10 Best Things to Do in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Guide to Brooklyn's Hottest Hipster Neighborhood: Shop, Dine, Drink, Play

Williamsburg, one of Brooklyn's most popular and exciting neighborhoods, straddles old and new. Here are things you can do in Williamsburg right now! Yet, this list of ten best things to do in Williamsburg is timeless and is filled with activities you should definitely have on your itinerary during a trip to this hip hood.

You can explore the lively arts, music, and boutique scene here, compose your great American novel on your laptop in numerous cafes, dine in some very good restaurants—and soak up the creative energy and young vibe. A mecca for young creatives for over a decade, Williamsburg is in the same cosmos as hip East Berlin.

Interestingly, the hip Williamsburg scene plays out against a backdrop of old industrial buildings, modest attached homes (though punctuated by increasing numbers of expensive waterfront high-rises), and a long-standing residential community of Hasidim. Williamsburg is a mish-mash of cultures and vistas, a place that's perhaps not as beautiful as,...MORE say, the campus of Brooklyn College, nor as uniform as landmarked brownstone Brooklyn.

If there's one neighborhood that's indicative of the "new Brooklyn," it's Williamsburg. Come take a look! Because even if you've lived in Brooklyn for a thousand years, Williamsburg can seem like foreign terrain. Can't figure out how to get there? How to Get to Williamsburg.

  • 01 of 10

    Eat in a Williamsburg Restaurant

    Williamsburg cafes
    ••• Robert Mullan / Getty Images

    Williamsburg is one of Brooklyn's foodiest neighborhoods, meaning one can find excellent wine, cheese, meat, and produce. Better, the area's popping with good eateries, from fine dining to cool, freshly prepared tacos. Visitors enjoy a wide range of restaurant options—take your pick, by cuisine, ambiance, price or location. The sky's the limit. For instance, The classic Peter Luger Steakhouse is a Michelin rated ​one star restaurant. Here's a list of the best picks for Williamsburg restaurants. And, if you like beer, wine, and cocktails, you can drink your way through this neighborhood.

  • 02 of 10

    Go Bowling

    brooklyn bowl bowling
    ••• George Rose / Getty Images

    Brooklyn Bowl is an unusual venue: half bowling alley, half concert venue—and the food is prepared by one of Brooklyn's leading names in restaurants, Blue Ribbon foods. So come with the kids, or with out-of-town guests, or a date or friends, it's fun. Concerts are sometimes sold out, so buy tickets in advance.

    For plain old bowling, head to The Gutter (200 N 14th St), another bowling alley with a bar that has vintage overtones.​​

  • 03 of 10

    Drink Good Beer

    Brooklyn Brewery Expands As Craft Beer Industry Continues To Grow
    ••• Mario Tama / Getty Images

    For a relaxed experience, visit the Brooklyn Brewery, a local institution that's helped reinvent the beer industry in Brooklyn, once home to many major brewers. Enjoy the varied beer-drinking venues for discerning drinkers that pop up every few blocks of this hopping area. Check out Williamsburg's various beer gardens.

  • 04 of 10

    Visit a Cocktail or Wine Bar

    Brooklyn bartender
    ••• Matt Dutile / Getty Images

    Interested in a casual experience that costs less than dinner out, but feels fancier than just having a beer? Have a nibble with your date at a bar. Or, head to one of the interesting cocktail bars in the neighborhood. If wine's your thing, explore some of the neighborhoods small, low-key, tasteful wine bars. From a glass of imported wine at the intimate and atmospheric Woodhul Wine Bar to a beer at the always festive Radegast Hall. Up for bar hopping? Here's our list of notable wine bars and beer halls around Brooklyn.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10
    Nitehawk Cinema logo on window
    ••• Desiree Navarro / Getty Images

    Williamsburg's full of creative people who toil at their day jobs but revel in their "real" work as musicians or performers, writers or artists. So it's not surprising that one can find poetry readings (check Pete's Candy Store), music performances (see the Music Hall of Williamsburg or Brooklyn Bowl) and theater, for instance at Brick Theater. And don't miss the chance to have a delicious brunch, dinner, or midnight meal served to you ​while watching a flick at Nighthawk Cinema.

  • 06 of 10
    Bedford Cheese Shop
    ••• LWYant / Flickr / CC by 2.0

    If it's vintage clothing you're shopping for, Williamsburg has a lot to offer, and in different price ranges. For just plain hunt-and-find experience, go to the huge, popular Beacon's Closet to the Bedford Cheese Shop. But there's more....

  • 07 of 10

    Go to a Summer Outdoor Movie, Shop at Brooklyn Flea

    McCarren Park Pool
    ••• McCarren Park Pool. Jude Domski / Getty Images

    Enjoy several parks in Wiliamsburg. McCarren Park is centrally located betwen Nassau Ave, Bayard St, Leonard St, and N 12 Streets and has baseball fields and basketball courts, bocce, playgrounds, running tracks and dog run areas. You can also visit East River State Park for killer Manhattan views.

    Summer The list of things to do in Brooklyn simply explodes as the summer rolls around. In Williamsburg, you can go to free outdoor movies in the park, take the ferry to DUMBO or Manhattan. Or, on the weekends, eat outdoors like a king or queen at Smorgasburg, an outdoor food festival held every Saturday from the spring through the fall in East River State Park.

  • 08 of 10

    Take a Cooking Class at Kitchen, Tour Mast Brothers Chocolate

    Brooklyn Chocolatiers Mast Brothers Under Scrutiny Over Early Use Of Industrial Chocolate
    ••• Andrew Burton / Getty Images

    Given the locavore, farm-to-table ethos in this corner of Brooklyn, it's no surprise that one can also find interesting cooking classes. Need to learn how to carve a hock of ham? What to do with knives? How to make a killer pie crust? Take a class at Brooklyn Kitchen. Then head to Whisk, a to-die-for kitchen supply store. Or, treat yourself to a tour of the acclaimed Mast Brothers chocolatier.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10
    Solange Northside Festival
    ••• Solange performs during the 2013 Northside Festival at McCarren Park. Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

    Even if you're not from the 'hood, why not have a birthday party or special occasion in Williamsburg? (Because if there's anything people know in this neighborhood, it's how to party.) Check out the best bars in Williamsburg for a birthday party.

    Or, plan to attend one of the many events in the neighborhood, like the Northside Festival, held in June.

  • 10 of 10
    Williamsburg Bridge
    ••• Tony Shi Photography / Getty Images

    fIt's not as famous or as picturesque as the Brooklyn Bridge, but the Williamsburg Bridge played an important role in New York City history. There's both bike and pedestrian lanes (cyclists are advised to be careful when returning to Manhattan's traffic) and it makes a nice alternative trip to the now-crowded Brooklyn Bridge.

    Edited by Alison Lowenstein