Brooklyn Travel Guide
Welcome to Brooklyn, home to everything people miss when they visit New York — the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Bridge, and the best hot dogs in the city at Coney Island. Whether you're here for the French press-scented Williamsburg or the quieter life in Park Slope, there's something in Brooklyn for everyone — and that thing is Brooklyn pizza.
Historically, Brooklyn has been home to the offbeat and untraditional, from its incredible LGTBQ+ history to the Brooklyn Museum's entire floor dedicated to protest art. It's not built along a grid, inviting travelers to explore as they like through neighborhoods large and small. Brooklyn is also a popular destination for movie and TV buffs, given how frequently it appears in our most beloved media. You can see the police station used in Brooklyn Nine-Nine's exterior shots as you mosey toward Vanderbilt Street for some of Little Cupcake Bakeshop's Brooklyn Blackout Cake, or walk through idyllic Prospect Park and get a good look at the famous carousel.
Beautiful and less crowded than Manhattan, Brooklyn deserves as many accolades as the most popular tourist areas across the river.
Best Time to Go
Year-round. Like the rest of New York, Brooklyn is full of things to do, whether it's the height of summer or the cozy comfort of winter. Some things to keep an eye out for include:
The Greenpoint Film Festival, which features four categories of films (documentary, narrative, experimental, and animation) and Q&As with filmmakers, is held every spring (usually May) at the Wythe Hotel on Wythe Avenue. You’ll be in the center of all of Greenpoint’s best food and fun.
Afropunk Fest, known to its fiercest devotees simply as Afropunk, happens every summer from June through August in Fort Greene’s Commodore Barry Park. Years past have featured performances from FKA Twigs, Alicia Keys, D’Angelo, SZA, and more. Afropunk is also a fashion destination for those with an eye for the freshest, most innovative streetwear.
The Brooklyn Book Festival is a fall staple, returning annually for a week in September to thrill book lovers worldwide. It’s the largest free literary event in America. Yes, you read that correctly: The entire event is free, talks and signings included. Parties, events, and screenings fill the week leading up to the headline event at Borough Hall in Brooklyn on the final day of the festival. The festival’s marketplace is a wonder in and of itself, and well worth a wander to grab special-edition copies of your favorites or snap up brand-new titles.
Don’t miss ice skating at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside in Prospect Park — this hidden gem boasts two outdoor rinks in the middle of the picturesque park. At $11 for weekend access to the rink and $8 for a skate rental, it’s one of the most affordable ways to spend a memorable, classic New York winter day.
Eastern Standard Time
Things to Know
Tourism in Brooklyn isn't as big an industry as it is over the river in Manhattan, so hotel deals are easier to snag. If you have a specific neighborhood in mind, it's a good idea to research that area before you go; many neighborhoods have a central hub for public transportation, but are primarily serviced by one or two specific lines. Save yourself the headache by knowing which ones in advance. Brooklyn sidewalks are often narrower than those in Manhattan. It's important to be mindful of the people around you — in groups, try not to take up the entire sidewalk. Native Brooklynites will thank you for it.
Currency: U.S. Dollar
How to Get Around
Trains: Trains are accessed by Metrocard in all of New York. Each ride is $2.75, no matter how long you stay on the train. You can purchase Metrocards in most subway stations, and add value (such as $30 flat) or time (such as a week of unlimited rides for a set price). Brooklyn is serviced by almost all of the trains in New York City, but different lines go to different neighborhoods. Central hubs for transfers between lines are at Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center, Jay Street-Metrotech, and Lorimer Street. North Brooklyn is primarily serviced by the L, M, J, and G trains. South Brooklyn is primarily serviced by the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, C, B, F, D, G, N, Q, and R trains. The G train goes north to south in Brooklyn and does not cross over into Manhattan. It's a good way to move between the two areas.
