Now that we’ve covered Manhattan, we’re going to give you a brief Brooklyn travel guide.
If you’ve never been to Brooklyn, you probably have a general awareness of it, but don’t know much about the different neighborhoods or how it’s laid out.
(For an overview of New York’s layout, be sure to read or review this)
We’re going to change that. We’ll introduce you to a handful of Brooklyn neighborhoods that you are can quickly access from Manhattan but have a totally different vibe.
Just like our Manhattan article, we organized this one so you can easily go from one place to the next, but can also pick and choose what’s most interesting to you.
An introduction to Brooklyn Travel
The first thing you need to know is that Brooklyn’s bigger than Manhattan—about three times bigger—but less dense. It’s the second biggest borough (Queens is the biggest) and has the largest population. It’s also a lot more residential than Manhattan. Many people work in Manhattan but come home to Brooklyn at night.
Let’s put that into perspective. Manhattan is lots of people crammed into a small area and Brooklyn is lots of people crammed into a medium-sized area.
Tourism has grown recently, but Brooklyn is still more of a place for locals. Even the most touristy areas don’t compare to the crowds in places like Midtown Manhattan. So if your main images of NYC are Times Square and Central Park, Brooklyn will show you a whole different side of the city.
DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass)
DUMBO is the perfect starting point because it’s between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. You should definitely walk over one of them at least once because the view is incredible. But even if you don’t get a chance to walk the bridge, you’ll still get a killer view from between them.
This neighborhood is filled with artist’s and creative companies because it has old warehouses in a scenic location with easy access to Manhattan. As Manhattan rents got higher, DUMBO offered a place for artists to live and work and large, empty buildings for businesses.
It’s not cheap anymore, but all the creative types of people and businesses have made it one of NYC’s most interesting neighborhoods.
While you’re there, be sure to check out Brooklyn Bridge Park. This new development sits along the waterfront with incredible views of the Manhattan skyline. It’s filled with walking and bike paths, plus lots of space to relax during warmer months. There are sculptures throughout the park and there’s even a restored carousel.
Up above the park is a promenade that’s great for walking. It gives you a higher vantage point to view the skyline and leads to Brooklyn Heights, which is another fantastic neighborhood to explore.
Now, let’s switch things up so you can see the other side of Brooklyn.
If you’re up for a walk, Carroll Gardens is about 30 minutes from DUMBO. Along the way, you’ll pass through the promenade we mentioned, as well as Brooklyn Heights. If that’s too far to walk, a quick ride on the F train will take you there in about ten minutes.
Carroll Gardens has strong roots with Italian immigrants, but, like most of New York, it has changed over the years. It’s still clearly an Italian neighborhood, with family-owned businesses and residents that have been there for decades, but there are also bars, boutiques, and cafe’s that appeal to younger residents that come from all over.
The historic district is filled with tree-lined streets and brownstones with large front yards (large by NYC standards). Green grass, bushes, and flowers contrasted with the buildings are gorgeous during the warmer months. You can easily spend an afternoon just walking along the streets and popping into the shops on Smith St.
You can often find great rentals on Airbnb and the area is well connected to the rest of the city. You’re near Downtown Brooklyn, and there is easy subway access to Manhattan and other parts of Brooklyn.
Williamsburg is the ultimate hipster neighborhood and one of the most famous parts of Brooklyn. It’s best known for unique food, shops, and nightlife.
It’s a breeding ground for anything unique and eclectic—especially food-related things. Artisinal chocolate, high-end coffee, and creative food combinations that could never work anywhere else are all here.
It’s also in a prime location, right across from Manhattan—just one train stop—so you can easily stay here and experience both. There is food, nightlife, and shopping all over this neighborhood. Plus, the waterfront keeps developing into a recreational area with incredible views.
If you want to be right in the heart of Brooklyn’s trendiest neighborhood this is it.
Bushwick is the new hotspot as creatives get priced out of Williamsburg, but historically it’s been a working-class immigrant neighborhood. Despite the influx of hipster’s, it’s still one of the largest Latino neighborhood’s in NYC, mostly Puerto Rican’s and Dominican’s, but growing more and more diverse each year.
One of the biggest draws is the street art, which is on virtually every corner and contrasts with the gritty exterior of much of the area. Like many other Brooklyn neighborhood’s you find lots of repurposed warehouses and other large spaces. Expect low-key bar’s, casual restaurants with unique food option’s, and cool cafe’s scattered throughout the neighborhood.
Beyond the neighborhood itself, the location makes it easy to access other parts of the city. The L train makes it easy to reach Manhattan, you’re right next to Williamsburg and Queens, plus the J train gets you to and from JFK airport.
Ready to explore Brooklyn?
Once you experience Brooklyn, you’re probably going to love it. There’s a totally different atmosphere from Manhattan. It will completely change your perception of what NYC is all about.
These are some of the most famous neighborhoods and once you visit it will be clear why. The diversity of people, architecture, and food are one of a kind.
But, we’ve only scratched the surface. Stayed tuned as we take you deeper into Brooklyn…