Where stay in Brooklyn! A complete guide to the best neighborhoods, things to do, and the best accommodation options no matter what your budget is.
The pulse of New York City stretches far beyond a visit to the Empire State Building and Central Park. Explore these Brooklyn neighborhoods for an authentic look into the backbone of the five boroughs.
New York City is the city that never sleeps, where skyscrapers touch the clouds and the fast paced lifestyle runs 24 hours a day. A trip to New York City wouldn’t be complete without seeing all the required tourist stops, like the Statue of Liberty, the Freedom Tower, and Times Square. But just across the Brooklyn Bridge live culturally vibrant neighborhoods that are now receiving more tourist traction than ever.
With widely diverse areas, planning a trip to these Brooklyn neighborhoods gives a new perspective on sightseeing in the city.
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Where to Stay: The Best Brooklyn Neighborhoods
If the borough of Brooklyn stood as its own city, it would be the 4th largest in the country. There are 77 unique neighborhoods across its 71 square miles.
Choosing a Brooklyn neighborhood to explore can be exciting. There’s a neighborhood for everyone, and some areas will make you feel like you’ve traveled to another country entirely.
Williamsburg is hands down the trendiest neighborhood in Brooklyn. A once industrial neighborhood, old warehouses have now transformed into some of New York City’s best restaurants, shops, and art galleries.
This Brooklyn neighborhood draws in a crowd of hipsters and artists, often rivaling Manhattan’s East Village.
Neighborhood diners are scattered throughout Brooklyn, but visiting the Diner in Williamsburg takes it to another level. Simply named, this restaurant is housed within a 1920’s Pullman car and offers dinner, brunch, and lunch on Fridays.
Bedford Avenue is the main street in Williamsburg, which is lined with artisanal shops, cafes, and restaurants. It is a prime area to people watch and browse through local merchandise.
If money isn’t an issue and you like your steak with a touch of history, dinner at Peter Luger Steak House is the place to be. This Brooklyn institution has been around since 1887 and serves possibly the best steak in New York City. A reservation is helpful as this restaurant’s popularity fills up tables quickly.
Where to Stay in Williamsburg
Pod Brooklyn Hotel - Cozy up in a bright guest room with bunk beds at this Williamsburg hotel. Pod Brooklyn Hotel has a minimalist design geared towards younger travelers. This hotel has a handful of courtyards in a borough where outdoor space is envied. There is also a shared workspace, perfect for travelers who work on the go.
McCarren Hotel & Pool - McCarren Hotel & Pool is centrally located in Williamsburg. The hotel’s pool is its centerpiece, serving as a calming retreat in the middle of Brooklyn’s most popular neighborhood. McCarren Hotel & Pool also has a rooftop bar with a vegan restaurant that will leave guests with plenty of views and healthy eating options.
The William Vale - The William Vale is a newer addition to the many luxury hotels popping up in Williamsburg. This boutique hotel offers guests a complete Brooklyn experience with Brooklyn based art in the lobby, a packed calendar of cultural events, and the longest hotel pool in New York City. There is also a rooftop bar on the 22nd floor that offers stunning views of Manhattan during the day, and especially at night.
Come for the views and stay for the charm of this Brooklyn neighborhood.
Directly across the East River, Brooklyn Heights is the best neighborhood in the borough for sweeping views of Lower Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Manhattan Bridge. This area is home to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, a nearly 2,000-foot bench-lined walkway overlooking Lower Manhattan.
Brooklyn Bridge Park is an 85 acre urban oasis full of outdoor activities for all ages. Visitors can kayak the East River, do yoga underneath the Brooklyn Bridge, or play soccer with skyscrapers in the background.
Cultural events and food festivals are common at Brooklyn Bridge Park, along with daily waterfront views of Manhattan.
For a taste of the Middle East, head over to Sahadi’s. Open for over 70 years, this market is packed with spices, dried fruits, cheeses, and coffee from the Middle East. Pick up a falafel sandwich from the deli while you browse the market’s flavors.
Colonie is a buzzing restaurant that serves a combination of American and Italian dishes, including homemade pasta. Seafood is a highlight here, especially their pasta dish with blue crab and burrata.
For quality ramen, Kogane Ramen is a small restaurant that brings out big flavors. The bowls of ramen are generous and packed with Japanese toppings, including delicious soft boiled eggs.
Where to Stay in Brooklyn Heights
The Tillary Hotel - The Tillary Hotel is a contemporary hotel with a rooftop deck and a beer garden. Its location is close to Brooklyn Heights, along with other popular neighborhoods like DUMBO and Downtown Brooklyn.
New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge - New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge is an ideal location for exploring Brooklyn Heights. Located just half a mile fromd the Brooklyn Promenade, this international chain offers contemporary rooms and proximity to the charms of this Brooklyn neighborhood.
