Brooklyn's DUMBO (which stands for "Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass") is a once-industrial neighborhood that has transformed into an artsy hotspot for shops, restaurants, and start-up businesses. DUMBO is the first neighborhood you'll enter when you come off the Manhattan or Brooklyn bridges and it has spectacular views of Manhattan, making it a natural stop for most tourists.
This small neighborhood offers a unique combination of old warehouses, exciting shops and restaurants, and pricey high-rise apartments, but it's also home to the famous pizzeria, Grimaldi's, as well as Jacques Torres Chocolate Shop, St. Ann's Warehouse, and numerous other art venues.
Explore the Cobblestone Streets of DUMBO
A walk around DUMBO streets is both charming and entertaining. You can fill an afternoon shopping at the many boutiques or stopping by a gallery. In the spring through the fall, the famed Brooklyn Flea is housed under the arches of the Manhattan Bridge on Sundays. After you've picked up your vintage or artisanal wares and are inspired to make your own crafts, take a craft workshop at the Etsy Labs or stroll through the cobblestone streets and peruse the many shops in the area.
For a unique experience on the East River, head to New York City's only floating concert hall, Bargemusic, to listen to a classical music concert on an old barge that was built in 1899. Founded in 1977 by a violinist, Bargemusic hosts a variety of special concerts throughout the week. Moored under the Brooklyn Bridge, this aquatic venue is great for kids and adults alike, and the barge hosts Music in Motion at 4 p.m. on Saturdays, which specializes in presenting classical music to kids.
For ice cream with a view and bit of history, head to the Ample Hills Creamery, located in a 1920s fireboat house at Fulton Ferry Landing. Sit inside the charming ice cream parlor or lounge outside and take in the breathtaking views from Fulton Ferry Landing, which is also home to a ferry terminal and Bargemusic.
For history buffs, Fulton Landing has great historical significance as it was the site of the original ferry that ran between Manhattan in Brookly starting way back in 1642 and designed by Robert Fulton. After you're done enjoying ice cream, hop on the NYC Ferry and explore the rest of the city by boat or get back on the bridge and walk to Manhattan.
After you've filled up on ice cream, walk toward Brooklyn Bridge Park and take a ride of Jane's Carousel. You don't need to have kids in tow to enjoy a spin on this restored 1922 carousel, which includes 48 detailed horses and two elaborate chariots. Of course, the kids will love it, and it's a must-do activity if you are on a family vacation.
Jane's Carousel is easily accessible from either the Dock Street or Main Street entrances to Brooklyn Bridge Park. The carousel is open year-round, but the hours vary seasonally—check the website before you go to confirm when it will be open.
To the left of Fulton Landing, Brooklyn Bridge Park stretches along the shoreline of DUMBO from Jay Street down to Atlantic Avenue. Offering uninterrupted views of the lower Manhattan skyline, this 85-acre park is a great destination for a picnic, afternoon stroll, or even various sporting activities and special events in the warmer months.
DUMBO is not only famous for its iconic restaurants and breath-taking views; it also has a fantastic bar scene, offering a wide variety of places to grab a drink on your trip:
- Order a cocktail at the posh rooftop bar at the luxurious 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, where you can take a dip in the hotel's plunge pool in the summer. If you aren't staying at the hotel, they have weekend pool parties which are open to the public.
- For a more casual affair, head to a local longtime favorite bar and restaurant known as Superfine. Housed in a converted warehouse, this spacious and atmospheric spot has a popular bluegrass brunch.
- Beer lovers and pinball players, on the other hand, will enjoy having a brew and playing a game at Randolph Beer, which opened in October of 2017. With 24 self-serve taps and shuffleboard and arcade games, this is a favorite in DUMBO.
Fans of chocolate may recognize the name Jacques Torres, also known as Mr. Chocolate, who appeared on the Emmy-nominated Netflix show "Nailed It." If you want to visit the place where he got his start in the chocolate-selling business, head to Jacques Torres Chocolate Shop's DUMBO location.
See chocolate chefs at work through a glass window, stop for a treat, and buy wonderful small packets of interesting chocolates for gifts. Enjoy a hot chocolate or a truffle as you soak in the aroma of this stellar chocolate shop and factory. Across the street, there's an excellent French bakery, too! Pick up cakes, loaves of bread, and other treats at the notable Almondine.
While you may not be able to watch a movie in DUMBO year-round, there's plenty of opportunities to enjoy a film under the stars in Brooklyn Bridge Park on Thursdays nights in the summer during Movies With A View. This free event starts at 6 p.m. with a DJ spinning some tunes, and the movies typically begin at sundown. For dinner, pack a picnic or get some grub from the Dekalb Market outpost located at the event.
Brooklyn has become famous as a creative center for all sorts of artists. Among the many fascinating cultural organizations based in DUMBO, perhaps the most famous is St. Ann's Warehouse. This artistic powerhouse takes its name from historic St. Ann's Church, a cathedral in a nearby neighborhood, Brooklyn Heights, where the company was founded. Visitors are encouraged to book tickets to shows in advance, but they can also be picked up at the box office in DUMBO before the show.
A staple of the DUMBO arts community since 2006, the Powerhouse Arena is a respected bookstore and exhibit space that hosts a variety of special events throughout the year, including the New York Photo Festival.
Described as a "laboratory for creative thought," the Powerhouse Arena also hosts various performances, readings, screenings, and special presentations. Located on Adams Street in Dumbo, the bookstore has fantastic views of the East River waterfront, Fulton Ferry Warehouse, and the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges.
DUMBO is also home to the smaller Melville House Bookstore at 46 John Street, which is attached to its own publishing office. While it may be smaller than Powerhouse Arena, Melville House has published a variety of independent literature from local and international writers since its inception in 2008.