NYC Guide

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 9 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!

Brooklyn 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 daily, and 4,000 pedestrians and 2,600 cyclists.

When it was finished, the bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world, and because of that, many native New Yorkers were not sure about it… they couldn’t believe that the bridge would sustain the weight of the commuters expected to use it. This fear got worse when a woman tripped and fell on the bridge, and right after that, another woman screamed, causing the crowd in the area to panic and push their way off the bridge. 12 people were dead, with seven others seriously injured.

In an effort to convince people that the bridge was, in fact, safe, city officials reached out to the famous circus showman P. T. Barnum, to help demonstrate the bridge’s strength. And so, on May 17, 1884, crowds eagerly looked on as Barnum paraded 21 elephants across the length of the Brooklyn Bridge – proving that the structure was strong and safe.

Crossing the bridge

You can cross the bridge from Manhattan towards Brooklyn or from Brooklyn towards Manhattan. Just plan accordingly because while exploring what’s on the Brooklyn side is so worth it, it takes time. So consider this when planning. For example, it’s really beautiful to cross the bridge at sunset – but, if you do that, I suggest starting your trip in Brooklyn hours before and ending with the crossing, you know? Anyway, whatever you choose, have no doubt that it will be amazing.

  • From Manhattan towards Brooklyn – to get to the bridge access, use lines 4, 5, 6, J or Z and get off at Brooklyn Bridge City Hall station. Don’t forget a bottle of water! Also, take the opportunity to observe the region full of beautiful buildings. When you start to cross it, you will find many street vendors selling souvenirs such as key chains and fridge magnets. Take advantage, as the prices are good. If you want to cross the bridge by bike, there are CitiBike stops at the bridge’s exit and on the other side. When crossing the bridge, be sure to look in all directions: you will see the East River, Brooklyn, the Manhattan Bridge, One World Trade Center, the Empire State, and even the Statue of Liberty.
  • From Brooklyn towards Manhattan – if you start in Brooklyn, I suggest that your trip starts from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, an elevated boardwalk located in the Brooklyn Heights area, next to Brooklyn Bridge Park, that offers an incredible view of the city. There are three options: you can take the A or C lines to High Street station, or the N, R or W lines and get off at Court Street, or the 2 or 3 lines and get off at Clark Street. The last two options require less walking to get to Brooklyn Heights Promenade – when you arrive at the station, just put it on Google Maps and follow the path. From Brooklyn Heights Promenade, you will get to Brooklyn Bridge Park through Squib Bridge Park (I will talk more about it throughout the post). After exploring the spots on the Brooklyn side, you can head to the bridge entrance, right under it, on Prospect St.

Best times to cross the Brooklyn Bridge

Being one of the most famous spots in the city, there is no way around it: there are always people on the bridge. Can you get it empty? Yes, that’s possible. Generally, the best time will depend on which way you will cross. I would say that early morning can be a good time to cross from Manhattan towards Brooklyn; the bridge is usually emptier – and in summer, the earlier, the more pleasant. The sunset is also beautiful – but, of course, it is also a very popular time. I suggest crossing when the sun is high on colder days– as it can be quite windy there.

Crossing the bridge at sunrise. Magical!

And is there any chance of getting the bridge… empty? It does… but it requires more planning and willpower, I would say. For example, one of the best experiences I’ve ever had was waking up early and seeing the sunrise from the bridge. In addition to being empty, the light is simply fantastic. A great thing to do, unforgettable, and… free. Another opportunity not often explored by people is to cross the bridge on days of light rain or snow – it is empty and beautiful! See the photo below:

Another photo tip: let’s say you are lazy to catch the sunrise, and you don’t wanna get there when it’s raining. It is difficult to snap a picture without crowds, but I advise you to be patient! Try different angles and be fast. The picture featured in this post was taken at 9:30 am – a busy time – but the photographer saw an opportunity, and she acted fast.

Best spots in Dumbo & Brooklyn Bridge Park 

If you cross the bridge and don’t take soe time to explore the Brooklyn side, you are missing! The area is so gorgeous, and charming, with spectacular views of Manhattan – and the bridge. The vibe is very different from Manhattan – and when the weather is nice… it’s just perfect. The following are spots you should put on your list and explore there:

Manhattan Bridge Instagram 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 to take photos 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!

