With an area three times larger than Manhattan, the borough of Brooklyn is a neighborhood of contrasts, where different cultures coexist, from the Orthodox Jewish to the most absolute hipsterism, and made up of disadvantaged areas and others that are super chic. One of the latter is, without a doubt, DUMBO. Don’t think about the cute little elephant with big ears, the word DUMBO comes from the acronym ” Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass ” and refers to the location of the neighborhood, just below the Manhattan Bridge. On your trip to New York you will surely end up walking around here, and to make your visit as complete as possible, we are going to recommend things to see and do in DUMBO.
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But first, let us tell you something… What today is one of the most desirable areas to live in New York, not so long ago was a tangle of factories and warehouses without any charm. But the great New York of the 20th century was growing at a frantic rate and industries were forced to relocate elsewhere, transforming these suburbs into residences for all kinds of people. And those who settled in DUMBO were mostly artists and bohemians who ended up changing the entire neighborhood. What we see today is the combination of that industrial architecture (which we personally like so much), with the latest cultural and design movements, with modern premises and a slightly presumptuous atmosphere. Now yes, let’s see the best things to do in DUMBO :
oh! If you visit the neighborhood on a Sunday, you may coincide with the Dumbo Flea, a market that takes place from April to October, from 10am to 5pm. You can find a bit of everything: from vintage clothes to vinyl and things for the house.
Once you exit the York Street subway station, head straight to Washington Street for one of the best photos you can take in New York. In front of you, and after a few more tourists, you will have the Manhattan Bridge framed between the brick and red buildings, and if you look closely, you can even see how the Empire State Building stands out in the background.
If you keep going down you will reach Plymouth St, a cobbled street that preserves the old rails where the trains that supplied all these factories passed. You can also see them at the end of Jay Street, these are the ones that belonged to the Jay Street Connecting Railroad, which were used by the Arbuckle Company (coffee factory) to distribute their products. These rails remain attached to the streets as a reminder of that time and have become one of the symbols of the neighborhood.
Main Street Park
Across Plymouth St lies Main Street Park, the neighborhood’s most popular park, which offers a panoramic view that gives you goosebumps. To your right, the Manhattan Bridge; to your left is the Brooklyn Bridge, and in front of you and on the other side of the East River, the New York skyline with the skyscrapers of the financial area. You will end up taking a million photos, but the place deserves it and you will never want to leave!
This park has a small rocky beach, Pebble Beach, although the truth is that we never saw anyone bathing and we don’t think it’s highly recommended. What is a great plan is to rent a kayak for free and sail for 20 minutes on the East River. Be careful because they are only available on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays in June, July and August.
If you are traveling with small children, they will surely have a great time at Jane’s Carrousel, a super nice carousel, encapsulated in a glass window. It is located in the same Main Street Park and the views from here, as in the whole route, are beastly. Did you know that it is an authentic carousel from 1920? It’s been in Brooklyn since the ’80s, when it was bought at an amusement park in Ohio. Going up costs 2$.
John Street Park
To the right of Main Street Park is another green space: John Street Park. From here we will obtain a different perspective of the bridges and the river, but this much less frequented and a few meters away. So for us it is one of the places to see in DUMBO.
Enter the Empire Stores, a recent shopping center located inside a building built in the late 1800s. Today it houses shops, offices and restaurants. And a tip: go up to the top floor where there is a panoramic terrace and enjoy the views. And if you like bookstores, go to Powerhouse Books, a huge bookstore with thousands of volumes in an industrial-style building that is amazing. It’s not too far from the Empire Stores.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Keep walking along the East River, past the Brooklyn Bridge and into Brooklyn Bridge Park, where you’ll find one of the best lookout points in the city: the Granite Prospect. Next door is the Old Pier 1, here prepare your camera because it is a very photogenic place. Lots of wooden posts that formed the old pier stick out of the water, and in the background what sticks out are the skyscrapers of Lower Manhattan and to the left the Statue of Liberty. If you have more time, continue along the promenade to the other piers: it is curious to see how they have taken advantage of the space to build soccer, basketball and athletics fields, where dozens of young people (and not so young) train and spend their free time.
Lunch in DUMBO
Stay for lunch in DUMBO. The options are many: from the legendary pizzas at Grimaldi’s or Juliana’s, to the lobster rolls at Luke’s Lobster, or the hamburgers at Shake Shack. The good thing is that the views are unbeatable, so don’t make the mistake of making DUMBO a passing visit… it’s worth your time!
Curiosity: not everyone knows that the owners of Grimaldi’s sold the pizzeria a few years ago (we suppose for a million dollars) and founded another just opposite, Juliana’s… So if you want to eat authentic Grimaldi’s pizza, you have to go to Juliana’s XD
And lastly we leave the best: cross the Brooklyn Bridge on foot until you reach Lower Manhattan (and not the other way around). Access is on Washington St, past the junction with Prospect St. as you head up. It is one of the best things to do in New York. But be careful, it is a bridge for both pedestrians and bicycles, and each one has its own lane. Yours, as a pedestrian, is the one on the left.