12 Top Summer Things to Do in Brooklyn

Panorama of Brooklyn, New York

Christian Heeb / Getty Images

Summer is one of the busiest times of the year in New York City, and there are plenty of things to do in each of its boroughs—including Brooklyn. Visitors of all ages will find festive activities ranging from watching fireworks and the Mermaid Parade at Coney Island to sipping on German brew at a beer hall to checking out free concerts in the park and going to a local beach for a swim.

01 of 12

Celebrate the Season at Coney Island

Cyclone Rollercoaster at Coney Island

Rudy Sulgan / Getty Images

602 Surf Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11224, USA
+1 718-265-3474

Coney Island is an iconic and historic neighborhood in Brooklyn, offering sweeping views of the ocean and the rides at the historic Luna Park year-round. However, during the summer months, the area truly comes to life with a full lineup of events, concerts, fireworks, and the opening of the theme park and boardwalk stands.

While Coney Island is fun just about any time of year, the weirdest and wackiest event is the annual Mermaid Parade. This all-day affair happens each year in June and features floats, adults, and kids dressed as sea monsters, mermaids, and mermen, as well as a parade of antique cars and a post-parade bash at the nearby New York Aquarium.

Throughout the summer, though, you can also spend time taking in a variety of other activities. Ride the Cyclone at Luna Park or attend a Brooklyn Cyclones baseball game on the boardwalk, and after sundown on Friday and Saturday nights, see free fireworks over the beach.

02 of 12

Explore DUMBO

Cicoone's Restaurant, with Manhattan Bridge on left, DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), Brooklyn, New York USA

Blaine Harrington III / Getty Images

DUMBO, which stands for "Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass," is a neighborhood in Brooklyn known for its breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline, unique restaurants, and the sprawling Brooklyn Bridge Park that runs along the waterfront down to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.

Take a walking tour of Front Street to get an idea of what this thriving neighborhood has to offer. Stop by the famous Grimaldi's Pizza for lunch or check out a number of other great restaurants along the way like Superfine and Gran Electrica if you don't want to wait in line for pizza. In summer, the Brooklyn Flea sets up shop underneath the Brooklyn Bridge, offering visitors a chance to browse local crafts and do some shopping. If you'd rather see a concert, there are a number of great venues just off Front Street like St. Ann's Warehouse on Water Street or the Bargemusic floating venue at Fulton Ferry landing. 

03 of 12

Chill at a Brooklyn Beer Hall

Exterior of the Brooklyn Brewery

 Stella Levantesi / TripSavvy

New York City's beer hall tradition has been revived in Brooklyn. Check out various locations, many in Williamsburg, where you can taste imported and locally brewed beers while enjoying the summer weather.

Brooklyn Brewery, which is located on North 11th Street in Williamsburg, is one of the best breweries in New York City, but it also features an extensive beer hall that allows guests to bring in outside food to enjoy with their freshly brewed beer. For a more authentic beer hall experience, though, check out the Radegast Hall and Beer Garden on North Third Street to take in the German decor, chow down on bratwursts, and drink down some authentic German and American brews.

Other great beer halls in Brooklyn include Berry Park just off McCarren Park in North Williamsburg, Spritzenhaus 33 in Greenpoint, Spuyten Duyvil in Williamsburg, and the Kings County Brewers Collective in Bushwick.

04 of 12

Go Swimming at Public Pools and the Beach

New York City Public Pools Open For Summer

Mario Tama / Getty Images

A great way to beat the heat in the summer without spending more than your subway fare to get there is to check out one of New York City's outdoor pools and beaches.

Free all summer long, New York City public pools are spread across the city, including a number of great locations in Brooklyn, and are open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily from mid-June through early September. Many of these even offer free swim programs and youth team events. The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation website has a full list of pools that will be open this summer.

Alternatively, you can head down to one of Brooklyn's southern beaches to enjoy a day of laying in the sand and splashing in the water. Both Coney Island Beach and Brighton Beach feature miles of uninterrupted shorelines.

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05 of 12

Walk the Brooklyn Bridge

A view of the Brooklyn Bridge with the Manhattan skyline behind it.

 Stella Levantesi / TripSavvy

Brooklyn Bridge, New York, NY 10038, USA

After you're done exploring DUMBO, take some time to walk across one of the Big Apple's most famous bridges, the Brooklyn Bridge, for unparalleled views of the city and a unique experience that all ages can enjoy.

To get to the Brooklyn Bridge, there are two entrances to the Brooklyn Bridge Pedestrian Walkway on the Brooklyn side. The first and most frequented entrance is found at the intersection of Tillary Street and Boerum Place near downtown Brooklyn, but you can also access it via an underpass on Washington Street near Front Street, which then leads up a stairway to a ramp to the walkway.

The pedestrian walkway is about 0.75 miles (1.2 kilometers) across and provides a great opportunity for a pleasant stroll approximately 127 feet (39 meters) above the East River. Once you've crossed, you'll be directly in front of City Hall Park in Manhattan, where you can tour of one of the most important buildings of government in the city. Alternatively, cross back over the bridge and head to Brooklyn Bridge Park in DUMBO for a picnic while taking in the skyline views.

