118 Best Sights in Brooklyn, New York City

A.I.R. Gallery

DUMBO
The country's first all-female, artist-run cooperative was established in 1972. This modern gallery space features hundreds of women artists' work every year and also hosts events, lectures, and creative symposiums.
155 Plymouth St., Brooklyn, NY, 11201, USA
212-255--6651
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon. and Tues., Wed.--Sun. noon--6 pm

Atlantic Antic

Food, music, and a lot of fun are the features of this gigantic yearly party that closes down Atlantic Avenue from 4th Avenue to the waterfront on a Sunday in late September. There are several stages for performances and all kinds of antics at this family-friendly event, which celebrated its 43rd anniversary in 2017.

Barclays Center

Prospect Heights

This rust-tinted spaceship of an arena with a lawn for a roof houses the NBA's Brooklyn Nets and the WNBA's New York Liberty, and hosts events from concerts to family shows to boxing. With a capacity hovering around 17,000, Barclays Center also has plenty of room to offer concessions courtesy of local restaurateurs, including Parm, Federoff's Cheesesteaks, and Fuku.

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Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help

This imposing block-long Romanesque church stands tall on a ridge is unusual because it's actually two churches, one stacked on the other. The lower church opened on Easter Sunday in 1909. The larger, upper one was completed in 1928 in time for Christmas. In recognition of Sunset Park's diversity, masses are said in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese.

Bastille Day

Carroll Gardens
The French equivalent of the Fourth of July, Bastille Day is celebrated annually on Smith Street on a Sunday in July that falls closest to July 14, the actual date of the holiday. The street is closed off and transformed into a massive party, with area restaurants setting up booths and a temporary pétanque court near Bar Tabac.

Bay Ridge Architecture Tour

Bay Ridge has no shortage of eclectic architecture. Wandering the neighborhood, you'll see everything from one of the oldest freestanding Greek Revival homes in Brooklyn (99th Street and Shore Road) to circa-1880 Shingle-style Victorians with conical towers (81st and 82nd streets, between 3rd and Colonial avenues); rows of limestone houses on Bay Ridge Parkway (lit by working gas lamps); and charming cul-de-sacs lined with redbrick, slate-roof homes (68th Street between Ridge Boulevard and 3rd Avenue). The most popular architectural attraction in the neighborhood, though, is the fanciful Arts and Crafts home known to locals as the Gingerbread House. Built for shipping magnate Howard E. Jones in 1917, the 6,000-square-foot private home at 8220 Narrows Avenue has a thatched-style shingle roof, rustic stonework, and abundant landscaped greenery that make it look like it came straight out of a Hans Christian Andersen story.

BRIC Arts Media House

Fort Greene
The organizers of renowned arts festival Celebrate Brooklyn! (see Best Brooklyn Events in Chapter 1) operate this 40,000-square-foot gallery, television studio, and performance space between the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) and Downtown Brooklyn. The gallery specializes in Brooklyn-based artists, and the artwork also spills over into the café and hallways. Upstairs, the UrbanGlass studio has classes for all ages, as well as a shop/showcase on the first floor with jewelry, housewares, and objets d'art.

Brighton Beach

Brighton Beach

Just steps from the subway, this stretch of golden sand is the showpiece of Brooklyn's oceanside playground. Families set up beach blankets, umbrellas, and coolers, and pickup games of beach volleyball and football add to the excitement. Calm surf, a lively boardwalk, and a handful of restaurants for shade and refreshments complete the package. That spit of land in the distance is the Rockaway Peninsula, in Queens. Amenities: toilets. Best for: people-watching, sunsets, Russian food.

Brighton Beach Avenue

Brighton Beach

The main thoroughfare of "Little Odessa" is where you'll find a Russian caviar boutique amid the Cyrillic shop signs advertising everything from pickled mushrooms to Armani handbags. When the weather's good, local bakeries sell sweet honey cake, cheese-stuffed vatrushki danishes, and chocolatey rugelach from sidewalk tables.

Brighton Beach Ave., Brooklyn, NY, 11235, USA

Brooklyn Art Library

The library's chief draw is the fascinating Sketchbook Project, thousands of crowd-sourced sketchbooks created by artists and amateurs from around the globe. You could easily while away an afternoon perusing these 32-page meditations, whose topics range from comics, travelogues, and memoirs to catalogs of extinct genetic mutations. Should the addictive musings activate your own imagination, there are art supplies for sale on-site.

