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15 things to do in Dumbo, Brooklyn

Just over the Brooklyn Bridge, find charming cobblestone streets that are chockablock with great things to do in Dumbo, Brooklyn

Keith Flanagan
Written by
Jennifer Picht
Keith Flanagan

Dumbo, Brooklyn is home to arguably one of NYC's greatest glow-ups. The neighborhood, once dominated by aging warehouses, has been reimagined with upscale shops, apartment buildings, and offices that offer some of the best waterfront views of Manhattan (including the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridge). Aside from top-notch restaurants and renewed public spaces, the area draws awesome events throughout the year while the Dumbo Business Improvement District hosts community gatherings and weekend flea markets beneath the Manhattan Bridge. Speaking of markets, Time Out Market New York, a marketplace-style dining experience by yours truly, recently landed in Dumbo to round out the flourishing food scene—gorge on meals from some of the top chefs in the city, order drinks from the venue's various bars, and catch top-tier entertainment curated by Time Out New York's editors. 

How to get to Dumbo, Brooklyn

Take the 2/3 train to Clark Street, the A/C to High Street or the F train to York Street.

Things to do in Dumbo, Brooklyn

Time Out Market brings the best of New York City's restaurants, bars and cultural experiences—all handpicked by expert Time Out editors—together under one roof in Brooklyn's Dumbo neighborhood. The market is located within Empire Stores and is complete with two floors, three bars, an outdoor rooftop area, an entertainment stage, and a fantastic view of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan's iconic skyline. Aside from the killer views, we've got fluffy pancakes from the venerable Clinton Street Baking Co., perfect pizza pies from Fornino, plant-based bites from Bklyn Wild, fried chicken sandwiches from Tiki Chick, Japanese comfort food from Mr. Taka Ramen, seasonal scoops from Sugar Hill Creamery, and more amazing eateries. Dig in, New York!

  • Things to do
  • Markets and fairs

At its Dumbo location, Brooklyn Flea—the mack daddy of alfresco bazaars—embodies the feeling of a town-square marketplace. Every Sunday, hunt for treasure, European-style, as you peruse art, vintage clothing, jewelry, handmade goods, and other objects of desire from roughly 50 vendors. Follow Brooklyn Flea’s Instagram feed (@bkflea) for posts about cool events, from concerts to special sellers and apparel customization, going down every weekend.

Get artsy under an archway
Photograph: Courtesy DUMBO Business Improvement District

3. Get artsy under an archway

If there's one spot in Dumbo that's bound to host a live event, it's The Archway, a 45 foot high arch beneath the Manhattan Bridge (you'll find it on Water Street between Adams Street and Anchorage Placet). A space was formerly used by the NYC Department of Transportation to store scrap metal but has since been restored as public space—especially in the summer, stop by and you might discover anything from live music and art workshops (even dance parties) right beneath the iconic archway (and often for free).

4. Get a buzz

Arriving in the morning, or looking for an afternoon pick-me-up? Give yourself a buzz at Dumbo’s new % Arabica, which offers some of the freshest coffee you can get in NYC. In addition to the contemporary cafe's one-of-a-kind espresso machine, its baristas will actually roast you a bag of green coffee beans (a.k.a. unroasted beans) right in front of your eyes. What's the big deal? Well, roasted coffee only keeps its full flavor and aroma for about one week—in just a few minutes, you'll have a bag of the freshest brew around. How's that for a buzz?

  • Things to do
  • Quirky events
  • Vinegar Hill

Are you a MacGyver or a MacGruber? During Beat the Bomb—an action-packed adventure that is equal parts escape room and immersive arcade game—you and a team of up to six people work together to beat five live arcade games. If your crew can’t beat all the games in less than an hour, a “bomb” of colorful paint will transform you into a heady tie-dye project. Don’t worry about your threads: Contestants are given head-to-toe coveralls before the game begins.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Shopping
  • Toys and games
  • price 1 of 4

Known for hawking gorgeous, glossy photo books, powerHouse Arena’s airy, gallerylike atmosphere also makes it a worthy stop for browsing beach-season reads. If you visit the store on the regular, you’ll hear guest authors (think Gary Indiana and Jenny Zhang) and see new, eclectic art exhibitions created by big-name brands and local stars.

Grab a slice that’s worth the hype
  • Restaurants
  • Pizza
  • Brooklyn Heights
  • price 1 of 4

The tourist hordes haven’t ruined Grimaldi’s, whose pedigree–going back to Patsy Grimaldi’s first job at his uncle’s pizzeria in 1941– assures it guidebook coverage. The jukebox still honors Sinatra, and the waitstaff remains surly. But oh, the pizza: a thin crust covered with a mozzarella-to-sauce ratio that achieves the Platonic ideal.

Listen to classical music
  • Music
  • Classical and opera
  • Civic Center
  • price 2 of 4

Feel posh as hell while listening to a chamber concert on a former coffee-bean barge. Bargemusic’s Masterworks Series presents performances of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Dvorak, and other greats while you bask in glittering panoramic city views. Grab a drink and make a pit stop at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s restrooms before hopping aboard—the barge has no bathrooms, and no food or drink is permitted.

  • Restaurants
  • Mediterranean
  • price 3 of 4

Celestine, a self-described “Eastern Mediterranean” spot, has planted itself on John Street in Brooklyn Bridge Park, with views of the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, the East River and lower Manhattan. Some big names are behind the project: Julian Brizzi (Rucola, Grand Army Bar) and Noah Bernamoff (Mile End Deli, Black Seed Bagels) were part of the original team, with chef Sean Froedtert (Comparti, Rider, Cookshop) who now runs the kitchen. Watch for dishes inspired by coastal locales like Beirut and Sicily, with meze and larger entrées like seared branzino and a brisket burger. But the star, obviously, is the feast-your-eyes vista.

Go on an outdoor art crawl
Photograph: Courtesy Clara Schuhmacher

10. Go on an outdoor art crawl

Several Dumbo galleries house photographs and other contemporary works by a range of talented creators. But for those who want to soak up the sun while getting in their culture, we recommend taking a fresh-air tour of the ’hood’s murals, such as Emily Caisip’s Moment of Gratitude (on Front Street), which depicts tall plants that echo high-rises, and a bright, geometric number by post-graffiti artist MOMO on York Street, between Adams and Washington. Time Out Tip: See Tom Fruin's polychromatic Watertower sculpture (atop 20 Jay Street) from Time Out Market's fifth-floor rooftop terrace.

Time Out Market in Dumbo, Brooklyn

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