Buses: Brooklyn has extensive bus lines, and buses can be accessed with a regular Metrocard. Buses cost the same as a subway ride, but in Brooklyn, they are sometimes easier ways to get from place to place instead of transferring between trains. All Brooklyn buses start with B — for instance, the B65 is Brooklyn route 65. Bus stops are clearly marked on the sidewalks with what buses stop there and which directions they go. Consult a map or an app such as MyMTA in advance to see if a bus will get you where you need to go more easily than a train.
Taxis: Taxis are pea-green in Brooklyn! Green taxis are borough taxis, meaning they can bring you into Manhattan, but their purpose is to bring people in and out of the boroughs other than Manhattan. You can find taxis on any main thoroughfare, such as Atlantic Avenue or Flatbush Avenue. You hail them as you would a taxi in Manhattan, by standing near a place the taxi can easily pull over and holding up your hand. A taxi is empty if the number on its roof is lit, and in service with a customer if that number is dim.
Rideshare: Uber and Lyft are always good options in Brooklyn, particularly if you're not in the mood to find a main highway or are far enough away from one that you don't feel like walking. Rides are plentiful and, as always, you can order a private car or join a carpool.
1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge
Address: 60 Furman St., Brooklyn, NY 11201
Phone: (347) 696-2500
A tourist favorite for its central location and stunning view of the iconic Manhattan skyline, 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge boasts luxuriously appointed rooms and waterfall showers. Decorated with warm neutrals and lush plant life, it’s a great option for those who want an oasis away from the bustle of the city. 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge offers suites as well as connecting rooms for larger groups and families, and their 2,000-square-foot Riverhouse Suite is famous for its stone soaking tub.
Address: 80 Wythe Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11249
Phone: (718) 460-8000
Wythe Hotel opened in 2012 in a restored factory building and has maintained the rustic-meets-industrial charm of Williamsburg. With exposed brick, original timbers, and huge windows, the rooms are chic and comfortable and feel like Brooklyn personified. Located along the river in Williamsburg, the Wythe boasts a beautiful view of the Manhattan skyline and easy access to all that Brooklyn has to offer.
Address: 85 Smith St., Brooklyn, NY 11201
Phone: (718) 852-8585
A boutique property situated on cozy Smith Street in Downtown Brooklyn, NU Hotel houses rooms with murals by local artists and other unique touches, like hammocks and bunk beds. The hotel is walking distance to many great Brooklyn neighborhoods, and close to the great dining and dive bars on Atlantic Avenue, as well as the boutique shopping on Smith Street.
Address: 229 Duffield St., Brooklyn, NY 11201
Phone: (718) 254-7800
Part of the Indigo hotel collection, this Downtown Brooklyn location features local art and a boutique atmosphere. Centrally located to most trains and right next to City Point, this is a great option for anyone who wants to check out all that South Brooklyn has to offer.
Aloft New York Brooklyn
Address: 216 Duffield St., Brooklyn, NY 11201
Phone: (718) 256-3833
Located near City Point, Aloft is a boutique hotel arm of the Marriott, and as such, it has the comfort and amenities of old pro hotels with some unique touches that offer a different experience. There are several different room sizes available for those traveling in groups or as a family.
The Tillary Hotel
Address: 85 Flatbush Ave. Ext., Brooklyn, NY 11201
Phone: (718) 329-9537
Comfortably appointed at the north end of Brooklyn Heights, The Tillary is an upscale urban spot roundly considered one of the best hotels in Brooklyn. With spacious, beautifully decorated rooms, an incredible view, and easy access to four of the main subway lines in Brooklyn, it’s easy to see why The Tillary is a top choice for travelers.
Hotel Le Bleu
Address: 370 4th Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11215
Phone: (718) 625-1500
If you’re looking for a hotel to explore Prospect Park from, Hotel Le Bleu is ideal. One block over from Park Slope’s famous shopping and a 15-minute walk from the park itself, Hotel Le Bleu is a great option for travelers who prefer to stay in quieter neighborhoods for relaxation between days spent on the go.