Brooklyn Banya

Head to this small Russian bathhouse for a healthful, social experience quite different from the typical modern spa. There are pools and saunas of varying temperatures—moving between them is believed to stimulate the circulation and boost immunity. Bathers (of both genders) can also opt to undergo a variety of treatments, including the traditional platska treatment (exfoliation via beating with leafy oak branches). There's a restaurant that serves Russian specialties, and a roof deck.
602 Coney Island Ave., Brooklyn, NY, 11218, USA
718-853–1300
Sight Details
Rate Includes: $40 for all-day bath access; treatments and massages $30–$90

Brooklyn Book Festival

National and international stars of the book world headline talks and readings at the largest free literary event in New York City, started back in 2006. A week’s worth of book talks, parties, and screenings in various venues around Brooklyn---as well as Queens and Manhattan---lead up to the Sunday main event, based at Brooklyn Borough Hall.

Brooklyn Borough Hall

Brooklyn Heights

Built in 1848 as Brooklyn's city hall, this Greek Revival landmark, adorned with Tuckahoe marble, is one of the borough's handsomest buildings. The statue of Lady Justice atop its cast-iron cupola was part of the original plan but wasn't installed until 1988. Today the landmarked building serves as the office of Brooklyn's borough president, and the backdrop of weekend skateboarders in adjacent Columbus Park.

Brooklyn Boulders

Sprawled across a 22,000-square-foot space, Brooklyn Boulders is the go-to for climbing enthusiasts as well as novices interested in learning the ropes. All visitors must first complete a short safety course before taking to the walls, which vary in size and difficulty. Private lessons and group classes are also available, along with open climbing sessions. Acro yoga is one of several nonclimbing classes offered.

Brooklyn Central Library

Prospect Heights
This celebrated art deco edifice is a neighborhood anchor, its monumental facade resembling an open book with bronze panels. Inside, this cathedral to knowledge houses more than a million catalogued books, magazines, and multimedia materials, and serves as a respite for those requiring quiet study, free Wi-Fi, or a quick bite from the café by local pie maker Four & Twenty Blackbirds.
10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, NY, 11238, USA
718-230–2100
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Mon.–Thurs. 9–9, Fri. and Sat. 9–6, Sun. 1–5

Brooklyn College

The original Georgian-style buildings, elm tree–lined main quad, and lily pond of Brooklyn College were built in the 1930s, and today film and TV crews regularly use the bucolic campus as a location stand-in for Ivy League schools. It's especially beautiful in spring when the cherry blossoms are in bloom. Get a visitor’s pass from any security post or sign up for an hour-long guided tour (10 am and 3 pm most weekdays).

Brooklyn Cyclones

Coney Island
The minor-league Brooklyn Cyclones are a farm team for the New York Mets, and their waterfront baseball stadium is a great place to see budding talent—they've sent dozens of players to the major leagues since they first started in Coney Island in 2001. The Cyclones play from mid-June through early September at MCU Park, and fireworks after every Friday-night game make it a celebration.

Brooklyn Heights Historic District

Brooklyn Heights

Most of Brooklyn Heights, with picturesque brownstones spanning Old Fulton Street to Atlantic Avenue, was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965. This includes the quiet "fruit streets"—Pineapple, Cranberry, and Orange Streets—named in the 19th century by one Lady Middagh, a resident who thought it was more democratic to get rid of the former names of aristocratic families. Ironically, Middagh Street still exists. One notable building in the area is 58 Joralemon Street, which at a glance appears to be a 19th-century Greek revival townhouse, but is actually a facade for an MTA ventilation shaft. 

Old Fulton St. to Atlantic Ave., between Cadman Plaza and Brooklyn Heights Promenade, Brooklyn, NY, USA

Bush Terminal Park

The opening of this park in 2014 marked a major milestone in the effort to reclaim Sunset Park's formerly industrial waterfront. Once part of the Bush Terminal port complex, the 11-acre public green space has soccer and baseball fields, as well as a nature preserve containing saltwater tidal pools. The preserve's restored wetlands are helping to purify the nearby aquatic habitat. Enter the park at 43rd Street and 1st Avenue and walk past several industrial buildings to get to the park gates. The waterfront esplanade has sweeping views of New York Harbor, including the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline.

Bushwick Film Festival

Bushwick
Founded in 2007, the Bushwick Film Festival draws a diverse audience of industry professionals and film fans to its annual multiday October event. Features, shorts, and documentaries are submitted by domestic and international filmmakers. Film education programs, with workshops throughout the year, help bridge the gap between craft and community.

