Loved by musicians, artists, and creatives of NYC, Williamsburg has become increasingly popular and has grown in recent years. The vibe and atmosphere here is incredible and attracts people from across the globe. From vibrant street art, unique shopping opportunities, to the eclectic coffee shops, conceptualized restaurants, and food trucks, the area is bustling with creativity and energy.
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What is Williamsburg Brooklyn known for?
Williamsburg was another former NYC working-class neighborhood that turned into one of the city’s most trendy and desirable locations. It seems like an on-going pattern here in the city when it comes to gentrification. The neighborhood is located on the north side of Brooklyn and just south of Greenpoint. This area has skyrocketed into popularity amongst the younger adult population. The neighborhood has definitely come a long way from its reputation as being a dangerous area in the 1970s. Today, it has become pretty much gentrified and there are many things to do in Williamsburg.
Williamsburg has drastically changed since the mid-1990s when low rents attracted young creatives and young professionals from around the world. When you visit this part of Brooklyn today, you will find a very special place with a great atmosphere. It’s a place that is loved by the people that reside there. Williamsburg is more than a huge contrast to the busy, noisy, and sometimes strict life in Manhattan. In Williamsburg, it seems like it’s more carefree which is refreshing and you certainly notice that vibe once you step foot in the neighborhood.
Top 5 things to do in Williamsburg
Arguably being the trendiest neighborhood in NYC, Williamsburg is filled with a lot of unique things to do. Visiting this eclectic neighborhood is one of the best things to do in Brooklyn. There’s always something going on, especially for young adults. Whether it’s hanging out with friends, enjoying the nightlife, or just simply exploring the area, the options are endless. Here are our top 5 things to do in Williamsburg.
Our recommended things to do in Williamsburg
Walk or Bike Across the Williamsburg Bridge. The bridge starts in the Lower East Side in Manhattan and it takes you directly to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Walking or biking across this bridge will give you wonderful views of Manhattan and Domino Park making it a great experience. If you don’t have a bike, you can rent one with CITI Bike.
For the people who love beer and want to experience the process in which it takes to make the classic beverage, The Brooklyn Brewery is perfect for you. This brewery opened up in 1988 and is one of the most popular, if not the most popular beer in Brooklyn.
This park is named after the original Domino Sugar Factory because, well it was literally right there. Actually, the factory is still there, but it isn’t in operation. It’s NYC’s newest park and it is beautiful.
L Train Vintage
There are thrift stores everywhere in Williamsburg. If you’re looking for vintage anything, this is the place to be. Check out L Train Vintage or other stores in the area.
High-tech lanes, live music, and an energetic scenery with a vintage feel. Brooklyn Bowl is the typical Williamsburg vibe. Come here with friends and strike your way in this amazing bowling alley in the heart of the trendiest and arguably the most popular neighborhood in New York City.
What else is there to do in Williamsburg Brooklyn?
Other than the top 5 mentioned above, there are still other numerous things you can do in the borough. Williamsburg is continuously growing and is a place for creatives and young professionals. The area is always evolving so something is always happening. The atmosphere is definitely much more laid back than Manhattan and that can be a nice change of scenery.
Enjoy a movie at Nitehawk Cinema
Williamsburg is unique in so many ways. Even watching a movie has to have some type of twist. Nitehawk Cinema is a perfect example of showcasing the Williamsburg atmosphere. Not only is it a movie theater, but you have the option of dining in. The theater offers its guests a menu that includes a list of food and drinks. It’s also the first theater in New York to have a liquor license.
Discover the creative scene in Williamsburg
More than 6500 artists are living their creative life in Williamsburg. Actors, musicians, photographers, and pretty much anyone with a creative background enjoy and have helped foster an environment for great restaurants, clubs, galleries, and unique shops.
Residents of Williamsburg live in urban lofts that used to be former factories/warehouses or rent a luxury apartment at the waterfront giving them sensational views of the Manhattan skyline. Most of the old factory buildings are full of street art giving the area are an artistic flair. While walking around you will see an overwhelming amount of bikes and skateboards compared to Manhattan. There’s no stress or hurry in Williamsburg. It’s a different lifestyle in this neighborhood. Check out this amazing walking tour in Williamsburg to experience the history and culture of the area.
Additionally, for more street art, make sure you check out Bushwick, Brooklyn.
Explore Williamsburg with a camera
Williamsburg Brooklyn is an interesting neighborhood. Even though it’s gentrified, you can still see how Williamsburg was once like back in the day. Warehouses have been repurposed into either cafes, apartments, or small businesses which makes for some interesting photo content. Additionally, street art can be found in almost every corner. If you’re a fan of taking photos, Williamsburg is a great location to get street photography.
