Your Guide to Brooklyn
When you think about New York City, iconic structures dotting the famous Manhattan skyline probably come to mind: Empire State Building, One World Trade Center, Chrystler Building and maybe even the Brooklyn Bridge. 🗽 Crossing this famous bridge gets you to the heart of the borough of Brooklyn! Here, the buildings are shorter and the pace is slower (okay, not that slow! This is still NYC after all 👟💨), but culture, flair and things to do certainly aren’t lacking. Millions of people around the world over have pictured themselves living in New York City, spending their days strolling through the lovely streets of Brooklyn. What’s the next best thing to being a local? Book a stay at a hotel in NYC and set off to explore the city by foot.
This expansive borough across the East River includes neighbourhoods like Williamsburg, Flatbush, Greenpoint, Gowanus, Bushwick and more, and each has its own unique personality. ✨ We’re bringing you our mini travel guide for the best things to do in Brooklyn!
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Brooklyn Photo Spots & Tips
There are endless photo spots across New York City, but Brooklyn certainly has a vibe all its own. Here are a few can’t-miss photo spots:
- DUMBO: If you ask our local Flytographers where one of their favourite photo spots is and they reply with “DUMBO,” we promise it’s not an insult! 😉 As an acronym for “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass,” this creative-minded neighbourhood has transformed industrial buildings into a host of art galleries, independent bookshops, boutiques and eateries. One of the most popular Instagrammable spots is on Washington Street, where the Manhattan Bridge is perfectly framed by two red-brick buildings, and if you look closely, you can even spot the Empire State Building between the legs of the bridge. Just behind Washington Street are railroad tracks with the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan skyline in the background! 🚂
- Brooklyn Bridge Park: Arguably one of the most popular parks in the city, the Brooklyn Bridge Park has a little bit of everything. Pier 1 and Pier 2 offer unencumbered views of the skyline over the water, which is especially stunning at sunrise and sunset as the water is painted with colourful hues. 🌅 The Granite Prospect is a dramatic set of steps created from salvaged granite from the Roosevelt Island Bridge reconstruction with equally beautiful views, and a variety of open, grassy lawns invite you to picnic, relax and play. 🎠 Take the kids on a ride on Jane’s Carousel, an antique carousel housed in glass with 48 carved horses to choose from (or just snap a photo from the outside)!
- Brooklyn Heights: Wander the idyllic, residential streets of this established neighbourhood just south of Brooklyn Bridge. Cobblestoned streets lined with posh brownstones make for a charming and much less crowded backdrop for photos. Imagine yourself in an episode of Friends as you grab a fresh coffee and bagel 🥯 on your walk, and don’t miss a stroll along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade for more views of Manhattan and even the Statue of Liberty! 🗽
Best Brooklyn Activities All Year Round
While Brooklyn may be more laid-back than bustling Manhattan, there are still plenty of activities to enjoy all year-round:
- Walk the Brooklyn Bridge: Connecting Brooklyn to Lower Manhattan, no visit to Brooklyn is complete without a walk across this famous bridge. As one of the oldest suspension bridges in the US, it’s an iconic structure of New York and a stunning walk! 🌉 The pedestrian entrances are approximately 1.6 miles apart, so be sure wear comfortable shoes. Approximately 4,000 to 10,000 people walk the bridge every day, so we recommend making this trek early in the day to avoid the crowds!
- Take a walking tour: Speaking of walking, 👟 Brooklyn Unplugged offers a variety of walking tours throughout Brooklyn, including the ‘Best of Brooklyn Walking Tour’ through trendy Williamsburg. It’s the perfect introduction to Brooklyn’s culture, local lifestyle, history and creative street art straight from locals, especially if you only have a day to traverse this expansive borough. Other popular tours include the Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn Heights, Coney Island and even the Brooklyn Graffiti and Street Art excursion for art-lovers.
- Book a Flytographer shoot: Feed two New York pigeons with one scone 🐦 by booking a photoshoot with Flytographer! Explore the best photo spots and capture amazing memories with one of our local NYC Flytographers, as they share hidden gems, local tips and recommendations for your stay. 📷 Leave the selfie stick behind as your photographer captures the magic of NYC (and leaves you with a priceless souvenir that doesn’t weigh your bag down 🧳🙌).