Address: 1199 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11216
Phone: (718) 789-1500
A luxurious mid-century modern hotel, The Brooklyn is the height of sophistication, lushly appointed and beautifully decorated. However, you need not drain your savings — it’s also reasonably priced, especially if you book far in advance.
The William Vale
Address: 111 N 12th St., Brooklyn, NY 11249
Phone: (718) 631-8400
Located in Williamsburg near the East River, this is one of Brooklyn’s trendiest hotels. It’s a great home base for street art aficionados who will find plenty to appreciate about the neighborhood. Each room comes with its own private balcony, a rarity in New York. The hotel's best feature, however, is the epic 60-foot outdoor pool on its roof.
Colonie (Traditional American)
Address: 127 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11201
Phone: (718) 855-7500
Chef Jared Braithwaite’s menu is full of unexpectedly paired flavors — a delicious and eclectic mix of Italian, Jewish, and American influences. Colonie sources as much of its ingredients from local farms as possible, and the freshness is apparent with every bite. Don’t miss the squid ink pasta or any of the desserts.
Five Leaves (New American)
Address: 18 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11222
Phone: (718) 383-5345
A Greenpoint brunch staple, Five Leaves’ Instagram-worthy aesthetic is almost as good as its ricotta pancakes. With a range of simple to complex dishes, there’s something for everyone at this sweet bistro. Make reservations in advance — tables go quickly.
Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop (Bakery)
Address: 727 Manhattan Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11222
Phone: (718) 389-3676
Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop has been a neighborhood staple for over 60 years, and every weekend, the line is out the door for their crisp-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside cake donuts and fluffy yeast donuts. Their recipe is unchanged, and fresh donuts are added constantly. Try the sour cream cake donut or the s’mores yeast donut — and don’t forget a cup of simple, delicious drip coffee to go with it.
Address: 25 Lafayette Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11217
Phone: (347) 294-0647
With authentic Mexican food born in a converted VW bus on the beaches of the Yucatan, Tacombi has six locations and, luckily, one of them is in Brooklyn. Grab a plate of tacos — all of them excellent — and wash it all down with Brooklyn’s best horchata.
Roberta’s Pizza (Pizzeria)
Address: 261 Moore St., Brooklyn, NY 11206
Phone: (718) 417-1118
Roberta’s has expanded to multiple New York locations and one in California, but the original spot can be found in Bushwick — and it’s well worth the trek to get there. In addition to its signature wood-fired pizzas, Roberta’s is known for its delectable appetizers and highly curated wine selection.
Momo Sushi Shack (Sushi)
Address: 43 Bogart St., Brooklyn, NY 11206
Phone: (718) 418-6666
A Bushwick icon, Momo Sushi Shack is fronted by some of the neighborhood’s famous street art. Community seating is more cozy than off-putting here, with an open kitchen that allows you to watch your sushi being made. If you’re not a sushi person, Momo Sushi Shack is also known for its exceptional ramen.
Bagel Pub (Bakery)
Address: Multiple Locations
With two convenient locations, there’s no excuse (unless you’re gluten-free) not to treat yourself to Brooklyn’s best bagels. Bagel Pub bagels are dense and chewy and big enough to fill you up for a morning of adventuring. Get one with lox, cream cheese, or butter, or opt for one as an egg sandwich — but definitely get one.
Address: 298 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11201
Phone: (718) 852-8758
What would Brooklyn be without pizza? Sottocasa’s brick oven ensures you won’t ever have to know. If for whatever reason you’d prefer a classic caprese salad or a hot, cheesy calzone, Sottocasa delivers on that, too. Go on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday to enjoy the heavenly burrata pizza, available exclusively on the weekend.