Enjoy awesome views of the Manhattan Skyline
Our favorite place in Williamsburg has nothing to do with hip clubs, vegan restaurants, or thrift shops, but it has great views and a lot of places to rest. It’s NYC’s newest park as well. Domino Park in Williamsburg is located right on the East River is a great place to check out. To get there, you just walk Grand Street to the water and it will be right there. You can’t miss it. Domino Park on the East River invites you to play volleyball, picnic and go for a walk. The view of Manhattan is terrific. Our tip: come during sunset.
Activities and Tours in Williamsburg Brooklyn
Williamsburg isn’t a really big neighborhood, but it does have a bunch of things to do. Here are some tours in Williamsburg and in Brooklyn that we recommend.
- Brooklyn: 3-Hour Williamsburg Bites Food Tour – Taste and discover the very best of what Williamsburg has to offer In this 3-hour food tour. Delicious and gourmet foods from the neighborhood are curated perfectly for a memorable experience. Come hungry and leave satisfied. Book your Brooklyn food tour here.
- Brooklyn: 3-Hour Street Art Private Tour – Brooklyn, especially Williamsburg is a neighborhood filled with various attitudes and personalities. Experience the numerous street art located in the area. See how the art movement has evolved and transformed this unique borough. Check out tickets for the street art tour.
- Brooklyn: 3-Hour Small-Group Brooklyn Beer Tour with Lunch – Beer is known as a social beverage since it is usually consumed with friends and even strangers. The people that love beer and just simply having a good time, this tour is for you. Check out this 3-hour Brooklyn Beer tour along with lunch.
- From Manhattan: Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn Half-Day Tour – Do you want to experience all of NYC? The city isn’t just Manhattan. There are a total of 5 boroughs. On this NYC bus tour, you’ll experience 4 out of the 5 and will take you through the main sights especially around Williamsburg.
Where should I eat in Williamsburg?
The food scene is something else in Williamsburg. You can say that this borough is pretty much a place where young creative professionals can come and create some really unique things. Food is no exception. Here, you can find numerous restaurants with their own special twist, or cafes that serve artisanal teas and coffees. Yes, coffee is coffee, but in Williamsburg, each cafe has a reason as to why theirs are different from the rest of the pack.
Restaurants in Williamsburg
There are a lot of amazing restaurants in Williamsburg to choose from. Whether you’re in the mood for Japanese Steak Salt + Charcoal, or some really good fried chicken at Pies-N-Thighs, Williamsburg has it all.
The borough is filled with good eats. It’s home to some of the best restaurants in New York City, and possibly the country. For example, you have Peter Luger, which has arguably the best steak, Roberta’s which is home to some really great pizza. Compared to Manhattan, the vibe is completely different in this borough as well. It tends to be more relaxed and casual.
Cafes in Williamsburg
Just like we mentioned above, cafes are located on pretty much every corner. Each one is different from each other. If you want some really great coffee and pastries then you’ve come to the right part of NYC. More often than not you’ll encounter people that are genuinely passionate about coffee and make sure each cup of brew is fresh. Coffee-making in Williamsburg has an artisanal approach. Waiting for a cup of joe could add an extra 5 minutes to your wait time but it’s definitely worth it. Cafe’s worth checking out in Williamsburg are Devocion, Black Brick Coffee, and Partners Coffee (formerly Toby’s Estate).
Smorgasburg in Williamsburg
At the Smorgasburg Food Market, you can find all the unique foods Williamsburg has to offer. From pastries to Ramen Burgers, this is the place for foodies. Smorgasburg means “a mix of food” and offers a huge selection of small stalls offering the most delicious local delicacies.
The most popular open food market in New York City takes place every weekend during spring and summer months, attracting New Yorkers and tourists to Williamsburg. There you can eat, drink and enjoy the magnificent view of the Manhattan skyline on the East River Waterfront. This is actually one of the best things to do in Brooklyn in general.
The market is always open on Saturday (rain or shine) from 11 AM – 6 PM.
This summer season, Smorgasburg is introducing Smorg To Go. Fans will now be able to place an order online and be able to pick up their food 51 N. 6th. Street. It’s right across from Marsha P. Johnson State Park so you can take your food there and have a nice picnic with an amazing view of the Manhattan Skyline.
Shopping in Williamsburg
Williamsburg could be considered the SoHo of Brooklyn in terms of shopping opportunities. It’s actually one of the best places when it comes to shopping in NYC. However, what makes Williamsburg different from SoHo is the different amount of independent and NYC boutique stores. If you like flea markets, second-hand stores, or vintage items, we suggest coming to Williamsburg Brooklyn.
