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Brooklyn Bridge Park and Dumbo: the ultimate guide

We all know that Brooklyn Bridge is a classic in NYC – and there is so much to see on the other side of the bridge! Brooklyn Bridge Park and Dumbo are charming areas, with stunning views. After living here for more than 7 years, I never get tired of these spots and I think they are among the most beautiful places in the city. I’ve crossed the bridge several times and I love exploring the Brooklyn side. So, here are my ultimate guide about Brooklyn Bridge and things to do in the area!

Crossing the bridge

Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges around the world – and the first built to connect Manhattan to Brooklyn, almost 1.24 miles long. It was open to the public in 1883 – 13 years after the construction had started. For 20 years after the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge, there was a toll for pedestrians and for cars. Today, on average, 120,000 vehicles cross Brooklyn Bridge every day, and 4,000 pedestrians and 2,600 cyclists.

Now, let’s talk about crossing the bridge! To get access to the bridge from Manhattan, use 4, 5, 6, J, or Z subway lines and get off at Brooklyn Bridge City Hall station. Before you begin your walk, get a bottle of water and take time to observe the area, full of beautiful buildings. Walking on the bridge, you will find many street vendors of souvenirs such as key chains and magnets. Take advantage of this, because the prices are good, from $ 1 to $ 2. The most important tip: always keep right – the left lane is reserved for cyclists. If you want to cross using a bike, there are CitiBike stations on the bridge, and also on the other side. When crossing the bridge, be sure to look at all sides: you will catch sight of the East River, the Brooklyn, Manhattan Bridge, One World Trade Center, the Empire State, and even the Statue of Liberty. Depending on how many times you stop, it will take you around 30 minutes to cross the entire bridge.

When you get to the other side, you will see an exit for pedestrians. Take the stairs to get access to Dumbo.

Photo tip: Brooklyn Bridge is usually always busy! It is not easy to snap a picture without the crowds, but my advice is: be patient! Try different angles and be fast. The picture featured on this post was taken at 9:30 am – busy time – but the photographer saw an opportunity and she was fast. Otherwise, I also recommend waking up earlier and be there for the sunrise – it could definitely be a memorable experience and you can take photos without the crowds.

 

Best spots in Dumbo & Brooklyn Bridge Park 

Dumbo (short for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) encompasses two sections: one located between the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, which connect Brooklyn to Manhattan across the East River, and another that continues east from the Manhattan Bridge to the Vinegar Hill area. The neighborhood is bounded by Brooklyn Bridge Park to the north, the Brooklyn Bridge to the west, Brooklyn Heights to the south, and Vinegar Hill to the east.  Dumbo is a neighborhood, Brooklyn Bridge Park is a waterfront park along the East River. They are all connected in some way.

Manhattan Bridge photo spot

This is probably Brooklyn’s most Instagram-worthy spot! It is down on the waterfront in Dumbo, at the intersection of Washington Street and Water Street. The area is usually busy – but, don’t worry, there is plenty of space so you can take your photo and appreciate the views. You will notice Empire State Building in the void between the bridge supports. Remember you can also visit the place at night, it is beautiful!

Pebble Beach

A beautiful and quiet place to enjoy scenic views and taking amazing photos! Weather permitting, you can chill there for a while!

Empire Stores

This is a former warehouse complex along the waterfront. It hosts stores, restaurants, a food hall (see my food recommendations further), and a museum. The highlight here is the rooftop, which access is free and it provides beautiful views of the area and the skyline of Manhattan. A must-see!

Jane’s Carousel

Another classic in the area! Jane’s Carousel was created in 1922 and originally installed in Idora Park in Youngstown, Ohio. David Walentas, the designated developer of Empire Fulton Ferry State Park, and his wife, Jane, purchased the Carousel at auction on October 21, 1984. When purchased, the Carousel was in poor condition and Jane began its restoration at her studio in DUMBO, Brooklyn in 1984.  The Carousel, set on the East River in Brooklyn Bridge Park, opened to the public September 16, 2011.

Pier 1

One of the classic spots of this area, Pier 1 offers panoramic views of lower Manhattan, besides space for relaxing, playgrounds, and public arts.

