Dumbo, a neighborhood whose name is an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass (no matter what Jerry Seinfeld tells you), is one of the most-visited spots in Brooklyn. It’s easy to see why. Just a couple of decades removed from an industrial past in which few people lived there and there was little reason to visit, it’s now a hotbed of dining, recreation and shopping with great views of the Lower Manhattan skyline. Read on for 12 places to visit during a day in the area.
This 85-acre waterfront area had largely fallen into disuse for years after industry left, but it’s now been transformed into a park where residents and visitors get fresh air, play sports, enjoy skyline views, eat ice cream, admire flora and fauna, and enter a converted 19th-century mercantile hub to shop for designer goods and visit a Brooklyn Historical Society branch (which reopens in early 2018).
On Sundays from April through October, Brooklyn Flea sets up by the Manhattan Bridge Archway and offers a selection of flea-market goodies like indie clothing, vintage records and old baseball cards along with tasty offerings from food vendors. You’re in Brooklyn. You know you want to buy some vintage stuff.
This restaurant, on a cobblestone street close to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, is a good choice for a sit-down dinner (or a break-up-the-day brunch). The space is charming and weathered, with cozy dining spaces in its wood-filled interior. If the weather is nice, take a seat in the garden. Popular entrees include cast-iron chicken and spinach and ricotta manicotti; pancakes are the way to go earlier in the day. For dessert, try the rich Guinness chocolate cake. You can grab a light bite and coffee from its casual offshoot, VHH Foods in Empire Stores.
This Dumbo outpost of this Australian-style café features ample space to sit, talk and relax; a menu with sandwiches, salads, pastries and, naturally, the millennial and Brooklyn favorite avocado toast—plus, of course, all manner of coffee drinks. Also good for caffeinated stops: a trio of Brooklyn Roasting Company neighborhood locations.
Chocolatier Jacques Torres was one of the first businesspeople to come out to Dumbo as it transitioned from its industrial past to its visitor-friendly present. His chocolate shop, which opened in 2000, quickly became a major draw. While it no longer includes a factory (that’s moved to Sunset Park’s Brooklyn Army Terminal), it’s still a place to find all manner of chocolate confections. We recommend the rich hot chocolate.
Pizza travelers know to check out Grimaldi’s under the Brooklyn Bridge. But, with no disrespect to the original, the newer Juliana’s—started by Patsy Grimaldi himself and named after his mother—is our personal pick for neighborhood pizza. Come hungry and bring a friend: the coal-oven joint serves pies only.
Artists were critical as Dumbo transformed into a residential neighborhood and then a tourist attraction, but they remain a part of the neighborhood’s fabric. The focus at this gallery, one of dozen or so exhibition spaces in the area, is on contemporary photography.
You’ll want to kick your Kindle into the East River (please don’t) after experiencing all the glories of physical books in this shop, which is run by art-book publishing company PowerHouse. But what really makes the store stand out is its steady stream of signings and events.
People flock to Washington Street between Front and Water Streets to capture a shot that features Dumbo’s cobblestone streets, the Manhattan Bridge, and the Empire State Building. You’re almost certain to see other visitors taking the same photograph—making it sort of a meta-attraction.
This decades-old Brooklyn arts organization moved into its current digs—the Tobacco Warehouse—in 2015. Past performances have included concerts by Laurie Anderson and an in-the-round production of A Streetcar Named Desire that starred Gillian Anderson. The 19th-century space is an attraction in itself; feel free to sit in the public garden, whether or not you’re there for a show.
Finish off your day at this bar-restaurant with a Mexican food and some drinks. Our Mexican-food-and-nightlife consultant has kind words for the tacos, and the tequila- and mezcal-based cocktails are also popular (and potent). If it’s a nice night, take advantage of the outdoor patio seating beneath the Brooklyn Bridge.