Brooklyn is the ideal wintertime destination. Spend the season shopping at artisanal holiday markets, perusing exhibits at museums, dining at farm to table restaurants, ice skating in scenic Prospect Park or taking in one of the many annual cultural festivals that happen each winter.
In addition, there are many new venues and activities, including a theater and a popular museum exhibit, opening this winter. If you're spending the holidays in Brooklyn or enjoying the start of the New Year traveling around the borough, here’s your guide to exploring Brooklyn in the winter, from a night out on the town or a quiet afternoon sipping hot chocolate, we’ve got you covered.
Go Ice Skating
You know winter has officially started when the roller skating rink is transformed into an ice skating rink in Prospect Park. Bring or rent ice skates at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside. The ice skating rink is open seven days a week ($7 skating during the week/$10 on weekends/$7 skate rental). No need to search for food, the facility is home to the Bluestone Cafe, a casual rink side cafe Lakeside is the only outdoor skating rink in Brooklyn, although there are discussions about opening an ice skating rink in Brooklyn Bridge Park, but until that happens, the other skating rinks in Brooklyn are indoors.
Brooklyn is home to two indoor skating rinks. Aviator Sports, housed in an old airport hanger in a defunct airport, has a large rink. Another great rink is just a few steps from the Coney Island boardwalk. The Abe Stark Rink, a Coney Island skating rink is run by the NYC Parks Department and is open to the public.
You can easily fill a winter's day visiting museums around Brooklyn. At the end of this winter, The Brooklyn Museum will host a David Bowie exhibit that is already generating a lot of excitement. If you're a fan of theater, head to Sunset Park, which is one of Brooklyn's coolest neighborhoods, and take in a play. The Target Margin Theater opened a new theatrical space, The Doxsee, in Sunset Park. Or see a concert and view an art installation at the newly opened Elsewhere in Bushwick, a "live music venue, nightclub and arts space, housed in a 24,000 square foot converted warehouse."
If you have kids in tow and still want to have a bit of culture, get tickets for the annual BAMKids Film Festival, which is held each February. The program includes shorts and features, and kids get to vote for their favorite films. If you can't make the festival, BAM has family screening throughout the winter.
Celebrate the New Year
New Year's Eve is a festive time in Brooklyn. You can watch the fireworks in Prospect Park or Coney Island or toast the New Year in bar or restaurant. Or have an edgy indie New Year's Eve with Light & Life with artist David Guetta at Depot 52 in Sunset Park. Or head to the funky House of Yes in Bushwick for an ultimate New Year's celebration. There are a number of incredible New Year's Eve experiences in Brooklyn.
If you're in town for New Year's Eve and want to spend a fun filled New Year's Day, there are many places open and activities on New Year's Day. New Year's Eve isn't the only New Year celebration in Brooklyn. In Sunset Park, which is Brooklyn's Chinatown, there are a number of ways to celebrate the Lunar New Year. This is a magical time in Sunset Park and it's definitely worth adding to your winter itinerary.
Shop at a Holiday Market
Support local artists and vendors at these holiday markets in Brooklyn. A few of these markets are open throughout the year and not just for the holiday season. These markets offer an array of items ranging from homemade to vintage. A must visit holiday market is Artists and Fleas located in the heart of Williamsburg. The year round market has an array of vendors selling jewelry, clothes, housewares and other products.
The Brooklyn Flea, the famed Brooklyn flea market, will spend the winter in Industry City. The set up their winter home Thanksgiving Weekend and they will remain open on weekends until March. It's open from 11am to 6pm, on the second floor at 241 37th St. (btw. 2nd and 3rd Ave.). The FAD Market is a pop up market that takes place around Brooklyn. Upcoming FAD markets are happening in December at the Brooklyn Historical Society and The Invisible Dog in Cobble Hill. For more markets, check out our picks for the best annual holiday markets. Enjoy shopping!