Second-Hand, thrift stores and vintage shopping in Williamsburg
The more mainstream and big retailers like ZARA and H&M will be nowhere in sight in this neighborhood. Stores that sell unique products dominate this part of town. In Williamsburg, shopping at thrift stores, second-hand and vintage stores is pretty much a lifestyle. Places like Buffalo Exchange, L Train Vintage, and Beacon’s Closet are just some of the most popular stores.
Other shops & flea markets are run by artists themselves and offer a variety of handcrafted products made by locals. Bedford Avenue is a great spot to find clothes or a special gift for someone. Shopping in Williamsburg is in complete contrast to Manhattan and the glamorous shops of Fifth Avenue.
Also worth mentioning, is Brooklyn Flea. This is a centralized location where vendors come together and sell vintage pieces. In the spring and summer, you can find this at the patio of the Williamsburg Hotel. During the winter, Smorgasburg and Brooklyn Flea come together under one roof at The Winter Market located at 25 Kent Ave in Williamsburg.
Mainstream Stores in Williamsburg
There might be more independent and thrift stores in Williamsburg, but there are some notable mainstream shops that have opened up in the area. With all of the gentrification happening in the neighborhood, it only makes sense for the bigger stores to open in the area. Some of these stores include The Northface, Apple Store Williamsburg, Supreme, and J. Crew.
Boutiques are everywhere in Williamsburg. This type of store is very specific and is specially curated for their customer. Depending on the boutique, you’ll be able to find designers that you might have never heard before which can lead you to very unique pieces. Sword-Smith and Bird are just a couple of boutiques we love.
Things to do in Williamsburg: Museums
Everything about Williamsburg is just very different and unique. It’s out of the ordinary and that’s what makes it so special. This includes its museums as well. There are many museums in NYC that cover many different topics. Here are a couple of pretty cool museums to check out in the neighborhood.
Two museums in Williamsburg to check out
Museum of Food and Drink
The Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) presented its first exhibition to the public in 2013 which all started through Kickstarter. The campaign raised more than $100,000 which was the most ever raised by a museum. The Museum of Food and Drink tells the story of different cuisines throughout the world and visitors will experience a hands-on approach and are encouraged to smell, touch, and taste. It’s very interactive, great for foodies.
Museum of Pizza
The Museum of Pizza is exactly what it sounds like. For pizza lovers, it’s perfect. It’s the world’s only immersive art experience dedicated to the iconic pizza pie. Pizza This quirky museum targets the “next generation of learners” and was started out by a youth media group called “Nameless Network.” The Museum of Pizza is located inside the hotel, William Vale.
Staying in Williamsburg Brooklyn
Many young people love staying in Williamsburg during their trip to New York City. Due to its reputation and relaxed atmosphere, Williamsburg has become an increasingly popular spot to stay. It promises a different experience than Manhattan and shows people the less commercial side of New York City. We recommend staying in these hotels in or near the neighborhood.
Hotels in Williamsburg
The Williamsburg Hotel
The Williamsburg Hotel is located in the popular neighborhood in Brooklyn, Williamsburg. This area is known for creatives and young professionals. It has a very rustic and artistic atmosphere.
1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge
1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge is located in DUMBO Brooklyn. It’s not too far from Williamsburg and is just a few stops away by train. If your budget allows you, it might be a good idea to spend your stay here and visit Williamsburg in a day. The borough isn’t that big so you don’t necessarily need a hotel there. 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge gives you wonderful views of the Manhattan skyline as well as the Manhattan Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge.
The Wythe Hotel is special. The spot is located in an old factory that has been refurbished into a luxury hotel. Its located on the waterfront and has 70 rooms. It also boasts views of the Manhattan skyline.
Nearby Neighborhoods To Check Out
If you’re in Williamsburg, make sure to check out these nearby neighborhoods.
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How to get to Williamsburg
There are multiple trains that lead to SoHo. You can take the L to various stations, The G train from Queens or the M train. To be completely honest there aren’t many commuter options to Williamsburg, but it is definitely worth checking out.
Neighborhoods That are Similar to Williamsburg
If you enjoyed Williamsburg in Brooklyn, then make sure to check out these Brooklyn neighborhoods such as DUMBO, Park Slope and Red Hook.
FAQ: Williamsburg Brooklyn
Is Williamsburg expensive?
Because of gentrification and young professionals and creatives moving into the neighborhood, Williamsburg is a little bit more expensive than other neighborhoods in Brooklyn. However, prices are still reasonable and it just really depends on where you look.
Is Williamsburg safe?
Williamsburg is considered safe. Just like in any city that you’re unfamiliar with, just make sure to be aware of your surroundings and belongings.
Is Williamsburg Brooklyn worth visiting?
The neighborhood is definitely worth visiting. It’s an area that is continuing to evolve as more people move into the borough. Shops, restaurants, and new residential buildings are being built. Hotels are being put up as well. Williamsburg will drastically change in the years to come.
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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.