On the north end of Brooklyn, the Williamsburg neighborhood lies along the East River, just west of Queens. This unique neighborhood is known for its diverse culture and local artists. If you’ll be visiting Brooklyn in the near future, be sure to set aside a day or two to immerse yourself in this little gem. From live performance venues to vintage shopping and clever mixology, Williamsburg has a little something for just about everyone. Want to check out things across the city? Check out our guide on things to do in Weehawken.
Top 7 Things to Do in Williamsburg
Not sure where to begin? Check out these top attractions to get a sampling of what Williamsburg has to offer.
1. See a Movie at The Nitehawk Cinema
Located at 136 Metropolitan Avenue, Nitehawk Cinema was established in 2011 and offers three big screens that show everything from the latest Hollywood flicks to cinema classics and independent films. Nitehawk Cinema also sets itself apart by being a dine-in theater; each film receives a specialized menu made with fresh, local ingredients—and meals are delivered right to your seat! Occasionally, this theater has even been known to bring in producers and other filmmakers for special guest Q&As.
While you enjoy your film, you’re also free to imbibe your favorite alcoholic beverage; according to the theater’s website, “Nitehawk Cinema is single-handedly responsible for the groundbreaking overturn of the prohibition-era New York State liquor law that made serving alcohol in motion picture theaters illegal.”
If you’ll be visiting Nitehawk Cinema with little ones, keep in mind that the theater is generally 18+, with the exception of some showings before 7 PM. Each week, the theater does host “Hawks with Babies” show times that are welcoming to those with children under the age of two years.
Overall, Nitehawk Cinema is a unique venue that offers an innovative viewing and dining experience. Be sure to check it out while you’re in Williamsburg!
2. Explore Food and Beverage Options
There are so many incredible places to eat and drink in Williamsburg that you’d likely need to spend an entire week (or more) here to get a sample of what this neighborhood has to offer. If you’re a beer-drinker, one place you won’t want to miss is the Brooklyn Brewery. This N. 11th Street brewery is known for revolutionizing the area’s beer industry when it first opened in 1988. Today, it’s a great place to enjoy a refreshing beer (though cider, soda, and water is also served up) in a fun environment.
The brewery also offers tours throughout the week, including Small Batch Tours on weekdays and free brewhouse tours every half hour on Saturdays and Sundays from 1-6PM. This is an excellent opportunity to see “behind the scenes” and learn a bit about the beer-making process.
If beer isn’t your thing but you’d still like to enjoy an alcoholic beverage during your visit to Williamsburg, check out the Skinny Dennis dive bar or Ba’sik, a popular bar among locals.
No matter what kind of food you’re in the mood for, chances are that you can find it without having to leave the Williamsburg neighborhood. From BBQ and pizza to Mexican, German, and diner-style fare, you’ll find it all here. Some of the more popular Williamsburg restaurants worth checking out include:
- Acapulco Deli and Restaurant
- Mable’s Smokehouse and Banquet Hall
- Fette Sau
3. Check Out The Brooklyn Bowl
Have you really visited Williamsburg, NYC if you haven’t been to The Brooklyn Bowl? Located at 61 Wythe Avenue, this mash-up of a venue offers (as you might have guessed from the name) bowling by-day, but unexpectedly morphs into one of the area’s hottest live music halls at night. Here, you’ll find musical acts ranging from up-and-coming local artists to world-famous names. The music venue itself holds just 600 people, so be sure to purchase tickets for shows in advance, as they often sell out.
When live music isn’t rocking The Brooklyn Bowl, people of all ages can enjoy a game of bowling during regular business hours. Family Bowl events are held every Saturday, and a DJ is on-site to spin some tunes throughout the day. Of-age adults can also enjoy a fully stocked bar with plenty of unique and classic concoctions. Parents should be aware, however, that all night shows at The Brooklyn Bowl are strictly 21+.
Whether you’re interested in seeing a live show or just want to enjoy a game or two of bowling in a fun environment, The Brooklyn Bowl is the place to be.
4. Spend the Day at McCarren Park
Williamsburg, despite its location in New York City, offers a surprising amount of parks and green space. McCarren Park is perhaps the most popular gathering space for those looking to enjoy a day outdoors. This park is located at the intersections of Lorimer Street and Manhattan Avenue, between Bayard Street and Berry Street. Here, you can enjoy any number of activities, including:
This 35-acre park also boasts a beautiful playground that the younger kids will enjoy, as well as a pool that opened in 2012. Admission to the park (and pool) are completely free, so this is a great option if you’re looking for a way to beat the heat without spending a dime. There’s truly something for everyone at McCarren Park, including a number of barbecuing areas and eateries, as well as dog-friendly areas and even Wi-Fi hot spots!
From April through October, McCarren Park also becomes the site of the Smorgasburg Market, which runs every weekend and offers an excellent opportunity to try out some delicious food from local vendors. Other events, such as free movie screenings in the park, also take place frequently throughout the year—so be sure to check the park’s calendar frequently.
