Things to Do in Williamsburg Brooklyn

Updated: August 27, 2023

This post covers 13 great things to see and do in Williamsburg, Brooklyn today, tomorrow, or any day.

We include where to see great street art, get stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, eat fantastic food, see concerts, shop vintage, dance, drink, and more! 

We also share a half-day itinerary so you can make the most of the time you have in Williamsburg.


WHERE IS WILLIAMSBURG BROOKLYN?

Williamsburg is reached easily by subway, ferry, bike, and even on foot. Use this link to Google Maps to get directions from your point of departure.

The L train runs through the heart of Williamsburg.

Williamsburg Map

You can catch it in Manhattan along 14th Street.

Get off at Bedford Avenue if you want to be at the epicenter of the neighborhood.


Subway 

  • L Train to Bedford Avenue or Metropolitan Avenue
  • G Train to Metropolitan Avenue

Check out our helpful guides to navigating the New York subway system and which MetroCard to buy.


Ferry 

The NY Ferry has a stop in Williamsburg at North 6th Street. Read our post on NYC ferries for more information.

East River Ferry

On Foot or Bike

Many people walk or bike over the Williamsburg Bridge. The entrance to the bridge is Lower Manhattan on the Lower East Side

It is an easy walk, and although it is noisy due to the subway line that runs on the bridge, the views of the harbor, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge are outstanding.

If you want to cycle over you can use a Citi Bike, the NYC bike share program, or find out about renting a bike here.


TOP ATTRACTIONS AND BEST PLACES TO GO IN WILLIAMSBURG

Williamsburg is known as a hotbed of 'hipsters'.  But there were a lot of holdovers from the days before Williamsburg was gentrified. 

You'll find artists, bohemians, locals with Latino heritage, and an enclave of Hasidic Jews on the southern border.

It is true that it's trendy and can be a bit of a scene. Those who like that vibe will love it here.

Even if you prefer a low-key vibe, that's fine too! You can stroll the streets admiring mural art, dine on scrumptious food, and get jaw-dropping free skyline views.

No matter what you are into, a visit to Williamsburg is worth it if you want to experience NYC like a local.

Here are 13 of the best things to do in Williamsburg.


1. See Great Street Art

Brooklyn is known worldwide for its street art and Williamsburg has quite a lot of the best murals.

One location to check out is the corner of Bedford Ave. and North 9th Street. Also, you may find some excellent works on Moore Street and Wythe Avenue.

Williamsburg Street Art Mural

Read about other places to see street art and graffiti in Brooklyn.

To see murals by world-famous street artists in NYC, join our pay-what-you-like street art and graffiti tours.


2. Get Stunning Free Skyline Views of

Head to a Williamsburg waterfront park for great views of Midtown Manhattan and the East River.

Marsha P. Johnson State Park (formerly East River State Park) is one of the neighborhood's bigger green spaces and a lovely place to have a picnic.

The views are priceless but will cost you nothing! Read about other free NYC skyline views.

Domino Park

Domino Park, the site of the former Domino Sugar refinery, is smaller but has fun activities like beach volleyball.

There's a playground, which is perfect if you are traveling with kids. Traveling with Fido? There's even a dog run!

TIP: In 2023, Macy's announced that both these parks would be official viewing locations for the Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular! Here's hoping it stays that way for a long time.


3. Eat at Smorgasburg

Smorgasburg is a top destination in Williamsburg and each weekend somewhere between 20,000-30,000 locals and tourists attend this food market.

With over 100 local food vendors selling cuisine with innovative twists, attending Smorgasburg is a super way to spend an afternoon - and admission is free!

In the warmer months (April - September), it is held on Saturdays at the Marsha P. Johnson State Park, at 90 Kent Ave. (at N. 7 St.). 

In the winter (October- March) it is held on both Saturday and Sunday, 10 am - 6 pm, at 25 Kent Ave. on the 8th Floor.

They have a small satellite location at the plaza outside the Oculus in the World Trade Center on Fridays. 


4. Relax in McCarren Park

McCarren Park is a focal point of the neighborhood with plenty of things to do all year long. 

The park has baseball and softball fields, two dog parks, and a Greenmarket on Saturdays. In summer, the park hosts a series called Summerscreen.

At Summerscreen, fun cult movies are shown for free, and there is live music beforehand. Also, the park has a large swimming pool open in the summer.

Read more about the series and others in our Summer Guide to NYC.


5. Have a drink at a rooftop bar

For phenomenal nighttime views of the Manhattan skyline, you can't do much better than one of Williamsburg’s rooftop bars.

Two of the best are in hotels. The Ides is on the 6th floor of the Wythe Hotel and Westlight is on the 22nd floor of the William Vale Hotel.

View of the Williamsburg Bridge at night

The first two of these hotels are boutique hotels and not cheap, but certainly less expensive than some of the upscale hotels in Manhattan and more chilled out!


6. Enjoy the Nightlife

People from all over New York City come to this neighborhood for its nightlife, bars, and dance clubs.

The bar scene is endless. From wine bars to cocktail lounges, dive bars to craft breweries, it’s hard to choose. 

You can find a watering hole to suit your style from this list of best bars in Williamsburg from The Infatuation.

For dancing, take a look at this list of dance clubs in Williamsburg

You can find other nightlife suggestions from our post on things to do at night in New York City.


7. Take a Free Brewery Tour 

In the past few decades, Brooklyn has been at the forefront of the development of craft beers.

The Brooklyn Brewery was ahead of the pack when it opened in 1988.

The Brewery's unique beers can be found in at least 25 states and in 20 different countries!

They offer a free tour of the brewery every half hour from 1 pm-5 pm on Saturdays and from 1 pm-4 pm on Sundays.  

The tours are first-come, first-serve- no reservations necessary. Click here for more information.

For more free and budget-friendly activities, see our post on what to do in NYC for free.


8. Shop for Vintage Clothing

Williamsburg is known for its vintage stores. Just a few to go to are Amarcord, Awoke Vintageund 10 Ft Single by Stella Dallas.

For second-hand shops, head to Beacon’s Closet at 74 Guernsey St. and Crossroads Trading at 135 N. 7th St.


9. Visit a One-of-a-Kind Museum

This City Reliquary Museum is a small, somewhat quirky, but very interesting museum that highlights New York City’s past.

Here you can see a permanent display of New York City artifacts and rotating exhibits. They host cultural events as well. 

The City Reliquary is located at 370 Metropolitan Ave. Its hours are Thurs - Sun, 12 pm- 6 pm. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.

  • General Admission $7
  • College Students, Educators, and Seniors: $5
  • Children 12 & Under Are Free

10. Take a Walking Tour

There are a number of tours of Williamsburg including walking tours, food tours, street art tours, and bike tours. 

Here are two well-regarded tours:

Williamsburg Walking Tour

This 2-hour walking tour offers an overview of the neighborhood.

Your guide will cover the history and culture of Williamsburg while taking you to see some of the most notable sights.

You’ll see vibrant street art, the spectacular waterfront, boutique-filled hipster streets and more. 

Tour Details:


Williamsburg Food Tour

This 3-hour tour introduces you to the sights and tastes of the neighborhood. 

You will sample 6 different foods, including some of the best pizza in NYC!

In between tastings, your guide will share the history of the neighborhood while taking you to see the stunning waterfront, large-scale street art, and the ‘hipster’ scene.

Tour Details:

New York Walking Tours

11. Hear Live Music

Some of the best small music venues are in Williamsburg. They attract both top alternative bands as well as up-and-coming performers.

You can find shows every night of the week and at all price ranges, even free!

Williamsburg Live Music

Check out these venues for well-known bands:

For free music, head to Pete's Candy Store where you’ll see unknown and unsigned bands. Who knows? They may be the big stars of tomorrow, as is the case with many bands who have played there. 


12. Let your sweet tooth run wild

Everything on the menu is to die for at Martha’s Country Bakery. Have a slice of cake - they have 20 kinds, like Carrot, Red Velvet, and Chocolate Mousse. 

They also have 10 kinds of cheesecake, 21 flavors of cupcakes, 11 types of pies, cookies, gelato, strudel, the list goes on and on. 

Try their take on classic cookies: linzer tart, rugelach, ice box, and lace cookies. Wash it all down with a Cafe Au Lait, Dirty Chai, or a New York Cream!


13. Catch a flick at the Nitehawk Cinema 

The Nitehawk Cinema is a full dine-in movie theater showing films from an array of genres and serving up comfort food done right.

Take your pick from indies, blockbusters and the occasional cult classic shown at midnight. Settle in to watch your movie with your dinner at your seat.

The menu has small plates like Shrimp Cocktail and Waffle Fried Tenders. For a main, order their Mediterranean Tacos or the Fried Chicken Sandwich with pimento aioli and citrus slaw. 

See a matinee on the weekend before 3 pm and you can order from the brunch menu which includes a one-of-a-kind dish of whipped egg white pancakes, Fruity Pebbles (yes, the kids’ cereal), black sesame syrup and whipped cream.


Half-day Itinerary for Williamsburg

Here’s an itinerary that will take you two-three hours, and can be enjoyed in the mornings and afternoons. 

It can easily be extended into an evening out. We noted on the map where some local music venues and movie theaters are.

If you can swing it, go on a weekend day, but that’s not to say there’s nothing going on in Williamsburg every day of the week!

There are loads of great restaurants, unique shops, excellent street art, and spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline. 

While the destinations are wonderful, strolling the neighborhood and soaking in the vibe is enjoyable as well.


Getting here

The itinerary starts at the Bedford Avenue L train subway station (See directions above).

Once you exit at Bedford Avenue, you will be in the heart of Williamsburg. 

Click on the map to make it larger.

1. Bedford Avenue

Stroll south on Bedford (against the traffic) to get a feel for the neighborhood along its “main street”.

If you haven't eaten breakfast yet, grab a bagel at Bagelsmith (189 Bedford Ave) or a doughnut at the phenomenal Doughnut Plant (198 Bedford Ave).

When you get to Metropolitan Avenue, turn left and walk down one block to Driggs Avenue. Turn left and head north (against the flow of traffic).

Walk along Driggs Avenue for ten blocks and do some window shopping along the way. 

If you are looking for “gently used” contemporary clothes (as opposed to vintage clothes), Buffalo Exchange at 504 Driggs is a great stop.

2. McCarren Park

When you reach McCarren Park, head on in. Walk around and sit on a bench for a bit. There’s a dog run that’s always fun to watch. 

On Saturdays, there is a green market with fresh produce, meats, cheese, and more sourced locally from upstate New York or Long Island.

Sometimes there are special events like book sales. Check the schedule here.

When you are done in the park, head back in the direction you entered. 

Use the map provided and walk one block along North 12th Street, to Bedford Avenue. 

Head south on Bedford, against the traffic flow.

3. Kobra mural 

At the corner of Bedford Avenue and North 9th Street, you can see the famous mural of Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat painted by Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra.

If you want to see more street art, North 6th Street between Bedford and Kent Avenues is a good stretch to see some.

For street art aficionados, check out these pay-what-you-like street art and graffiti tours.

4. North 6th Street

For three blocks as you walk toward the river, do some window shopping. Keep your eyes out for street art murals that pop up from time to time.

If you want to wander the surrounding streets, go ahead. But don’t stray too far, as the next stop is a waterfront park with a jaw-dropping view.

5. Marsha P. Johnson State Park

This popular park is the perfect place to sit and watch the water and, of course, take pictures of the Manhattan skyline.

On the weekends from April to September, sample great local food at Smorgasburg

6. Head back to Manhattan

If you are ready to head back to Manhattan, you can hop on the East River Ferry next to the park. Read more about the NY Ferry.

Feeling adventurous? Walk over the Williamsburg Bridge. The entry to the pedestrian path to the bridge is #8 on the map. 

When you cross the bridge you’ll be in the Lower East Side, another great neighborhood to visit.

Not ready to wrap up your time in Williamsburg?

If you want to stay for some after-dark fun, have a sunset cocktail at a rooftop bar.

Hear live music, go dancing, or have dinner and watch a movie at the same time!


RELATED POSTS

About The Author

Courtney Shapiro

Courtney is a lifelong New Yorker fascinated with the city’s history, culture and cuisine. She loves exploring the world, as well as sharing her travel expertise with others. She joined the Free Tours by Foot team in 2011, first as a guide and then as a writer. She has a law degree, a teaching degree and a worn-out passport. Her motto is “Have backpack, will travel”.
Updated: August 27th, 2023
Back to Top
cross