The Brooklyn Heights Promenade—a popular pedestrian walkway in Brooklyn, New York—offers stellar views of lower Manhattan, Governors Island, Staten Island, and the waterfront. Lined with benches, there is ample space to relax and watch the city from this charming user space. Located just below the promenade and along the waterfront sits the Brooklyn Bridge Park, a favorite local destination. This 85‐acre eco-friendly park stretches 1.3 miles along the shoreline of Brooklyn’s East River, making it a popular haven for runners and cyclists. The park is also home to a roller rink, a pop-up pool, soccer fields, the NYC Ferry, and notable restaurants. You can certainly keep yourself occupied here if a day trip to Brooklyn is on your agenda. Plan it for a time that coincides with a popular event or festival to maximize your experience.
In the mid-1600s, the Brooklyn waterfront was a bustling site for commerce, transportation, and immigration. Boats and ferries provided shipping between Brooklyn and Manhattan as part of a growing trade economy. Warehouses were constructed and massive piers and ferry landings were put in place to accommodate the growth. Then, once the Brooklyn Bridge (1883), the Manhattan Bridge (1909), and eventually the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (1954) opened, ferry trade ended and the shorefront of the East River fell into neglect.
Just prior to the highway opening, the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, an 1,826-foot pedestrian walkway, now cantilevered over the highway, was put in place to shield the residential sections of Brooklyn Heights from the impending noise of the road below. After that, in 1984, Port Authority announced their plans to sell the waterfront, which mobilized the community to form a coalition (now called the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy) dedicated to making this space a public-use park. The group broke ground for the Brooklyn Bridge Park in 2008, and then added a consecutive series of parklands from 2010 through 2020. Today, this highly sustainable public space serves its community while keeping true to its mission of conserving energy, salvaging materials, recycling stormwater, and recreating natural habitats.
Things To Do
The beauty of the Brooklyn Bridge Park and the Brooklyn Heights Promenade is deeply rooted in its history. Today, visitors to the promenade can enjoy a leisurely stroll while envisioning what it was like before modern development. It's a scenic spot for taking photos of the East River backdropped by Lower Manhattan, and an ideal place for a casual lunch on a bench.
- After a walk along the promenade, explore the neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights. This historic area is filled with brownstone-lined streets as well as numerous restaurants, boutiques, and chain stores. Cat lovers can enjoy a treat and a pet at the Brooklyn Cat Cafe, a non-profit animal adoption center.
- The Brooklyn Public Library (located at 128 Pierrepont Street) is a wonderful wood-paneled library that offers interesting exhibits on the borough, the waterfront, local businesses, and Brooklyn pop culture. The library also hosts a series of lectures and movies.
- Exit Brooklyn Heights by walking down Joralemon Street toward the waterfront and to the Brooklyn Bridge Park. Your visit to the park can include a stop at the Roller Rink at Pier 2 (open spring through fall). The venue hosts birthday parties and school groups and is open to the public for a small fee (in addition to the cost of rental skates). While in the park, you'll also find bocce and shuffleboard courts, as well as numerous barbecue and picnic areas equipped with public grills. Get there early on a summer weekend to claim your spot.
- Adventure-goers should consider kayaking the East River. The Brooklyn Bridge Boathouse (located between Piers 1 and 2) offers seasonal kayak rentals starting the first weekend in June through the end of August. Each rental comes equipped with a life vest and a 20-minute time limit on the water.
- Make your way up to Jane's Carousel, a restored 1922 waterfront merry-go-round, which is great for kids and open year-round. Reserve your tickets online for children and their adult chaperones.
What To Eat and Drink
Dining options are plentiful in Brooklyn Heights and near the Brooklyn Bridge Park—some seasonal and others open year-round. This desirable city neighborhood is home to many eateries that serve up traditional American and Italian food, as well as modern experimental cuisine sure to please any foodie.
- Lizzmonade Brooklyn at Pier 1 is a grab-and-go-style restaurant that offers gourmet coffee, tea, snacks, alcoholic beverages, and their own famous lemonade. This is a fun, casual place to have a drink after a dip in the nearby wading pool.
- For a fancier drink, head to Harriet's Rooftop & Lounge at the luxurious 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge. Here, they serve up a gastropub-style menu, complete with specialty cocktails, beer, wine, and spirits.
- For truly unique summer dining, get a table at Pilot, a seasonal oyster bar that resides on a historical wooden schooner. With a menu that includes a notable lobster roll, among other seafood favorites, it's an experience not to be missed. Pilot also has a kid's menu.
- Pizza fans should eat at Fornino for brick-oven pies. Enjoy drinks and a slice of pizza on the rooftop at this summer-only locale. In addition to fantastic pizza, Fornino also has a large selection of salads and amazing views.
- On the corner of Columbia Place and Joralemon Street is a notable dinner and brunch spot called River Deli. This former "deli," now a Sardinian eatery, offers up traditional fare using heirloom family recipes. (River Deli is cash only, but they do have an ATM on-site.)
- Seafood lovers can grab a table at Luke's Lobster in the historic Smokestack Building. Luke's serves up sustainable and traceable seafood dishes, as well as their award-winning lobster roll, beer, cocktails, and kid's food.
- Don't leave the Brooklyn Bridge Park without sampling a scoop of ice cream from Ample Hills. The beloved Brooklyn ice cream shop has a kiosk near the Joralemon Street entrance of Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Some Brooklyn restaurants may be closed in 2021. Before visiting, check with the individual eateries for up-to-date information.
Festivals and Events
Many annual events are held in both Brooklyn Heights and in the Brooklyn Bridge Park. Cultural events include movie and storytime gatherings, as well as a kite festival and a curated reading series.
- Lift Off: A Waterfront Kite Festival: This family-friendly festival, typically held in May, combines S.T.E.A.M.-powered (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) learning and kite flying. Design your own rocket, kite, or parachute, and then test it out in the air. Kites are available for purchase at the festival, as well.
- Movies With a View: This popular summer-long film series has been attracting film aficionados since 2000. Free film screenings take place on Thursday evenings, July through August, and past films include classics, comedies, and a wide range of family-centric movies. Bring a picnic blanket and get there early to get a good spot on the grass.
- Summer Reading Storytime: Got kids in tow? Each week from mid-June through early August, your family can hear classic kids' books read aloud by Brooklyn Public Library librarians.
- Beneath the Bridge: Brooklyn’s best independent bookstores each put together a special night that takes place weekly in the fall. This well-respected and curated reading series attracts literary legends and featured authors. Each evening includes readings, discussions, and book signings.
- Brooklyn Book Festival: This annual festival pays tribute to local writers, as well as those from around the globe. Head to Cadman Square where you can meet some of your favorite authors and listen to readings, talks, and panels.
Some park events may be canceled for 2021. Check directly with the park for up-to-date information.
To get to the Promenade, take the 2 or 3 Train to Clark Street, which will leave you just steps from the walkway. You can also take the R Train to Court Street-Borough Hall or the 2, 3, 4, or 5 Train to Borough Hall, and then walk down Montague Street until you reach the promenade.
To access the Brooklyn Bridge Park, you will take the same trains, but instead, walk down Joralemon Street to the entrance to the park. You can also enter from the DUMBO neighborhood (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), or take a ferry to the Brooklyn Bridge Park.