1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge - 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge is located directly on the waterfront and takes advantage of its prime real estate with stunning views of Manhattan. This hotel prides itself in being eco-conscious and was built using reclaimed materials. A rooftop houses a pool and two bars, and undeniably one of the best views in all the boroughs.
Park Slope is the perfect neighborhood for families. Centered by the famed Prospect Park, the tree-lined streets of Park Slope are often full of strollers.
Park Slope is home to an artistic and literary crowd, with many independent cafes and bookstores in the neighborhood.
Finding casual eateries and fine dining is easy on Park Slope’s two main thoroughfares, 5th and 7th Avenue. Rose Water and Benchmark are two of many restaurants in the area that serve locally sourced organic dishes.
Visiting Brooklyn wouldn’t be complete without having a slice or two. Smiling Pizzeria is as authentic as it gets for New York pizza. This no frills pizzeria is located right next to the subway station, which makes it an easy meal to grab and go.
To satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth, head over to The Chocolate Room. Desserts are the main item on the menu, including a number of vegan options.
Where to Stay in Park Slope
Union Hotel - Union Hotel is centrally located and walking distance to a subway station, a must when visiting New York City. This 19th century brick building blends the old with the new, as guest rooms showcase art from local graffiti artists.
Gowanus Inn & Yard - Gowanus Inn & Yard, an Ascend Hotel Collection Member, has a prime location in the center of Park Slope. It is walking distance to many of the neighborhoods attractions, including the Barclay’s Center, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Hotel Le Bleu - Hotel Le Bleu is Park Slope’s first boutique hotel. Guests are welcomed with a package of snacks and drinks upon arrival. The hotel also offers free continental breakfast, as well as free parking for those driving into Brooklyn.
If you can’t decide on whether to have some of the best tacos or dumplings in New York City, have both in Sunset Park. Visit this neighborhood to experience a true melting pot of distinct cultures through Hispanic and Chinese shops and restaurants.
Sunset Park is also the site of New York City’s most famous cemetery, Greenwood Cemetery, where many athletes and politicians are buried.
Located just south of Park Slope, Sunset Park is a mixture of authentic Hispanic cultures. For authentic Mexican cuisine, try tacos and tostadas at Tacos El Bronco Restaurant. For traditional, homemade Peruvian rotisserie chicken, find your way to La Brasa Peruana.
A section within Sunset Park is Brooklyn’s Chinatown. Entering the Fei Long Market will have you question if you actually landed in China, rather than Brooklyn. English isn’t widely heard in this supermarket and Asian produce takes center stage.
The Shanghai Traditional Dumpling, a stand within the Fei Long Market’s food court, is as traditional as it gets. Watch cooks meticulously pinch dumplings as you wait for your order.
Where to Stay in Sunset Park
AirBnB Studio Apartment - Stay in a studio apartment within a Brooklyn townhouse. This apartment has 1 bedroom and 1 shared bathroom, along with a view of Manhattan.
Insignia Hotel - Insignia Hotel, an Ascend Hotel Collection Member, is centrally located within Sunset Park. Guests can enjoy contemporary rooms and free breakfast at this hotel, before heading out to taste all the cultural flavors of the neighborhood.
Wyndham Garden Brooklyn Sunset Park - This chain hotel offers modern designed guest rooms and a pet friendly atmosphere to visitors who are exploring Sunset Park. Daily breakfast is free and the hotel makes the environment a priority with its eco-friendly practices.
If you want to be transported to another country without leaving Brooklyn, head over to Brighton Beach.
This Brooklyn neighborhood is home to a vibrantly large Russian population. Approximately 600,000 Russian Americans call this section of Brooklyn home, making it the biggest population of Russians in the western hemisphere.
Streets lined with Russian markets, shops, nightclubs, and restaurants fill this seaside neighborhood. Browse through Gold Label International Food for flavors of Russia at this local grocery store.
Located along the beach just next door to Coney Island, Brighton Beach is an area of Brooklyn where Russian is heard more than English. One of the most popular restaurants along the boardwalk is Tatiana, which serves traditional Russian dishes with an oceanfront view.
The Brighton Beach boardwalk is a perfect spot for long walks and, if the weather is warm enough, you can spend the day tanning on the beach and swimming in the Atlantic Ocean.
Nightlife takes on a new meaning in Brighton Beach with a variety of Russian nightclubs to choose from.
The National Restaurant & Night Club provides a dazzling atmosphere and a prix-fixed menu of Russian cuisine. Dinner is accompanied by Russian entertainment and music, along with caviar and vodka.
Where to Stay in Brighton Beach
Airbnb Private Room in a Shared House - Stay in a private room, with a private bathroom, in this Brighton Beach apartment. Located just steps from the boardwalk and beach, this location is central to the neighborhood.