Darna Falafel (Turkish)
Address: 200 Court St., Brooklyn, NY 11201
Phone: (347) 799-1673
Don’t miss this adorable Turkish bistro’s incredible falafel, never dry and always flavorful. Their chicken shish kebab has rave reviews, too, and their homemade hummus is good enough to get in a tub and take home with you. Try the Turkish bread — one order gets you a whole fresh loaf, cut in half and great to pair with the hummus.
The Crabby Shack (Seafood)
Address: 613 Franklin Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11238
Phone: (718) 484-1507
Owned and operated by two Crown Heights natives, The Crabby Shack serves simple, delicious fare: crab — perfectly steamed and seasoned — accompanied by your choice of fresh sides and homemade sauces. If someone in your group isn’t a shellfish fan, worry not — The Crabby Shack makes a mean mac and cheese, and their vegan crab cakes are just as delicious as the meat-eater’s version.
Ample Hills Creamery (Ice Cream Parlor)
Address: 623 Vanderbilt Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11238
Phone: (718) 483-8199
Ample Hills Creamery has a few locations outside of New York now, but they started in a parlor shop in Brooklyn, which still boasts the widest array of daily flavor offerings. Famous for their ice cream’s texture and creative, delicious flavors, there’s something here for everyone, whether you prefer a chock-full of toppings or simple vanilla. Be prepared to wait in line if you visit in the warmer months, but the parlor is open year-round to solve any winter ice cream cravings.
Address: 178 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Phone: (718) 387-7400
This historic Brooklyn establishment is regularly recognized as the best place to order a steak in New York City. Peter Luger has been serving up prime USDA cuts of beef for decades, dry aging only the highest quality steaks in house. The restaurant has earned a coveted Michelin star for its efforts, but whatever you do, don’t try to pay with a credit card. This is one restaurant where credit cards aren’t accepted, and cash is king.
Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop
Address: 110 Franklin St., Brooklyn, NY 11222
You can’t come to New York and not grab a slice of pizza. But with so many choices on every corner, where’s a hungry traveler to start? Skip the dollar slice joints and head straight to Paulie Gee’s in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. This very Brooklyn pizza place is one of the best in the city. It’s cheap and far from fancy, but it’s authentic, and both the hot honey pepperoni slice and white pizza slice aren’t to be skipped.
Things to Do
Address: 200 Eastern Pkwy., Brooklyn, NY 11238
Phone: (718) 638-5000
The Brooklyn Museum is very Brooklyn in its collections, from a well-preserved section of the Egyptian “Book of the Dead” to a floor dedicated to feminist and protest art. Best known for having Judy Chicago’s “The Dinner Party” on ongoing display, the Brooklyn Museum has gained recent fame for innovative and thoughtful special exhibitions, such as a history of David Bowie’s career and an exhibit about Frida Kahlo’s personal expression of self. The main museum is free, with suggested contribution amounts. Special exhibitions are ticketed, usually around $35.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Address: 990 Washington Ave or 455 Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11225
Phone: (718) 623-7200
With indoor and outdoor plant life, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a lovely place to spend part of your day regardless of the time of year. Many travelers enjoy combining their Botanic Garden visit with a trip to the Brooklyn Museum, and it is possible to buy combination admission tickets. The annual Sakura Festival every spring is worth a visit to Brooklyn all on its own, and the Botanic Garden’s various special exhibitions are fascinating and beautiful. $15 for adults, $8 for seniors, students with student ID, and children over 12; free on Fridays before noon and for children under 12.
Address: Enter at Cadman Plaza East or where Boerum Pl. meets Tillary St. in Brooklyn
If the weather is nice, a walk across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge is well worth your time. With a view of the Empire State Building, the Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges, and the Manhattan skyline, the walk is as beautiful as it is bracing. The bridge slopes gently upward until the center, and then gently downward into Manhattan. It’s an easy, lengthy walk. Be mindful that wheelchairs and strollers can be a bit difficult to navigate at periods of high foot traffic. Free.