Head for the Hills
If you don't have a sled, you can pick one up at a hardware store or a box store in Brooklyn. Once you've found a sled, head to Prospect Park and truly embrace winter sledding down the hill by the Tennis House at Prospect Park West and 9th Street. The area gets crowded with local children sledding. Two other popular spots to sled in Prospect Park is the meadow off Grand Army Plaza, and behind Picnic House at the Third Street entrance to the park.
You can sled at other parks in Brooklyn, here's a guide to sledding around Brooklyn.
Sit by a Fireplace
You can watch yule log on TV to get into the spirit of the season, but we all know that sitting by a fireplace is best experienced in real life. The most charming way to warm up after a day of sightseeing is beside a wood burning fireplace.
There are many fantastic spots to relax by the fire in Brooklyn. Dine and sip wine by the wood burning fireplace at Black Mountain Wine House in Carroll Gardens. Or head to Bed Stuy and drink an Old Fashioned by the fireplace at Dynaco, a casual bar. Better yet, start your day with a fireside brunch at The Clover Club in Cobble Hill. All of these spots are romantic and atmospheric spots to dull the winter chill.
Sip Hot Chocolate
Chocolate lovers are in luck, because Brooklyn has numerous spots where you can score a noteworthy hot chocolate. Enjoy this wintertime treat and start your hot chocolate tour of Brooklyn at The Chocolate Room, with locations in Park Slope and Cobble Hill, the chocolate themed cafe has a menu of hot chocolate including classic hot chocolate, dark hot chocolate, spiced dark hot chocolate and cafe torino, which comes with a shot of espresso.
If you're craving a hot chocolate after a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, stop by Jacques Torres in Dumbo for their famous best-selling hot chocolate. For hot chocolate in an uber hip chocolate factory, order one of the many varieties of hot chocolate at Fine and Raw in Bushwick. Keep warm as you sip the hot chocolate while taking a stroll through the open air museum of street art on the sides of old Bushwick warehouses.
Watch a Game
Maybe it's too cold outside to enjoy playing a sport outdoors, but there are many sports to watch in the winter. Head to Barclays Center to see the New York Islanders or the Brooklyn Nets play a game. If you're into regional hockey, since 1992, Aviator Sports has been home to the Brooklyn Blades, an all female women's hockey team. Football fans can watch the Super Bowl at these spots in Brooklyn.
Finally, if you want to cheer on runners this winter, there are a few races taking place around the borough. The Jingle Bell Jog is an annual run in Prospect Park or cheer runners as they complete the Frozen Penguin Half Marathon, which route takes runners under the Verrazano Bridge.
Spend the Day at the Beach
You might not associate winter with a trip to Coney Island, but there are many winter time activities in Coney Island. You can celebrate the New Year's Evein Coney Island with free rides on the Wonder Wheel and a visit to the shark tank at the New York Aquarium, which is open late on New Year's Eve, Then watch the fireworks over the boardwalk as you ring in the New Year.
One of the most famous wintertime activities in Coney Island is the annual Polar Bear Plunge on New Year's Day, where people jump into the frigid Atlantic ocean. If you're looking for more cold weather fun, check out our list of best things to do in Coney Island in the winter.
Play Mini Golf or Shuffleboard
For those who want to be a bit more active in the winter months, you can head to these venues in Brooklyn where you can do everything from rock climb to play an interactive game of mini golf. You can even throw axes in a bar when the Brooklyn outpost of Kick Axe opens. For now, you can throw knives and axes at Gotham Archery's Gotham Axes.
You might think mini golf is a sport you only partake in during the summer months, but you can also play a game of putt putt in the winter in Brooklyn. At Shipwrecked Miniature Golf in Red Hook, enjoy an eighteen hole course with a theatrical backdrop. If you miss mountain climbing in the winter, you can get your fix at Brooklyn Boulders, located on the Park Slope/Gowanus border, the spacious climbing facility has climbing walls for all level. Top off your winter day pretending your in Miami sipping cocktails in a cabana, dining off a food truck and playing a game of shuffle board at Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club.