Airbnb 2 Bedroom Apartment - Rent a 2 bedroom apartment, just five minutes away from the beach. Free Wifi and free Sling TV are features of this apartment in Brighton Beach.
4 Bedroom Oceanfront Rental - Stay in a 4 bedroom oceanfront home. This house has 2 master suites and an elevator. It is in the heart of Brighton Beach and just a walk away from the boardwalk and ocean.
How to Get Around Brooklyn
Public transportation is king in New York City, including in Brooklyn. The MTA, which is New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority, is simply the easiest, cheapest, and for the most part, the quickest way to get around. Traffic and parking can be a headache, so it’s easier to skip the car for a ride on the train.
The MTA includes all subways and buses within Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. A single fare on the subway or bus is $2.75.
MetroCards can be loaded per ride, or commuters can choose to purchase an unlimited 7-day MetroCard for $33. For longer stays, an unlimited 30-day MetroCard is $127.
All subways and buses in New York City run 24 hours a day, making it a reliable method of transportation at any time.
Top 10 Sights to See in Brooklyn
Brooklyn Bridge Park
The prime place to see the Manhattan skyline is from Brooklyn Bridge Park. This waterfront park offers a multitude of cultural and athletic events throughout the year. Concerts are often held here, as well as outdoor movies in the summer.
There isn’t a more unique way to see Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan than above the East River. Take a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, starting in Manhattan and ending in Brooklyn Heights. From up above, you can see the Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines, along with the Statue of Liberty.
Come to Brooklyn Flea for vintage shopping and leave with an antique piece of furniture or vintage clothes. Brooklyn Flea is a favorite for those who want to find unique pieces or browse through antiques.
Prospect Park is Brooklyn’s urban playground. Designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, the same designer of Central Park, Prospect Park is 526 acre destination full of recreational activities for all ages.
Famed Coney Island still holds onto a colorful and historic past. This oceanside neighborhood is famous for its beach and boardwalk, along with Luna Park and the original location of Nathan’s hotdogs.
Recommended Tour: South Brooklyn & Coney Island Bike Tour
There are over 1 million pieces of artwork in the Brooklyn Museum that span both international and American art. The Brooklyn Museum comes in second in size of all New York City museums, only after the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The museum suggests an entrance fee, which is by donation, so you can choose to pay what you want.
Grab your tickets ahead of time for the Brooklyn Museum here.
Grand Army Plaza
Grand Army Plaza is the entry way into Prospect Park. The large arch of Grand Army Plaza is reminiscent of European architecture and nearby Bailey Fountain makes the entrance even more over the top.
Barclay’s Center is Brooklyn’s own stadium and home to the Brooklyn Nets. Catch a basketball game if you’re visiting during the season, or check for popular headlining tours that often come through Brooklyn.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Located inside Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a beautiful retreat away from city streets. Situated on 52 acres, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden houses a variety of plants and flowers, as well as its annual Cherry Blossom festival in the spring.
Recommended: Brooklyn Botanic Garden Admission & 3-Course Meal
DUMBO, which stands for down under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, is an artistic neighborhood with plenty of picturesque locations. Visit Washington Street for one of Brooklyn’s most Instagrammable spots, a shot of the Manhattan Bridge in between Brooklyn buildings.
Other Recommended Experiences
Top 3 Day Trips from Brooklyn
This seaside neighborhood peninsula of Queens is surrounded by water and is one of the best beaches in New York City. Just a train or bus ride away from Brooklyn, visitors can easily spend a summer day walking the Rockaway boardwalk, laying out on the beach, and enjoying tacos at famed restaurant, Tacoway Beach.
Hop on a ferry to Fire Island, a barrier island on the south shore of Long Island. This quaint beach destination allows visitors to take life at a slower pace. Walk the shores of the Atlantic and dine at a casual restaurant in the center of town. There are no cars allowed on Fire Island, giving it a relaxed, beach side atmosphere.
If you have a craving for seafood, head north to City Island, a neighborhood that is part of the Bronx. This small island, only 1.5 miles long, is home to some of the best seafood restaurants in the five boroughs. You’ll forget that you are still in the Bronx with the quietness of this island. Visit the City Island Nautical Museum, eat some delicious seafood, or even try to catch your own while fishing on the island.
What to Pack for Brooklyn
About the Writer
My name is Sarah and I’m a habitual traveler. I’m a displaced Brooklyn native currently living in Northern Virginia. Thanks to my husband’s career in the United States Marine Corps, we pack up and go wherever the military takes us. Luckily, traveling is my thing. I founded Sarah and a Suitcase to inspire both military and non-military families to discover attractions near military bases.
Aside from traveling, I like to think I can do yoga, some people tell me I look like Joanna Gaines, and occasionally (ok, frequently), I succumb to my sweet tooth.
PRACTICAL INFO FOR BROOKLYN
Book a vacation rental on AirBnB (and get $40 off your first booking).
Buy your New York Guide here.
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