One Day in Brooklyn Itinetrary
Art, Food and Views in Dumbo & Williamsburg
Our Brooklyn itinerary outlines the best things to do in Brooklyn in one day. Dumbo and Williamsburg are two of the trendiest neighborhoods in Brooklyn, and we planned the perfect guide for anyone who wants to experience the best of Brooklyn in a day. This Brooklyn 24-hour guide outlines the best attractions, where to eat, and where to find the best viewpoints of the East River. Start planning your perfect day in Brooklyn, New York.
Table of Contents
How to Spend One Day in Brooklyn New York
Perfect Itinerary for First Timers
It’s no secret we love the Big Apple, but let me tell you, Brooklyn is the new IT GIRL in town. On our last visit to New York City we decided to spend a couple of days in Brooklyn, and oh boy, it was love at first sight. We’re talking about some of the best viewpoints in Manhattan, loads of parks and street art, and don’t get us started about the food scene.
Brooklyn has become very popular over the last year, and it keeps changing as the years go by. The ‘Borough of Churches’ with its diversity of immigrant populations has turned into the go-to place for artists and hipsters who find Manhattan too expensive and crowded for their taste. It has such a different atmosphere from Manhattan and a much more relaxed vibe with hipster undertones and exciting art scene. After spending a day in Brooklyn, it’s quite easy to understand why so many people are obsessed with this New York borough. So, when you start planning your New York itinerary, do yourself a favor and include at least one day if not a weekend in Brooklyn.
Is One Day in Brooklyn Enough?
Let’s start from the end, is a day in Brooklyn enough to see everything? Of course not because Brooklyn is enormous! In fact, Brooklyn is the second largest and most populous of the five boroughs of New York. We spent a weekend in Brooklyn, and it wasn’t enough to see everything, but one day is better than nothing. You can have a taste of some of the best things to do in Brooklyn in a day and maybe leave some for your next visit.
How to Start Planning the Perfect Brooklyn Itinerary?
When you start planning your New York City itinerary, make sure to include at least a day in Brooklyn, preferably on a Saturday or a Sunday. Some of NYC’s most popular attractions can get extremely crowded during the weekend, so spending the weekend in Brooklyn, with its relaxed ambiance, might be a great alternative. For first-time visitors, we suggest starting with DUMBO since it’s a cool area that is very close to Brooklyn Bridge, which is a must-see (or rather cross) attraction. There are a lot of things to see and do in Dumbo for the whole family. From Dumbo head over to Williamsburg, which has a lively art and food scenes, and many other attractions to choose from.
Of course, there are other parts and attractions in Brooklyn to explore, such as the Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn’s Botanical Gardens and more. However, our itinerary focuses more on the food and art scene and a nice dose of scenic viewpoints.
Brooklyn Itinerary – Early Morning – Crossing Brooklyn Bridge
Start your day in Brooklyn by crossing the famous Brooklyn Bridge, which connects lower Manhattan with Dumbo. You can cross it by foot or by bike, and whatever you do, as long as you’re fit enough, don’t skip it. Brooklyn Bridge is one of the three Bridges that connect Brooklyn to Manhattan. This iconic New York landmark has been designated a National Historic Landmark and a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. It took many years to build this architectural wonder. After many delays and tragedies (at least 20 people died during its construction), the Brooklyn Bridge was open in 1883. At the time, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. What makes the Brooklyn Bridge such an iconic NYC landmark is the Gothic towers with their impressive double arches and the crisscrossing of its steel cables.
You can choose to cross Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn or vice versa (and then you’ll see the Manhattan skyline). We decided to do it first thing in the morning, and we stopped from time to time and turned around to see the Manhattan skyline. It should take you about 35-45 minutes to cross it at a leisurely pace with some stops for pictures. Another fun way to do it is to cross the bridge with a bike.
How to Get to Brooklyn Bridge Promenade (Manhattan side): You’ll find the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge promenade right across the street from the Brooklyn Bridge /City Hall Subway Station. You can take trains no. 4, 5, or 6 to Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall or the J or Z trains to Chambers St. Station. You could also take the N or R trains to City Hall or the 2 or 3 trains to Park Place, both of these stations are a bit further away.
Best time to cross Brooklyn Bridge: This is a very popular tourist attraction so it can get quite busy, especially during the summertime and at sunset. Sunset is a great time to cross the bridge for photography lovers since you’ll get to photograph scenic views of Manhattan and Brooklyn during the golden hour, and if you wait for a bit, you’ll see the skyline comes alive with gleaming lights.
