What to Do, Eat, and See in Brooklyn, New York

From art to food, here’s what to know about New York City’s most populous borough.

Man walking in front of photo display at Brooklyn Bridge Park

Brooklyn is one of New York City’s most bustling—and exciting—boroughs.

Photo by Michelle Heimerman

Home to more than 2.5 million people, Brooklyn is not only New York City’s most populous borough, but also one of its largest. At 71 square miles, Brooklyn is more than three times the size of Manhattan, making it impossible to do everything in one visit—or in one lifetime. To help narrow down your to-do list, AFAR’s local resident editor has curated a healthy mix of buzzy newcomers and neighborhood stalwarts, including a historic green space, an off-the-beaten path art center, the most exciting new restaurants, and more.

Things to do in Brooklyn

Pioneer Works

Pioneer Works is a nonprofit cultural center in Red Hook set inside a 19th-century brick building formerly home to Pioneer Iron Works. Its three floors—and expansive courtyard—include studio space for artists-in-residence, rotating exhibits, and interactive workshops and classes. Past showcases have included work by Nan Goldin, Anthony McCall, and Jacolby Satterwhite.

Green-Wood Cemetery

A National Historic Landmark and arboretum, Green-Wood Cemetery covers 478 tree-lined acres and is the final resting place of such New Yorkers as conductor Leonard Bernstein and artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Today it’s favored by bird-watchers, as more than 185 species of migrating birds pass through annually.

New York Transit Museum with vintage train

The vintage subway trains at the New York Transit Museum have wicker seats, ceiling fans, and retro ads on display.

Photo by Felix Lipov/Shutterstock

New York Transit Museum

To access this museum—housed in a decommissioned subway station in Downtown Brooklyn— visitors head underground to a platform that spans an entire city block, where they can board the museum’s fleet of 20 vintage subway and elevated cars, which date back to 1904.

Marché Rue Dix

One part concept store and one part nail salon, Marché Rue Dix has its own line of coffees, teas, natural skincare products, and vintage and new clothing designed and made in Senegal. In the back of this Crown Heights shop, a full-service nail salon offers nail art and mani-pedis using its own brand of 100 percent vegan, nontoxic, and cruelty-free lacquers.

Where to eat in Brooklyn


Originally from Lebanon, the Sahadi family started this Middle Eastern grocery in Manhattan in 1895. The store—still family owned—moved to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn in 1948, where it remains beloved by locals for its house-made hummus, nuts and dried fruits, and fresh-baked breads. In 2019, it expanded to a second location, a grocery plus sit-down café and bar in Industry City, Sunset Park’s sprawling arts and shops complex.


Located on the ground floor of a sleek building near Domino Park, Misi is a casual follow-up to Lilia—chef Missy Robbins’s first Italian restaurant in Williamsburg. It forgoes entrées to double down on pastas, vegetable sides, and dessert. (Consider the ricotta-filled lemon occhi a must-order.)

Masalawala & Sons

Restaurateur Roni Mazumdar opened Masalawala & Sons in late 2022 in Park Slope with a menu that nods to his father’s roots in Kolkata; it features daab chingri, made with tiger prawns served inside a young coconut shell, and macher dim, a lightly poached, curried fish roe dish. Plan ahead—reservations are one of the hottest tickets in town.

Gage & Tollner whole fish and a doughnut from Fan Fan Doughnuts

From left: The fare at Gage & Tollner; a Danny Boy doughnut flavored with salted brown butter caramel at Fan Fan Doughnuts

Photo by Lyndsey Matthews

Gage & Tollner

From 1879 to 2004, this oyster and chop house was easily the most famous restaurant in Brooklyn. In 2021, it reopened in Downtown Brooklyn with its original wooden revolving door, brass chandeliers, and reupholstered wall panels. Expect classics like seafood towers, strip steaks, and Baked Alaska. Executive chef Adam Shepard offers Clams Kimsino, made with bacon-kimchi butter.

Fan Fan Doughnuts

Mid-pandemic, pastry chef Fany Gerson debuted Fan-Fan Doughnuts in a small space on the western border of Bed-Stuy. Nodding to her upbringing in Mexico City, Gerson bakes yeasted doughnuts in flavors including Churros and Chocolate, Guava and Cheese, and La Donna, which boasts a bright fuchsia raspberry-currant glaze inspired by her grandmother’s recipe.

Little Egg

After 15 busy years, Williamsburg’s popular brunch restaurant, Egg, shuttered in 2020 in the COVID-19 pandemic. Reborn as Little Egg in the central Brooklyn neighborhood of Prospect Heights in April 2023, it’s now owned and operated by its longtime chef Evan Hanczor. Expect favorites from the original restaurant like Eggs Rothko (its version of toad in the hole covered in melted Grafton cheddar cheese) and new menu items including a perfectly crispy katsu sandwich made with a panko-crusted steamed egg patty on a brioche roll with yuzu kosho mayo and pickled shallots.

F&F Pizzeria

Brooklyn pizza institutions like Lucali, L&B Spumoni Gardens, and Roberta’s may draw the most buzz (and lines) in the borough. But in 2019, the beloved Italian restaurant Frankies 457 Spuntino opened a slice shop in a converted garage next door that is deserving of a pilgrimage on the F train to the heart of Carroll Gardens. F&F Pizzeria offers more than a dozen different kinds of pizza—including pepperoni and clam slices as well as square Sicilian style pies—using naturally leavened sourdough crust, Bianco DiNapoli organic tomatoes, and its own Frankies 457 Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The standout is the Hot Sausage and Sage pizza, a version of one of Frankies’ most popular pasta dishes that is made with hot sausage, mozzarella, pecorino romano, and topped with sage fried in brown butter.

Where to stay: hotels in Brooklyn

Two photos side by side including the bedrooms at Ace Hotel Brooklyn and its entrance

From left: Fiber art pieces in the Ace Hotel Brooklyn’s rooms are sourced from artists based in the borough; Stan Bitters created a custom ceramic mural for the hotel’s facade.

Courtesy of Ace Hotel/Stephen Kent Johnson

Ace Hotel Brooklyn

The Ace hotel group opened its second New York City outpost directly across from Downtown Brooklyn’s Hoyt-Schermerhorn subway station in 2021. Built from the ground up, the 13-story building features a brutalist facade and interiors by designers Roman and Williams. Green leather couches, wood paneling, and fiber art pieces add warmth to raw concrete walls and ceilings throughout the 287-room hotel. For views of the borough, ask for a south-facing Medium Skyline room on the top four floors.

Rooftop pool at the 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge’s rooftop also features a small pool with skyline views.

Photo by 1 Brooklyn Bridge/James Baigrie

1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

Part of the sustainability minded 1 Hotels, this 195-room property just south of the Brooklyn Bridge is certified carbon neutral. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer skyline and bridge views in many of the rooms. The hotel also has four types of suites, including the 2,000-square-foot, two-bedroom Riverhouse. Don’t miss tipping back a spritz at the rooftop bar; when it’s time to venture out, the revitalized waterfront Brooklyn Bridge Park is steps from the front door.

Lyndsey Matthews is the former senior commerce editor at Afar, covering travel gear, packing advice, and points and loyalty.
From Our Partners
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
More From AFAR