Address: Enter at Grand Army Plaza or off of Flatbush Ave.
The number of things to do in Prospect Park could each get their own entry, from boating to roller or ice skating to the carousel to the Prospect Park Zoo. Smaller than Central Park, Prospect Park is nevertheless still quite sizable, with several possible entrances (though the Grand Army Plaza entrance is the most iconic). The park has well-marked trails and great sledding hills in the winter. Be sure to check the Prospect Park Alliance’s website to see if there are any festivities to join in with at the park! Free.
Brooklyn Heights Promenade
Stretching from Downtown Brooklyn to Cobble Hill, the Brooklyn Heights Promenade is a pedestrian walkway along the East River with easy access on and off from any intersecting street. Lined with grand mansions and townhouses, the Promenade is part of Brooklyn’s first Historic District. The Promenade is a wonderful place to get some good pictures of the Brooklyn Bridge from afar; there’s a recreation complex off of Pier 2, including a roller rink with rentable roller skates. Free.
Address: Multiple Locations
Brooklyn’s first dinner-and-a-movie theater often hosts screenings of classic movies and out-of-theater favorites alongside themed drinks and snacks. It’s a great option for any current blockbuster, but it’s also worth checking to see if there’s an old favorite screening when you visit. $13 per ticket; senior discount available.
Coney Island Boardwalk and Beach
Take the D, F, N, or Q train to Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue
Home to an aquarium, theme park, beach, minor league baseball stadium, and Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs, the Coney Island boardwalk is the epitome of summer fun. Ride the Ferris wheel or roller coaster at Luna Park or get some color on the beach. The New York Aquarium is open year-round, but Coney Island’s other attractions are seasonal. Coney Island hosts the Mermaid Parade every summer, as well as other fun annual events and markets. Check ahead to see what’s happening when you visit. The beach is free; rides at Luna Park are ticketed per ride.
Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM)
Address: 30 Lafayette Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11217
Brooklyn’s very own multi-arts center and performance space is spread over three buildings and includes a movie theater and several live performance venues. Check the schedule for unique performances — ballet, modern dance, theater, and music — and be sure to see if one of BAM’s many in-conversation events with authors, actors, musicians, and other artists will be available during your visit.
Books Are Magic
Address: 225 Smith St., Brooklyn, NY 11231
Phone: (718) 246-2665
Owned by celebrated author Emma Straub, Books Are Magic is a store for book lovers. Aesthetically, it looks like the inside of someone’s imagination, with high ceilings, a spare pastel color palette, and lots of greenery. Books Are Magic hosts frequent events with established and up-and-coming authors. Enjoy a talk during your visit, and grab a few books (or just hang out in the reading nook) while you’re at it.
Address: Start at Atlantic Ave. and head south
Charming Smith Street, and Court Street one block over, are the boutique shopping heart of southwest Brooklyn. Home to locally owned gift shops; book, shoe, and clothing stores; and all the coffee shops and food you could ask for, you could easily spend a day walking up and down Smith Street without getting bored.
Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store
Address: 232 5th Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11215
Phone: (718) 522-9848
An adorable gift shop owned and operated by women, Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store in Park Slope is the perfect place to grab unique souvenirs for yourself and your loved ones. It truly is a general store: Toys, jewelry, art supplies, bags, T-shirts, mugs, bath supplies, and household supplies are all available at Annie’s.
The Shops at City Point
Address: 445 Albee Square West, Brooklyn, NY 11201
For a collection of shops both big and small, head to City Point. A few chains, like Target, Century 21, and MAC, are featured in the building, but there are several boutique options as well, in addition to rotating themed marketplaces for local vendors most weekends.
Address: 686 Fulton St., Brooklyn, NY 11217
Phone: (718) 246-0200
Another locally owned bookstore, Greenlight is historic and famous for its frequent signings and exclusive events. A must-see for any book lover, Greenlight is small but densely packed with books new and old.
