13 Best Sights in Williamsburg, New York City

Grand Ferry Park

Fodor's choice
Hipsters, Hasidic Jews, and others hang out at this small waterfront park named for the ferry that for a century connected Williamsburg to Manhattan. The views of Manhattan and the Williamsburg Bridge are sublime anytime. Sand covers the ground in summer, and if you sit on a bench near the waves that crash against the rocks, you can almost pretend you're at the beach. Check out the inscription on the redbrick smokestack, which figured in the development of penicillin.

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.

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.

Recommended Fodor's Video

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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Domino Park

Williamsburg

Once the grounds of the Domino Sugar Factory, this sprawling riverside park tastefully incorporates clunky metal remnants of its refinery past, including its Artifact Walk, an elevated walkway with Manhattan skyline views. There's also a playground, a garden, dancing fountains, and Tacocina, a walk-up eatery from Danny Meyer of Shake Shack fame. You’ll see locals hanging out at the bocce court or playing with their pooches at the dog run, but most of all, you’ll be able to marvel at a truly spectacular view of the Williamsburg Bridge, seemingly right above your head.

East River State Park

Cherished by residents for its grassy knolls and superb Manhattan views, this park contains vestiges of the 19th-century dock that once occupied these 7 acres. On Saturday, more than a hundred vendors sell artisanal goods at the Smorgasburg open-air market (see Chapter 8, Park Slope and Prospect Park, for full listing). The park can get crowded on summer weekends, so don't be surprised if you find yourself scavenging for an open patch of grass.

McCarren Park

On warm weekends, locals flock to this park that forms the border between Williamsburg and Greenpoint. The 35 acres include baseball diamonds, benches, tree-lined paths, and plenty of dogs out enjoying the sunshine with their owners. Across Driggs Avenue are a running track, soccer field, and tennis courts. The outdoor McCarren Park Pool, open in summer, tends to hit capacity pretty quickly. There's a skating rink in winter.

New York Distilling Company

This young distillery makes two kinds of rye and three types of gin. The knowledgeable staff is delighted to explain their nuances; visit on a weekend afternoon for a free tour and tasting (check the website for additional tour times). The bartenders at the attached Shanty bar, open nightly (weekends from 2 pm), make a serious gin gimlet. Be warned: the Dorothy Parker and Perry's Tot gins are potent.
79 Richardson St., Brooklyn, NY, 11211, USA
718-412--0874
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Distillery tours: weekend afternoons

North 6th St. Pier

NYC Ferry's East River route stops in North Williamsburg at this clean, modern pier, but even if you're not taking the ferry, it's a nice place for a walk, with benches and excellent views of the Manhattan skyline. On summer days, you're likely to see teens skateboarding and people eating ice cream from OddFellows, just two blocks away.

Sideshow Gallery

The quality varies from show to show at this pioneering gallery that specializes in works by emerging and established Brooklyn-based artists, but it remains a good place to take the creative pulse of Williamsburg and the borough. In its current space since 2000, Sideshow hosts edgy (sometimes peculiar) local and traveling exhibits, along with occasional readings, concerts, and other events.
319 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn, NY, 11211, USA
718-486–8180
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Closed Mon.–Wed., Thurs.--Sun. noon--6

Weylin

An icon of the Williamsburg cityscape, the original headquarters of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank has been lavishly restored and renamed Weylin. Completed in 1875, the beaux arts building with its granite exterior and gold-tipped dome is a landmarked site. It's also a private event space, so don't be surprised to see a bride and groom posing on the steps. If you're lucky, you can peek inside. Be sure to look up: the ornately painted great dome is incredible.

Williamsburg Art & Historical Center

WAH, as it's known locally, occupies one of New York City's earliest landmarked structures—a mansionlike 1867 former bank building designed in the French Second Empire style—but you have to enter through a side door to reach the high-ceiling, light-filled gallery. The exhibits showcase the works of contemporary artists in many media.
135 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY, 11211, USA
718-486–7372
Sight Details
Rate Includes: $7 suggested donation, Closed Mon.–Thurs., Fri.–Sun. noon–6

Williamsburg Bridge

The distinctive and quite beautiful steel bridge that links Williamsburg to Manhattan's Lower East Side was the world's longest suspension bridge when it was completed in 1903. More than 200,000 people cross it every day by car, train, bike, and on foot. A small plaza at the corner of Bedford Avenue and Broadway, on the Brooklyn side, provides a great vantage point from which to admire the bridge.
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