Brooklyn Bridge Park: Adventure in the City

Brooklyn Bridge Park: Adventure in the City

If you haven’t visited Brooklyn Bridge Park, or plan to visit New York City sometime soon (or ever), you must find your way over to this magnificent waterfront park, located, naturally, near the Brooklyn Bridge. Covering 85 acres of land along the Brooklyn side of the East River, the 1.3 mile long park takes you from just north of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges in DUMBO, to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn Heights.

Filled with green lawns, rolling hills, sports fields, gardens, secret pathways, hidden vistas, playgrounds, a beach, a marina, even a pop-up pool in the summer months, and home to the now iconic Jane’s Carousel, there is more to explore in this park than you could ever imagine. And the best part is – it has the most spectacular views of lower Manhattan. As my brother, who lives in Manhattan, once said upon his first visit, “It feels like you’re on vacation when you’re here.”

Looking at the Manhattan skyline from Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Stairway in the trees in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

That’s how I felt, too, when the park was first being constructed my last few years of living in Brooklyn Heights, before moving to the burbs. Everyone in the neighborhood was so excited about this new brilliant park, which was being built in Brooklyn’s post-industrial waterfront district. It opened up, literally, a whole new space for us urban dwellers.

Construction began in 2008, with the first 6 acres opening in 2010, and it still continues. Though it can get crowded during the summertime, especially with the variety of events held, from concerts to family movie nights, it is still nonetheless a breath of fresh air from city life. With or without the kids, it is a place of great beauty and adventure, whether you’re going to one of its innovative playgrounds, or taking a run by yourself along the river and up onto Brooklyn Bridge.

On a recent school holiday, I took my girls to the park to catch up with old friends, and we spent the better half of the day there walking around and checking out the new developments. Below are some of the highlights of the park we enjoy, places we have been to many times before, and new places we visited for the first time this week.

One of my girls’ favorite things to do is to go for a ride on Jane’s Carousel, located in Empire Fulton Ferry (nestled between the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges). A beautifully restored vintage carousel, what makes this a destination great for both for kids and adults alike is its location on the water inside a Jean Nouvel designed glass pavilion. Watching the carousel turn and the music go, with the architectural setting of the glass, the glistening river and the NYC skyline in the near distance, it’s a stunning site and not to be missed.

Jane's Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Nearby is Main Street, a 3.5-acre park with its own “Pebble Beach”, a nautical-themed playground, Dumbo Boulders (a rock-climbing wall), and rotating art exhibitions. Kids love this section! Sure to bring the hunger on, not far away as well is a section of the park called Fulton Ferry Landing, which is a good place to get food. The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory is located here for excellent home-made ice cream, as is Luke’s Lobster and other eateries, and, across the street is our favorite, Shake Shack.

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An important part of Brooklyn Bridge Park is all the piers. There are 6 piers, named Pier 1 Pier 2, etc., that jet out from the park and into the river all the way from DUMBO to Brooklyn Heights. A path called the Greenway weaves in and throughout the park and connects each pier to the next. It runs along the water with views of the Manhattan skyline and is a great place to go biking, jogging and walking. Each pier has its own set of activities and flavor. For example, Pier 1, in DUMBO, is the largest of the piers and has huge lawns, water gardens, a waterfront promenade and a playground. It has big wide, open spaces, which are perfect for lazy summer days in the sun. Also located in Pier 1 is the New York City Water Taxi stop. If you haven’t done this hop on/hop off way of exploring the city, I highly recommend it!

pier-1

Pier 2 has all the sports courts, including basketball, bocce and shuffleboard, play turf, fitness equipment, even a roller rink! Pier 3 is a terrace that is essentially sheltered from the rest of the park and feels more secret and private, while Pier 4 is known as the “Beach”. Pier 5 is where all the sports fields are located, as well as having its own picnic area equipped with bbq’s and tables with umbrellas. Also located here is the park’s own marina. Finally, Pier 6, in Brooklyn Heights, is where we used to spend a lot of time, as it was the closest to our home. There are 5 playgrounds in Pier 6, including Swing Valley, Slide Mountain, the Water Lab (a water park), Sandbox Village, and Marsh Garden. Truly innovative playspaces, people from all over the city bring their kids here to visit and play. The ferry to Governors Island is also located in Pier 6 – another must do I highly recommend. You can read more about it here.

