Known for its indie-music and nightlife scene, Williamsburg always has plenty going down. Locals already know that the nabe is the prime place to catch live music, art shows and comedy events in the city, but there is still so much more to do by the river. That’s why we’re including excellent places to dance, crazy outdoor food fests and the best clothing stores for your buck. Use this as your guide for planning a fun day or wild night out in Brooklyn.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide of Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Best things to do in Williamsburg
On the bustling strip of Broadway in Williamsburg, you’ll find awesome restaurants and bars. Wander down a bit further and you’ll stumble upon what might be one of the greatest music venues in New York—Baby’s All Right. With it’s lively schedule of local and up-and-coming musical acts and DJ nights, there’s always something to look forward to. The haunt has two fully-stocked bars, plenty of seating and the backdrop for the stage is covered in multi-colored bulbs, which illuminate to the beat of the music. It’s a dazzling sight. And, y’know, the food’s not bad either.
At this massive grub hub, there’s only one rule: Come hungry. The Brooklyn Flea spin-off draws more than 10,000 visitors per day with a slew of 75 to 100 incredible food vendors. Our pro tip? Make sure you peruse the lineup before you go—those mouthwatering scents and the bevy of choices can make you dizzy (and the dense crowds can make you hangry).
Get turnt atop what is considered Williamsburg’s nightlife savior, Output, which boasts a booming sound system for album release parties, live music and dancing galore. The venue is hosts rooftop parties all summer long complete with guest DJs and musical acts by nightlife curators. The club fills up quickly, so your best bet is to arrive early so you can get a killer Instagram shot of the Empire State Building before the crowd rolls in.
Williamsburg is lucky to have a dine-in movie theater, especially one that screens new indie releases and offers a robust retro program. Each individual theater has full-service meals for brunch, lunch and dinner. There’s also a lobby bar and a downstairs café that stays open late, so consider this the perfect date-night spot. Dinner, drink and a movie in one-go? Perfection.
It's no secret that Brooklyn is undergoing a drag renaissance. