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What to Do In Brooklyn Today

Updated: April 9, 2024

This post covers the best things to do in Brooklyn today, tonight, tomorrow, or anytime.

We include free, nighttime, as well as family-friendly activities.

So, we know a thing or two about Brooklyn. Firstly, we lead walking tours here every day.

Secondly, many of our tour guides live in Brooklyn, some of whom were also born and raised here. They all helped create this post.

And lastly, in addition to showing thousands of visitors a week, we also run the popular NYC Travel Tips Facebook group.

We asked our roughly 200k members to share their tips for things to do in Brooklyn. We used some of their suggestions for this post.

The group consists of locals (like our tour guides), veteran visitors, as well as newbies to NYC.

And you don't need to be a member of the group to read the posts, comments, and recommendations.

So, check out our group once you have finished reading this post.


TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN BROOKLYN

Below is our list of the top 10 things to do in Brooklyn. 

Find out what specifically in Brooklyn is included in these passes and other concessionary opportunities


Walk the Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge is great to walk over day or night.

You’ll get an incredible view of the Manhattan skyline, and the Brooklyn shoreline, and off in the distance, you can even see the Statue of Liberty.

Read our guide to walking the bridge, with tips on where to find the entrance to the pedestrian walkway as well as what you will see from the bridge.

We also have a GPS-enabled audio tour to enhance your visit. It costs just $2.99/download.

Here's a sample.

We offer 2 Brooklyn Bridge pay-what-you-wish walking tours of the Brooklyn Bridge, which you can see in the next listing.


Take a Sightseeing Tour

The best way to explore Brooklyn is on a guided tour. There are dozens of tours, including walking, biking, and bus tours during the day and night!

Here is a 50-minute video tour, a condensed version of our live tour of DUMBO.

Click here to find out what’s available.

We have several pay-what-you-wish walking tours and perfect for any budget.  

Our tours include:

We also have GPS audio tours and free printable self-guided tours of several neighborhoods in Brooklyn. 

TIP: If you’re looking for a tour that will take you all over town, consider a Brooklyn Hop-on-Hop-off Bus Tour instead.


Attend a Concert

The most famous musicians in the world are drawn to performing in Brooklyn, which is why there are often hundreds of great concerts to see in the area throughout the year. 

Several great venues in Brooklyn typically host at least a few big performances each month.

The largest is the Barclays Center which hosts the biggest stars of today.

Here are a few other popular places to see a concert:

For more information about which musical performances will be held during your trip to Brooklyn, check out this list of concerts in Brooklyn.


See Great Street Art + Graffiti

Brooklyn is one of the world’s best neighborhoods in the world to see street art and murals by renowned artists.

A visit to the Bushwick Collective Street Art Gallery will give you a great feel for the street art scene in Brooklyn.

Guided tours take you straight to the best and latest works and you will learn about this form of art as well from an actual street artist.

We offer a pay-what-you-like Bushwick Graffiti and Street Art Tour. For other street art tour options, click here


Attend a Sports Event

There are a few professional sports teams whose home is in Brooklyn. At any time of the year, you can have one or more major sports events going on here. 

The Brooklyn Nets are a popular NBA team that performs at the Barclays Center each year from late Fall through early Summer. 

Also based in Barclays Center are the ice-hockey team, the Islanders. They play from the Fall into early Spring.

From the late Sring to early Fall, baseball fans can see the Brooklyn Cyclones – a minor league baseball team whose home is Coney Island.  


Although Broadway is in Manhattan, Brooklyn has a lot to offer when it comes to high-quality theater and musical performances. 

The Brooklyn Academy of Music opened in 1908 and has been putting on top-notch theatrical performances, musicals, operas, and more with A-list actors and production companies.

Far from being the only venue in town, you can find plenty of other entertainment.

Here are just a few of the best venues:


Head out to Coney Island

In the warm weather months, head to the famous Coney Island. This is a great place to bring the kids.

Stroll the boardwalk, enjoy the beach, or ride the famous Cyclone roller coaster at Luna Park

Be sure to grab a hot dog and fries at the world-famous Nathan's. See the Coney Island Walls murals.

In the summer, catch a concert at the Amphitheater. Go to the wacky Mermaid Parade held every June.

See our post on things to do in Coney Island for all the information you need to plan your visit. 


See the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

This gorgeous quiet oasis in NYC, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is closer for most to get to than the New York Botanical Garden (in the Bronx). 

Every April, they have their very popular Cherry Blossom Festival. 

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Be sure to visit the Japanese Hill and Pond Garden and the Cranford Rose Garden.

For those on a budget, the gardens are free before noon on Fridays. If you are traveling with children, it is always free for kids under 12.

Also, it is free for everyone on weekdays from December to February.  

Find out more from their website.


Visit the Brooklyn Museum

With a world-class collection of roughly 1.5 million works from almost every global culture dating back millennia, the Brooklyn Museum of Art rivals the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Brooklyn Museum

The museum is also known for its collection of paintings from the American colonial period and a small but impressive collection of works by modern American artists.

TIP: Though the ticket booth has the cost of admission, this is a “suggested donation”, meaning you can give whatever you like to gain entry. 

Find out more below in our Free Things to Do section. Also, see a long list of other free NYC museums here.


Use a Tourist Pass to Save Money

Most of the major New York tourist passes include several great activities you can enjoy in Brooklyn. 

While some of these services give you access to dozens of attractions for a short period of time, others allow you to pick only the activities you want, giving you up to a month to enjoy them.

Depending on which tourist pass you choose, you could save anywhere from 15% - 50% or more off general admission prices.

Here are a few of the more notable Brooklyn attractions included with various offer passes in New York:

Some of these passes may provide skip-the-line privileges at certain Brooklyn locations, allowing you to avoid waiting in the ticket line.

For more information about these opportunities, make sure to read our full post covering New York tourist passes.


THINGS TO DO AT NIGHT

Many of the activities included above in our top 10 section are great to do at night including taking our evening Brooklyn Bridge tour, visiting Coney Island, attending a concert, or sports event at the Barclays Center.

Below are some more ideas for things to do in Brooklyn at night. Many of them are free or inexpensive.

For ideas about things do to all over NYC at night, see our post on what to do at night in NYC


Stroll the Brooklyn Heights Promenade

The Brooklyn Heights Promenade promenade is located in Brooklyn Heights and runs along the East River just across from Lower Manhattan, offering a spectacular view of Manhattan's skyline.

The Promenade has benches, is never very crowded, and is a perfect place to relax and take in the beautiful views.

Make sure your camera or smartphone is fully charged. This is one location where you will want to take a lot of pictures.


Brooklyn Academy of Music

(BAM) is the oldest performing arts center in America, founded in 1891. It's located in the lively area of Fort Greene and is easy to get to.

They routinely draw some of the best productions, actors, and actresses and BAM also hosts the Mark Morris Dance Group.


St. Ann's Warehouse

Located in DUMBO in a 25,000 square foot pre-Civil War structure, St. Ann's is known for its innovative and cutting-edge productions such as an all-female Shakespeare troupe from London and avant-garde fare from Poland.

Some productions are suitable for children as well. 


Brooklyn Museum

The Brooklyn Museum is open late on Thursdays until 10 p.m. Though they do list an admission price, it is a suggested price so you can pay what you like.

You can also see cutting-edge art galleries in DUMBO, where over twenty galleries are spread throughout this hip, historic neighborhood.

If you do head to DUMBO, you might find our post, Things to do in DUMBO, helpful. 

And if you are wondering how the neighborhood got its name (no, it's not named after Disney's loveable elephant), read our post on What does the acronym DUMBO stand for?"


Dancing

Some of the best places to go dancing are located in Brooklyn. Many are in Williamsburg, a fun neighborhood to spend a night out in.

If you have only one night to spend in Brooklyn, Williamsburg is the place to go!

Find out about other nightlife from our post on things to do in Williamsburg.

They even have a family day on Sundays from noon to 6 pm!

Check out First Saturdays at the Brooklyn Museum, which takes place on the first Saturday of each month and is free from 5 pm-11 pm. It’s part art and part party.

Live bands, eclectic entertainment, and a cash bar make First Saturdays one of the most popular night events in Brooklyn.

Other dance clubs that we recommend are Bembe and Baby's All Right, both in Williamsburg. Bushwick also has a lively dance and music scene.

Here's a list of Brooklyn dance clubs and bars we recommend. Also, take a look at this list of dance clubs in Williamsburg


Grab a Drink with a Skyline View

Dozens of rooftop bars are open in the summer, some with incredible views. One favorite of ours is in DUMBO, called Buzz Bar.

Buzz Bar is right on the Fulton Ferry Landing which means the views of Lower Manhattan are unsurpassed.

You can enjoy fantastic live music, great food, and drinks. It's also a good place to grab food during the day.

They are open daily from 12 pm-10 pm. Note that it is CASH ONLY.

For a list of places to get great views in Brooklyn and all around the city, see our posts 10 Rooftop Bars with Great Views and Best New York Skyline Views


See a Free Outdoor Movie (Summer)

A favorite summer activity of New Yorkers is watching movies outdoors for free in select parks throughout the city. 

Brooklyn has some of the best series, and some come with incredible views of Manhattan.  Check these out: 

For a complete schedule of all city movie locations, see this free outdoor summer movie guide as well as our New York City summer guide.


Luna Park and Coney Island (Summer)

We love Coney Island, especially in the summer. At night, Luna Park's rides are lit up and colorful. 

There are plenty of bars open, some with live music. You can also catch a concert at the Amphitheater

Friday nights are fireworks nights! From late June until the Friday before Labor Day at 9:30 pm, a free fireworks display is set off on the beach.

A memorable summer night in NYC.

Our post, Things to do in Coney Island, can help you plan your visit. 


Live Music Outdoors (Summer) 

Brooklyn is THE place to catch live music all summer long, and most of it is free! 

The stand-out is Celebrate Brooklyn! at the Prospect Park Bandshell near Park Slope.

Most concerts are free and the line-ups are outstanding, with performers who could easily sell out a paid venue. 

Line-ups include bands like The National, Wilco, Beck, and lots of Latino, African and even classical music from around the world. Get more information here


Dyker Heights Christmas Lights (December)

Most people don't know that the best holiday decorations and Christmas lights are in the neighborhood of Dyker Heights in Brooklyn. 

For over 3 decades, residents in the neighborhood put up lavish, outlandish, and sometimes blinding holiday lights.

You will also find huge lawn ornaments and motorized displays. Dyker Heights has truly become a “must-see” for many people during the holidays.

One can visit on their own but the neighborhood is big and it is best to go with a guide who knows which are the best streets to visit. 

Take a look at our guided Dyker Heights Lights Tour which can take you straight to the best displays. 


FREE THINGS TO DO

In addition to walking the Brooklyn Bridge, seeing fantastic street art, or just strolling along the Coney Island Boardwalk (all listed in our Top 10 section above), Brooklyn has an endless number of really fun things to do for free. 

From world-class museums to boat rides offering stunning skyline views, you could keep yourself occupied for several days without busting your budget.

Below are some additional ideas. For hundreds of other free things to do in the city, check out our post on free things to do in NYC.  

Be sure to also check out our guide to NYC on a budget


Brooklyn Bridge Park

Located near Brooklyn Heights, the massive Brooklyn Bridge Park offers activities from rock climbing, roller skating, kayaking, and more.

There are multiple playgrounds and in the summer, there is even a pop-up pool.

Bring a blanket and some food for a picnic or enjoy food from the food vendors. Save the best for last: ice cream at Ample Hills Creamery. 

TIP: Our pay-what-you-like Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO Tour ends just by the park. 

You can also use our self-guided tour of DUMBO which includes the Park (and the ice cream!)


Explore Park Slope and Prospect Park

Home to authors and families living in lovely brownstones on tree-lined streets, Park Slope is the kind of neighborhood to enjoy a relaxing stroll and a meal. 

Prospect Park, designed by Calvert Vaux, who designed Central Park, is a leafy respite from the busy city.

Use our guide to Park Slope and Prospect Park to plan your excursion.



Take a Free Tour of Brooklyn Brewery

Brooklyn was at the forefront of the nationwide development of craft beers.

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

Their unique beers can be found in at least 25 states and 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. 


See Brooklyn from the Water

While this activity isn’t free, it’s pretty darn close.

The East River Ferry service, a commuter ferry line is a lot like the subway.

You board the ferry and get off at your destination.

One-way tickets cost $4 and include free transfers within the NYC Ferry system for up to 90 minutes once you start your one-way trip.

Ferries leave from Lower Manhattan and  Midtown Manhattan.

You can stay on for the whole ride and you’ll see some of Brooklyn’s neighborhoods as the ferry makes its Brooklyn stops.

You can also get off the ferry in any of those neighborhoods and go exploring. 

However, you cannot reboard (without buying another ticket) as it is not a hop-on-hop-off ferry.

TIP: For amazing views of the Southern Brooklyn waterfront from the Verrazano Bridge up to the Brooklyn Bridge, take the free Staten Island ferry


Take an Iconic Photo of the Manhattan Bridge

If this view looks familiar, that is because it is one of Brooklyn's most photographed locations.

This is the Manhattan Bridge, located in DUMBO and this view of the bridge has appeared in such movies as The Naked City (1948), The French Connection (1971), Serpico (1973), Once Upon a Time in America (1984), Scent of a Woman (1992), American Gangster (2007), The Dark Knight Rises (2012), The Amazing Spider-Man (2012).

We visit the spot on our Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn Heights, and DUMBO Tour.

The spot is also within walking distance from the end location of our Brooklyn Heights Tour.

Also, our self-guided tour of DUMBO explains how to get there and some tips on getting a great shot.  


Shop at Brooklyn Flea

From April through October on Sundays, you can shop at the trendy and eclectic flea market. 

There are vendors selling artisan crafts, handmade jewelry, vintage clothing, and all sorts of unique finds. 

Come with an appetite as there are also innovative and delicious food vendors!

Brooklyn Flea is located in DUMBO at 80 Front Street.


See the Beautiful Brooklyn Public Library

Located in Park Slope, the Brooklyn Public Library's Central Library is the main branch of the BPL system.  The Central Library is an impressive modernist-style building constructed in 1940, designed to resemble an open book. The building is a designated New York City landmark.

The Central Library’s 50-foot entry portico is flanked by massive pylons decorated with gold-leafed figures that represent the evolution of art and science. A decorative bronze screen above the doors has panels depicting notable characters in American writing.


Visit a Museum

Below are museums that are either always free or sell tickets but also allow entry if you give a suggested donation.


Brooklyn Museum

This beautiful Beaux-Arts structure, designed by McKim, Mead, and White, in 1895, is 560,000 square feet (170,688 m) making it the city's second-largest museum.

With a world-class collection of roughly 1.5 million works from almost every global culture dating back millennia, the Brooklyn museum rivals the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Their Egyptian, Asian, and African antiquities are exquisite as are their holdings of American paintings dating to Colonial times.

Their modern art collection contains works by American artists Edward Hopper, Jackson Pollack, Mark Rothko, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Norman Rockwell.

Though the ticket booth lists prices, the museum is technically free, as the ticket price is by suggested donation, meaning give whatever you would like to gain entry. 


Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS)

Founded in 1863, BHS is a museum, library, and educational center that preserves and encourages the study of Brooklyn's 400-year-long history and it houses the largest collection of Brooklyn historical documents in the United States.

Located in Brooklyn Heights, the building itself is remarkable, designed by architect George B. Post, who also designed the New York Stock Exchange.

See Brooklyn Historical Society for information.

Our Brooklyn Heights Tour includes a stop at BHS. Ticket prices are posted but BHS is free as the ticket prices are a suggested donation”.


Water Front Museum

Located in Red Hook, this is a floating museum housed on the historic 1914 Lehigh Valley Barge #79, the last wooden barge of its kind.

It is so historic that it is even listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

It also has great views of the Statue of Liberty. Free tours are given every Thursday 4-8 pm and Saturday 1-5 pm. 


The Old Stone House 

Located in Park Slope, this historic house had a significant role in the American Revolutionary War.

In modern times, it was the Brooklyn Dodgers’ original clubhouse for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The Old Stone House is always free. Open Friday 3-6 pm, Saturday & Sunday, 11 am to 4 pm.


BLDG 92 Brooklyn Navy Yard

Located in the Brooklyn Navy Yard just east of DUMBO.

The museum showcases the history of the Brooklyn Navy Yard which opened in 1801 and was one of America's first naval shipyards.

BLDG 92 is always free and open Wednesday through Sunday from 12 pm to 6 pm.


See Historic Green-Wood Cemetery  

In the neighborhood of Sunset Park is the historic Green-Wood Cemetery.

Opened in 1838, Green-Wood is the final resting place of over two centuries worth of influential Americans whose contributions changed the world as well as thousands of New Yorkers who were killed in the Civil War.

Green-wood is 478 acres and is one of the most beautiful green spaces in Brooklyn, located atop a large hill with an excellent view of the harbor and the Statue of Liberty. 


Enjoy the Great Outdoors in Marine Park

This is Brooklyn’s largest park located in Southeast Brooklyn, in the neighborhood of the same name. Marine Park is 530 acres of protected landscape consisting of grassland and precious salt marsh. 

It’s a destination for both nature lovers and those seeking relaxation and recreation. The park has a golf course, bocce courts, cricket fields, playgrounds, and a launch site for canoes and kayaks.


