Going to Brooklyn for a weekend? Here’s what you need to know to enjoy everything people normally miss when they visit New York, including the Brooklyn Promenade, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Bridge, and the best hot dogs in the city on Coney Island. Whether you’re visiting for the super-trendy Williamsburg or the quieter life in Park Slope, there’s something in Brooklyn for everyone — and that thing is Brooklyn pizza.
Historically, Brooklyn has been home to the offbeat and untraditional. It’s not built along a grid, so it invites travelers to explore as they like through neighborhoods large and small. Brooklyn is also a popular destination for movie and TV buffs given how frequently it appears in our most beloved shows. You can see the police station used in Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s exterior shots as you mosey toward Vanderbilt Street for some Little Cupcake Bakery Brooklyn Blackout Cake, or head over to Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights to check out where much of Luke Cage was filmed (and nab a bagel at Bagel Pub while you’re at it).
Beautiful and less crowded than Manhattan, Brooklyn deserves as many accolades as the most popular tourist areas across the river.
Day One: Coney Island
Home to an aquarium, theme park, beach, minor league baseball stadium, and Nathan’s Hot Dogs, the Coney Island Boardwalk is the epitome of summer fun, and it has a full day’s worth of experiences all on its own.
Tom’s Coney Island
The boardwalk location of the iconic Tom’s Restaurant is just as good as its signature outpost in Prospect Heights, and it features a gorgeous rooftop, where you can enjoy your breakfast with a view of the ocean. Try the Danish or sweet potato pancakes with flavored butters.
Fill your day with:
Coney Island Boardwalk and Beach
Take the D, F, N, or Q train to Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue
Ride the Ferris Wheel or roller coaster at Luna Park, or get a tan on the beach. The New York Aquarium is open year round, but Coney Island’s other attractions are seasonal. Coney Island hosts the Mermaid Parade every summer, as well as other fun annual events and markets. Check ahead to see what’s happening when you visit. The beach is free; rides at Luna Park are ticketed per ride. The New York Aquarium tickets are $24.95 for adults and $19.95 for children under 13 on value days and $29.95/$24.95 at all other times.
Finish your night at:
1001 Boardwalk West
In walking distance from both the New York Aquarium and the Cyclone Rollercoaster, Paul’s Daughter is a great choice to finish off your sun-drenched day. Since 1962, Paul’s Daughter has been slinging burgers and grilling up sausages and peppers. Don’t miss out on funnel cake for dessert.
Day Two: North Brooklyn
North Brooklyn is home to more than just Williamsburg — visit Greenpoint to the north and Bushwick to the south for a range of shopping, restaurants, and experiences.
Peter Pan Donuts
727 Manhattan Avenue
Peter Pan Donuts has been a neighborhood staple for over 60 years, and every weekend the line is out the door for their crisp on the outside, soft on the inside cake donuts and their fluffy yeast donuts. Their recipe is unchanged, and fresh donuts are added constantly throughout the day. Try the sour cream cake donut or the s’mores yeast donut — and don’t forget a cup of simple and delicious drip coffee to go with it. They also serve bagels and breakfast sandwiches.
Fill your day with:
18 Bedford Avenue
A Greenpoint brunch staple, Five Leaves’ Instagram-worthy aesthetic is almost as good as its ricotta pancakes. With a range of simple to complex dishes, there’s something for everyone at this sweet bistro. Make reservations in advance — tables go quickly.
490 Metropolitan Avenue
New York’s premiere plus-size boutique and the first store of its kind in Brooklyn is a must for any plus-sized person looking to score some incredible Brooklyn fashion. With a collection curated by plus-size owner Alexis Krase, Plus BKLYN stocks a variety of hard-to-find new styles, as well as plus size vintage clothing.
While you’re in Williamsburg, don’t forego shopping on Bedford Avenue. With the kitschy Bedford Mini-Mall, iconic jewelry store Catbird, and many other quirky boutiques steps away from each other along Bedford Avenue, you might want to take a second suitcase just for all of your shopping finds.
