
1.The Brooklyn Museum
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The Brooklyn Museum is New York City's third-largest museum, located near the Brooklyn neighborhood of Prospect Heights within Prospect Park. The 560,000-square-foot Beaux Arts-style museum was designed in 1895 and has been significantly revitalized over recent decades, holding a collection of over 1.5 million artworks and artifacts from around the world. Noted collections of African, Oceanic, Japanese, European, and American artworks are showcased, spanning from antiquity to the present day. Major artists represented include Georgia O'Keeffe, Edgar Degas, Mark Rothko, and Edward Hopper. The museum's Memorial Sculpture Garden also showcases salvaged architectural artifacts from throughout the city. Visitors can explore the museum for free as part of the Target First Saturdays initiative between 5:00pm and 11:00pm.
200 Eastern Pkwy, Brooklyn, NY 11238, Phone: 718-638-5000
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Coney Island is one of Brooklyn's most famous summer getaway spots, known internationally for its expansive public recreational beachfront, entertainment-filled boardwalk, and classic amusement rides. Visitors can explore the district's free-admission beach and boardwalk year-round, which spans over three miles along the borough's southern coastline. Midway games, sideshow attractions, and food vendors line the beach's renowned boardwalk, including the original Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs stand. For additional admission or ride ticket charges, visitors can take a spin on the roller coasters and rides of Luna Park and Deno's Wonder Wheel Park, including the historic Cyclone rollercoaster and one of the world's only eccentric wheel rides. Nearby, New York Aquarium is home to marine life exhibits, while MCU Park serves as the home stadium for the Brooklyn Cyclones minor league baseball team.
1904 Surf Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11224
3.The New York Aquarium
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The New York Aquarium is the oldest continuously-operated aquarium in the United States, originally opened with Battery Park's Castle Garden in 1896. Since 1957, it has been located along Coney Island's famed boardwalk, housing populations of more than 250 marine life species, including sand tiger sharks, green moray eels, harbor seals, and blackfooted penguins. The aquarium highlights daily animal feedings as part of scheduled programming, as well as performances of an aquatic-themed puppet performance scripted by Avenue Q creator John Tartaglia. On Wednesday afternoon beginning at 3:00pm, visitors can enter the aquarium for free as part of the facility's pay-what-you-wish admission initiative.
602 Surf Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11224, Phone: 718-265-3474
4.The Brooklyn Botanic Garden
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The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a 52-acre botanical garden within Brooklyn's Prospect Park, open to the public for free each Friday before noon and throughout the day on weekdays between December and February. The gardens were originally founded in 1910 and house significant collections of cherry trees, roses, and other native and exotic plants, attracting more than 900,000 visitors each year. Outdoor gardens include a Japanese garden, a native flora garden, and the oldest continually-operating children's botanic garden in the world. Three indoor plant pavilions and an aquatic plant house are also showcased within the Steinhardt Conservatory, which is also home to the C.V. Starr Bonsai Museum.
990 Washington Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11225, Phone: 718-623-7200
5.The Brooklyn Bridge
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The Brooklyn Bridge was the first steel-wire suspension bridge in the world at its opening in 1883, spanning more than 1,595 feet across the East River between the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. The bridge, designed by famed bridge engineer John A. Roebling, is one of New York City's most iconic landmarks and most popular tourist attractions, attracting over 4,000 pedestrians and 3,100 cyclists daily. Visitors can walk or ride across the bridge day and night, with a pedestrian and cyclist platform walkway suspended high above motor vehicle lanes. The bridge offers unparalleled views of the Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines, with views of the Statue of Liberty possible on clear days. Visitors should note that early morning and evening crossing times may be significantly less crowded than midday crossings and offer better chances for photo opportunities and sightseeing.
Brooklyn Bridge, New York, NY 10038
6.Brooklyn Bridge Park
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Brooklyn Bridge Park spans 1.3 miles along Brooklyn's beautiful East River waterfront, reclaiming the borough's shoreline from industrial activity with phase additions since 2008. The 85-acre park was designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and stretches through Brooklyn's DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights neighborhoods between Jay Street and Atlantic Avenue. Six former industrial piers along the borough's waterfront have been transformed into public recreational spaces, with sporting courts, children's playgrounds, picnic areas, salt marsh ecosystems, and concessionaires integrated into each pier area. Main Street and Empire-Fulton Ferry Parks have been integrated into the larger park project, which also offers a dog run, a rock climbing wall, and pedestrian and bicycle paths.
