The idea to create a promenade in Brooklyn Heights came about in the 1800s, but the Brooklyn Heights Promenade wasn't actually built until the 1950s. Now, this popular pedestrian walkway 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 promenade.
And if you look down from the Brooklyn Promenade, you'll see a park lining the waterfront.
This is Brooklyn Bridge Park, a local favorite destination.
Brooklyn Bridge Park is an 85‐acre, sustainable waterfront park stretching 1.3 miles along Brooklyn’s East River shoreline. The park is popular with runners and cyclists, and it's also home to a roller rink, a pop-up pool, soccer fields, kayaking, the NYC Ferry, annual festivals, notable restaurants, and much more.
How To Get There
To get to the promenade: You can take the 2 or 3 train to Clark Street, which will leave you just steps from the promenade. You can also take the R to Court St.-Borough Hall or the 2, 3, 4, or 5 train to Borough Hall, and walk down Montague Street until you reach the promenade.
To access to Brooklyn Bridge Park: Take the same trains, but walk down Joralemon Street, where you will find an entrance to the park. You can also enter from DUMBO, or take a ferry to Brooklyn Bridge Park.
What to Do There
The beauty of the Brooklyn Heights Promenade is its simplicity.
Runners enjoy the promenade, but most of the visitors stroll and relax when they visit this scenic spot. The idea of a promenade where people from the city take in views and socialize seems almost dated in concept, but this walkway attracts a steady crowd. It's a favorite for photos with a background of Lower Manhattan.
There's also a 9/11 tribute and an image display that shows Lower Manhattan when the twin towers were part of the skyline. It's an ideal spot for a casual lunch on a bench, and it's also made our list for one of the best places to kiss in Brooklyn if you want to bring your sweetie and snuggle.
After a walk along the promenade, consider exploring the neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights. This historic area is filled with brownstone-lined streets. Exit the promenade and walk down Montague Street, the main street for the area. Montague Street has numerous restaurants and boutiques and is also dotted with chain stores. Make a left off of Montague Street and head toward the Brooklyn Historical Society at 128 Pierrepont Street. The historical society is a wonderful wood-paneled library that offers interesting exhibits featuring highlights of the borough, including the waterfront, local businesses, Brooklyn icons such as Jackie Robinson, and more, as well as an active calendar of lectures and movies. They also offer a popular Free Fridays monthly program in which the museum is free of charge from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on a particular Friday, and they host a series of activities, lectures, readings, and other events.
Be sure to leave enough time to take a leisurely walk around Brooklyn Heights, soaking in the detail of the architectural gems that can be found on almost every street in the area. For more ideas of what to do in Brooklyn Heights, check out our list of the nine things you shouldn't miss while visiting this part of Brooklyn.
Brooklyn Heights was once home to many literary legends including Norman Mailer, Truman Capote, Carson McCullers, Arthur Miller, H.P Lovecraft, and many others. Each September the neighborhood hosts the Brooklyn Book Festival. Nycgo.com offers a DIY literary walking tour of Brooklyn Heights.
Exit Brooklyn Heights by walking down Joralemon Street toward the waterfront and enter Brooklyn Bridge Park. Just to note, there are several options for entering the park. If you want to visit the park and not the promenade, you can enter on Atlantic Avenue or in DUMBO.
Once in the park, you can enjoy many activities.
A visit to the park can include a barbecue, there are numerous picnic areas in the park with grills that are free to use. Get there early because people love to host BBQs in the warmer months. After you've filled up on some grilled food, you should explore the park.
From spring through fall, the Roller Rink at Pier 2 is open. It's $6 to skate on the rink. The venue hosts several events, including a Leading Ladies Skate Jam, where a live DJ plays hits from leading female artists while you skate. The rink also offers free admission skate days (you still have to pay for skates). Located near the roller rink, you'll also find bocce and shuffleboard courts.
Want a leisurely day cooling off from the sun's rays? Head to the Pop-Up Pool, perfect for wading or for families with children because it's only 3.5 feet deep. The park limits the number of people in the pool, and folks line up to get a wristband for a 45-minute session. There's also a small, man-made beach area where you can take play in the sand.
Or for more adventurous water fun, consider kayaking. The Brooklyn Bridge Boathouse offers free kayaking (between Piers 1 and 2) from the first weekend in June through the end of August. You'll get a life vest, and learn the basics of kayaking as they keep watch over you. There's a 20-minute limit to your time on the water.
