Dumbo With Kids: 50 Fun Things to Do for Families
The Brooklyn waterfront neighborhood of Dumbo is a draw for both visiting tourists and locals eager to enjoy the water and city views, family-friendly restaurants, shops, and plenty of outdoor activities. Located between the famous Manhattan Bridge (which lends its moniker: Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) and Brooklyn Bridge, this neighborhood offers stunning views of lower Manhattan, cobblestone streets, and experiences varied enough to keep the whole family entertained.
The neighborhood's crown jewel is Brooklyn Bridge Park—a stunning waterfront park that boasts lovely walking paths, playgrounds, roller skating, kayaking, and impressive sports facilities—but this eclectic area also offers an abundance of delicious eats, scores of beautiful shops, indoor play spaces for kids, and so much more. Read on for 50 things to see, do, and explore with kids in Dumbo.
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Outdoor Places to Play in Dumbo
1. Enjoy a ride on the gorgeous antique Jane's Carousel; it's 99 years old!
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2. Head to Bargemusic for fantastic live concerts (some are even FREE!).
Find the artsy Dumbo sign and get a great snap! Photo courtesy of Dumbo BID
4. Take a selfie with the splashy, updated reflective Dumbo sign installed in the Dumbo archway on Water Street between Adams and Anchorage Place.
3. Pack a picnic, a ball to kick, and hit the various grassy spots near Pier I or across from the carousel.
4. Meander through the quaint Max Family Garden at the Empire Fulton Ferry landing, right on the waterfront.
5. Skip rocks at the Main Street Park's beach, also known as Pebble Beach.
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Walking (scooting or biking) across the Brooklyn Bridge is always breathtaking. Photo by Meagan Newhart
6. Join the masses for a glorious walk—or bike with confident riders—over the famed Brooklyn Bridge.
7. Watch the pups rumble in the dog park at Adams and Plymouth Streets.
8. Join the Dumbo Halloween parade that marches to the Archway and then trick-or-treat at local shops.
Play pirate at the Main Street Playground. Photo by Julienne Schaer
9. Visit the Main Street Playground for a romp before heading to Melt for the best ice cream sandwich this side of the East River.
10. Hop on an NYC Ferry to explore the waterfront neighborhoods nearby.
11. Spend an afternoon butterfly watching at Brooklyn Bridge Park—binoculars and a handy guide round out the experience.
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The Cliffs at Dumbo opened in spring 2016 and was an immediate hit. Photo by Rose Gordon Sala.
12. Partake in some family outdoor rock climbing at the seasonal The Cliffs at Dumbo.
13. Celebrate fall at Brooklyn Bridge Park's annual Harvest Festival.
14. Indulge your budding ecologist through Brooklyn Bridge Park's FREE seining sessions.
15. Explore the less crowded John Street portion of the waterfront path for spectacular views of both bridges.
The Pier 1 Playground is less traveled than other BBP playgrounds. Photo by Alexa Hoyer
16. Bring tots to the hidden, and thus quieter, Pier 1 Playground.
17. Walk the entire mile-long waterfront from Dumbo to the Pier 6 playground haven.
18. Ring in the winter solstice with the annual Make Music New York event.
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Skate into summer at the roller rink at Pier 2. Photo by Diana Kim
19. Find the seasonal roller skating rink and kayaking at Pier 4.
20. Rent Citi Bikes by the hour with the big kids to zoom through the park and into another nabe like Red Hook or Williamsburg.
21. Look up at the subway trains as they rumble by directly overhead on the Manhattan Bridge.
Photoville exhibits pop up all over Dumbo. Photo by Sara Marentette
22. Kids will dig the annual Photoville exhibits displayed around the 'hood.
23. If you haven't found what you are looking for, check out the robust calendar of events at Brooklyn Bridge Park. So many are free and family-friendly!
24. Explore the Pier 2 Uplands with its sprayground, sprawling lawns, and lovely landscaping.
Fun Places to Eat in Dumbo
25. Chow down on some of Brooklyn's best pizza at newcomer Love & Dough, Juliana's, or tourist-magnet Grimaldi's (if you feel like standing in line).
26. Make a visit to the Ample Hills Creamery a priority.
27. Have scrumptious pancakes and egg toast at AlMar (cash only!).
28. Pull up a seat and a box of cookies or mini cupcakes at One Girl Cookies while you people watch.
29. Stroll through the Brooklyn Flea under the historic Manhattan Bridge Archway for yummy eats, neat finds, and even better people-watching.
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Jacques Torres may not be known for ice cream, but it probably should be!
30. Warm up with hot chocolate and more treats at high-end chocolatier Jacques Torres...or get your cocoa in a cooler form.
31. Grab a coffee or tea and peruse art and books at usagi, a Japanese-inspired cafe.
32. Stop for lunch at Brooklyn Bridge Park's permanent food kiosks, like Luke’s Lobsters, Ebb & Flow Bakery, and Estuary.
33. Or for some delicious fast-food, grab a burger, fries, and shake at Shake Shack at 1 Old Fulton Street.
34. Order a birthday cake and pick up a baguette for dinner or pastries for breakfast at Almondine Bakery.
35. Have a leisurely brunch in the backyard garden at Mexican hot spot, Gran/Eléctricia.
Destination Shopping in Dumbo
36. Check out powerHouse Arena's cool children's book section.
37. Buy a cute Brooklyn kids T-shirt at Two Kids and a Dog (we love the name!).
38. Shop at Empire Stores, an indoor marketplace located in a revitalized pre-Civil War era coffee warehouse along the Dumbo waterfront. With local pop-ups, retail shops, boutique gems, Time Out Market, and Soho House’s first Brooklyn location, Dumbo House, it's got something for everyone.
39. Enjoy alfresco eats and stunning views at Fornino.
Area 53 NYC's laser tag arena exists in a cavernous, refurbished Dumbo factory. Photo by Diana Kim
Fun Indoor Destinations in Dumbo
40. Get in a game of laser tag at Area 53, which is great on a bad weather day.
41. Challenge yourself at Beat the Bomb, an escape room where the goal is to defuse a bomb before you're blasted.
42. Spend a rainy day indoors at Recess, which is loaded with cool climbing structures for kids.
43. Learn a thing or two about the local ecology and sustainability at the awesome Environmental Education Center when it reopens following its pandemic shutdown.
44. Check out the cool exhibits at A.I.R Gallery, which showcases works by women artists.
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Kids can let that inner artist out at Creatively Wild Art Studio. Photo courtesy of the studio.
45. Take an art class or join an art camp on school holidays at the Creatively Wild Art Studio.
46. Catch one of the occasional family-friendly shows at St. Ann's Warehouse.
47. Learn fencing from an Olympian at the Brooklyn Bridge Fencing Club.
48. Get a workout in the ring at Gleason's Gym, one of the most famous boxing gyms in the country. The gym offers Pee-Wee classes for kids ages 4-12.
49. Check out the fabulous kids and teen yoga classes at Abhaya Yoga, which is running online and outdoor programming currently.
50. Get your game on at VR Bar, where you step into a new dimension.
Dumbo is accessible via the A, C, or F subway lines, the NYC Ferry, and, of course, by foot over the Brooklyn Bridge.
This post, originally published in 2016, has since been updated.