An excellent option to cross Brooklyn Bridge by foot or by bike while learning more about its history is taking a guided tour. These tours usually also offer some sight-seeing in DUMBO, Brooklyn Heights, or Lower Manhattan.
Brooklyn Itinerary - Morning – Dumbo Neighborhood
DUMBO is the abbreviation for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. It is located across the river from Lower Manhattan, in the northeast part of Brooklyn. The charm of this neighborhood lies in its mélange of old and new. What used to be an industrial area was turned into a hip and trendy neighborhood with a flourishing art scene. The industrial warehouses that used to fill Dumbo’s cobbled streets were converted into luxury lofts, art galleries, theatres, and eateries. Dumbo offers a fun mix of attractions, and it has some of the best scenic points in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
How to Get to Dumbo
If you decide not to cross the Brooklyn Bridge on your way to Dumbo, you could also take the subway or the East River Ferry.
By Subway: It will take you about 15 minutes to get from Penn Station to Dumbo by subway. Take the A or C train and get off at the High Street-Brooklyn Bridge Station. You can also take the F train to York Street.
By Ferry: If you want to take the scenic way, you can hop on the East River Ferry from East 34th Street or Wall Street/Pier 11 or the South Brooklyn route from Wall Street/Pier 11.
What to Do in Brooklyn's Dumbo Neighborhood
Take A Picture of the Iconic Manhattan Bridge
After Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, take the first exit and go to the left to reach Dumbo. A small staircase will lead you to the underpass on Washington Street. At the intersection of Washington Street and Front/Water Street, you will have the perfect view to photograph Manhattan Bridge. This is one of the instagrammable corners of Brooklyn. Take a photo of Manhattan Bridge between the industrial buildings of Dumbo, and check out how the Empire State Building fits perfectly in the center of the lower steel archway of the bridge. You won’t be alone in this corner of Brooklyn since it’s a famous spot for the selfie-hungry crowd. However, you can always just skip the selfie and go for the shot of the bridge itself like we did.
Insider Tip: Before continuing exploring Dumbo, if you haven’t had breakfast yet, check out the French bakery, Almondine Bakery, for a delicious breakfast pastry. Address: 85 Water Street | Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 7:30 am – 6:30 pm, Sun 9:00 am – 6:00 pm.
Walk Along Brooklyn Heights Promenade at Brooklyn Bridge Park
Brooklyn Bridge Park is the perfect place to enjoy a leisurely walk in the sun, breathe some fresh air, and admire the breathtaking views of Manhattan’s skyline. This waterfront park offers vast spaces of green lawns, basketball courts and playgrounds, recreational facilities, bicycle paths, and many more attractions. The park hosts many sports and cultural events during the year, so make sure to check the event calendar.
Your first stop at Brooklyn Bridge Park should be Jane’s Carousel. This beautiful historic carousel was built in 1922 and was initially installed in one of Ohio’s parks. After the park had been closed, it was bought at an auction by a couple of collectors who restored it and opened it to the public in 2011. This 48-horse carousel provides the perfect opportunity to take a ride on a classic merry-go-round, and it also offers excellent views of the East River. For opening hours and tickets, check out this website.
From Jane’s Carousel, continue walking along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and visit some of the piers that offer great views of New York City’s skyscrapers, the East River, Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge and the Statue of Liberty.
Views, Architecture and Art at Empire Stores
The dozens of windows of the brick facade of Empire Stores are hard to ignore. This historic warehouse was used for coffee storage in the first half of the 20th century and later on was abandoned for many years. After many years of failed attempts to restore this piece of history, it was finally restored and reopened in 2017 as a cultural, commerce and gastronomical center. The team of architects made sure to maintain the building’s character and original materials, including its large masonry façade, but they also cut out a passageway from Water Street through the building, and to the park. At the center of the building, you’ll find a four-story, open-air courtyard that serves as an immersive public space, and from there, you can pick through the glass curtain walls which line the courtyard, into the different commerce areas and offices. The rooftop was transformed into a leafy terrace that is open to the public and accessible from the courtyard. There are stunning views of the East River from the roof, as well as a beer garden where you can grab a beer and chill out.
