As someone who loves pizza, it was really fun to interview Michael Wasserman of Michael W Travels about Brooklyn, New York. Michael’s tips for the best things to do in Brooklyn were great because there is so much to do in New York City beyond Times Square and Manhattan. He has lived in the area all of his life and knows where to find the best pizza and burgers in town.
Brooklyn, New York
Brooklyn is often overlooked by visitors to New York City, but it has a character and personality all its own. With about 2.7 million citizens, it is the most populous borough of New York City. Brooklyn is the home of Coney Island amusement park and the 4th of July Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. There’s so much more to do in Brooklyn and much of our interview centers around the amazing food of Brooklyn.
We share a lot of resources and local suggestions in today’s podcast, but you should also check out Explore Brooklyn, the local convention and visitor’s bureau. They are a wealth of information and can help you plan an itinerary based on your time, budget, and interests. While visiting New York, CityPass will save 41% at six of the most popular attractions.
Best things to do in Brooklyn
- Boerum Hill – Boerum Hill is a tree-lined Brooklyn neighborhood of brownstones and townhouses. The relaxed community of young professionals and families gives the area a village vibe. Trendy bars and restaurants.
- Botanic Garden (reviews) – A kid-friendly annual Cherry Blossom Festival, a Japanese garden & more, spread across 52 acres.
- Brighton Beach (reviews) – Also known as “Little Odessa” due its tight-knit Russian and Eastern European communities, Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach is a lively neighborhood with many high-rise residential buildings. Traditional
- Brooklyn Bridge (reviews) – Beloved, circa-1883 landmark connecting Manhattan & Brooklyn via a unique stone-&-steel design.
- Brooklyn Bridge Park (reviews) – This urban oasis features shaded picnic tables, hibachi-style BBQ grills & river views.
- Brooklyn Children’s Museum (reviews) – Circa-1899 museum, billed as the world’s first for kids, with 30,000+ objects & hands-on exhibits.
- Brooklyn Heights (reviews) – Brooklyn Heights is a posh residential area of elegant brownstones. It’s known for its tree-lined promenade along the East River, with unrivaled views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.
- Brooklyn Heights Promenade (reviews) – Tree-lined walkway offers views of the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge & Manhattan skyline.
- Brooklyn Historical Society (reviews) – Stately museum & historical society in an 1881 landmark building with exhibits on Brooklyn history.
- Brooklyn Museum (reviews) – Beaux Arts landmark famed for ancient & modern art collections & world-class temporary exhibitions.
- Brooklyn Navy Yard (reviews) – The Brooklyn Navy Yard is a shipyard and industrial complex located in northwest Brooklyn in New York City, New York. The Navy Yard is located on the East River in Wallabout Bay.
- The Brooklyn Tabernacle (reviews) – Massive nondenominational church housing a huge congregation & a famous, Grammy Award-winning choir.
- Bushwick Inlet Park (reviews) – Waterfront park with a regulation soccer field, playground & views of the Manhattan skyline.
- Carroll Gardens (reviews) – Known for its Italian-American roots, Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens neighborhood shows its heritage in the many traditional Italian cafes and shops on Court and Smith streets. Hip boutiques, cool.
- The City Reliquary Museum (reviews) – Quirky storefront museum that’s filled with New York City artifacts & hosts annual cultural events.
- Clinton Hill – Clinton Hill is a neighborhood in north-central Brooklyn, a borough of New York City. It is bordered by the Brooklyn Navy Yard and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway to the north.
- Cobble Hill (reviews) – Laid-back Cobble Hill is a neighborhood in Brooklyn, known for the hip cafes, relaxed bars and casual restaurants along Court Street, its main artery. Families and young professionals reside.
- Coney Island Beach & Boardwalk (reviews) – Legendary beach & boardwalk offering sand sport courts, playgrounds & a few rides. Coney Island is also a residential Brooklyn neighborhood that morphs into a relaxation and entertainment destination each summer. Locals and tourists crowd its beach, the Wonder Wheel and Luna Park
- The Cyclone Roller Coaster Coney Island NY (reviews) – Opened in 1926, this wooden rollercoaster is an iconic fixture at the Coney Island funfair.
- Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park (reviews) – Beachside amusement park featuring a storied Ferris wheel as well as carnival rides.
- Downtown Brooklyn – Evolving Downtown Brooklyn features a growing number of upscale high-rise apartment buildings amid landmark buildings like Brooklyn Borough Hall and chain stores and discount shops.
- Dumbo (reviews) – Trendy Dumbo’s cobblestone streets and converted Brooklyn warehouse buildings are the backdrop for independent boutiques, high-end restaurants and trendy cafes. Near the waterfront, St. Ann’s
- Dyker Heights (reviews) – Dyker Heights is an affluent residential neighborhood in the southwest corner of the borough of Brooklyn in New York City, US. It is on a hill between Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, and Borough Park.
- East River State Park (reviews) – 7-acre waterfront park offering views of the Manhattan skyline, sites to picnic & barbecue.
- Empire Fulton Ferry Park (reviews) – Riverside park offering picnic areas, a playground & renovated carousel, plus urban views.
- Fort Greene Park (reviews) – Rolling, tree-filled park with playgrounds & tennis courts plus a weekly market & other activities.
- Fort Greene Place (reviews) – Anchored by its namesake park, Fort Greene is a family-friendly, tree-lined neighborhood of Brooklyn. The community’s diversity is evident in the mix of casual eateries, hip bars and indie shops
- Fulton Ferry District (reviews) – Fulton Ferry is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. The neighborhood is named for Fulton Ferry, a prominent ferry line crossing the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn.
- Gowanus (reviews) – In a former industrial zone around Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal, Gowanus is a developing area with a mix of classic row houses and converted warehouses. Hipsters and creative types head up studios
- Grand Army Plaza (reviews) – Elliptical park landscaped in the 1860s by Calvert Vaux, with a military memorial arch & fountains
- Green-Wood Cemetery (reviews) – Once a Revolutionary War battlefield, this sprawling, 478-acre cemetery is home to notable figures.
- Jane’s Carousel (reviews) – Restored 1922 carousel set in Brooklyn Bridge Park with the bridge & Manhattan skyline in view.
- LeFrak Center at Lakeside Prospect Park Brooklyn (reviews) – Activity center hosting seasonal & year-round activities from skating to boating, classes & events.
- Luna Park (reviews) – Coney Island amusement park with thrill rides for kids & adults, carnival games & snack foods.
- Manhattan Beach (reviews) – Manhattan Beach is a residential neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. It is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the south and east, by Sheepshead Bay on the north, and Brighton.
- McCarren Park Pool (reviews) – Public park offering playgrounds, playing fields & courts, an Olympic-sized pool & a running track.
- The Narrows (reviews) – The Narrows is the tidal strait separating the boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn in New York City. It connects the Upper New York Bay and Lower New York Bay and forms the principal channel.
- New York Aquarium (reviews) – Aquarium on the Coney Island boardwalk hosting exhibits on marine life & daily sea lion shows.
- New York Transit Museum (reviews) – Housed in a 1936 subway station, this museum features interactive exhibits like vintage trains.
- Old Stone House (reviews) – The Old Stone House is a 1933 reconstruction, using some original materials, of the Vechte–Cortelyou House, which was destroyed in 1897. The original house was an important part of the 1776 Battle.
- Pioneer Works (reviews) – Pioneer Works is a non-profit cultural center in Red Hook, New York City. The center builds community through the arts and sciences to create an open and inspired world.
- Prospect Heights – Prospect Heights is a mellow Brooklyn neighborhood of brownstones and luxury condos, anchored by cultural institutions like the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Brooklyn Museum.
- Prospect Park (reviews) – Sprawling city park featuring basketball & handball courts, a playground & a historic home.
