| New York City

Top 14 Things to Do in Brooklyn

How to get the full New York experience.

Each year, millions of tourists visit New York, enamored in by the allure of the city life, culture, and world-renowned tourist attractions. While there are several sites to explore within NYC, there is so much to see and do outside of Manhattan. For a full New York experience, be sure to visit the outer boroughs, and explore some of the lesser-known attractions. The sights in Brooklyn are just as amazing as those in Manhattan, and often, seriously underrated.

Here are the top 15 things to do in Brooklyn, according to a native New Yorker:

Best Organized Events:

While it can be fun to wander around from place to place, there are so many seasonal events that make for memorable afternoons.

1. Best Independent Art: Brooklyn Film Festival
This festival, organized by the Brooklyn Film Society, is an annual celebration of film and culture. Independent filmmakers enter their work into the competition, and you can check out the schedule of events to pick some out to watch in person.

2. Best Cultural Event: The Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra at the Brooklyn Museum
In addition to its regular exhibits, the Brooklyn Museum hosts events where guests can listen to the musical styling of the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra, followed by an art and music based tour.

3. Best Group Activity: Prospect Park Concerts
During the summer, Prospect Park hosts the Celebrate Brooklyn! Concert series. The series started in 1979, and each year, you can buy tickets to see famous bands play in the beautiful, historical park.

Best Food Spots:

There are far too many to choose just one! Brooklyn has a serious brunch and foodie culture going on; and if there’s anything New Yorkers like more than a Sunday brunch, it’s having multiple restaurants in your regular rotation.

4. Best Local Café: Le Petit Café
If you love ambiance as much as you love breakfast, Le Petit Café in Carroll Gardens is the place for you. Patrons can eat while nestled beneath trees. The entire café feels like the great indoors.

5. Best Hidden Gem: House of Small Wonder
If you aren’t looking to find the House of Small Wonder, you’ll definitely walk right past. This restaurant prides itself on being hidden from plain sight, and its delicious croissant French toast.

carine alexis little house of wonder croissant french toast image


6. Best Comfort Food: Black Swan Pub
If you like craft beer and burgers, Black Swan is the place for you. This rustic pub on Bedford Avenue serves craft beer from all over the world, and offers some local favorites, as well.

7. Best Place for a Sweet Treat: Dough Brooklyn
Dough Brooklyn has stolen the hearts of countless New Yorkers because of their delicious, gourmet doughnuts. If you eat at a coffee shop in or near Bed-Stuy, chances are that you’ll be able to pick one up; but it’s always great to pick up a dozen straight from the source.

8. Best Drink Menu: Five Leaves
What’s a brunch spot without an impressive cocktail menu? Five Leaves proves that variety is the spice of life, with 18 cocktails to pair with your ricotta pancakes.

9. Best Food Festival: Smorgasburg
What do you do when you can’t choose which popular Brooklyn restaurant to try first? You visit Smorgasburg, the outdoor food market that features some of the best and most eclectic cuisine from restaurants around the city.

Best Places to Shop:

When visiting Brooklyn, try not to waste too much time looking for a mall or a large shopping center. The best places to shop can often be small, privately owned shops rather than big name brands.

10. Best Marketplace: Artists & Fleas
If you like thrift shopping, or buying handmade products from artisans, be sure to check out Artists & Fleas for everything from home decors to jewelry and clothing. This marketplace is indoors, so you can shop there all year long unlike other, seasonal markets.

11. Best Street for Shopping: Court Street in Cobble Hill
When shopping in Brooklyn, finding a busy commercial street is usually the best way to find special pieces. Court Street is full of quirky boutiques, with unique pieces; and is only a short trip away from the Fulton Street Mall, where you can find some of your favorite brands and their outlet stores.

Best Outdoor Activities:

While Brooklyn is a part of a big metropolitan areas, there are still several beautiful outdoor sites to visit. Check out some of these favorites to take a little break from the bustle of city life.

12. Best Greenery: Brooklyn Botanical Gardens
The Botanical Gardens are a little slice of tranquility within the borough. You can visit during their annual Sakura Matsuri festival in the spring to see the beautiful cherry blossom trees in full bloom, and celebrate Japanese culture; or stop by in the fall for the Chile Pepper and Ghouls and Gourds festivals.

13. Best Photo Op: Brooklyn Bridge
Walking the Brooklyn Bridge is probably one of the most common suggestions on this roundup, but it just couldn’t be left out. You can either walk or rent a bike to cycle across the historic landmark to see stunning views. Be sure to explore the Brooklyn Bridge Park to enjoy stunning architecture and street art, as well as the South Street Seaport on the Manhattan side.

carine alexis dumbo brooklyn image
14. Best Outdoor Adventure: Coney Island
Growing up in south Brooklyn meant spending summer after summer visiting Coney Island with family. Throughout this time, Coney Island has only gotten better. After its recent restoration, the historical park is now once again the crown jewel of amusement parks.

Top 14 Things to Do in Brooklyn

Carine Alexis

St. John's University | 7 stories

Carine Alexis is a senior at St. John's University, majoring in Communications with a double minor in International Studies and Business. She has loved to travel ever since her first study abroad trip in high school; and has found every way to travel on a college budget, since then. Carine is also an avid reader, crafter, and cream soda enthusiast.

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