Even jaded New Yorkers feel like wide-eyed tourists when they stroll along the Promenade in Brooklyn Heights. The one-third-of-a-mile-long esplanade was built in the late 1940s atop a portion of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Although its original purpose was to keep the highway noise from disturbing the residents of the genteel neighborhood, the elevated walkway quickly became a popular destination for visitors and locals alike thanks to its breathtaking views of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty and downtown Manhattan. And since the Promenade has been featured in classic movies like Moonstruck and Annie Hall, it has become a symbol of NYC the world over.
Walking along the Promenade is a magical experience, especially for kids and parents. There are amazing family photo ops, benches where you can sit and relax, and adjacent parks and playgrounds. Plus, now that the zigzagging Squibb Park Bridge is open, the Promenade connects with the activity-filled Brooklyn Bridge Park along the waterfront.
Whether you've been to the Promenade too many times to count or never gone before, every visit here is unforgettable and creates new memories. Click through our slide show to see the highlights.
The Brooklyn Heights Promenade is perched above the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway near the East River shoreline between Orange and Remsen Streets. The nearest subway is the 2 or 3 to Clark Street. Get out and walk west, and you'll find entrances to the Promenade at Clark, Montague, Orange, Pineapple and Remsen Streets.
The walkway offers some of the best views in town of New York Harbor, downtown Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty and Governors Island. While the skyline is stunning, the Promenade is located in New York City's first official historic district, so be sure to turn inland to take in the beautiful gardens and townhouses, too.
Technically, nothing with wheels is allowed on the Promenade save for strollers (though I have seen Rollerbladers from time to time). It's truly a place to sit back and relax, take photos or stroll leisurely.
If you're looking for more active fun, you can enjoy cycling, swimming (in summer), running and other sports in nearby Brooklyn Bridge Park, which is accessible via the recently opened Squibb Park Bridge in Squibb Park just off the Promenade. Update: As of October 2014, the bridge is closed for necessary repairs. You can also hit the large Pierrepont Playground on the Promenade (which hosts many beloved annual family events like a children's Halloween parade and an Easter egg hunt), or the smaller Harry Chapin Playground further north.
There are also some historic monuments worth seeing on the Promenade. My son was wowed by the stone marking the spot where the "Four Chimneys" House once stood—General George Washington used it as his headquarters during the Battle of Long Island in 1776! There's also a simple but moving wreath in remembrance of September 11 called Broken Sky with the forever-changed downtown Manhattan skyline in the background.
Walking the whole Promenade only takes 15 minutes or so but you may find your family lingering here much longer. Afterward, check out all of the other great things there are to do in Brooklyn Heights with kids, or grab a bite at one of its many family-friendly restaurants.