Out of the Closet
Address: 475 Atlantic Ave., 2nd Fl., Brooklyn, NY 11217
Phone: (718) 637-2955
A thrift shop that provides community service in the form of free HIV testing and counseling, Out of the Closet is an LGBTQ+ nonprofit in a bubblegum-pink building with some truly spectacular finds. Shop here knowing your money is going to a great cause.
Brooklyn Women’s Exchange, Inc.
Address: 55 Pierrepont St., Brooklyn, NY 11201
Phone: (718) 624-3435
Founded in 1854, the Brooklyn Women’s Exchange is a not-for-profit arts and handcrafts exchange featuring work from women local and beyond. Currently, they stock the work of 250 craftspeople across America, making this a great stop for a one-of-a-kind gift for yourself or a loved one.
Address: 490 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11211
Phone: (718) 383-3700
New York’s premiere plus-size boutique and the first store of its kind in Brooklyn is a must for any plus-size person looking to score some incredible Brooklyn fashion. With a collection curated by plus-size owner Alexis Krase, Plus Bklyn stocks a variety of hard-to-find new styles as well as plus-size vintage clothing.
While you’re in Williamsburg, don’t forgo shopping on Bedford Avenue — with the kitschy Mini-Mall, iconic jewelry store Catbird, and many other quirky boutiques steps away from each other along Bedford Avenue, you might want to take a second suitcase just for all of your shopping.
Neighborhoods to Know
Williamsburg: While its hipster reputation may be earned, Williamsburg is host to an avalanche of delicious restaurants across a host of price points, unique shopping, and some truly iconic tourist attractions. With its panoramic view of the Manhattan skyline along the river and its easy access to lower Manhattan and Union Square, it's easy to see why Williamsburg is a favorite Brooklyn destination.
Greenpoint: Nestled between Queens and Williamsburg is Greenpoint, an up-and-coming neighborhood boasting two parks and a Rite Aid that was once a roller rink and still has the disco ball to prove it. Eclectic and fun, Greenpoint is a vibrant mix of young and old, with trendy restaurants popping up next to decades-old neighborhood institutions.
Park Slope: If you're looking for a classic Brooklyn brownstone experience a stone's throw from beautiful Prospect Park, visit Park Slope. Family-oriented and quiet with lush, ivy-covered brownstones, Park Slope has been featured in many movies and TV shows as a gorgeous Brooklyn backdrop.
DUMBO: Just across the Manhattan Bridge is DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass — get it?), home to a historic waterfront and the first stop for anyone looking to explore South Brooklyn. With its combination of towering high-rises and old-Brooklyn charm, DUMBO has a little of everything, and the view can't be beat.
Cobble Hill: Scenic and cute, Cobble Hill is a hidden gem of Brooklyn with great coffee and a relaxing atmosphere. Retire here between more crowded destinations for a rejuvenating break in the small local park. Cobble Hill is also a favorite neighborhood for celebs who are somewhat over SoHo, and it features some of the coziest and most chic bars and restaurants in the city.
Crown Heights: Home to the Brooklyn Children's Museum and an easy walk from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Crown Heights is the neighborhood to be in for incredible Ethiopian, Sudanese, and Indian food, as well as fantastic nightlife.
Brooklyn, like much of the East Coast, is subject to fickle weather in spring and fall and occasional extremes in winter and summer. Rain is common between March and May and September and November, and temperatures often break 90°F in July and August. Winter is a little less predictable — but Brooklyn's handling of snow is different than Manhattan's, and it'd be well worth packing some waterproof boots if you plan to travel to Brooklyn in the winter with snow in the forecast.
The following are average Fahrenheit lows and highs by season.
Winter: 27° to 42°F
Spring: 35°F to 70°F
Summer: 64°F to 85°F
Fall: 42°F to 76°
Apps to Download
Ask Brooklyn Museum: Start a conversation with art historians and experts or find information about works on view