We’d love to share our 1-day itinerary in Brooklyn, as it was one of our best days out in New York.
If it’s your first time in New York, don’t spend all your time in Manhattan. Although Manhattan is a fantastic district, it’s interesting to see what the other neighbourhoods have to offer.
New York has five neighbourhoods in total, Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Staten Island and Queens. Although we’d love to have seen them all, we only had time in our 7-day New York itinerary for Manhattan and Brooklyn. We were staying in central Manhattan at the Fifty Sonesta Hotel and wanted to see what the other neighbourhoods had to offer.
So, we planned our perfect family day out in Brooklyn, cramming in as many of the top sights as possible. (Bear in mind that Brooklyn is enormous, so you’ll never cover everything in one day!)
Read on for our one day itinerary and discover how to spend a perfect day in Brooklyn, New York.
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One day itinerary in Brooklyn: Our walking route on a map
A walk over Brooklyn Bridge
Start your day with a walk across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge. It is one of the must-see attractions in Brooklyn and something all the family will enjoy. The walk over Brooklyn Bridge will take about 30 minutes.
The Brooklyn Bridge was the first fixed crossing of the East River and links Manhattan with Brooklyn. When it opened on 24th May 1883, it was the world’s first steel-wire suspension bridge and for many years was the longest in the world.
Today the bridge is one of Brooklyn’s most popular attractions, with over 300 000 pedestrians per day.
As you’d imagine, it can get extremely busy, so allow plenty of time for photo stops.
At the start of the bridge crossing, you’ll see plenty of street vendors selling New York tat. If you’re in need of a cheap keyring, fridge magnet or NYC cap, you’re in the right place!
Of course, there are plenty of other ways to cross Brooklyn Bridge. You can hire a bike, drive, or admire it from below on a boat on the East River. However, a walk across Brooklyn Bridge is one of the best free things to do in Brooklyn.
Once you are over the bridge, there are two exits. One leads to downtown Brooklyn and the other leads down to DUMBO.
A wooden bridge at the end of the promenade will take you down into DUMBO. Don’t expect to see any Disney elephants, DUMBO is the District under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.
DUMBO is a hip, trendy area with bars, boutiques, and restaurants. Head to Washington Street, which is also the best place for the most iconic shot of Brooklyn Bridge from below. Expect to see lots of people posing for the perfect Instagram shot!
Once we’d had our fill of photos, we headed to One Girl Cookies for drinks and homemade cakes.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
The next destination on our 1-day itinerary in Brooklyn is at Brooklyn Bridge Park. This is the waterfront park along the East River. It’s perfect for a stroll along Brooklyn Heights Promenade, with some of the best views of the harbour and the Manhattan skyline.
There’s lots to see in Brooklyn Bridge Park, as its home to all the old piers. You can still see the stilts which used to support them. Old Pier 1 is one of the best places to get a photo of the old docks and East River. If you’re travelling with kids, you’ll also find a small playground with a carousel here.
However, if it’s a sunny day, you could take the children to the small sandy beach at Pier 4.
Brooklyn Bridge Park is also home to one to the world-famous lobster roll shack, Luke’s Lobsters.
Luke’s Lobsters is certainly not a cheap take-away, but it is lobster, and I’m assured by the boys that it will tickle your taste buds.
From Brooklyn Bridge Park, you can take a walk up Remsen Street to Brooklyn Heights. This is a upmarket residential area with large historic brownstone houses. It’s one of the smartest areas in Brooklyn and unlike Manhattan, has very few high-rise buildings.
Next on our list of things to do in Brooklyn is a visit to Prospect Park.
With an area of 158 acres, Prospect Park is one of the biggest and best green spaces in Brooklyn. I guess it’s the Brooklyn equivalent to Manhattan’s Central Park. However, it’s quite a trek to Prospect Park, so we took the subway from Borough Hall.
You’ll find lots of activities for kids in Prospect Park, including seven playgrounds, a water play area and splash pad.
The Long Meadow is a huge expanse of playing fields, with plenty of space for ball games or picnics. Prospect Park also has a big lake with a historic lake house, streams and waterfalls. In summer you can hire kayaks or pedalos.
We took a walk through the forest area, known as the Ravine. This woodland park covers nearly 150 acres and is perfect for a scenic stroll or jog.
Prospect Park Zoo
However, before our stroll across the park we took a visit to Prospect Park Zoo on Flatbush Avenue.
This is one of five zoos in New York, and probably one of the least known.
Prospect Park Zoo is small and perfect for younger children and toddlers. As we were with two teenagers, we had quite low expectations, but all really enjoyed it.
Its compact size makes it easy to explore in about an hour. There are several interactive activities on the outdoor Discovery Trail, where you’ll also find dingos, red pandas, and porcupines. There’s an inside area with reptiles and fish and a Barn with farmyard animals.
One of the highlights for us was watching the frisky baboons, who were entertaining us from their large enclosure. You should also make time for the feeding time at the sealion pool.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
You could also make time in your 1-day itinerary in Brooklyn to visit the Botanical Gardens, which are just opposite Prospect Park. These are apparently spectacular in Spring when the cherry blossom trees are in bloom. However, this didn’t appeal to our teenagers, so we gave it a miss.
However, one of the best things to do in Brooklyn with kids is attend a sports event at Brooklyn’s Barclay Centre. This was our last stop on our day out in Brooklyn.
It is about one mile from Prospect Park to the Barclays Centre, so we walked past the Grand Army Plaza via Flatbush Avenue. However, you can take the subway from the park to Atlantic Avenue station.
Before the game we stopped for food at Shake Shack, which is directly opposite the Barclays Centre. This burger bar is an ideal choice for cheap family food but does get busy just before the match. There were plenty of other options for alternative fast-food restaurants on Flatbush Avenue.
Watching a basketball game at the Barclays Centre was one of the best things to do in Brooklyn. Even if you don’t like watching sports, you should go for the experience. The atmosphere is amazing, and you have no choice but to join in with the cheering.
It was the perfect end to our 1-day itinerary in Brooklyn, New York. If you prefer an organised tour, you could book a trip in Brooklyn with Get your Guide.
Best Travel Guides for New York City
If you’re looking for more information on exploring the different neighbourhoods in New York, we always find the DK Eyewitness Top 10 Travel Guides very inspiring. As the name suggests, the Top Ten New York City travel guide provides top ten lists to everything, from museums and monuments to restaurants and bars.
Another good option for helping you get the most out of your visit is the Mini Rough Guide to New York. These travel guides come in a handy, pocket-friendly format, so are ideal for popping in your bag or pocket. And you can never go wrong with a Lonely Planet New York City Guide, which provide practical information from locals.
If you are looking to enthuse younger children about your visit to NYC, try the Kids’ Travel Guide to New York City. It will help prepare them for all the iconic landmarks on your trip.
We hope this helps you plan your perfect 1-day itinerary in Brooklyn, New York. We would love to hear your comments below.
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