You can also make your way up to Jane's Carousel, a restored 1922 carousel on the waterfront. Kids will love it, and it's a must-do activity if you are on a family vacation. The carousel is open year-round and tickets are $2.
There are also many annual festivals in both Brooklyn Heights and Brooklyn Bridge Park that are a great way to enjoy the area and partake in cultural events:
- Lift Off: A Waterfront Kite Festival — At this family-friendly festival held in May, you can build parachutes and design your own rocket, amongst many other activities. If you want to fly a kite, but don't have one, there are kites available for purchase at the festival. However, crafty families might want to create a kite at the festival.
- Movies With a View — This popular summer-long film series has been attracting film aficionados since 2000. The free film screenings take place on Thursday evenings from July through August, and the series usually ends with an audience-picked flick. Past films include classics, comedies, and a wide range of films for all audiences. Check the schedule for the current list of films for this summer. Bring a picnic blanket, and get there early to get a good spot on the grass. If you don't want to pack a picnic, there are food vendors on site.
- Summer Reading Storytime — Got kids in tow? On Wednesdays from June 13th through August 8th at 10:30 a.m. your family can hear classic kids books read aloud by Brooklyn Public Library librarians.
- Beneath the Bridge — Since 2012 this well respected and curated reading series has attracted literary legends including Martin Amis, Patti Smith, Colson Whitehead, Paul Auster, and many others. Throughout July and August, six Monday nights will feature authors representing six of Brooklyn’s best independent bookstores. Each evening will include readings, discussions, signings, and more.
- Brooklyn Book Festival— This annual festivals pays tribute to Brooklyn's writers while also attracting writers from across the globe for a series of readings, talks, panels, and a weekend festival in Cadman Square where you can meet some of your favorite authors and peruse the many tables. Check out literary magazines, indie publishers, etc at the festival. It's a local favorite.
Where to Eat
Dining options are plentiful in Brooklyn Heights and Brooklyn Bridge Park—some seasonal and others open year-round.
If you're visiting in the summer, there are a few seasonal restaurants. One seasonal favorite is Lizzmonade Brooklyn Pop-Up Pool which has a food menu and a great selection of lemonades as well as alcoholic beverages. This is a fun, casual place to have a drink after a dip in the nearby wading pool. For a fancier poolside drink, head to the rooftop bar at the luxurious hotel 1 Brooklyn Bridge. In the summer, you can take a dip in the hotel's plunge pool. If you aren't staying at the hotel, they have weekend pool parties which are open to the public.
Or for truly unique summer dining, get a table at Pilot, a seasonal oyster bar. With a menu that includes a notable lobster roll among other seafood favorites, this is definitely not to be missed. Pilot also has a kid's menu.
And pizza fans should eat at Fornino for brick oven pizza. This location is only open during the summer, so it's a great chance to use the warm weather to enjoy drinks and a slice on the rooftop. In addition to fantastic pizza, Fornino has a large selection of salads. This is a fantastic way to check out the views and the sun while dining on first rate food without blowing your budget.
Of course, there are several year-round options if you're visiting at a time other than summer. One local favorite is the Jack the Horse Tavern, an lively tavern nestled on tree-lined Hicks Street.
There are also two great brunch spots are close to both the promenade and Brooklyn Bridge Park. Iris Cafe located on Columbia Place off of Joralemon Street offers tasty brunch classics in a casual atmosphere with the feel of a country eatery. The charming cafe is quite popular with the locals and usually packs a crowd. On the corner of the same block is another notable brunch location, River Deli, a former deli that's now a Sardinian eatery. (River Deli is cash only, but they do have an ATM at the restaurant.)
If you're in the mood for seafood, grab a table at Luke's Lobster in the historic Smokestack Building. Luke's award-winning lobster roll is a favorite, but they have a menu full of good eats, brews, drinks, and also kid's food.
You also shouldn't leave Brooklyn Bridge Park without 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.
Things to Know
There are no bathrooms on the promenade, so you can try to use one at a cafe on Montague Street, but you'll likely have to order something.
Brooklyn Bridge Park does have bathrooms, changing facilities, and locker rooms throughout the park. Changing rooms are located at the Pop-Up Pool. Park Restrooms are located at Pier 1, Pier 2, Pier 6, Squibb Park, 99 Plymouth at Main Street and in Empire Stores. Lockers are available to store your possessions while you play at Pier 2 and Pier 5. Pier 2’s lockers are accessible for 25 cents, while Pier 5’s lockers require a personal lock.