Whether you’re a visitor to New York or a native, everyone has one big item on their to-do checklist: walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. The bridge itself is beautiful, the views of the East River and the Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines are breathtaking, and you’ll be getting some fresh air and exercise.
OK, so you’ve walked across the bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn. Now what?
We hope you’re not thinking of just turning around to trek back to Manhattan, or heading straight for the subway. You’ve reached Brooklyn! This is where it’s all happening!
Instead, take the first Brooklyn exit off the bridge and spend a few hours in Dumbo, one of Brooklyn’s most vibrant and scenic neighborhoods. Check out the views from Brooklyn Bridge Park, eat some world-famous Brooklyn pizza, shop in upscale boutiques…you may not want to go back to Manhattan!
Read on for how to get where you want to go, and what to do with your day in Brooklyn.
How to Get from the Brooklyn Bridge to Dumbo and Fulton Landing
One of the most popular things for tourists to do when they cross into Brooklyn is to visit Fulton Landing. At this waterfront spot, almost under the Brooklyn Bridge, ferries have been taking people from Manhattan to Brooklyn since 1642. Today it offers visitors an amazing view of the Manhattan skyline, entrance into Brooklyn Bridge Park, and most important… lots of opportunities to sample some real Brooklyn pizza.
When you get to the Brooklyn side of the bridge, the pedestrian path will split in two. You will want to take the left-hand path and take a short flight of stairs down to Washington Street.
Sorry for the construction! It will be pretty again in no time.
When you get to the bottom of the stairs, turn left on to Washington Street. There are some maps here if you want to check out your route, or you can use ours below.
As you can see, there’s a faster, more direct route to Fulton Landing, but it’s an ugly walk. We recommend continuing straight down Washington Street into Dumbo, where you can pass some great shops, get some coffee or sweets, and even take a picture of yourself at one of the most famous photo ops in Brooklyn, with the Manhattan Bridge towering above you from between Dumbo’s historic buildings. You be the judge:
Once you get your iconic Brooklyn picture, you can turn left on Water Street to get to Fulton Landing.
What To Do
The real charm of Dumbo is in its architecture, and its views of the Manhattan skyline. Take some time to walk through Dumbo’s Historic District, bounded by John Street to the north, York Street to the south, Main Street to the west and Bridge Street to the east. The old manufacturing warehouses are well preserved, now mostly used as loft housing and office space. Dumbo also boasts original cobblestone streets, many of them carrying the remnants of the freight train tracks that carried good from factories during the first half of the 20th century.
For those famous Manhattan skyline views, head straight to the waterfront. The newly developed Brooklyn Bridge Park offers green space with spectacular views — you’ll want to bring your camera for this, and maybe even a picnic. The historic Tobacco Warehouses also line the waterfront. These long-abandoned brick structures are now being renovated into commercial space.
Brooklyn Bridge Park offers tons of activities for kids and adults alike. Pier 1 alone, just south of the Brooklyn Bridge, offers a playground, concessions such as Brooklyn Bridge Wine Bar and Blue Marble Ice Cream, bicycle rentals, and free boating. Be sure to check out their calendar for special events happening throughout the year (like the Brooklyn Kite Festival!)
On the waterfront between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges is Jane’s Carousel, which you’ll want to check out if you have kids. The historic carousel is enclosed in glass, a particularly dramatic design right against the skyline, and a ride costs $2.
Where To Eat
In the Fulton Landing area, pizza lovers and Brooklyn Bridge-walking tourists famously line up at rival pizzerias Grimaldi’s and Juliana’s for the delicious pies. You’ve been warned: Grimaldi’s accepts cash only, and the wait for both restaurants can be very long. Another famous spot in Dumbo is the River Cafe, which you may recognize from the movies that have been shot there. Its floating-barge dining room offers high-end dining with breathtaking views of Manhattan. Also in this area, right by the ferry stop, is the über-charming Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, located in an old fireboat house on the waterfront.
On the same block is Shake Shack, a New York favorite for its high-end burgers, fries, milkshakes, and ice cream. The wait here can be long, too, though the line moves pretty fast. The only hard part may be finding a seat at lunchtime.
If you’re looking for a less hectic dining experience, walk further into Dumbo and check out the American bistro menu and beer and cocktail selection at Superfine on Jay Street.
If you’re hankering for something south of the border, Gran/Eléctrica is an authentic Mexican restaurant with local, sustainable ingredients and a killer tequila selection. You may not want to leave.
And now it’s time to talk about the sweeter things in life! For a to-die-for croissant (and a nice selection of soups, sandwiches and pastries) visit Almondine, or stop in for a rich treat at Jacques Torres Chocolate.
One Girl Cookies also offers a delicious selection of baked goods.
You’re going to need some high-test caffeine to combat that sugar coma, so top it all off with an excellent cup of coffee from Brooklyn Roasting Company. If you want to hang where the locals hang, Brooklyn Roasters is the place to be.
Authentic Brooklyn Souvenirs To Buy
Now you can take Brooklyn home with you! Brooklyn Poster and Doors of Brooklyn are great ways to represent your favorite borough.
You can purchase the posters and notecards online, and you can also find them in small shops around Dumbo.
Brooklyn Poster notecards
Doors of Brooklyn Poster
So you’ve spent a lovely afternoon in Dumbo, and now it’s time to say goodbye. Or is it? Have you checked out the neighboring Brooklyn Heights yet? It’s a gorgeous neighborhood that will make you feel like you’re walking in another era of New York, and the views from the Promenade have been known to inspire tears, group photos, and wedding proposals. Or maybe you want to check out the nearby Vinegar Hill and have dinner at Vinegar Hill House, one of the most highly rated restaurants in Brooklyn. There’s still so much to do!
The Brooklyn Promenade awaits… | Rian Castillo via Flickr
Of course, you can walk right back across the Brooklyn Bridge into Lower Manhattan. You can also catch the F train on the corner of York Street and Jay Street, or the A/C trains off of Cadman Plaza East, on Adams Street. A more unique way to leave is on the East River Ferry, which will pick you up at Old Fulton and Furman Streets and make stops in Manhattan, Governors Island, and other spots along the Brooklyn waterfront. (If it’s summer, you should absolutely take the ferry to Williamsburg and check out Smorgasburg. Trust us.)
Either way, we hope you come back soon… there’s a lot to see in Brooklyn, and you’ve barely scratched the surface.