5 Unmissable Things to Do in Brooklyn for First-Timers
A trip to New York City isn’t complete until you’ve visited all the boroughs, aside from Manhattan – including Brooklyn! Brooklyn is a fantastic place with historic neighborhoods and great architecture, a vast array of restaurants and bars, and spots that offer amazing views of the Manhattan skyline. It’s also home to classic tourist attractions, such as Coney Island.
There is much to do in Brooklyn that a day isn’t enough. It’s best to spread out your visit over a few days to really get a feel of what this place has to offer. To help you plan your itinerary, here we’ve compiled a list of best things to do in Brooklyn, NY.
- Plan your itinerary depending on how long you’ll be staying at in Brooklyn! If it’s just 1-2 days, the best way to go about it is to plan your schedule around where you’re staying at. There’s a good mix of budget and luxury hotels in Brooklyn (such as the Williamsburg Hotel) and it’s often cheaper than those in Manhattan.
- For the best deals, compare rates for accommodations using sites such as cozycozy.
- The best way to get around New York is by subway, bus, and walking. But if you want to explore more out-of-the-way places, it’s easy to find rental car services that are budget-friendly.
1. Visit Coney Island
Approximately 5 million people visit Coney Island each year to hit the beach and its boardwalk, take a bite of hotdog and fries at the famous Nathan’s, or pay for a ticket to the Luna Park – New York City’s only amusement park, with classic rides such as the Wonder Wheel, rollercoaster, and more.
Aside from these, another place to see here is the New York Aquarium, the oldest operating aquarium in the city, which features various exhibits and more than 300 marine species.
Coney Island is a great place to visit especially during summer. Make sure to get here early to get the nice shade spots and expect crowds, particularly on holidays such as the 4th of July where you can witness a grand fireworks display.
2. Walk on the Brooklyn Bridge
Take a walk on the Brooklyn Bridge for a view of the skyline in Manhattan. Proceed to one of the spots that offer the best views: Brooklyn Bridge Park, Dumbo, or the Promenade which is located in Brooklyn Heights.
3. Take a nature trip at Brooklyn Botanic Gardens
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a 52-acre estate with 15 gardens and a conservatory, featuring over 14,000 taxa of plants.
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden can be visited all year round, though each season also has its special highlights. In spring, you can explore the Cherry Esplanade where you can see cherry blossoms from more than 40 Asian species. It’s a great opportunity especially for those who’d like to see these pink blooms outside of Japan, Korea, or Taiwan. Another exhibit during this season is the Japanese Hill and Pond Garden, which offers a zen experience to guests.
If you visit in the summer, you can catch the floral blooms at the Crawford Rose Garden. In winter, the Desert Pavilion offers a glimpse of plant life on warmer climates.
Aside from the seasonal exhibits, the garden also holds annual events such as the Sakura Matsuri in April and Chili Peper Festival in September.
4. Visit Brooklyn Museum
If you’re a fan of the culture and arts, then you should definitely see the Brooklyn Museum. It’s often said to rival that of Met’s in Manhattan. This art establishment spans 560,000 square foot – the third largest museum in New York City – and is most known for its huge collection of Egyptian and African art, as well as 17th to 20th century paintings, sculptures, and other artifacts.
The Brooklyn Museum can be visited anytime of the year. It’s also a good activity to include in your itinerary on a rainy day.
5. Enjoy a lazy day at Prospect Park
Situated close to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Brooklyn Museum, Prospect Park is a 585-acre green space where you can relax, hang out and read a book, or have a picnic. You can also visit the park’s main attractions.
The Prospect Park Zoo is operated by the Wildlife Conservation Society and is home to about 200 species of animals, both indoors and outdoors. The Prospect Park Lake is good place to rent a boat or kayak, especially during summers. There is also a number of historical buildings and sites you can visit, including the Prospect House BoatHouse, Lefferts Historic House, Lichfield Villa, The Well House, and the Grand Army Plaza.
In summer, the park also hosts free music festivals at the Prospect Park Bandshell.
With this list, we are just scratching the surface! There are tons more things to do and places to see in Brooklyn.
Did we miss anything? What are your recommended things to do in Brooklyn, NY?
Katherine Cortes is a 30-something freelance writer/editor. She likes beaches, snorkeling trips, and relaxing staycations (preferably with bath tubs!).