On the second floor of the Empire Stores building, you’ll find the exhibition and multimedia experience of Brooklyn Historical Society DUMBO. This multimedia exhibition uses stories of workers, artists, industries and neighborhoods to put a spotlight on the history of Brooklyn’s coastline. Opening Hours: Tue-Sun 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
Address: 55 Water Street | Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 8:00 am – 12:00 am | Empire Stores Website
Have a Snack at Time Out Market
The food market at Empire Stores is a cornucopia of cultures and flavors. You’ll find here some of New York’s top chefs and restaurateurs under one roof. On the ground floor, you’ll find 17 stalls, two bars, and communal-style seating. The fifth floor hosts additional stalls, another bar and a rooftop area with spectacular views. Some of the delicious food you can try at Time Out Market include the famous pizza of Juliana’s, babka cake of Breads Bakery, fluffy blueberry pancakes at Clinton St. Baking Company, and many more delicacies. Check out all the food vendors at Time Out Market.
Address: 55 Water St, Brooklyn | Opening Hours: First Floor: Sun-Thu 8:00 am – 8:00 pm, Fri-Sat 11:00 am – 10:00 pm, Fifth Floor: Sun-Thu 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm, Fri-Sat 12:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Check Out the Art Scene in Dumbo
If you love art, there are many more things to do in Dumbo, including visiting some of the art galleries or current exhibitions. You can also look for the famous Dumbo Walls, a series of outdoor murals that highlight the various entry points to the neighborhood. Read more about the Dumbo Walls project here. If you have more than one day in Brooklyn, check out some of the attractions for art lovers in Dumbo here. There are a few art galleries and unique concert halls and theatres such as St. Ann’s Warehouse and Bargemusic. However, if you only have a day in Brooklyn, continue to our next destination on this Brooklyn itinerary.
Insider tip: If you are fans of flea markets and you visit Dumbo on a Sunday (Between April – October) you can also check Brooklyn flea market which is located at 80 Pearl Street (at the Archway of Manhattan Bridge) and is open from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm.
Noon/Afternoon - Visit Brooklyn's Williamsburg Neighborhood
The roots of Williamsburg go all the way back to the 17th century. Back then, it was a Dutch settlement (it was actually part of Bushwick). Later, a developer by the name of Jonathan Williams acquired some of the lands and, in 1802, renamed that area Williamsburgh in honor of himself (the ‘h’ was dropped in 1840). Williamsburg became a major shipping and industrial hub, and in 1855 it became part of Brooklyn. Once the Williamsburg Bridge was built in 1903, many of the Lower East Side residents, chose to live in Williamsburg due to the better rents and close proximity to Lower Manhattan. More plants were built in the area, and many immigrants from Latin America and Europe joined Williamsburg’s growing population, especially after World War II.
However, from the 1960s following the closure of many of the local plants, poverty and crime started to prosper in the area, which meant the real estate prices were dropping as well. From the 1970s more and more artists chose Williamsburg as their new home thanks to the cheaper rents. The industrial spaces were turned into art galleries and the once-neglected neighborhood became a hub for artists and musicians.
Thanks to a gentrification process, nowadays, most artists can no longer afford to live in the area, but Williamsburg has become one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Brooklyn. It’s one of the best places to spend a day in Brooklyn, especially if you love art, vintage shops and good food!
How to Get to Williamsburg
The most scenic way is to take the East River Ferry from Dumbo’s Pier 1 to North Williamsburg (Make sure you get off at North Williamsburg, the 2nd stop, and not at South Williamsburg, which is the first stop). By subway, it’s a bit more tricky to get to Williamsburg, so we suggest taking an Uber if you choose to skip the East River Ferry.
If you choose to flip the order of our Brooklyn itinerary and start from Williamsburg, you can catch the East River Ferry from Wall Street/Pier 11 or East 34th Street. You could also hop on the L train from Manhattan to Bedford Avenue Station. From there, you’ll need to walk for about 10 minutes.
Things to Do in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Have Lunch at Smorgasburg Food Market
One of the best weekend markets in New York is the famous Smorgasburg Food Market in Williamsburg, which takes place every Saturday from 11:00 am – 6:00 pm from April through October (from November to March there’s a smaller version in an indoor venue). On Saturdays, Smorgasburg is located at East River State Park and on Sundays at Prospect Park’s Breeze Hill (outside of Williamsburg). What makes Smorgasburg one of the most famous open-air markets in the United States is the stunning scenery and dozens of food stalls from 100 local vendors. In East River State Park you’ll get to see Manhattan’s skyline while Prospect Park offers the best setting for a leisurely weekend picnic. Our best advice is to come hungry and sample as much food as you can.
