Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is one of New York’s most beloved pastimes, a favorite for tourists and native New Yorkers alike. Pedestrians and bicyclists share a dedicated walkway above the car traffic, offering a relaxed space to take photos and enjoy the Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan skylines.
Now that you’ve walked all the way across the East River, we hope you’re not thinking of just turning around to trek back to Manhattan, or heading straight for the subway. You’ve reached Brooklyn! This is where it’s all happening!
Instead, take the first Brooklyn exit — the stairs down to Washington Street — and spend a few hours in Dumbo, one of Brooklyn’s most vibrant and scenic neighborhoods. Check out the views from Brooklyn Bridge Park, eat some world-famous Brooklyn pizza, shop in upscale boutiques…you may not want to go back to Manhattan!
Read on for the top things to do while you’re here.
The Brooklyn Bridge exit onto Washington Street is just two blocks away from Front Street, Dumbo’s main commercial drag. (Dumbo, by the way, stands for “Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass.”) Once a primarily industrial neighborhood, Dumbo went through massive changes in the past few decades, its abundant loft spaces attracting first artists, then startups and real estate developers. Its upscale residents have attracted a variety of hip clothing boutiques, design stores, and bookstores. Most of Dumbo’s shops can be found in a four-block area bounded by Front, Jay, Water, and Main Streets.
Or maybe you’re more into clothes. Dumbo offers a number of high-end clothing stores, including up-and-coming local boutiques. Nos is a boutique that offers hip, reasonably priced fashion for men and women, and is a favorite of local fashion junkies.
Right next to each other on Washington Street are the kids store Half Pint Citizens and the paper/gift shop Dabney Lee (which, when we visited had an adorable Boston Terrier minding the shop with her owner.)
Half Pint Citizens, displaying Brooklyn Posters
The real charm of Dumbo is in its architecture, and its views of the Manhattan skyline. Take some time to walk through Dumbo’s Historic District, bounded by John Street to the north, York Street to the south, Main Street to the west and Bridge Street to the east. The old manufacturing warehouses are well preserved, now mostly used as loft housing and office space. Dumbo also boasts original cobblestone streets, many of them carrying the remnants of the freight train tracks that carried good from factories during the first half of the 20th century.
Dumbo | mr.rayburn via Flickr
>> These Brooklyn guidebooks will help you find and choose among the most and least well known things to do and see in Brooklyn. Not even natives can be expected to keep up with all the changes happening in Brooklyn! The Best Brooklyn Guidebooks for Tourists <<
For those famous Manhattan skyline views, head straight to the waterfront. The newly developed Brooklyn Bridge Park offers green space with spectacular views — you’ll want to bring your camera for this, and maybe even a picnic. The historic Tobacco Warehouses also line the waterfront. These long-abandoned brick structures are now being renovated into commercial space.
Brooklyn Bridge Park | Wally Gobetz via Flickr
Brooklyn Bridge Park offers tons of activities for kids and adults alike. Pier 1 alone, just south of the Brooklyn Bridge, offers a playground, concessions such as Brooklyn Bridge Wine Bar and Blue Marble Ice Cream, bicycle rentals, and free boating. Be sure to check out their calendar for special events happening throughout the year (like the Brooklyn Kite Festival!)
Map of Brooklyn Bridge Park (for full interactive map, click here)
On the waterfront between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges is Jane’s Carousel, which you’ll want to check out if you have kids. The historic carousel is enclosed in glass, a particularly dramatic design right against the skyline, and a ride costs $2.
Jane’s Carousel | Wally Gobetz via Flickr
Pizza lovers and Brooklyn Bridge-walking tourists famously line up at Grimaldi’s Pizza for the delicious pies. You’ve been warned: Grimaldi’s accepts cash only, does not sell slices, and that wait can get long. (If you’re not in the mood to wait, Juliana’s offers a great pie just down the block.) Another famous spot in Dumbo is the River Cafe, which you may recognize from the movies that have been shot there. Its floating-barge dining room offers high-end dining with breathtaking views of Manhattan. Also in this area, right by the ferry stop, is the über-charming Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, located in an old fireboat house on the waterfront.
Grimaldi’s | Gene Krasko via Flickr
If you’re looking for a less hectic dining experience, check out the American bistro menu and beer and cocktail selection at Superfine on Jay Street.
If your hankering for something south of the border, Gran Electrica is an authentic Mexican restaurant with local, sustainable ingredients and a killer tequila selection. You may not want to leave.
Tacos at Gran Electrica
And now it’s time to talk about the sweeter things in life! For a to-die-for croissant (and a nice selection of soups, sandwiches and pastries) visit Almondine, or stop in for a rich treat at Jacques Torres Chocolate. One Girl Cookies offers a delicious selection of cupcakes, cookies, and whoopie pies.
One Girl Cookies
You’re going to need some high-test caffeine to combat that sugar coma, so top it all off with an excellent cup of coffee from Brooklyn Roasting Company.
Brooklyn Roasting Company
So you’ve spent a lovely afternoon in Dumbo, and now it’s time to say goodbye. Or is it? Have you checked out the neighboring Brooklyn Heights yet? It’s a gorgeous neighborhood that will make you feel like you’re walking in another era of New York, and the views from the Promenade have been known to inspire tears, group photos, and wedding proposals. Or maybe you want to check out the nearby Vinegar Hill and have dinner at Vinegar Hill House, one of the most highly rated restaurants in Brooklyn. There’s still so much to do!
The Brooklyn Promenade awaits… | Rian Castillo via Flickr
Of course, you can walk right back across the Brooklyn Bridge into Lower Manhattan. You can also catch the F train on the corner of York Street and Jay Street, or the A/C trains off of Cadman Plaza East, on Adams Street. A more unique way to leave is on the East River Ferry, which will pick you up at Old Fulton and Furman Streets and make stops in Manhattan, Governors Island, and other spots along the Brooklyn waterfront. (If it’s summer, you should absolutely take the ferry to Williamsburg and check out Smorgasburg. Trust us.)
Either way, we hope you come back soon… there’s a lot to see in Brooklyn, and you’ve barely scratched the surface.