334 Furman St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, Phone: 718-222-9939
7.The Brooklyn Brewery
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The Brooklyn Brewery is Brooklyn's premiere craft microbrewery and one of the most renowned microbreweries in the United States, originally founded in 1988 by Steve Hindy and Tom Potter. Today, the brewery is known for its flagship pre-Prohibition-style Brooklyn Lager, along with favorites such as its hop-forward Brooklyn East IPA, unique Sorachi Ace Saison, and Shackmeister Ale, exclusively available at Shake Shack restaurants throughout the United States. Brewery tours and tastings are offered each Saturday on the hour between 1:00pm and 5:00pm, elaborating on the brewery's operations at their Williamsburg facility. No reservations are required for free tours. Pints and company merchandise are available for purchase separately after all tours.
79 N 11th St, Brooklyn, NY 11249, Phone: 718-486-7422
8.The Waterfront Museum
© The Waterfront Museum
The Waterfront Museum is a maritime history museum in Brooklyn's Red Hook neighborhood, located aboard the National Register of Historic Places-listed 1914 Lehigh Valley Barge #79. The barge, which was constructed in 1914, is the final remaining wooden barge in New York Harbor. Free tours of the preserved barge are offered on Saturday afternoons between 1:00pm and 5:00pm while the barge is docked at the neighborhood's pier. Throughout the spring and summer months, tours are also offered between 4:00pm and 8:00pm on Thursday evenings. Tours for school groups are offered regularly with advance registration, and free public special event programming is offered throughout the year, including art exhibits and live performances aboard the barge.
290 Conover St, Brooklyn, NY 11231, Phone: 718-624-4719
9.Adam Yauch Park
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Adam Yauch Park is a Brooklyn Heights playground named in honor of founding Beastie Boys member Adam Yauch, a Brooklyn resident and filmmaker, artist, and international social activist. The park, which was formerly known as State Street Park and Palmetto Playground, was a childhood favorite play spot for Yauch and his family. Following Yauch's death in 2012 from cancer, the park was renamed in his honor. Today, it showcases a beautiful selection of diverse tree species, including London plane, Norway maple, pin oak, and silver linden trees. Half and full basketball courts are provided for visitor use, along with a greenhouse facility, a fitness area, a community garden, and a dog run.
5512, 27 State St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, Phone: 212-639-9675
© BRIC House
BRIC House is Brooklyn's leading free cultural programming organization, housed within the former Strand Theater building within the borough's Cultural District. The organization is dedicated to presenting new and engaging works by emerging and mid-career artists, with a focus on diverse works emphasizing individual expression. Two performance spaces are offered at the organization's main building, including the flexible-configuration BRIC House Ballroom, which hosts a variety of free and low-cost live performances throughout the year. A 3,000-square-foot art gallery is also offered, which is open to the public for free daily, along with with a public media center, television studio, drop-in workshop center, cafe, and artist work spaces.
647 Fulton St, Brooklyn, NY 11217, Phone: 718-855-7882
11.The Brooklyn Children’s Museum
© The Brooklyn Children’s Museum
The Brooklyn Children’s Museum was the United States' first children's museum at the time of its 1899 founding and is considered to be one of the, if not the, first children's museums in the world. The museum, which is located in Brooklyn's Crown Heights neighborhood, is noted for its input from regional children in planning new exhibits and its philosophy of engaging young minds from an early age to promote lifelong learning. More than 400,000 annual visitors explore its exhibits each year, including its World Brooklyn market, which mimics the borough's neighborhood establishments with kid-friendly storefronts, and its Sensory Room, which features activities specifically designed with autism-spectrum children in mind. Pay-as-you-wish hours are offered at the museum on Thursday afternoons and Sundays during the early evening hours.
145 Brooklyn Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11213, Phone: 718-735-4400
12.The Brooklyn Book Festival
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The Brooklyn Book Festival is one of the largest free literary festivals in New York City and across the United States, attracting more than 30,000 attendees each year. The festival, which was begun in 2006 as a means to showcase Brooklyn voices and topics across various genres of literature, takes place over the span of a week each September, with free events held throughout the borough highlighting the works and voices of more than 300 internationally-acclaimed and emerging authors. An annual Festival Day offers a literary marketplace with more than 250 booksellers, and a Children's Day provides literary-themed activities for young readers. Other events include book readings, stand-up comedy performances, and live musical events.
