If Brooklyn were its own city, it would be the fourth largest in the country, and with that comes a sprawling mecca of diversity that has attracted people to its shores for centuries. Often overlooked by tourists and even some Manhattanites, Brooklyn’s rich history, centers of creativity, and unique food offerings provide a laundry list of attractions. Here’s a list of eight things to do in Brooklyn that may even surprise some New Yorkers.
Those in the know skip the sky-high Manhattan prices for smoked seafood head to Greenpoint, Brooklyn for Fish Friday. Each Friday morning, Acme Smoked Fish opens their Greenpoint location to the public for a one-stop smoked seafood sale. Acme, known for providing some of the most high-quality smoked salmon, whitefish, trout, and herring to most distributors across the five boroughs and beyond, sells their goods at wholesale. This means grabbing smoked salmon for your weekend get-together can cost you as little as $16 a pound for unsliced smoked salmon, and as low as $18 a pound for pre-sliced smoked salmon. For now, Fish Fridays is pick-up only, which means no walk-ins, but visit their website for the most up-to-date information.
Often overlooked for its sister greenspace Prospect Park, Green-Wood Cemetery is, in fact, the original playground for New York City’s Victorian elite who would take a ferry across the East River to wander the manicured hills, picnic by the glacial lakes, and even party on their plots. While parties are now designated to specific annual events, this oasis welcomes visitors throughout the year who can partake in trolley tours or explore the thousands of graves, hundreds of tree species and wildlife, Revolutionary War reenactments (this was the site of the first battle), and countless stories from the New York of yesteryear.
Bushwick, Brooklyn is often seen as a mecca for twenty-something hipsters, but before the onslaught of post-grads filled the neighborhood it was a melting pot of cultures, artists, and industries. Getting to know this neighborhood’s hidden gems can be daunting, so take a tour with Free Tours by Foot (curated by the Bushwick Art Collective) will showcase the colorful and world-famous street art, the oft-overlooked architecture, and a game plan for your next independent visit.
Dead Horse Bay is a 178-acre strip of beach along Jamaica Bay that gets its name from the glue factory that existed in the area. But despite it’s eerie name, the beach is a must-hit destination for treasure hunters looking to uncover some relics of New York’s past. As New York expanded, communities were leveled to make way for new infrastructure, the refuse was buried, but is currently eroding. People now, scour the beaches for a glimpse into New York’s path as they uncover preserved bottles, tins, cookware, jewelry, and ceramics.
This iconic beach resort has been popular for over a century for New Yorkers. As the wealthy were able to drive to Jones Beach, mass transit brought a cross-section of New Yorkers to the beach and the world-famous Coney Island boardwalk. For those looking for adventure, visit Luna Park and take a literal spin on the Wonder Wheel and try not to lose your hat on the Cyclone. Grab a Nathan’s hot dog (American hot dogs were invented here though not by Nathan’s but by Charles Feltman who is buried at Green-Wood Cemetery) for a quick bite before relaxing on the beach, but don’t leave without exploring nearby Brighton Beach where old-world Russian culture coexists with spring and summer revelers.
Each spring, the cherry trees at Brooklyn Botanic Gardens put on a generously colorful display, and Brooklyn park-goers put on an equally gorgeous display. See, each year the Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates Japanese culture. Spend the day watching people in cosplay strolling down the cherry tree-lined promenade, listening to local bands, and eating some fresh umami. Festival or not, horticulturist or not, the gorgeous gardens offer something for everyone looking to escape the hustle and bustle.
Often called one of Brooklyn’s best-kept secrets, the New York Transit Museum, located in a defunct train station in Downtown Brooklyn, houses an impressive and often unknown history of the city’s iconic mass-transit system. Visitors can meander through various vintage train cars, while also taking in the history of the men (and even women) who helped build the system, those who advocated for a more egalitarian system, and even see what’s in store for the city’s future.
Industry City is a sprawling mixed-use complex that was created to attract companies and artisans to the waterfront of Sunset Park, Brooklyn. With more affordable rent and larger spaces, many big names moved in, while many local artisans made it their home base. Visitors can enjoy the art installations, locally owned businesses, food halls, and special events that take place throughout the year.