Marsha P. Johnson State Park: The Complete Guide

View of Manhattan from Marsha P. Johnson State Park

 

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Marsha P. Johnson State Park

Address
90 Kent Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211, USA
Phone +1 718-782-2731

Think Williamsburg is only a place to eat at trendy artisanal restaurants, shop in hipster boutiques, and drink at some of the coolest bars in NYC? Well, there's more to Williamsburg than funky nightlife and fantastic shopping. Head to Marsha P. Johnson State Park, a 7-acre park located on the Brooklyn side of the East River in Williamsburg for some of the most stunning views of Manhattan. This stretch of waterfront greenery is a dose of peace in the middle of this charmingly chaotic slice of NYC.

Formerly known as East River State Park, the name was officially changed to Marsha P. Johnson State Park in commemoration of the LGBTQ+ activist who was instrumental in the Stonewall Riots. The renovations at the park in 2021 included brand new information panels about Marsha, the Stonewall riots, and the Pride festivals that we celebrate today.

Things to Do

Perhaps the biggest draw to one of Brooklyn's most popular parks is the unobstructed view of Manhattan across the river. Locals, tourists, photographers, joggers, dog walkers, pretty much everyone comes to see what may be the most iconic skyline in the world, with views of the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and the picturesque Williamsburg Bridge crossing the river. On a sunny day, the park is filled with people enjoying a picnic on the lawn or enjoying a stroll with family or friends. If you happen to be there on a Saturday, then you can't miss Smorgasburg.

The park, which was completely renovated in 2021, has a playground, dog run, and plenty of waterfront green space to sit out with friends and enjoy the views. Since it's located in one of New York's most popular neighborhoods, this state park definitely has more of a "city park" feel, but it's worth a spot on your NYC itinerary, whether it's your first time visiting or your hundredth time.

Smorgasburg

When the weather is warm, you can find one of the most beloved events not just in Brooklyn but in all of New York City right in Marsha P. Johnson State Park. As the name implies, Smorgasburg is a weekly food festival that brings out over 75 local chefs, bakers, mixologists, craft brewers, and others to sell their goods. It takes place every Saturday, but in the winter it moves to a nearby indoor location.

The menu options at Smorgasburg are eclectic, where you may see a stand selling artisan doughnuts wedged between Maine lobster rolls and ramen burgers. It's a crowded event, so take a walk around and see what looks good. If you're with a group, it's a good idea to split up so you can try more items without waiting in multiple lines. After everyone has their pick, meet up by the water and throw out a blanket to enjoy all of the delicious snacks while looking out at Manhattan.

For more information about Brooklyn's tastiest event, check out all you need to know about Smorgasburg.

Where to Stay Nearby

Williamsburg is one of New York City's most desirable neighborhoods, so don't expect cheaper accommodations just because you're staying in Brooklyn. If you don't mind paying Williamsburg rates, the nearby restaurants, local bars, and Manhattan views are well worth the cost. Marsha P. Johnson State Park is also easily accessible via the L train, so you can save money by looking deeper into Brooklyn as long as you're near an L subway stop.

  • Pod Brooklyn Hotel: One of the more affordable options in Williamsburg, these simple rooms have a futuristic feel. There's just a bunk bed with a small bathroom, and it feels appropriate considering NYC real estate. It's very minimal, but your prime location is the biggest selling point.
  • Wythe Hotel: In true Brooklyn fashion, this upscale hotel is built inside of an old factory warehouse. It's right across the street from Marsha P. Johnson State Park, and the sixth-floor bar has unbeatable views of the river and Manhattan Skyline.
  • NY Moore Hostel: A few stops into Brooklyn along the L line, this stylish hostel is just a five-minute train ride from Williamsburg and the state park. You can book a dorm room to save money and meet fellow travelers, but private rooms are also available.

For even more lodging options, take a look at the best Brooklyn hotels.

How to Get There

The easiest way to get to Marsha P. Johnson State Park and Williamsburg is to take the L train, which has connections to every other subway line in the city along 14th Street in Manhattan. If you're coming from Manhattan, get off at Bedford Avenue, which is the first stop in Brooklyn. From there, just walk a few minutes toward the water and you'll come across the park at Kent Avenue.

Another popular way to get around is to pick up a Citi Bike from one of the many stations around the city and ride to the park. If you're starting the journey in Manhattan, the quickest way to get there is to ride across the Williamsburg Bridge, which brings you right to the neighborhood.

The most fun option is to hop aboard the East River Ferry, which stops at Williamsburg just steps away from the state park. You can grab the ferry from various docks around Brooklyn, Queens, and the east side of Manhattan.

Accessibility

As part of the 2021 renovations, additional paved paths were added to the park so wheelchair users can get around with ease. Dogs are generally not allowed into the Smorgaburg area on Saturdays, but visitors with service animals are welcome to bring their companions.

Tips for Your Visit

  • Marsha P. Johnson State Park is open every day of the year from dawn to dusk.
  • Apart from Smorgasburg, dogs are allowed at the park as long as they're on a leash. There's an enclosed dog run at the north end of the park where your pet can be unleashed.
  • On Saturdays right across from the state park is the Brooklyn Flea, one of the biggest flea markets on the East Coast and a great spot to pick up locally made crafts.
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Marsha P. Johnson State Park: The Complete Guide