After you’ve crossed the 1.1—mile wonder that spans the East River, spied Lady Liberty out in the harbor, and taken tons of epic photos, you’ll have a few decisions to make. What should you do once you step off the Brooklyn Bridge? Two neighborhoods are at your fingertips: Dumbo, with its trendy-industrial vibe, and Brooklyn Heights, home to mansions, grand brownstones, and a lovely public promenade. If you have time, I recommend you see as much as you can, but some key things to do are listed below.
Dumbo, which stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, is one of New York’s trendiest acronymed neighborhoods. There are pretty, cobblestone streets to wander among, and unique shops to poke around in. Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Shop is a poetry-only bookstore with a busy monthly lineup of author readings. TRUNK bills themselves as a “lifestyle boutique,” and sells clothing, art, and furniture created solely by local designers. The original location of Jacques Torres Chocolate is here, still creating mouth-watering chocolate treats. Dumbo has also risen as a respected arts district, and art lovers can spend the day exploring local galleries. Finally, any kids in tow will appreciate the colorful clothing and whimsical toys at Two Kids and a Dog.
If you see a long line waiting outside a two-story white building, that’s Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, which has earned their reputation for authentic New York pizza by perfecting their crispy crust in a coal brick-oven. Just a one-minute walk away is Julianna’s Pizza, also a beloved Brooklyn fixture with a long history of rivalry with Grimaldi’s.
Buzz Bar at Fulton Ferry Landing is easy to spot by its white, tented roof. Grab a cold beer and settle in for a few pleasant hours of watching the world go by. When you’re ready for dessert, get a homemade ice cream at Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. There are plenty of options for all tastes in this area. You can get fancy at The River Café or satisfy your seafood craving at Luke’s Lobster. For a caffeine fix, hit Brooklyn Roasting Company, or indulge in a traditional French pastry at Almondine Bakery.
Brooklyn Bridge Park, the borough’s playground on the waterfront, is perfect for fitness lovers itching for a bike ride or a scenic run. Children and adults are welcome to climb onto a beautifully restored horse at Jane’s Carousel, an antique merry-go-round set inside a box- shaped glass building that allows riders to take in the views as they spin around. The park also hosts many seasonal activities and events, most notably Movies with a View, a free summer film series under the stars.
Fulton Ferry Landing has a very long, very rich history. The first commercial ferry service between Manhattan and Brooklyn began here in 1642. The ferry service was a great success. It was the main mode of crossing until the Brooklyn Bridge was completed in 1883. American poet Walt Whitman wrote about the trip across the East River in “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry.” Literature lovers can find the poem engraved on the railings at Fulton Ferry Landing.
St. Ann’s Warehouse is a theater venue that’s become known for innovative and experimental performances. It’s a wonderful place to catch up on Brooklyn’s thriving theater scene. The building used to function as a Tobacco Warehouse and St. Ann’s has been key in revitalizing the Brooklyn waterfront in this area.
For frequent live music performances, check out Bargemusic at Fulton Ferry Landing. Fans say the acoustics on this renovated coffee barge, along with the spectacular views out onto Lower Manhattan, provide a musical experience like no other.