Spring in Brooklyn
As spring emerges from the throes of winter, New Yorkers shed their black wool coats to enjoy the warmer temperatures and sunrise. This is the perfect time for sightseeing! In the words of Miss Congeniality, it’s “not too hot, not too cold, all you need is a light jacket.” 😉
- Brooklyn Botanic Garden: The annual Japanese festival, called the Sakura Matsuri Festival, is celebrated from late April through early May in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. During these special few weeks, more than 70 cherry blossom trees bloom along the Cherry Esplanade. 🌸 This garden is 52 acres of pure oasis and brimming with flora, so even if you’re not there in time for the elusive cherry blossoms, it’s a blissful break on any beautiful day!
- Brooklyn Flea: This flea market is hands-down one of the best in the city, where you could spend hours hunting for treasures from the many vendors in the DUMBO location under the Manhattan Bridge. From vintage clothing and records, to midcentury Dutch furniture, to ceramics and more, it won’t be difficult to find something unique to pique your interest! Brooklyn Flea also operates in Chelsea year-round. 🛍
- Prospect Park: We all know and love the famous Central Park, but there is green space galore across the city! 🌳 The sprawling Prospect Park in the Park Slope neighbourhood is beloved by locals and visitors alike, where weekly farmers markets, live music, festivals and events make this park a popular destination. Set up your picnic and bask in the sunshine as you give your feet a reset from exploring!
Summer in Brooklyn
Here are our top picks for a sunny ☀️ summer day in Brooklyn:
- Brooklyn Bridge Park: Not only is it Instagrammable, Brooklyn Bridge Park is a gathering place for the Brooklyn community. If the summer heat starts to wear on you, consider an evening or nighttime event hosted in the park. From stargazing to outdoor movies, the glittering skyline of the city that never sleeps is the perfect backdrop for an evening under the stars.
- Coney Island: Escape to the seaside to the whimsical neighbourhood of Coney Island. Spend a laughter-filled afternoon riding the roller coasters at the Luna Park amusement park, walk the lengthy boardwalk as you snack on a hot dog 🌭 from Nathan’s Hot Dogs, attend a Coney Island Cyclone game, beat the heat with your toes in the water, or visit New York City’s only aquarium.
- BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn Festival: Hosted in Prospect Park, BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn is a free & summer-long concert series filled with live, in-person performances in Prospect Park. 🎶 Discover a new genre, acclaimed artist, or world culture during this beloved festival, which has been going on for more than 40 years!
Fall in Brooklyn
As the summer heat subsides to cooler temperatures, here are our favourite fall activities:
- Williamsburg: This hipster neighbourhood has become more popular and refined in recent years, but it still holds true to its indie roots. Allow yourself to wander and get a little lost! 🗺 Street art, vintage clothing stores, art galleries and cool cafes can be found around every corner. Grab brunch at Sunday in Brooklyn any day of the week, pick up a new-to-you vintage piece at L Train Vintage, refuel with pasta at Lilia, and dance away the autumn night at one of the many hip bars and clubs.
- Kings Country Distillery: Housed in a 123-year-old building in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, try a whiskey tasting in New York City’s oldest and largest whiskey distillery. 🥃 Whether you prefer your whiskey neat or in a cocktail, you’ll enjoy the intimate, rustic vibe at the bar, and we highly recommend an informative, behind-the-scenes tour of the distillery.
- Industry City: Housed in the former Bush Terminal, this waterfront complex hosts artist spaces and artisan workshops, as well as an array of local shops and mouth-watering eateries. Concerts and other seasonal events, such as roller skating and ice skating, are the perfect fall activities. Visiting NYC in October? 🍻 They even host an Oktoberfest!