So what did we eat? (and thank you Yuval, my niece and Sari’s daughter who came with a list of the best food stalls in Smorgasburg). We tried some delicious dumplings at Destination Dumplings, a vegan burger from Chickpea & Olive, a unique hamburger that is served between ‘ramen buns’ at Ramen Burger, the best lobster roll we’ve ever had at Red Hook Lobster and for dessert Asian style souffle pancakes at Fluffy’s NYC. Check out all the food stalls at Smorgasburg Food Market.
Location and Hours: Summer (April-October): Saturdays at East River State Park (90 Kent Ave.) / Sundays at Prospect Park’s Breeze Hill, Opening Hours: 11:00 am to 6:00 pm Winter: Saturdays and Sundays the Brooklyn Flea & Smorgasburg Market takes place at 25 Kent Ave. on the 8th floor.
Insider tip – If you are visiting Brooklyn on a Sunday, check out Smorgasburg at Prospect Park BEFORE you leave Dumbo and then catch a train/uber to Williamsburg. The best way is to catch an Uber, but you can hop on one of these trains as well. If you choose to do this one day Brooklyn itinerary during weekdays, you can eat lunch at Time Out Market or check our favorite restaurants in Brooklyn for more lunch ideas.
Browse the Streets and Go Shopping
After lunch it’s time to browse the streets and shops of Williamsburg. Generally speaking, the south side of Williamsburg is below Grand Street (with S marking the numerical streets), and above Grand Street, the streets are marked by North/N. If you want to discover the trendy scene in Williamsburg, start exploring the streets North of South 2nd Street.
We suggest starting walking towards Bedford Ave., which is the bustling heart of Williamsburg, where you’ll find vintage shops and hip boutiques as well as numerous eateries. On the weekend, walk along North 7th St. and check out the local artists & Crafts market at 70 North 7th St. Some of the best places for shopping in the area include Williamsburg’s Mini Mall, In God We Trust and Concrete + Water. Check out the jewelry in Catbird. For vintage shopping visit Amarcord Vintage Fashion and Awoke Vintage.
Check Out Brooklyn Brewery
Once upon a time, Brooklyn had a serious brewing scene. In fact, at the end of the 19th century, more than 40 breweries could be found on Brooklyn’s premises. However, many of the biggest breweries were closed or relocated during the middle of the 20th century.
The 1980s marked the age of the microbrewery scene around the United States, but no one was bold enough to take a risk and open a brewery in Brooklyn. At least not until Steve Hindy, a reporter who came back home from the Middle East where he had discovered the local scene of homebrewing, decided to bring brewing back to Brooklyn. With the help of his neighbor, Tom Potter, he opened Brooklyn Brewery in the late 1980s and supplied beers to many local establishments. In 1996 the Brewmaster Garret Oliver joined the team, and Brooklyn Brewery was opened to the public. Nowadays, Brooklyn Brewery’s popular beers are shipped to many places all over the United States and to more than 30 countries. Their beers and brewmaster, Garret Oliver, have won many awards over the years, including the prestigious James Beard Award for Outstanding Spirits, Wine or Beer.
You can visit their tasting room and get a tasting of a few beers, or you can book a tour of their brewery, on Saturdays and Sundays the tours are free of charge. For more details about exact opening hours and tours check out the Brooklyn Brewery website.
Address: 79 North 11th Street | Opening Hours: Mon-Thu 2:00 pm – 11:00 pm, Fri 2:00 pm – 12:00 am, Sat 12:00 pm – 12:00 am, Sun 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Insider Tip: Since you need to be 21 to get in, a great alternative to this attraction is to go bowling at Brooklyn Bowl (on Saturday/Sunday). Continue reading our Brooklyn Itinerary for more details.
Watch the Sunset at Domino Park / East River State Park
After you’ve tasted some of Brooklyn’s famous beer, it’s time to look for a great spot to watch the sunset. Obviously, the best places are along the East River. Brooklyn Brewery is within a 5-minute walk from East River State Park. Another alternative is to walk along Kent Street until you reach Grand Ferry Park. However, if you don’t mind the walk, we suggest walking along Kent Street all the way to Domino Park, which should take you about 20 minutes from Brooklyn Brewery.
Domino Park is one of New York’s newest parks, and just like the High Line, the architects and landscapers made sure to pay tribute to its history. The park stretches along the East River on the site of the former Domino Sugar Refinery, a plant that helped shape the character of the neighborhood for over 160 years. Walking along the park, you’ll find 30 large-scale, salvaged artifacts that were used in the plant and now are incorporated into the park’s landscape. There’s an elevated walkway with beautiful views of the surrounding area and Manhattan’s lower side. There’s also a very unique playground that was designed by Brooklyn-based artist Mark Reigelman that takes the children on a journey through the sugar refining process. Children would also love the fountains and the fog bridge, both of which are great for photography lovers as well.
