6 Ways to Start Exploring Brooklyn

Brooklyn is a pretty big place—if it wasn't a borough of New York City, it would be the fourth-largest city in the U.S. by population—so even the most seasoned traveler can be overwhelmed by its number of exciting neighborhoods. And given the variety of experiences Brooklyn offers, not every area holds equal appeal for every traveler. To help you chart the right course, whether you've got kids in tow or you're an art lover, here's our advice on which neighborhoods you should explore.

1. It's Your First Time

Coney Island

Brooklynites might find Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg exhaustingly trendy, but the blocks between South 4th and North 8th Streets have superlative shopping, restaurants, and people watching. Prospect Park is an oasis beloved by locals and travelers alike, as are the photogenic vistas of Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge from the DUMBO waterfront. For a classic Brooklyn experience, head to Coney Island, where the retro rollercoasters and strolling boardwalk guitar players are timeless.

2. You're Into Nightlife

Wythe Hotel

Brooklyn’s cool kids convene in Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Bushwick,
and East Williamsburg for after-hours revelry. In these industrial areas, avant-garde dance parties light up abandoned warehouses, a bowling alley (Brooklyn Bowl) hosts rock shows, and a boutique design hotel (Wythe Hotel) with a swish rooftop bar occupies a former factory.

3. You're Drawn to Art and Design

Bushwick

Dive into Brooklyn’s “maker” culture in Gowanus, Bushwick, and Red Hook, where urban gardeners, coffee roasters, carpenters, and home brewers have transformed industrial buildings into retail shops, studios, and tasting rooms. In Williamsburg and DUMBO, the streets are lined with art galleries, design stores, and independent fashion labels. Crown Heights and Bushwick are home to the next wave of artists and artisans, many of whom share storefront galleries and studios.

4. You're a Foodie

Cemitas Mexican Sandwiches

Hungry travelers can find an incredible meal in nearly every corner of Brooklyn. For destination fine dining and glamorously casual boîtes, head to Williamsburg or Boerum Hill. The latter is home to the borough’s only three-Michelin-star restaurant, Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare. The leafy streets of Fort Greene, Prospect Heights, and Cobble Hill are lined with the sort of quietly influential restaurants that source everything from the tenderloin to the tableware thoughtfully and sustainably. Bay Ridge and Sunset Park showcase Mexican, Middle Eastern, Italian, Chinese, and other ethnic cuisines.

5. You're Visiting with Kids

Brooklyn Children's Museum

Park Slope is the most stroller-friendly region of the borough. It has access
to the Prospect Park Zoo, playgrounds (some decorated with public art projects), and quirky things like the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co., a costume shop that doubles as a nonprofit for young writers. Other family-friendly sites in Brooklyn include Jane’s Carousel on
the DUMBO waterfront, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum in Crown Heights, and Downtown Brooklyn’s (perhaps unexpectedly) engaging New York Transit Museum.

6. You've Been Before

Sunset Park

Welcome back! Now, pick a neighborhood you've never been to before: perhaps Bay Ridge or Sunset Park, and go exploring. Or revisit somewhere you've been: Brooklyn changes constantly, so there's always something new.

Photo Credits (top to bottom): Zhukovsky | Dreamstime.com; Grisha Levit; Mary Robnett; bolbolaan; Jennifer Arnow; Mary Robnett

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