209 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn NY 11201, Phone: 570-362-6657
13.The Old Stone House
© The Old Stone House
The Old Stone House is a reconstruction of the historic Vechte-Cortelyou House, a Dutch farmstead that was originally constructed in 1699 and served as an artillery house during the 1776 Battle of Long Island, a seminal battle during the American Revolutionary War. During the 19th century, it served as a clubhouse for the baseball team that would become the world-renowned Brooklyn Dodgers. Though the home was demolished in 1897, it was reconstructed in 1933 in Brooklyn's Washington Park, which is located near the neighborhoods of Park Slope and Gowanus. Visitors can explore the home for free on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays and peruse exhibits related to the American Revolutionary War and the home's baseball connection. Free musical performances are also showcased throughout the year within the home's great room and outdoor grounds.
336 3rd St, Brooklyn, NY 11215, Phone: 718-768-3195
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BLDG 92 is a unique museum within the former 1858 Marine Commandant's residence at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which is located along the borough's East River waterfront between the neighborhoods of DUMBO and Williamsburg. The LEED-certified museum is open to the public for free Wednesdays through Sundays during the afternoon hours, showcasing three floors of exhibits related to the history and development of the Yard. Free Navy Yard tours are also offered each weekend by the museum for visitors and small groups. The museum's full-service cafe is open to the public daily, serving Brooklyn Roasting Company coffee drinks.
63 Flushing Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11205, Phone: 718-907-5932
15.Free Tours By Foot
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Free Tours By Foot is a tour company exploring major tourist sites throughout Brooklyn and New York City, offering both paid-ticket guided and free self-guided tours for area visitors. Self-guided tour information is provided in both brochure and audio tour form, offering historical and contextual information on a number of the borough's most famous landmarks, along with a number of hidden gems throughout neighborhoods. Landmarks showcased include the Brooklyn Bridge, the historic Greenwood Cemetery, and a number of historic homes and buildings in neighborhoods such as Brooklyn Heights. Several self-guided food tours are also offered throughout the borough, including tours exploring popular and historic restaurants and bars in neighborhoods such as Williamsburg and Flatbush.
112 Suffolk St, New York, NY 10002, Phone: 646-450-6831
16.Brooklyn Art Library
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Brooklyn Art Library is an art store and gallery that strives to make creativity accessible for all Brooklyn residents, located in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood. The library, which was founded in 2006, serves as the main repository for sketchbooks created as part of the Art House's Sketchbook Project, housing more than 41,000 sketchbooks created in 130 countries that may be perused by visitors for free during business hours. 20,000 additional sketchbooks are housed within the library's digital archives, which may also be explored by visitors at the site or online. Workshops and art classes are also held at the library's community space, which may be rented for use by organizations for private special events.
28 Frost St, Brooklyn, NY 11211, Phone: 718-388-7941
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Bargemusic offers a unique chance to see free classical music performances aboard a converted 1899 coffee barge docked at Brooklyn's Fulton Ferry Landing, located along the East River near the Brooklyn Bridge. The organization was founded in 1977 by Olga Bloom and presents more than 200 classical performances each year, conducted by Mark Peskanov. Concerts are presented aboard the barge's floating concert hall, which can hold up to 140 attendees per show. Free concerts include the Music in Motion Series, which engages audiences in a question-and-answer session with musicians following performances. Visitors should note that food and drink are not permitted aboard the barge and that public restrooms are offered nearby in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Brooklyn Bridge Blvd, Brooklyn, NY 11201
18.Movies With A View
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Movies With A View is an annual free summer film series held at Harbor View Lawn at Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, overlooking the East River and the Manhattan skyline. The program was launched in the summer of 2000 and has attracted more than 500,000 moviegoers since its inception, with films offered each Thursday evening during the months of July and August. Food and alcoholic beverages are provided by vendors associated with local food market organization Smorgasburg, available before and during film showings. Film lineups for each summer often center around a specific theme, such as highlighting the works of female directors. An annual lineup of DJs also plays music before film showings.