Address: 300 Kent Ave Brooklyn | Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 6:00 am – 1:00 am
One Day in Brooklyn Itinerary – Evening
Have an Italian Dinner at Misi
There is a thriving food scene in Brooklyn, so you’ll have plenty of restaurants to choose from, but we really loved Misi, which is located within a short walking distance from Domino Park. The chef, Missy Robbins, has two Italian restaurants in Brooklyn, but in Misi, you’ll only find handmade pasta and antipasti dishes. We loved the clean décor, the open kitchen and the delicious food. Don’t skip dessert since Misi has incredible ice cream. If you’d rather have dinner at a different place, check out our recommendations for restaurants and coffee shops in Brooklyn’s neighborhoods.
Bowling and a Show or Bar Hopping
If you still have some energy left in you after our packed itinerary, there are two options to choose from to spend a lovely evening in Brooklyn. You can either check out one of the shows at the Brooklyn Bowl or go bar hopping in Brooklyn.
Brooklyn Bowl is not your average bowling alley. It is more of a mixture of bowling and a night club where you’ll get to watch a live concert at times. The ambiance is very cool with the nightclub lighting and music. They also offer food by Blue Ribbon, but we haven’t tried it ourselves. Brooklyn Bowl is opened daily from 6:00 pm only for adults (+21), but on the weekends, they are open for all ages. Check out the event calendar because if there’s an event, you’ll need to buy a ticket. If there’s no event, the admission is free. Bowling will cost you $ 25 per lane per 30 minutes (Sun-Thu) or $ 30 per lane per 30 minutes (Fri-Sat)
Address: 61 Wythe Ave | Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 6:00 – Late (+21), Sat Family Bowl from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm, Sun The Rock and Roll Playhouse 11:00 am – 12:30 pm (admission required) and Family Bowl 12:30 pm – 6:00 pm.
Another fun option for an evening in Brooklyn is going bar hopping. Radegast Hall & Biergarten is a fun place for beer lovers. This German beer hall has a great selection of European beers and German-inspired menu. It also has a very lively atmosphere with the occasional live band, so if it’s peace and quiet you are looking for, this is not the place for you. Another recommended bar is the trendy Westlight at the William Vale hotel. This rooftop bar has breathtaking views of Manhattan’s skyline and the East River. You can enjoy a signature cocktail or a glass of wine accompanied by elegant bar snacks and splendid views. We have many more recommendations in our Brooklyn Food Guide, which also includes some of the best bars in Brooklyn.
Address: Radegast Hall & Biergarten: 113 N 3rd St, Brooklyn | Westlight: 111 N. 12th St / 22nd Floor
A Note About Our One Day Brooklyn Itinerary
Brooklyn is a great place to visit every day of the week, but thanks to Smorgasbord food market, we planned ahead and chose to visit the area on the weekend. Our itinerary is perfect for anyone who visits Brooklyn on a Saturday/Sunday (note our remarks regarding Smorgasburg’s location) and would like to enjoy a mixture of stunning views, art, and Brooklyn’s food scene. If you have more than a day in Brooklyn, make sure to check our recommendations for a fun day in Bushwick. If you especially enjoy graffiti and street art scenes, you might consider combining Dumbo with our Bushwick itinerary instead of Williamsburg.
We chose to start our day in Brooklyn from Dumbo and continue to Williamsburg, but you can definitely catch a ferry from Manhattan straight to Williamsburg, continue to Dumbo and end your day with crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. We suggest timing your crossing with the sunset for spectacular views. If you want to enjoy the Manhattan skyline and East River, not to mention the architecture of the Brooklyn Bridge in their full glory, don’t cross the bridge at night time.
Where to Stay on a Weekend in Brooklyn
If you choose to spend a weekend in Brooklyn, here are some recommended hotels for you to choose from. Note that the hotels that are closer to Dumbo, are located in Brooklyn Heights and Downtown Brooklyn and within a 10-minute walking distance from Dumbo (20 minutes by car).
Check out all the hotels in Brooklyn
Any way you choose to explore Brooklyn, on the weekend or during the week, you’re going to have a fabulous time. This Brooklyn itinerary is perfect to have a taste of the best of Brooklyn in a day, but we strongly suggest adding at least another half day to your itinerary to visit Bushwick neighborhood that is fast becoming the hippest neighborhood in Brooklyn.