Pic from Brooklyn Bridge Park website

Old Pier 1

This is one of my favorite spots in the area because of the unobstructed views of the Manhattan skyline. Seeing the sunset from here is also amazing!

Squibb Park & Bridge

I discovered this spot recently and I can say that it is already one of my favorite places in the city! The pathway not only connects Pier 1 with Brooklyn Heights but also provides breathtaking views of the skyline! My tip is to go there at the end of the day when it is about dusk because the lights will be on and it will be more magical! 

Pier 3

Pier 3 is the final pier at Brooklyn Bridge Park that was converted to parkland and opened in 2018. The most prominent feature of Pier 3 is its large central lawn protected from the wind and sun by groves of shrubs and trees. Along the north side of the Pier there is an exploratory labyrinth with interactive features. The outer section of the Pier hosts a grove with moveable furniture, including picnic tables and Adirondack chairs clustered to create a variety of seating areas.

Alexa Hoyer

Brooklyn Heights Promenade

Technically, this area is not part of the Brooklyn Bridge Park, but since Squibb Park Bridge makes it so easy to visit, that I couldn’t help myself and include it here. Because of the elevated location, you will have amazing views of the skyline, Statue of Liberty, a huge part of the Brooklyn Bridge Park, and, of course, the Brooklyn Bridge itself.

Restaurants in Dumbo &Brooklyn Bridge Park

Cecconi’s has locations in several cities around the world. The one in Dumbo is in the Empire Stores building, with a view of the front of the East River and the two bridges. The restaurant is huge – there are plenty of tables inside and also outside. The menu offers Italian options, with pizzas (from $23 to $46) and pasta (from $18 to $42), as well as salads ($16) and other appetizers and side dishes (ranging from $9 to $22). You can click here and check the complete menu with all the options and prices! Make sure to reserve a spot – and ask for a table outside weather permitting.

Celestine features Mediterranean food and its prime location provides incredible views of the Manhattan Bridge. The atmosphere is super cozy and the food is delicious too. In summer, the outdoor tables provide a super nice experience. During the brunch, served on Saturdays and Sundays, or lunch, from Monday to Friday, dishes starting at $14. As the inspiration is the Mediterranean, you will find options like hummus, Greek salad, appetizers with pita bread, among others. My recommendation here is the Prime Beef Brisket Burger ($ 16) and Steamed Egg (a dish with lamb, yogurt, egg, and potatoes). Also, Moroccan Donut is a great dessert choice!  Make your reservation.

In case you are not familiar, Time Out is a media company, with websites and guides on what to do in various cities around the world, such as New York, Barcelona, ​​Los Angeles, London, Lisbon, and other dozens of cities. In 2014, the company went one step further and created the concept of Time Out Market and Lisbon was the chosen city to host the first market. In 2019, they opened a location in New York City, at the Empire Stores building, facing the river, which also houses Cecconi’s and the Brooklyn Historical Society. Think of the Time Out Market as a gourmet food court – there are 21 dining options with savory and sweet options – plus a rooftop with incredible views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the city skyline.

Almondine Bakery is a classic French bakery with delicious handmade pastry created from the best quality ingredients using French techniques. The macarons are worth trying! Besides that, I also recommend One Girl Cookies and Butler – these two are coffee shops with delicious pastries and sweet treats as well. For coffee aficionados, try Brooklyn Roasting Company.

More spots

1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

This hotel is like a  waterfront retreat, with expansive views of the East River and Manhattan skyline. Besides the rooms with fantastic and special views, the hotel features restaurants and a rooftop bar. I highly recommend stopping by for a drink with a view! Check more information on the website.

Pilot

This is a bar on a boat anchored at Brooklyn Bridge Park – and it is part of the Grand Banks group. On the menu, the highlight is the oysters. In addition, there are also several choices of fish and seafood dishes such as ceviche and lobster roll, as well as crisps, burrata. Drinks include cocktails ($15), beers ($10), and wines ($15).

Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory

Using the more finest and natural ingredients, this is considered one of the best icecreams in the city. It was founded in 2000 and offers the classic American ice cream, everything made in-house, available in 72 hours – meaning fresh ice cream, always!

 

Did you like this post? Do you have any extra recommendations about things to do in the area?

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