What was once an area known for shipping and warehouses is now a go-to spot for tourists and locals. As a matter of fact, you can’t even tell that back in the day this area was meant for industrial purposes. It is now home to many thriving businesses. There’s even a luxury hotel right next to a brand new park that overlooks the Manhattan skyline.
Today you’ll find tree-lined streets, historic brownstone houses, breathtaking views of Lower Manhattan and super-stylish lofts in disused industrial areas at the foot of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. This mix gives this Brooklyn area its special charm. With its new look, there are many things to do in DUMBO.
Getting to DUMBO in Brooklyn
Getting to this Brooklyn neighborhood is pretty easy and convenient. Theres two major train stations in the area that’ll drop you off in two different spots in DUMBO. You can take the F train to York Street and you can also take the AC train to High St. From here you’ll have access to the beautiful neighborhood. Even though it’s relatively small, there are a lot of things to do in DUMBO.
Walking Through DUMBO
Cobblestone roads, new luxury buildings mixed with buildings that have been here forever and warehouses gives DUMBO a very unique vibe. Here, you’ll find coffee shops, restaurants and arguably one of the best parks in all of NYC. It might be a pretty small area, but theres tons of things to do in DUMBO.
While exploring the area there are two tours that we highly reccommend. The Brooklyn Bridge and Dumbo walking tour and a super fun tour with a private photographer that will take you around Dumbo and SoHo to picture the best memories of you in NYC.
Top 5 Things To Do in DUMBO
- Brooklyn Bridge – This is a no-brainer. Out of all the things to do in DUMBO, this is something one must experience. It’s the most iconic bridge in New York and probably in the US (The Golden Gate Bridge might beat it). The bridge has two levels. One for cars and one for pedestrians and cyclists. We recommend crossing the bridge early in the morning to catch the amazing light and to avoid the crowd that eventually flock the bridge during the day. (Address: New York 10038, Subway 4 5 6 Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall Station for the Manhattan entrance, Subway F York Street Station, Subway AC High Street Station)
- Brooklyn Bridge Park – Right at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge is a relatively new park called the Brooklyn Bridge Park. This park has an amazing view of the Manhattan skyline, has different amenities such as a soccer field, volleyball courts and basketball courts. New York Ferry’s also make their stops here so you can get from Manhattan to Brooklyn easily. (Address: 334 Furman St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, Subway F York Street Station, Subway AC High Street Station)
- Jane’s Carousel – Right inside Brooklyn Bridge Park is the infamous Jane’s Carousel. The origins of this carousel started out in Ohio in 1922 for the Idora Amusement Park. Once the park closed down, the 48 wooden horse carousel moved to Brooklyn. (Address: Old Dock St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, Subway F York Street Station, Subway AC High Street Station)
- Brooklyn Heights Promenade – The promenade overlooks the Brooklyn Bridge Park and the skyline of Lower Manhattan. We recommend going here during sunrise or sunset. (Address: Montague St &, Pierrepont Pl, Brooklyn, NY 11201, Subway F York Street Station, Subway AC High Street Station)
- Grimaldi’s Pizza – Do you want some classic New York City pizza? Then Grimaldi’s in DUMBO is the place to go. They’re known for their coal-oven pizza. Also, be prepared to eat whole pizza pies, because slices don’t exist here. Bring friends, you’ll need them. (Address: 1 Front St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, Subway F York Street Station, Subway AC High Street Station)
Other Things to Do in DUMBO
There are a lot of things do in Brooklyn. DUMBO just happens to be a great neighborhood that offers a variety of activities for people. If you have more time to spend here, we suggest these things to do in DUMBO.
Restaurants and Bars in DUMBO Brooklyn
Walk Across the Manhattan Bridge
Yes, you can walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. But, if you want to avoid hordes of people entirely, try walking across the Manhattan Bridge. You’ll get the same views and even get a view of the Brooklyn Bridge. Also, you’ll end up in Chinatown where you can enjoy that neighborhood and some really good eats.
Time Out Market in Dumbo
Since Summer 2019 you can eat your way through Time Out Market in Dumbo. The food market which offers a total different experience than you would expect from a food market in Dumbo lets you dive deep into the restaurant scene in NYC. Only the best of the best got the chance to open up their restaurant at the Time Out Market. Find out more about the concept and our thoughts about the food market in our article about Time Out Market in Dumbo.
Movies Anyone? DUMBO Has Got You Covered
During summer months in DUMBO, the city provides free movies at the Brooklyn Bridge Park. We suggest getting to the park two hours before the movie starts so you can claim your spot on the green space. Bring a blanket and some food for maximum comfortability.
Get Your Own Famous Social Media Picture in DUMBO
There’s this one spot in the neighborhood where tourists (and some locals) flock to. You won’t miss it because there will always be people taking pictures in the middle of the street here. The famous background is located on Washington Street between Plymouth and Front Street. You’ll have the Manhattan Bridge and in between the bridge’s pillars, right smack dab in the middle, off in the distance, is the Empire State Building. It’s arguably Brooklyn’s most instagrammable shot. If you want to be the only person in your photo, we suggest going at sunrise.
Visit Gleason’s Gym and Get a Great Workout
We bet you never thought that one of the best things to do in DUMBO is to visit a gym. First off, this is an iconic gym and is very sacred within the boxing community. If you can think of a hall of fame boxer, they’ve most likely stopped by this gym to work out. Once strictly for fighters, the gym has opened up its doors to the public. It has a no nonsense vibe to it, but the staff are very accommodating and friendly. Ever heard of Cassius Clay? What about Muhammad Ali? It’s the same person. He trained here from time to time during his reign as the heavyweight king of the world.