06 of 12

Visit a 9/11 Memorial in Brooklyn

Brooklyn wall of remembrance

 Wally Gobetz / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

While the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks directly impacted the World Trade Center complex in Manhattan, the effects of that tragic day echoed across all boroughs of the city. If you want to pay your respects to those who lost their lives on 9/11, the Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance in MCU Park at Coney Island is a great place to do so.

Dedicated to the first responders of 9/11, the Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance is comprised of three 30-foot (9-meter) granite walls laser-engraved with the images of the 346 New York City firefighters, 37 Port Authority officers, 23 New York City police officers, three New York State officers, one fire patrol, and the K-9 Rescue dog named Sirius who gave their lives trying to save victims of the attack.

07 of 12

Attend Great Summer Concerts

Celebrate Brooklyn Festival

Courtesy of Celebrate Brooklyn 

There are countless free musical events in Brooklyn throughout the summer, so get your calendar out and start making plans. There are at least nine major outdoor venues in Brooklyn with noteworthy concert series coming up this summer. The list includes Celebrate Brooklyn in Prospect Park, SummerStage in Red Hook, and Sunset Sounds in Industry City.

08 of 12

Go Boating in Brooklyn or Take a Ferry

Aereal view of New York City Skyline and Brooklyn Bridge

Miguel Sanz / Getty Images

You have lots of opportunities this summer to get on the water. You can go boating on Jamaica Bay, a National Wildlife Refuge, by joining the Sebago Bay Canoe Club every Saturday for their open-paddle events. Alternatively, free boating is available right off the Brooklyn Bridge Park all summer and includes expert guides who will help you get out onto the water.

If you don't feel like paddling yourself around the waters of New York City, though, you can also board the ferry from Brooklyn to Governors Island. Bring or rent a bike once you get there to explore this fabulous old site for the day. The island is open on Fridays through Sundays, and special tours are offered on Wednesdays and Thursdays. However, ferry services depart from the Brooklyn Ferry Terminal daily all year long, so even if you can't make it out to the island, you'll still have a chance to ride the ferry and take in the sights from the water.

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09 of 12

Watch Free Outdoor Movies

Brooklyn bridge park free movie

Andrew Lichtenstein / Getty Images

334 Furman St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA
+1 718-222-9939

Brooklyn has a wealth of movie watching opportunities in summer and the surrounding months, most of which are free to attend but might cost a bit extra for food and drinks sold on-site. Offered almost every day of the week typically from May through October, these movie screenings include everything from rooftop viewings of indie films to blockbuster movies shown at Brooklyn Bridge Park.

On Mondays, check out Coney Island Flicks on the Beach; on Thursdays, take in Movies With a View on Pier 1's Harbor View Lawn; and on Fridays, head to the Narrows Botanical Garden in Bay Ridge for a flick at sundown. Additionally, the Rooftop Film Summer Series, which takes place at various venues across Brooklyn, and Movie Night at Rooftop Reds both take place on different nights throughout the summer.

10 of 12

Enjoy Brooklyn Flea and the Smorgasburg

Brooklyn Flea market

James Leynse / Getty Images

80 Pearl St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA
+1 718-928-6603

One of the highlights of summer is the outdoor Brooklyn Flea market, which takes place almost every weekend from April through October. It's a happily curated jumble of old and new, trendy and cool stuff.

Brooklyn Flea is held in two different locations, Williamsburg and Brooklyn Bridge Park, and it doubles as a social meeting place, shopping zone, and taste trendsetter. You can get lobster rolls, fish tacos, fabulous bite-sized cupcakes, homemade ice cream in season, and more at the food trucks and stands. There are also hundreds of vendors selling unique gifts, clothing, and accessories.

On Saturdays, you also won't want to miss the borough's biggest food fest at Smorgasburg, which is held in the same locations. Featuring sample menus from local restaurants and food trucks alike, this festive event is free to attend.

11 of 12

Get Some Exercise During Summer Streets

Summer Streets 2011: Near Foley Square

New York City Department of Transportation/ Flickr

Brooklyn Bridge, New York, NY 10038, USA

Summer Streets is a program started by the New York City Department of Transportation to encourage residents and visitors alike to park their cars and play, run, walk, and bike through the normally bustling streets of the city instead. On the first three Saturdays in August, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 1 p.m., each year, nearly 7 miles (11 kilometers) of New York City's streets are closed to vehicular traffic.

The route for Summer Streets technically starts in Brooklyn at the Brooklyn Bridge, but most of the event takes place in Manhattan on the way up to Central Park. Additionally, since the route varies slightly each year, check out the route on the Summer Streets website before you step out into the roadway.

12 of 12

Party at West Indian Labor Day Parade

Annual West Indian Day Parade Held In Brooklyn

Yana Paskova / Getty Images

Affectionately known as the Mardi Gras of Brooklyn, the West Indian Labor Day Parade is a huge, raucous, happy affair that takes place on Labor Day weekend each year. While the parade route runs down Eastern Parkway, dance events are held nearby at the Brooklyn Museum. Featuring everything from Caribbean-inspired food to cultural activities, this exciting event is a great way to close out the summer in Brooklyn.

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Top Summer Things to Do in Brooklyn