Top 10 Things to Do in Williamsburg NYC

This post covers the top things to see and do in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, including where to see great street art, get stunning skyline views of Manhattan, find fantastic food, hear live music, shop, dance, drink and more! 

 

GETTING HERE

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. You can catch in Manhattan along 14th Street. Get off at Bedford Avenue if you want to be at the epicenter of the neighborhood.

Note that there is major construction taking place. It is very important that you must check the MTA Subway website before heading to Williamsburg to see if/when the train is running.

 

Williamsburg Map

 

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

On foot or bike 

Many people walk or bike over the Williamsburg Bridge. The entrance to the bridge is in 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 and the Brooklyn Bridge are outstanding.


TOP 10 THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN WILLIAMSBURG

Williamsburg is known as a hotbed of ‘hipsters’.  But there 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.

Below is a list of the top 10 things to do in Williamsburg. These recommendations will give you a head start when planning a visit to this cool part of NYC.


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, check out our pay-what-you-like street art and graffiti tours.


2. Get Stunning Views of NYC

Head to a waterfront park or get a drink at a rooftop bar. Either way, you will get phenomenal views of Midtown Manhattan and the East River.

Try Domino Park and East River Park. The views are spectacular, and better still, they are free!

 Domino Park

 

For views from above, try a rooftop bar like The Ides located on the 6th floor of the Wythe Hotel or Westlight on the 22nd floor of the William Vale Hotel.

Both these hotels are very nice, boutique hotels. In fact, hotels in Williamsburg are popular alternatives to Manhattan accommodations.

Here are TripAdvisor’s recommendations for Williamsburg hotels.


3. Eat at Smorgasburg

Smorgasburg is one of Williamsburg’s premier destinations. Each weekend somewhere between 20,000-30,000 people attend this 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 Westfield World Trade Center that is open on Thursdays and 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. 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, but they may be the big stars of tomorrow, as is the case with many bands who have played there. 


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 pubs to wine bars, 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 they 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 clothing shops. Just a few to go to are Amarcord, Awoke Vintage, and 10 Ft Single by Stella Dallas.

 

 

For second-hand shops, you must check out 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 whose goal is to connect visitors to New York City’s past and present.

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, New Year’s Day.

  • General Admission $7
  • College Students, Educators, Seniors: $5
  • Children 12 & Under: 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 the tastes of the neighborhood. 

You will sample 6 different foods, three are savories and three are sweets (and Williamsburg is known for its amazing desserts!)

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:

 


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About the author

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”.