Visit the Archway of Manhattan Bridge
The archway forms a tunnel beneath the Manhattan Bridge. Here, there are picnic tables and sometimes food vendors will serve their product here. In the summer, you’ll sometimes see small concerts and just lots of people having a good time.
1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge Rooftop
This brand new luxury hotel is located right in between the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge and overlooks Brooklyn Bridge Park and the Lower Manhattan Skyline. Their rooftop is even better. There’s a pool, a small seating area, and a bar. In the summer, this place is packed to capacity. You might even see celebrities here once in a while. To learn more about the hotel, please read our article here.
Winter in DUMBO
One of the things to do in DUMBO is to experience it during or after a snowstorm. We obviously recommend the latter, but if you are feeling ambitious, you should go when the snow is falling (just be careful and always be aware of your surroundings).
Shopping in DUMBO Brooklyn
Like we mentioned before, the neighborhood itself is not that big compared to other areas in NYC. For its size, however, there’s a lot of options when it comes to shopping. There’s a lot of things to do in DUMBO and shopping in this Brooklyn neighborhood is one of them. Here are a few of our favorite spots.
The Front General Store (143 Front Street) is a very unique vintage store as they source pieces from all over the world, mainly from Europe and Japan. You’ll have a versatile set of choices from shoes, clothing to accessories, everything is here. It’s a small cramped shop, but the cozy atmosphere keeps you around.
Scotch and Soda is probably the only mainstream store in the area, for now. Located at 76 Front Street, Scotch and Soda in DUMBO offer stylish apparel for men and women. It’s a fashionable brand that is popular in Europe as well.
Jacques Torres Chocolate and Ice Cream is a popular shop in DUMBO. As a matter of fact, Chef Jacques Torres is nicknamed Mr. Chocolate. He’s a big deal within the food industry. If you want to get someone a gift or you just want to have your fix, we recommend visiting this store. It’s located at 66 Water Street in DUMBO.
A very special shop with an integrated café is the West Elm Market (50 Washington Street). Here, you will find souvenirs, creative decorations and houseware from Brooklyn.
When it comes to groceries, You have lots of options. There’s a bunch of delis on Jay Street. If you keep venturing into DUMBO, there are these two stores called Foragers Market and Peas & Pickles. You can’t go wrong with either one.
The Art and Museum Scene in DUMBO
Brooklyn Historical Society
The Brooklyn Historical Society Museum tells the story of Brooklyn. Located in DUMBO and founded in 1863, which was recently renovated, this exhibit invites its visitors to the”Queen Anne Style” building (British architectural style). The well-stocked library, interesting photographs, vintage landscape maps and newspapers explains the history of Brooklyn. The institution provides a very good overview of the past. The museum is located in the Empire Stores. Owners of the New York Pass have free entry here.
MINUS SPACE in DUMBO
MINUS SPACE is an art gallery located right next to West Elm at 16 Main Street. Their exhibition features and specializes in reductive and abstract art.
A. I. R.
This gallery which stand for Artists in Residence in DUMBO was founded in 1972 and is the first all-female gallery in The United States. The main goal of A.I.R. was to provide female artists a permanent space to showcase their commercial work especially in a male dominated industry. To learn more about the space, please visit their website here.
DUMBO is full of great art galleries. Here are just a few more that we recommend.
Powerhouse Arena (Address: 37 Main St, Brooklyn)
Art Gallery Galapagos (Address: 16 Main St, Brooklyn)
Smack Mellon (Address: 92 Plymouth St, Brooklyn)
Rabithole Studio (Address: 33 Washington St, Brooklyn)
Spring (Address: 126 Front Street, Brooklyn)
Bose Pacia (Address: 163 Plymouth St, Brooklyn)
Living in DUMBO Brooklyn
New apartment buildings are currently being built in this area. It has definitely turned into a luxury area. We would probably compare it to a miniature version of Tribeca. With two accessible bridges and the Brooklyn Bridge Park, it’s a perfect place for young professionals and young families. The area is pretty expensive as well. Right next to the 1 Hotel are luxury apartments that have arguably one of the best views in the city. If you can afford to live or even stay here, you’re one lucky person. You’ll have everything you need.
Hotels in DUMBO Brooklyn or Near the Neighborhood
If you plan on visiting NYC and have the budget we definitely recommend staying in this area. Train stations are nearby and the two bridges can either bring you to the Wall Street area or Chinatown. Here are some of our favorite hotels in the area.
- 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge (Address: 60 Furman St, Brooklyn, NY 11201)
- Tillary Hotel Brooklyn (Address: 85 Flatbush Ave Ext, Brooklyn, NY 11201)
- New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge (Address: 333 Adams St, Brooklyn, NY 11201)
Neighborhoods Near DUMBO Brooklyn
Theres a lot of things to do in DUMBO, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check out the surrounding neighborhoods as well. Park Slope is only a few stops away when you take the F line from York Street. This neighborhood has a different atmosphere than DUMBO and has gone through gentrification. Another area we recommend checking out is Lower Manhattan and Chinatown. These two neighborhoods are just right across the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge, respectively. Let us know which neighborhoods you prefer in the comments section and we hope this guide as helped you!
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Being a photographer and creative in general, New York City, I think is the perfect place to be. I moved to NYC from Boston in 2013 and never looked back. Loving New York has given me the opportunity to do what I love and share those images with you all.