It is likely that a significant population of Mommy Poppins parents had the opportunity to live a hipper New York City existence prior to having children. One Brooklyn neighborhood that nurtures a longing to feel connected to our younger, cooler selves -- simultaneously opening its arms to children -- is the wonderfully diverse Dumbo.
Dumbo is a unique enclave of Brooklyn with terrific family-friendly restaurants, shops, and the incredibly fun and culturally-rich Brooklyn Bridge Park. Located beneath the famous Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges, this neighborhood offers stunning views of lower Manhattan, cobblestone streets, and experiences varied enough to keep the whole family entertained.
Are you a high-energy, active family? The gorgeous waterfront Brooklyn Bridge Park is the area’s crown jewel and boasts every outdoor activity you can imagine including roller skating, kayaking, swimming, and an impressive sports complex at Pier 5. Or visit one of the many beautiful shops in Dumbo, like our favorites Egg by Susan Lazar, and powerHouse Arena bookshop. There are also loads of free, really fun and interesting, activities like listening to music on a barge or going for a guided nature walk. And, of course, let’s not forget about the abundance of delicious eats, from among the city’s best pizza to high-end hot chocolate to delectable cookies. Whatever your family loves to eat, you are sure to it find perfectly presented in Dumbo.
We so enjoyed putting together this list of our favorite 40 things to do in Dumbo and we hope you have a wonderful experience! See you there!
- Enjoy a ride on the gorgeous antique Jane's Carousel (almost 100 years old)!
- Check out the fabulous kids and teen yoga classes at Abhaya Yoga.
- Buy a cute Brooklyn kids t-shirt at Two Kids and a Dog (we love the name!).
- The margherita pizza and jukebox at Juliana's are both fantastic.
- Join a Dumbo Kids Art Walk hosted by local Air Gallery.
- The flavors are basic, but the ice cream at Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory can't be beat.
- Now you know -- fantastic live music can be found at Bargemusic (in warmer months, the Saturday concerts are free!).
- Pick up a great birthday gift (and some pretty cool duds) at Half Pint.
- Meander through the quaint Max Family Garden at the Empire Fulton Ferry landing, right on the waterfront.
- Experience hands-on arts programs Pier Kids by the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy.
- Have scrumptious pancakes and egg toast at AlMar (cash only!).
- Join the masses for a glorious walk (bike with confident riders) over the famed Brooklyn Bridge.
- Walk the entire mile-long waterfront from Dumbo to Destination Playground at Pier 6, playground haven.
- Kayak on the East River from Pier 2 (free on Saturdays in summer).
- Check out powerHouse Arena's cool children's book section
- Have a super fun day of indoor play at Recess.
- Hop on a Water Taxi to downtown Manhattan for superb views or on the less expensive East River Ferry.
- Visit Spark, newly opened Brooklyn Children’s Museum annex, which is free on Thursdays from 1-6 p.m.
- Delectable hot chocolate, chocolate covered cheerios, Jacques Torres is a not-to-be-missed, high-end chocolatier.
- Butterfly-watching has never felt more accessible in the city, binoculars and guide round out the terrific experience.
- Celebrate the seasons at Brooklyn Bridge Park's annual Harvest Festival.
- Stroll through the DUMBO Flea under the historic Manhattan Bridge Archway for yummy eats, neat finds, and the best people watching.
- Peruse 99 Plymouth (adjacent to Jane's Carousel), which showcases the work of local artists.
- Check out an exhibit at the funky LAND Studio & Gallery
- Partake in some family outdoor rock climbing at Dumbo Boulders.
- Indulge your budding ecologist through the Brooklyn Bridge Park's free Seining the River Wild sessions.
- Grab a box of One Girl Cookies and head to the waterfront for rock skipping at Pebble Beach.
- Explore the less crowded, northern portions of the waterfront path for spectacular views of both bridges.
- Younger kiddos will love the charming Pier 1 playground.
- Learn fencing from an Olympian at the Brooklyn Bridge Fencing Club.
- Visit the Main Street Playground (so fun for all ages) and stop afterward for the best ice cream sandwich this side of the East River at Melt.
- Roller skate outdoors at Pier 2 under the Manhattan skyline.
- Browse high-end baby and maternity clothes at Egg by Susan Lazar.
- Fuel up with a delicious cup of Joe at the Brooklyn Roasting Company, which comes with a free steamed maple milk for the kiddos.
- Learn a thing or two about the local ecology and sustainability at the awesome Environmental Education Center—interactive elements, an aquarium, something for all ages.
- Your children will go bananas over the very fun classes at Creatively Wild Art Studio.
- Stop for lunch at Brooklyn Bridge Park's food kiosks, like Luke’s Lobsters and No. 7 Sub.
- Take a dip in Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 2 pop-up pool (we never leave without a Lizzmonade right next door).
- Pump some iron at the Pier 2 fitness area (yes, they have a section for kids!).
- If you haven't found what you are looking for, check out the robust calendar of event at Brooklyn Bridge Park. So many are free and family friendly!
Get yourself to Dumbo on the A, C, or F subways lines. The best way to access the nabe is by foot over the Brooklyn Bridge, a quarterly ritual observed in my family even though we already live in Brooklyn!