Brooklyn’s Top 10 Experiences

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Everyone has favorite things to do or see in Brooklyn, the ones we go back to again and again and recommend to friends and family. Our top ten experiences will guide you to the best of the borough.

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Waterfront Views

Brooklyn's waterfront provides unparalleled city and harbor views. For perspectives on Manhattan, head to Brooklyn Bridge Park, WNYC Transmitter Park, and East River State Park. To enjoy the scenery with a cocktail in hand, slip inland three blocks to The Ides on the Wythe Hotel's roof or head to The River Café to appreciate the views accompanied by a special meal.

The Statue of Liberty is in clear view from Louis Valentino Jr. Park & Pier, whose panorama includes a generous portion of
New York Harbor. From its perch overlooking its namesake neighborhood, Sunset Park, though not on the water, delivers bird’s-eye views of Lower Manhattan.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Brooklyn Travel Guide

Courtesy of Roberta's; Photo by Deidre Schoo

Eating and Drinking

Farm-to-table restaurants, traditional ethnic eateries, artisanal cocktail dens, independent coffeehouses, and craft-beer bars make for dynamite eating and drinking options around the clock. For fine dining and glamorously casual cafés, head to Williamsburg, Boerum Hill, and Carroll Gardens. Fort Greene, Prospect Heights, and Cobble Hill shelter influential restaurants that source everything from the tenderloin to the tableware thoughtfully and sustainably.

Bartenders and mixologists across the borough prove equally adept at fashioning classic and innovative cocktails. Bay Ridge and Sunset Park showcase Mexican, Middle Eastern, Italian, Chinese, and other cuisines. In good weather, the patios and rooftop spaces of Brooklyn's restaurants and bars are the best places to be.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Brooklyn Travel Guide

Clay Williams

Happening Nightlife

Brooklyn’s cool kids convene in Williamsburg, East Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Gowanus, and elsewhere for nighttime revelry. To tap into Williamsburg's limitless vitality, check out a concert at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, catch the buzzy vibe at Maison Premiere, and go dancing at Output. For hanging out in chill backyards, stop in at No Name Bar (597 Manhattan Ave.) and Lavender Lake.

For something unique, head to the Nitehawk Cinema, which screens indie films and serves dinner. For games, there’s bowling at The Gutter or Brooklyn Bowl, shuffleboard at Royal Palms Shuffleboard, bocce at Floyd and Union Hall, and arcade games at Barcade.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Brooklyn Travel Guide

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Urban History

Brooklyn reveals its long history indoors and out. Thanks to the iconic bridge and fabulous architecture, you need only step outside to sense the borough's rich past, and a visit to the museums and institutions can heighten the impression. The curators at the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Historical Society assemble dynamic, sometimes interactive exhibits from their institutions' collections of prints, photographs, and artifacts.

The diverting New York Transit Museum celebrates subways, trolleys, trams, and other public conveyances, and the Old Stone House recreates life at a seventeenth-century Dutch farmhouse that played a key role in the Battle of Brooklyn. The Weeksville Heritage Center pays homage to one of New York's first communities of free blacks.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Brooklyn Travel Guide

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Grand Entrances

A stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan is an exhilarating way to enter Brooklyn. Along the way, you can take in the bridge's Gothic Revival towers, read the plaques detailing the challenging construction process, and marvel
at the views of the Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines. Snap a few photos, of course. You can also enjoy sweeping vistas of bridges and the city via the East River Ferry or the New York Water Taxi to Red Hook, Greenpoint, DUMBO, and Williamsburg.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Brooklyn Travel Guide

Courtesy of Brooklyn Museum; Photo by JongHeon Martin Kim

Art Scene

The Brooklyn Museum stands as a testament to its borough’s enduring commitment to art. A stop here is essential, but numerous other venues merit investigation. The spaces at the multidisciplinary BRIC Arts Media House include a large gallery specializing in works by Brooklyn-based artists. The Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Arts focuses on works with a social or political message about the African diaspora.

The Pratt Institute Sculpture Park includes about fifty sculptures, depending on
what's on display. Also outdoors, the Bushwick Collective (St Nicholas Avenue) presents several dazzling blocks of street art. A fun way to survey the current art scene is to attend various neighborhoods' block parties, festivals, and open-studios events.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Brooklyn Travel Guide

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Parks and Gardens

Green spaces small and large, waterside and inland, grace Brooklyn's landscape. At Brooklyn Bridge Park you can stroll the waterfront, picnic in the bridge's shadow, ride Jane’s Carousel, and admire the Manhattan views. Louis Valentino Jr. Park & Pier and Sunset Park also have distinctive city and harbor vistas, and the Shore Park and Parkway affords stunning takes on the Verrazano–Narrows Bridge, which links Brooklyn with Staten Island.

Inland, Fort Greene Park is a local favorite steeped in history, and 500-acre Prospect Park entices with lush greenery, winding paths, and hiking and horseback-riding trails. With its grounds and conservatory, the extraordinary Brooklyn Botanic Garden provides a colorful sanctuary year-round.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Brooklyn Travel Guide

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Festivals and Events

Fun festivals and events happen year-round, and many are free. For the quintessential Brooklyn summer experience, tote a blanket and picnic fixings to Prospect Park for Celebrate Brooklyn! concerts and performances. Parks in Williamsburg, Greenpoint, DUMBO, and
Red Hook transform into outdoor movie theaters with free nighttime summer screenings.

The Bushwick Collective (St Nicholas Avenue) throws a massive summer block party, with street artists at work, food stands, and live music. In Williamsburg, the second Friday of every month is gallery night; it’s the first Thursday of most months
in DUMBO, which also sees pop-up art installations and light shows. Sunset Park's Industry City complex hosts Mister Sunday dance parties in summer.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Brooklyn Travel Guide

Courtesy of Brooklyn Flea

Shopping

The borough attracts designers, craftspeople, and makers, so you'll find shops and galleries here touting made-in-Brooklyn merchandise and artwork. Williamsburg, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, Greenpoint, and DUMBO are pivotal stops for clothing, objects, and art. Over at the Brooklyn Flea, New York City's most fashionable rummage sale, you can pick up antique glassware, vintage vinyl, and the 1950s comic book collection you never knew you always wanted.

Just about every neighborhood in Brooklyn has a bookstore (or two), most
of which sell wonderful Brooklyn-made gifts and handmade stationery and cards, in addition to books, many by Brooklyn's literati.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Brooklyn Travel Guide

Courtesy of Kings Theatre; Photo by Mark Doyle

Performing Arts

As major performing-arts consumers, Brooklynites support diverse venues and cultural organizations. The stalwart and innovative Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) presents concerts, plays, dances, and other performances; so, too, do quirky loft and storefront spaces. St. Ann's Warehouse has commissioned cutting-edge theater, music, and high-art puppeteering for three-plus decades.

The Kings Theatre, a renovated movie palace, emerged in 2015 as an exciting new venue. Children's-literature-based performances and puppet shows at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts and Puppetworks delight budding arts devotees, while classical-music lovers take in concerts in the BAM halls, the floating Bargemusic barge, and other spaces.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Brooklyn Travel Guide

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