Bushwick Inlet Park

A $30 million investment turned a former parking lot into this lush green space adjacent to East River State Park. Part of a major revitalization project aimed at the Williamsburg and Greenpoint waterfront, the renovation added a sloped pavilion leading up to a public promenade, a playground, an athletic field, and an environmentally sophisticated building (with restrooms) for community activities. The views are expansive, taking in everything from the Williamsburg Bridge to the Empire State Building.

Bushwick Open Studios

Bushwick
The volunteer-run organization Arts in Bushwick puts together festivals and activities throughout the year. The main event, Bushwick Open Studios, is a huge art fair that takes place over a weekend in summer or early fall. Hundreds of artists throughout the neighborhood open their studios to the public, and there are events, performances, and panel discussions.

Cacao Prieto and Widow Jane

Red Hook
Blending two very worthwhile pursuits, this redbrick building does double duty as both a chocolate factory (Cacao Prieto) and a liquor distillery (Widow Jane). Informative tours of the atmospheric premises (check out the chickens in the courtyard) start in the chocolate factory and then head to the distillery, with tasting samples of both sides of the business. The distressed-wood shop in the front room, with shelves of liquor bottles and gift items, is as lovely as the wrapping on the chocolate bars.

Center for Brooklyn History at Brooklyn Public Library

Brooklyn Heights

Four centuries' worth of art and artifacts bring Brooklyn's story to life at this marvelous, newly renovated space. Housed in an 1881 Queen Anne–style National Historic Landmark building, the center surveys the borough's changing identity through interactive exhibitions, landscape paintings, photographs, portraits of Brooklynites, and fascinating memorabilia. The Othmer Library’s magnificent reading room, with its stained-glass windows and carved wooden columns, transports visitors to an earlier era.

Christmas Markets

From November through Christmas, holiday markets pop up all over Brooklyn, many with a creative, DIY bent. Some are one day or weekend only, others recur for several weeks. Artists & Flea is a year-round market with a holiday spin leading up to December, while annual events like the BUST Holiday Craftacular (), the Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar (), and the Etsy NY Handmade Cavalcade () each take place over one weekend in November or December. One-day events include the Greenpointers Holiday Market ().
Brooklyn, NY, USA
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Nov.--Dec.

City Reliquary

Williamsburg

Subway tokens, Statue of Liberty figurines, and other artifacts you might find in a New York City time capsule crowd the displays of this quirky, community-run museum inside a former bodega. Recent temporary exhibits have included one with actual children's letters addressed to Spider-Man, sent to his comic book address in Queens. 

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Comandante Biggie Mural

Fort Greene
On the South Portland Avenue side of a corner lot nicknamed the Brooklyn Love Building, graffiti artist Cern One, with Jorge Garcia and Lee Quiñones, created a brightly hued mural of Brooklyn rapper The Notorious B.I.G. ("Biggie"). The structure's Fulton Street facade is home to street-level shops, but its second story is tagged with lyrics from Biggie's 1994 single "Juicy." It reads "Spread Love It's the Brooklyn Way" in tall lettering.

Coney Island Beach

Coney Island
Just west of Brighton Beach, the Coney Island beach shares many of its neighbor's assets: a gentle surf, golden sand, the famous boardwalk, and plenty of restaurants. The now-defunct Parachute Jump is a great photo op.

Coney Island Beach

Coney Island

This 2½-mile beach, backed by the Riegelmann Boardwalk and the amusement park rides beyond, has become an iconic part of New York legend. Although open (and visited) year-round, the beach really heats up in summer, when it can seem like the entire population of New York is out sunning and swimming. Even in winter, however, you'll see Russian and Eastern European inhabitants of neighboring Brighton Beach strolling the boardwalk in their Sunday best. The annual Polar Bear Plunge on January 1 sees thousands of revelers greet the new year by diving into the frigid waters of the Atlantic. Run by the Coney Island Polar Bear Club, a winter bathing club founded in 1903, it's a ticketed event for charity, with a roped off "official" area. Plenty of New Yorkers who want the jolt of the cold water but don't want to pay and wait in line simply do their own thing farther down the beach, then amble over to Brighton Beach to toast the new year at Tatiana's. Amenities: toilets; snack bars; sports facilities. Best for: swimming; sunbathing; people-watching; the Polar Bear Plunge.

Coney Island Circus Sideshow

Coney Island

The cast of talented freaks and geeks who keep Coney Island's carnival tradition alive include sword swallowers, fire-eaters, knife throwers, contortionists, and Serpentina the snake dancer. Every show is an extravaganza, with 10 different acts to fascinate and impress. The Coney Island Museum houses a large permanent collection of artifacts, ephemera, photographs, and postcards celebrating the history of this legendary amusement area.