Bike the Brooklyn Greenway

The Brooklyn Greenway, which is only partially completed as of 2024, will be a 26-mile landscaped route for pedestrians, cyclists, and runners. The path will mostly run along the East River waterfront from Greenpoint in North Brooklyn and Bay Ridge in south Brooklyn. 

Segments that have been completed and can be used are from Greenpoint to Williamsburg, from Brooklyn Bridge to Red Hook, and Bay Ridge to Bath Beach. See the Greenway Map to follow the greenway’s progress.


Brooklyn Center for Performing Arts

Located on the Brooklyn College campus in Flatbush, the 2,400-seat Walt Whitman Theatre hosts concerts including classical music and other arts events. 


Brooklyn Conservancy of Music 

The Brooklyn Conservatory of Music is located in Park Slope. It hosts over 200 performances each year from intimate concerts to dance parties. In addition, it offers a broad range of music instruction.


Brooklyn Arts Council 

Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC) founded in 1966, is the umbrella organization of Brooklyn artists and arts groups in all disciplines. The BAC enables artists to reach audiences through music, dance, film, and visual arts programs.


FAMILY-FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES IN BROOKLYN

Brooklyn is a borough of NYC that is filled with families and so there are plenty of activities for kids of all ages.

Here are a few standouts to keep you and your kids entertained. Please do look at the other sections of this post as any activities are kid-friendly.

And check out our post on things to do with Kids in NYC as well as our 3-day itinerary for families for more ideas. 


New York Transit Museum

A favorite with kids and adults, this museum is housed in a former subway station with vintage subway cars from different decades, ranging from 1904 up until today that you can walk into and explore. 

There are family programs including one where your child can ‘operate’ a subway car and drive it over miles of virtual tracks.

The gift shop is also fantastic with every kind of New York memorabilia you could want.


Brooklyn Children’s Museum

Founded in 1899, this museum was the country’s first museum created just made for kids.

Over a hundred years later, kids still love this interactive play space that also celebrates Brooklyn’s ethnic diversity.

There is a mini-Mexican bakery, a kosher market, and an old-school Italian pizzeria. This museum is best for younger children under 10.

The museum has a pay-what-you-wish policy on Thursday afternoons from 2 pm-6 pm, so be sure to take advantage and save some money! 


Bring your kids to Brooklyn Bridge Park located along the waterfront across from Manhattan for a ride on this lovingly-restored carousel built in 1922.

It was brought here by private developers from an amusement park in Ohio when that park closed down.

Rides are $2 but the jaw-dropping views of Manhattan are priceless.

Click here for hours and directions to get there. 


Luna Park at Coney Island

This fun-filled amusement park opened in 2010 and is named after the original amusement park that opened in 1903 but was destroyed in a fire in 1944.

For those seeking thrills, there is the ‎Coney Island Cyclone, the ‎Thunderbolt, and the Luna 360.

There are also classic arcade games like Ring Toss, the Whac-a-Mole, and Extreme Basketball. Plus, there are plenty of food stalls. 


New York Aquarium

The Aquarium first opened in 1896 at its original location in Castle Clinton in Lower Manhattan.

Today is it located at Coney Island. It’s the oldest continually operating aquarium in the United States!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzhuBglZOCc&ab_channel=PetrisNYC

In the Aquatheater, sea lions perform while at the Sea Cliffs you will find Sea Otters, Black-Footed Penguins, and Harbor Seals.

There is a 4D Theater showing 3D films with extrasensory effects for an immersive experience.

Glover’s Reef exhibit showcases a variety of fish and other wildlife such as the Moray Eel and the Cownose Ray. 


Prospect Park Zoo

Located in the beautiful Prospect Park near Park Slope, this small Brooklyn zoo houses more than 100 species of animals.

There are two buildings with indoor exhibits, a small farm/petting zoo, and an outdoor walk with other exhibits. 

Children can get close-up views of some unusual animals or animals not seen often in other zoos, like dingos! 

The zoo is interactive which makes it perfect for younger children and toddlers. 


The Museum of Food and Drink (MoFAD)

Located in Williamsburg, this 5,000-square-foot warehouse of tastes, smells, textures, and history is a real treat. There are even exhibits you can eat like the fortune-cookie machine.

Visitors watch as the cookies are made and then take as many as they want, freshly baked, right off the conveyor belt. What more could a kid want?

You don’t have to have kids to visit MOFAD.

Right nearby MOFAD is the Brooklyn Brewery which has free tours on the weekends, and if you time it right, you can wash down those fortune cookies with free beer!


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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”. READ MORE...
Updated: April 9th, 2024
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