5. Enjoy a Live Performance
Whether you want to see your favorite artist perform or are more interested in attending a poetry reading, there is no shortage of performance venues across Williamsburg. In addition to the aforementioned Brooklyn Bowl, some other popular performance venues include The Music Hall, Glasslands Gallery, and Public Assembly. The Brick, located on Metropolitan Avenue, is another popular (and not-for-profit) theater where you can find everything from seasonal festivals to live plays from emerging and local artists.
6. Go Shopping on Grand Street
Grand Street is shopping central in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Here, you can find any number of boutique shops that specialize in everything from vintage clothing, artisanal cheeses and Williamsburg cleaning services. Some of the more popular shops along Grand Street include Beacon’s Closet, which is a huge shop where you can buy, trade, and sell both vintage and modern clothing. AuH20 is another must-see shop that’s much smaller in size but still has a decent offering of vintage clothing. As a thrift store, it’s also a great place to find unique apparel and accessories at bargain prices.
7. Take a Stroll Along the Williamsburg Bridge
Avoid the crowds of the Brooklyn Bridge by taking a stroll (or bike ride) along Williamsburg Bridge instead. Often overshadowed by the famous Brooklyn Bridge, the Williamsburg Bridge actually played a vital role in New York’s history by being the longest suspension bridge in the world when it opened in 1903. From that point on, the bridge has been relied on heavily for linking Brooklyn and Manhattan to the rest of the city.
Today, the bridge offers vehicle lanes, two subway lines, pedestrian lanes, and biking lanes. This is a fun area to explore; just be careful if you’ll be visiting the bridge during rush hour or other times of heavy traffic. While you’re on the bridge, be sure to take in the views of Williamsburg and other nearby neighborhoods.
Other Things to Do in Williamsburg
You’ve checked out our picks for the top seven things to see and do in Williamsburg. Now, how about some honorable mentions?
If you’re craving more time outdoors after a day in McCarren Park, try checking out some of the other great parks that Williamsburg has to offer. East River State Park is a waterfront park that offers some stunning views of the city, whereas Domino Park is better suited for families with its brand new playground and other activities.
Looking for an afternoon pick-me-up after a busy morning of shopping on Grand Street? Williamsburg has no shortage of cafes and bakeries where you can find home-baked goods, sustainable coffees, cold brews, and more. Check out Partners Coffee, for example, which is known for its latte art and cold brew. Enjoy watching your coffee being roasted and consider taking a class at their very own brew school! They offer classes on everything from cupping and making your own latte art to home-brewing your own coffee.
Brooklyn Winery is another popular spot to check out in Williamsburg. Whether you’re a self-proclaimed wine snob or don’t know the difference between merlot and Moscato, there’s something for everyone’s tastes here. This winery specializes in small batch, artisanal wines—and the venue is so pretty that space is often rented out for weddings and other special events.
Getting Around Williamsburg and Beyond
The Williamsburg neighborhood is located on the northern end of Brooklyn, in between Queens and Manhattan across the East River. The neighborhood itself is relatively small and easy to get around by bike, on foot, or by hailing a cab. However, if you want to get to any other neighborhoods in Brooklyn or beyond, you may be better suited using some of NYC’s public transportation offerings.
Consider, for example, grabbing a subway pass to get around Brooklyn affordably. In fact, you can get just about anywhere in the city on the New York City Subway; just be prepared for crowded stations and subway cars, especially during rush hour. In general, the subway system in NYC is relatively reliable, but you can still expect occasional delays. Still, many would agree that taking the subway to get around Williamsburg/Brooklyn and the surrounding areas beat navigating through busy street traffic.
Another option for getting around different neighborhoods in Brooklyn and across NYC is the Long Island Rail Road, which has its own line with various stops around the city ( including one in downtown Brooklyn) . If you’re in Williamsburg, you may need to take a cab or bike/walk to the Brooklyn stop before hopping aboard, but this is yet another relatively quick and affordable way to get around once you’re in the area.
Brooklyn and Williamsburg specifically also have an extensive network of buses; some of them are better suited for sight-seeing, whereas others are ideal for getting around. The B62 bus, for example, goes through both downtown Brooklyn, south Williamsburg, and north Williamsburg where the majority of the “must-see” destinations are located.
For shorter jaunts around Williamsburg, hailing a cab or utilizing a ride-sharing service is another practical option. Just understand that you’ll be at the mercy of local traffic, so you may need to plan for delays. If you have a bike, you’ll definitely want to utilize the Brooklyn Greenway Bike Lane, which connects East RIver Park and Domino Park while offering beautiful views of the city along the waterfront.
Considering a Move to Williamsburg, Brooklyn?
With so much to offer, it’s no wonder that Williamsburg is seeing an influx of new residents and a higher demand for rentals. This is especially true in the north end of the neighborhood, where many of the best bars, restaurants, parks, and other attractions are located.
If you’re looking to relocate to a young and hip area of Brooklyn, Williamsburg is definitely worth a look. Take some of the stress out of your move by hiring a professional cleaning service; at Maid Sailors, we offer move-in/move-out cleaning services for your new place and your current one. This saves you the time and hassle of cleaning during your move and ensures that your new place in Williamsburg is ready for you.