Brooklyn Bridge Park for the First Time
I have lived 30 minutes outside of New York City for my entire life, which has given me direct access to New York City for years. I have had the chance to see so many different parts of Manhattan - uptown, downtown, midtown, Soho, NoMad - which has been amazing - but I haven't really strayed far away from the island of Manhattan - until now. I finally made my way over to Brooklyn and I wish I had gone sooner - the vibes are just as they are stereotyped - super chill and very fun. I have just touched the tip of Brooklyn and I can't wait to head back there. I have a full list of places to eat and things to see during my next venture in Brooklyn - and I certainly can't wait to get back there. In the meantime, my guide to Brooklyn Bridge Park will ensure that you don't miss anything during your next visit!
Getting to the Brooklyn bridge park
There are so many ways that you can get to Brooklyn, but my favorite way is walking over the Brooklyn Bridge. The bridge is just about a mile long - which makes it a very doable walk for anyone - to make it easier, there are benches throughout so you can rest if you need to - there is also a great landing in the middle of the bridge that has abundant shade to help on super sunny days. I had my Fiji water handy during my trek over the bridge!
Now, how do you get to the bridge? The Manhattan side of the bridge is very close to the site of the Freedom Tower. You can get to this area via a few different trains:
PATH Train to the World Trade Center stop
4, 5, & 6 trains to the Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall stop
2 or 3 trains to the Park Place stop
N or R to the City Hall stop
A or C to the Fulton Street stop
I recommend taking the PATH Train if you can because the station is absolutely beautiful. It is still under construction, but walking up the marble staircases while taking in the incredible architecture is way worth it. The PATH train has several stops that you can get on within Manhattan (you just have to switch trains) or you can take it direct from Hoboken.
Walking over the Brooklyn Bridge
I just wanted to share some quick tips and tricks if you choose to walk over the bridge:
- There are two lanes: one for pedestrians and the other for bikers - there are points where the bridge gets crowded because the traffic is going in two directions in one lane - but it lets up towards the middle of the bridge. Also, the bikers don't like it if you are on their side of the bridge, so always be sure to mind the bikes!
- When you get to the middle platform, there are obviously two sides to the area. On the left side you have views of the Manhattan Bridge and on the right side you have views of the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island - definitely spend time on both sides to take in the views!
- While walking from Manhattan to Brooklyn, be sure to turn around to see what is behind you every once in a while. The skyline views of the Freedom Tower are unparalleled and I definitely recommend taking a minute to take it all in and of course take some pictures.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Brooklyn Bridge Park is huge - there are a total of 6 piers and you can certainly spend all day there. The views all through the park are absolutely gorgeous & I couldn't stop looking around - breathtaking for sure! We will go through the park pier by pier, so we don't miss anything!
This pier is probably one of the larger piers. There is a beautiful grass area on this pier that you can picnic at or just relax and of course the view of both the Brooklyn Bridge and the Lower Manhattan Skyline are to die for. While relaxing over there, be sure to take some pics with the "YO" sign - this piece of street art pays homage to the many ethnic groups that reside in Brooklyn. Walk a little further down and you will find the Granite Prospect - an area with steps made of granite that bring you down to a very small beach that of course has the same amazing view. Feel free to sit on the rocks here and take it all in. If you are hungry after your walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, I recommend having a bite at the Brooklyn Bridge Garden Bar. This is a casual outdoor eating area that has a menu of fresh bites that will be sure to give you a burst of energy for the rest of your trip. I'm a lover of meat & cheese boards, so I munched on that before I headed to the rest of the piers.
Next, on Pier Two of Brooklyn Bridge Park, are different courts to play multiple types of sports games. You will have the chance to play basketball, handball, bocce, shuffle board, hop scotch, and four square. To add to the fun, there is a roller rink and fitness equipment - come with your best sneakers and enjoy the day playing some sports with your friends and family. In addition to the plethora of sports, the Pier 2 Dock houses a free boathouse that anyone can become a member of - be sure to take advantage of the free kayaking sessions.
This pier is known for the Granite Terrace and the Greenway Terrace. The granite terrace has - you guessed it - granite steps, which bring you to an area above the ground that continues to give you incredible views. The Greenway Terrace, however, is very secluded, making it the perfect place to pick up a book from the book cart and read for a little bit. You can't take the book with you, but you can certainly come back and continue reading the next day. If you aren't up for some reading, you can stroll across the Greenway Terrace towards Red Hook.
This pier is special to Brooklyn Bridge Park - it houses a beach - something not found in New York City too easily. This is certainly not a beach like Jones Beach in Long Island or Long Branch Beach in New Jersey, but it is a great spot to relax with some friends and family or just to come by yourself to get away from it all.
Pier Five is probably one of the most bustling piers - there is so much to do here! First and foremost, there are three soccer fields giving you the chance to scrimmage with your friends and family. The fields are made of turf, so there is no worry of the grass getting in the way of your fun if the weather wasn't cooperating in the days before your scrimmage or match. Next, you should walk parallel to the soccer fields down the pier towards the water - this is the perfect place for the fishers in your life to catch some beauties. Take these fish to the Picnic Penninsula, an area filled with 10 or so tables with a BBQ Pit per every two tables. Bring some coolers, your fav BBQ food, and your best girls for a BBQ with a view like no other. After your BBQ, be sure to grab some desert from the Ample Hills Creamery & don't forget to take a look at the Water Tower 3 - an incredible piece of street art that looks the best when lit up at night.
As you make your way to the last pier of Brooklyn Bridge Park, there is still so much to see and do! As you have seen through the other piers, there has been a lot of sporting fields & courts - at pier six you will find volleyball courts in sand - so grab your swimsuit to take advantage of Brooklyn Bridge Park's beach volleyball courts! If you brought your dog for the day, there is a great dog run that your pet will be sure to love. At this pier, you will also find the Understanding sign - by far my favorite piece of street art at the Brooklyn Bridge Park. As we went from pier to pier, we saved our appetite for Fornino - an Italian restaurant that specializes in pizza and sandwiches. Definitely head to their rooftop bar and enjoy the view of the sunset with some rosè and maybe a slice of pizza (or in my case, grilled cheese)! If you're at Brooklyn Bridge Park during the weekend, take this opportunity to take the ferry to Governor's Island - you could certainly have a night of fun there!
Now that you have walked from Pier One to Pier Six at Brooklyn Bridge Park, what do you do? There are so many places within Brooklyn that you could explore (and I certainly recommend it!), but if you're looking to get back to the island of Manhattan, I say that you take the East River Ferry back. It may take you a little longer to get back by using this route, but it is a relaxing way to end your day - and you get to cruise the East River! You can take it either back downtown to the World Trade Center area or you could take it to Midtown and get off at 34th Street. Either way, it is a great ride and inexpensive - a win-win for everyone!
I have just touched the surface of Brooklyn, but this area is definitely a great place to start out - the views are gorgeous and there is so much to do at Brooklyn Bridge Park - it is hard to pass up not going! Let us know in the comments what your favorite area of Brooklyn is - I need some recommendations for my next trip!
Looking for hot spots in Manhattan? We have a list for that!