Exploring Dumbo, Brooklyn: The Best Things to Do

Dumbo, Brooklyn is one of our favorite neighborhoods to visit in NYC. Filled with history, incredible architecture, Brooklyn Bridge views, and plenty of coffee shops, this is a great area to spend a day when visiting the city. Dumbo stands for Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass and was once a very industrial area, it has since been transformed to welcome tourists and locals alike.

So, let’s get started with our favorite things to do in Dumbo and why we think everyone should visit this area of the city!

Where is Dumbo, Brooklyn

Dumbo is located along the East River in Brooklyn nestled between Brooklyn Heights to the south and Vinegar Hill to the north. When you walk off of the Brooklyn Bridge on the Brooklyn side, Dumbo is the first neighborhood you enter, making it a perfect pit stop.

Furthermore, one of our favorite ways to access Dumbo is via the NYC ferry, which is arguably the most scenic way to access Dumbo. The East River ferry route will drop you off at the Dumbo/ Fulton Ferry stop, which is right in Dumbo. The best part of the NYC ferry? It’s the same price as a subway ride at $2.75/ person! For the most up to date ferry schedule, visit the NYC ferry website.

When to Visit Dumbo, Brooklyn

You can visit Dumbo any day of the week, at any time, in any season. With this said, Dumbo is a very popular spot and weekend afternoons will be BUSY here. We recommend exploring on weekdays or first half of the day on weekends.

Our 8 Favorite Things to Do in Dumbo, Brooklyn

Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge is the most iconic of the 5 bridges that connects Manhattan to other boroughs or states. It was completed in 1883 and was the first bridge to connect Manhattan and Brooklyn. Today, it is still used for car, foot and bike traffic, however it’s also an iconic part of the NYC landscape.

We recommend walking from Manhattan into Brooklyn via the Brooklyn Bridge. The most crowded area of the bridge is the first section out of Manhattan. However, it is worth bearing with the crowds for the incredible views along the bridge.

Walk along Water Street

One of the busiest streets in Dumbo is Water Street, and is the most photographed as well. Water Street provides the iconic view of the Manhattan Bridge, framed by two red-brick buildings. You can capture this view at any point along Water Street, but we recommend standing at the Washington Street intersection for the best angle. Views aside, there are also several vendors along this street to explore. We recommend grabbing a coffee, walking slowly along the cobble-stoned street, and shopping.

Relax at Pebble Beach

Location: 65 Plymouth Street

Located on the shores of the East River in Dumbo is Pebble Beach. Pebble beach is a small crescent beach that looks out at Brooklyn Bridge and the downtown Manhattan skyline. The beach itself is filled with small and large rocks, which is how it received its name. As the beach is made up of rocks and not sand, there are multi tier steps that double as seats, making it a great spot to soak up the views.

To get to Pebble Beach, you’ll walk to the Bridge Park and take one of the short trails to the beach. There is also a playground here making it a great location to visit with kids.

The rocky shoreline at Pebble Beach in Dumbo BrooklynA women standing at Pebble Beach in Dumbo Brooklyn with the Manhattan skyline in the background

 

Grab a Bite to Eat at Timeout Market

Location: 55 Water Street 

We highly recommend visiting the Timeout Market while you’re in Dumbo. Yes, the Timeout Market is owned by the media company, Timeout, which has a website with many catchy articles about things to do and see in a city! In this 24,000 square foot industrial building there are 21 local eateries to choose from. You can grab a bite to eat or a drink at the bar before grabbing a seat on the rooftop patio, our favorite aspect of the market. The Timeout Market rooftop is open year-round (weather permitting) and offers amazing views of the Brooklyn Bridge and downtown Manhattan. Add in the incredible food eateries that are housed here and this is once of the best options for a meal!

Explore the Coffee Shops

After your delicious meal at the Timeout Market you may need a caffeine pick up, luckily Dumbo is full of great coffee shops. We recommend wandering around and stopping when you need a caffeine pick me up or simply a chance to sit down!

Our favorites include:

  • % Arabica Roastery (20 Fulton Street)
  • Bulter (40 Water Street)
  • Almondine Bakery ( 85 Water Street)
  • Zaruma Gold Coffee (66 Front Street)
  • One Girl Cookies ( 33 Main Street)

While these are our favorite coffee shops in the area, they are far from the only options. There’s probably a coffee shop on every block (and more on some), so get out and explore!

An iced coffee being held up in front of the Brooklyn Bridge in Dumbo Brooklyn.A women sitting with an iced coffee in front of the Brooklyn Bridge in Dumbo Brooklyn.

Shop at The Archway Under the Manhattan Bridge

The Archway Under the Manhattan Bridge is a 7,000 square foot public space that was restored in 2008-2009. This historic Belgium block still features the incredible archway that was once vital to connecting the Gairville warehouses to the waterfront. Today, this venue houses art shows, flea markets, and pop up food markets. This spot gives you a true Brooklyn feel, and we highly recommend passing through to see what’s happening!

Wander Around Squibb Park Bridge

Located within Brooklyn Bridge Park is Squibb Park and Squibb Park Bridge. The park is relatively small, but does have space for kids to play and scooter around. The main attraction to see here is the Squibb Park Bridge, which connects Pier One to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. This bridge is relatively new, re-opening in May 2020 after being closed for several years. The bridge offers a unique perspective of the Manhattan skyline and at night this view is absolutely stunning.

Visit Old Pier 1

After you wander around the Squibb Park Bridge, end your walk at Old Pier 1. Old Pier 1 is a located just across the East River from downtown Manhattan and offers unobstructed views of the downtown skyline. There is no longer a pier here but the old decaying posts of the pier remain in the water and are a great addition to the skyline photos. This view is stunning during the day and in the evening, but we recommend visiting at sunrise or sunset.

A women standing along a pier in Dumbo Brooklyn with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background.A women sitting along an industrial red-brick building in Dumbo Brooklyn with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background.

 

This guide includes our top 8 spots to visit within Dumbo, Brooklyn, but they certainly aren’t the only things to do within this neighborhood. We recommend spending a half to a full day in the neighborhood to really enjoy the area.

If you’re continuing onwards to Manhattan, check out our top Instagram spots in the city, our favorite spots for skyline views, or our guide to the best coffee shops!

 

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