Jane’s Carousel

Probably the most famous carousel in the city. It opened in 2011 after nearly 30 years of renovations by local artist Jane Walentas. The original structure dates from 1922 and features 1,200 lights. The carousel has different opening hours for winter and summer. Check details here.

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 and a food hall. 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!

Pier 1


Pic from Brooklyn Bridge Park website

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

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

River Deli

Technically, it’s in Brooklyn Heights, but since I included the area in the post, I thought it was worth suggesting this spot. It’s a super charming Italian restaurant. The focus is on Sardinian Italian food, with a menu that includes pasta and meat dishes, as well as incredible drinks. The restaurant is open for dinner and brunch. Fun fact: the photo on the Girls Season 6 poster was taken in front of the restaurant.


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.


This restaurant serves Mediterranean food and its privileged location provides an incredible view of the Manhattan Bridge and, depending on the table, also of the Brooklyn Bridge.  The atmosphere is super cozy and the food is delicious too. In summer, the outside tables provide a super pleasant experience.

River Cafe

A New York classic, this super fancy restaurant has been around since 1977. As a Michelin-starred American restaurant, The River Café similarly boasts one of the most outstanding wine lists in the world.

Time Out Market

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.

Randolph Beer

This is an excellent spot for beers and games – Randolph Beer offers a great selection of beers and the food options are so delicious – I absolutely loved the burger! And you can also have a lot of fun with the games. This location is in Dumbo – very convenient when you are in the area.

Harriet’s Rooftop

This rooftop is located at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, a hotel in Brooklyn Bridge Park, on the edge of the East River. The cool thing is that you can go to the rooftop after spending time around Dumbo and Brooklyn Bridge Park. The view of the bridge and the southern part of the city is simply fantastic, especially at sunset. Drinks here start at $20 and food options start at $12 – there are appetizers and a few main courses. It is worth remembering that Harriet’s – unlike the other rooftops in the city – is all open, so it’s only possible to visit in the warm months. However, you can check out Harriet’s Lounge (see gallery) – an all-enclosed bar with huge floor-to-ceiling glass windows with the same view.


This restaurant/bar belongs to the same group as the Grand Banks and is located in Brooklyn Bridge Park. It is a seasonal oyster bar aboard one of America’s most prized wooden schooners. Over the course of Pilot’s nearly 100-year history, she’s led many lives: as a contender to be the fastest sailboat in the world, as the country’s longest serving pilot ship, and as a research vessel that circumnavigated the world twice. In addition to the variety of oysters, the menu has other options and you can check everything here.


There are great stores in the area and these are my highlights:

2nd Street

This is a consignment shop with locations in LA and NYC. They feature a great selection of designer and luxurious brands and also other finds with excellent prices. The winter coats selection is so good and the prices are amazing! The store is so organized! If you are looking to buy some clothes without breaking the bank or if you are looking for designer/luxurious brands… make sure to stop by! PS: they have luxurious bags as well!

This is Latin America

This store celebrates Latin America by featuring brands from Latin American – you will find clothing, accessories, decor and lots of beautiful pottery. All from small Latin businesses!

Other spots

  • Shake Shack – if you are cravin fast food, make sure to stop at Shake Shack – a NYC classic!
  • Juliana’s pizza – one of the most famous pizza spots – expect long lines!
  • Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory – if you feel like eating ice cream, be sure to try the ones from this ice cream shop.
  • Cafés – the area has many charming cafes. I recommend % Arabica and Butler.
  • NYC Ferry stops at Brooklyn Bridge Park. If you arrived in Brooklyn via the bridge, you can choose to return to Manhattan by ferry or go to another neighborhood, such as Long Island City or Williamsburg.


1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Iceland road trip in April/May – things you need to know RiseNY – NYC’s new museum and ride review You can go glamping in New York City: NYC Glamping review! Everything about World Spa in Brooklyn, NYC Food halls in NYC: explore the world without leaving the city Tips for traveling with only carry-on luggage in the summer Things to do in Rockaway Beach Things to in Governors Island NYC 4 parks that you need to visit in NYC Things to do in Coney Island