Winter in Brooklyn
Bundle up in your warmest black coat for the chilly winter days ❄️ Whether you’re celebrating the holidays in December in NYC or simply enjoying a winter getaway, here are a few ideas for keeping cozy! There is so much history and culture to be discovered in New York City, and the many museums dotting the city could keep you entertained for weeks. 🏛 Some of our favourites in Brooklyn include:
- Brooklyn Museum: Nested at the edge of Prospect Park, this museum is packed with art pieces, ranging from Egyptian art to Impressionist pieces by masters such as Cézanne, Monet, Degas, and so much more. 🎨
- Brooklyn Children’s Museum: We love when travel and education combine, and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum provides hours of entertainment for little ones!
- New York Transit Museum: Public transit is the heart of New York City, and this museum is actually housed in an authentic subway station decommissioned in 1936. 🚋 This museum highlights everything from construction equipment to vintage subway cars to typography in the stations.
- Catch a Nets game at the Barclays Center: Catch an NBA game and cheer on the Nets at the Barclays Center. 🏀 Bask in the energy of a good old competitive sports game, with a side of popcorn and hot dogs!
- Brooklyn Academy of Music: Showcasing both local and out-of-town talent, BAM is a cultural institution of New York. See talented dancers perform at the Howard Gilman Opera House, or take in a show at the 1904 Harvey Theater. Dress to the nines for a fancy night immersed in the arts. 🎭
Restaurants in Brooklyn
There is no shortage of diverse and delicious foods to sample across New York City, and it would be impossible to cover it all. 😉 However, we’re here to spotlight a few places to delight your taste buds!
- Smorgasburg: The largest weekly open-air food market in America is the perfect place to start… when you don’t know where to start! 😝 Hosted in both Williamsburg and Prospect Park, nearly 100 vendors gather to offer delicious and affordable snacks. Some of the cuisines include Mao’s Bao, Carlitos Barbecue Taqueria, Bona Bona Ice Cream, Wood Fired Edibles, Rooster Boy, Ok K-Dog, Dough Doughnuts and Thai Bird. Our mouth is already watering. 😋
- Time Out Market New York: Another place where you can get bang for your buck and sample a variety of tasty dishes is Time Out Market.🍴The two stories are packed with vendors, and the unique view of the Manhattan skyline, East River and the Brooklyn Bridge invite you to sit and stay for a while. Don’t miss a photo op at Pebble Beach just across from the bustling market, and the rooftop boasts amazing panoramic views, as well.
- Spritzenhaus: This massive, 6,000 square-foot beer garden is a one-stop shop to sample and indulge in craft brews from one hundred taps. Pair with classic German fare and salty snacks, like sausages and pretzels! 🥨
Cafes & Bars in Brooklyn
- Bluestone Lane: Coffee is practically essential to make the most of your time in NYC from sunup to sundown. ☕️ Heading into the evening? They’ve also crafted signature cocktails with espresso such as Orange Is The New Black (BL espresso, chocolate-orange ganache, Maker’s Mark and steamed milk) and Honey I’m Home (BL cold brew, chocolate bitters, whisky, honey, vanilla bean and coffee liqueur). Not a coffee-drinker? 🍊 Fresh-pressed juice and brunch offerings are available for a healthy and delicious refuel, and coffee subscriptions are even available to bring the taste of NYC home!
- Brooklyn Brewery: Fueled by the creative energy of the surrounding Brooklyn community, enjoy local, award-winning brews in Brooklyn Brewery’s Williamsburg tasting room. Friendly staff and a welcoming atmosphere invite you in 7 days a week, where you enter as a visitor and leave as a friend. 🍻 Cheers!
- House of Yes: Dance until dawn at this truly unique venue, where creative costumes are required, aerialists, magicians and dancers are on retainer, and an all-around unforgettable experience is par for the course. 🌙 A night at House of Yes is anything but a casual night out, so be sure to snag your tickets in advance and arrive early!
Other NYC Tips
A favourite tip for travel, especially in an area as dense as Manhattan, is to utilize your phone’s mapping app like Google Maps. 🗺 Be sure to save any and all things that pique your interest in the city — snacks, meals, streets, shops and boutiques, theatres… all of it! Moving toward the stars saved in your phone not only gives you direction where to go next, but also makes sure you’re never “stuck” somewhere without a great option for food or entertainment. Whether you are exploring Greenwich Village, Midtown, SoHo or Central Park – you can’t go wrong with NYC neighbourhoods!
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