- Prospect Park Zoo (reviews) – More than 125 species within the confines of a 12-acre menagerie, suitable for all ages.
- WNYC Transmitter Park (reviews) – Once the site of a radio tower, this waterfront park offers Manhattan views & a recreational pier.
Best places to eat in Brooklyn
- Brennan & Carr (reviews) – Brennan & Carr is around since the 1930s and Roll n Roaster can both be visited during the same day as they’re just a little over a mile apart.
- Brooklyn Brewery (reviews) – Microbrewery with tastings & tours that offer an inside look at the creation process.
- Peter Luger Steak House (reviews) – I’m a big fan of burgers and would recommend Peter Luger for their lunch time only burger. The only issue with visiting Peter Luger is that you need to make reservations in advance.
- Pies ‘n’ Thighs (reviews) – Start off with a delicious chocolate donut and then get their chicken biscuit (warning, its a bit spicy). The biscuits and gravy are also outstanding.
- Roll N Roaster (reviews) – Brennan & Carr is around since the 1930s and Roll n Roaster can both be visited during the same day as they’re just a little over a mile apart.
Best places to stay in Brooklyn
- Andaz Wall Street (reviews) – Just a couple blocks from the beach and close to shopping.
- Best Western Bowery Hanbee Hotel (reviews)
- Days Inn Brooklyn (reviews) – Close to the subway and shopping
- Fairfield Inn & Suites New York Brooklyn (reviews) – Located within the heart of Brooklyn. Complimentary breakfast is included
- Hampton Inn Brooklyn/Downtown (reviews) – Located at the end of the Brooklyn Bridge. Free hot breakfast included.
- Holiday Inn Express (reviews) – Located close to the subway.
- Sleep Inn Brooklyn (reviews)
Getting around Brooklyn
There are three major airports to choose from in the New York area – JFK, La Guardia, and Newark. JFK and LGA are in Queens and are the closest to Brooklyn. Whereas Newark is across the river from Manhattan in New Jersey.
Michael says that there’s no need to rent a car in New York. Public transportation is widespread and fairly inexpensive. Many locals don’t own a car, and, if they do, they don’t use them on a daily basis. Cabs are a way of life in New York. Uber and Lyft are also excellent ways to get around.
Brooklyn and New York City are very walkable. And there’s always Citi Bike if you want to ride a bike around town.
To rent a car for a couple of hours, rent by the hour with Zipcar. Join now to get $25 loaded into your account.
Places we talked about on the podcast
Here is a map of all of the places we talked about on the podcast episode with Michael Wasserman about Brooklyn, New York. You can zoom into the map and click on each dot to explore the city.
- Red dots = best places to eat in Brooklyn, New York
- Green dots = best things to do in Brooklyn, New York
- Yellow dots = best places to stay in Brooklyn, New York
Who is Michael Wasserman?
Michael Wasserman is a fellow travel blogger on Boarding Area. By day, Michael is a special education teacher in Brooklyn, New York. His site Michael W Travels focuses on traveling with his children and inspiring other dads to do the same.
I love traveling with my kids, but Michael is an inspiration. I travel a lot, but young children have way more passport stamps that I do.
He also writes about the amazing food that he finds in his hometown of Brooklyn and all of the places that he travels to around the world. My mouth waters every time I see his pictures and read his blog posts.
Here are a few articles that he’s written:
- Food Review: The Cheeseburger (& Wings) at Old Town Bar in NYC
- Win A Trip For Four To Walt Disney World or 1/20 $500 Gift Cards!
- Generator Hostel Barcelona, A Solid Family-Friendly Option!
As you can tell, his writing is primarily about food, contests, and family-friendly travel options.
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Stay tuned for our next episode
Listen to the next episode when Tim and Amy Rutherford of Go With Less share where to eat a meal from a 3-star Michelin chef for less than $40 in Budapest, Hungary. We hope you’ll join us when We Travel There.
What’s your favorite part of Brooklyn, New York? Let us know in the comment section below or continue the discussion in our Facebook group!
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