2 Furman St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
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19.The Annual Brighton Jubilee
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The Annual Brighton Jubilee is the largest annual festival held each year in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Brighton, attracting more than 125,000 attendees. The festival, which was established over four decades ago by the Brighton Neighborhood Association, strives to reflect the neighborhood's diverse population through a diverse array of performances, food, and family-friendly activities. Multiple stages highlight live music and entertainment performances throughout the one-day festival, which is held each year on a Sunday at the end of August. Children's rides are also offered, along with food vendors serving up international cuisine options. Visitors should note that while the festival is free to enter, many attractions require a purchase or ticketed upcharge.
Brighton Beach, Brightwater Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11222, Phone: 718-891-0800
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20.Owl's Head Park
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Owl's Head Park is a riverfront park in Brooklyn's Bay Ridge neighborhood, located adjacent to the Owl's Head wastewater treatment plant along a former glacial moraine site. The park is home to Brooklyn's only skate park, Millennium Skate Park, which is one of seven skate parks located throughout New York City. Unparalleled views of New York Harbor and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge are offered from the park's hill, which serves as a popular spot for sledding during the winter months. A large dog run is also offered, along with children's playgrounds, basketball courts, a spray pool, and day-use picnic areas.
Colonial Road & 68 St &, Shore Rd, Brooklyn, NY 11220, Phone: 212-639-9675
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21.The Brooklyn Superhero Supply Store
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The Brooklyn Superhero Supply Store is one of New York City's most unique retail locations, serving as the public storefront for nonprofit writing and literacy organization 826NYC, which offers free after-school tutoring and writing workshops for young Brooklyn-area students. The Park Slope store is open to the public during the afternoon hours Tuesdays through Sundays, selling quirky superhero-themed goods and novelties, including costumes, posters, toys, and unique gadgets and joke items. Visitors can also check out humorous superhero-themed displays, including a vintage "mind-reading" chair, a cape testing wind tunnel, and a Devillainizer apparatus. Though purchase is not required to visit the store, donations to 826NYC are greatly appreciated to help fund future endeavors.
372 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215, Phone: 718-499-9884
© Interference Archive
Interference Archive is a social-justice-oriented library, archive, and gallery in Brooklyn's Park Slope neighborhood, originally founded as the private collection of activists Dara Greenwald and Josh MacPhee. Following an exhibition of the couple's collections at Manhattan's Exit Art gallery in 2008, the pair moved their collections into a Gowanus warehouse and later into their current Park Slope location. Founded on the idea that activism collection causes interference to popular social narratives, the volunteer-run resource showcases free art exhibitions as public outreach, open to the public Thursdays through Sundays during the afternoon hours. Periodic public special event programming is also offered, including lectures, workshops, and live performances.
314 7th St, Brooklyn, NY 11215
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22 Best Free Things to Do in Brooklyn Year Round
- The Brooklyn Museum, Photo: Courtesy of lightphoto2 - Fotolia.com
- Coney Island, Photo: Courtesy of elvis901 - Fotolia.com
- The New York Aquarium, Photo: Courtesy of Kivanç Ekinci - Fotolia.com
- The Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Photo: Courtesy of Brad Pict - Fotolia.com
- The Brooklyn Bridge, Photo: Courtesy of Roberto Berti PH - Fotolia.com
- Brooklyn Bridge Park, Photo: Courtesy of jovannig - Fotolia.com
- The Brooklyn Brewery, Photo: Courtesy of Alexandre - Fotolia.com
- The Waterfront Museum, Photo: The Waterfront Museum
- Adam Yauch Park, Photo: Courtesy of bravissimos - Fotolia.com
- BRIC House, Photo: BRIC House
- The Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Photo: The Brooklyn Children’s Museum
- The Brooklyn Book Festival, Photo: Courtesy of monticellllo - Fotolia.com
- The Old Stone House, Photo: The Old Stone House
- BLDG 92, Photo: Courtesy of xy - Fotolia.com
- Free Tours By Foot, Photo: Courtesy of Tetiana - Fotolia.com
- Brooklyn Art Library, Photo: Brooklyn Art Library
- Bargemusic, Photo: Courtesy of Tierney - Fotolia.com
- Movies With A View, Photo: Courtesy of Rattanachai - Fotolia.com
- The Annual Brighton Jubilee, Photo: Courtesy of slonme - Fotolia.com
- Owl's Head Park, Photo: Courtesy of Dora Rossi - Fotolia.com
- The Brooklyn Superhero Supply Store, Photo: The Brooklyn Superhero Supply Store
- Interference Archive, Photo: Interference Archive
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of goodmanphoto - Fotolia.com