Grasslands in Brooklyn Bridge Park

Brooklyn Bridge Park is like its own little adventure land amidst the big city. On our most recent visit we started at Pier 6 and slowly made our way down to Pier 1, the kids racing through paths and climbing rocks, stopping at various playgrounds along the way. When we lived there, we used to meet our DUMBO friends at Pier 1’s wine bar (oh, Pier 1 has wine!), by taking the Greenway path all the way down, girls on scooters, us on feet. We’d race back right before dark, catching the most beautiful purplish cityscape sunsets, the river twinkling in the distance. There is a carefreeness to this park I’m not sure you quite get anywhere else in the city. And as my brother said, it’s like vacation. So when you next go to NYC on vacation, be sure to check it out.

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Brooklyn Bridge Park is the jewel of the waterfront section in Brooklyn, with incredible city views, green space, good restaurants and lots of outdoor activity.

Brooklyn Bridge Park is accessible by Subway, Bus and Ferry

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26 Comments

  1. / 9:29 am

    Love the sound of the piers and the parks – another place for the list! We’ve walked over the Brooklyn Bridge but it was an icy December day and we didn’t linger too long, we would have frozen otherwise. Would love to do it again in summer and spend time in Brooklyn.

    • / 4:24 pm

      I can imagine – December in New York is beautiful but cold and I wouldn’t want to linger either;).

  2. / 12:02 pm

    looks like a great place! #citytripping

  3. aandj8804
    / 1:16 pm

    Love the DUMBO park area! My first trip to NYC I was looking for Jane’s Carousel and I referred to it as in the “DUMBO park”… You wouldn’t believe how many NY’ers I asked for directions from that didn’t know either “Jane’s Carousel” or “DUMBO park”. Finally, we found it. (I don’t remember how.) The park is such a fun and unique place to visit! I haven’t explored as well as you though, so now you have me wanted to go back and try the ice cream and explore the governor’s island. Of course, I’d love to spend more time discovering Brooklyn. Every time I visit NYC, it’s generally just to see Manhattan. Thanks for sharing more about the park and area! #citytripping

    • / 4:37 pm

      Thanks Amanda! That’s crazy no one knew what you were talking about – it’s such a landmark now! Brooklyn is fantastic to explore, and soon I’ll be posting a top things to do on that borough too:).

    • / 4:39 pm

      Amanda – what is your blog name? I’m trying to connect but it’s not letting me..

    • / 4:41 pm

      Thanks Megan! I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding when it comes to New York as more and more it’s becoming a very child-friendly city. But I can see how people would be overwhelmed by it.

  4. Clare Thomson
    / 4:42 pm

    Yet another great NY attraction to add to my ever-growing list thanks, mainly, to you Corey! What an amazing facility right in the city. I love the fact that you can see Manhattan so close by and yet feel as if you’re on holiday. Thanks so much for linking up with #FarawayFiles

    • / 5:28 pm

      That’s exactly it – the proximity while still feeling like you’re far enough away. Thanks Clare!

  5. / 7:13 pm

    Thanks again Corey! You are truly the oracle of amazing things to do in New York as far as I’m concerned. I cannot imagine any child not wanting to spend days here. Bookmarking for future adventures! Thanks for including this post in #FarawayFiles

    • / 2:38 pm

      Thanks so much Katy! Loving Faraway Files and thanks to you three ladies for hosting such a wonderful link up!

  6. / 7:13 pm

    My abiding memory of Brooklyn is eating so much I almost burst (it was winter so scalding pizza followed by hot chocolate and more chocolate and possibly waffles), although I have also walked over the bridge (that time in summer, I think). The park looks lovely for my eventual return, especially the views, and my daughter never says no to ice cream! Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

    • / 2:40 pm

      Haha – Brooklyn has a lot of good food! It’s a dangerous place! I wonder if you had Grimaldi’s pizza in Dumbo..famous spot and excellent pizza. Thanks as always for hosting #citytripping – just love it.

      • / 3:08 pm

        It was indeed Grimaldi’s – fab pizza. And thank you, that’s lovely to hear!

  7. / 3:15 am

    Sounds like a lovely place to visit with family. I’d love to revisit NYC during summer and explore other boroughs as my first visit was focused on Manhattan.

    • / 2:42 pm

      There’s so much to explore in the city..I’ll be posting a section on Brooklyn coming up, as well as Queens. Thanks for reading.

  8. I love when iconic city monuments can be incorporated into a child friendly/family friendly outing. I have a photo of the Brooklyn Bridge in my house, but have never seen the view from there – only of the bridge! Must do! Great post for linking with #FarawayFiles – cheers from Copenhagen!

    • / 5:11 pm

      A photo is a nice thing to have too! I used to love just looking at it from my old neighborhood. And I agree – when you can combine iconic monuments with happy kids, it’s a win-win:).

  9. / 8:50 pm

    Ah gorgeous photos, I have been over Brooklyn Bridge but not under we need to go back to NYC x

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