Finish your night at:
136 Metropolitan Avenue or 188 Prospect Park West
Brooklyn’s first dinner-and-a-movie theater often hosts screenings of classic movies and out-of-theater favorites, served with themed drinks and snacks. It’s a great option for any current blockbuster, but it’s also worth checking to see if there’s an old favorite screening when you visit.
645 Manhattan Avenue
This family-owned restaurant started as a taco stand in SoHo and has since expanded into several New York locations (along with locations in Detroit and Bahrain). Calexico, named after the hometown of the three owners, is known for its flavorful burritos and can’t-get-enough guacamole.
Day Three: Iconic Brooklyn
End your trip with a relaxing stroll through the Brooklyn Bridge Promenade and across the Brooklyn Bridge itself, taking in the gorgeous Manhattan skyline.
Bagel Pub Park Slope
287 9th Street
While Bagel Pub has two equally delicious locations, the Park Slope Pub is a bit more convenient to the rest of what you might be doing on your final day in Brooklyn. (However, if you want to start your day at the Brooklyn Museum, you should look into the Crown Heights location instead.) Bagel Pub bagels are dense, chewy, and big enough to fill you up for a morning of adventuring. Get one with lox, with cream cheese, with butter, or as an egg sandwich — but definitely get one.
Fill your day with:
200 Eastern Parkway
The Brooklyn Museum is very “Brooklyn” in its eclectic collections, from a well-preserved section of the Egyptian “Book Of The Dead,” to a floor dedicated to feminist and protest art. Best known for having Judy Chicago’s “The Dinner Party” on ongoing display, The Brooklyn Museum has gained recent fame for innovative and thoughtful special exhibitions, such as a history of David Bowie’s career and an exhibit about Frida Kahlo’s personal expression of self.
Brooklyn Botanical Garden
Enter at 455 Flatbush Avenue or 990 Washington Avenue
With indoor and outdoor plant life, the Brooklyn Botanical Garden is a lovely place to spend part of your day at any time of year. Many travelers enjoy combining their Botanical Garden visit with a visit to the Brooklyn Museum, and it is possible to buy combination admission tickets. The annual Sakura Festival every spring is worth the trip to Brooklyn all on its own, and the Botanical Garden’s various special exhibitions are fascinating and beautiful.
Enter at Grand Army Plaza or off of Flatbush Avenue
The many things to do in Prospect Park could each get their own entry, from boating and ice skating to the carousel and the Prospect Park Zoo. Smaller than Central Park, Prospect Park is nevertheless still quite sizable, with several possible entrances (though the Grand Army Plaza entrance is the most iconic). The park has well-marked trails and great sledding hills in the winter. Be sure to check the Prospect Park Alliance’s website to see if there are any events or festivals happening at the park!
Brooklyn Heights Promenade
The Brooklyn Heights Promenade is a pedestrian walkway along the East River that stretches from Downtown Brooklyn to Cobble Hill, with easy access from any intersecting street. Lined with grand mansions and town houses, the Promenade is part of Brooklyn’s first Historical District. The Promenade is a wonderful place to get some good pictures of the Brooklyn Bridge from afar; there’s also a recreation complex off of Pier 2, including a roller rink with rentable roller skates.
Finish your day with:
Enter at Cadman Plaza East or where Boerum Street meets Tillary Place in Brooklyn
If the weather is nice, a walk across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge is well worth your time. In the evening you’ll have a better-than-best view of the sunset over the river, and in the evening you’ll see the entire skyline lit up. With a view of the Empire State Building, the Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges, and the Manhattan skyline, the walk is as beautiful as it is bracing. The bridge slopes gently upward until the center, and then downward into Manhattan, and it’s an easy (if a little bit lengthy) walk. Be mindful that wheelchairs and strollers can be a little difficult to navigate at periods of high foot traffic.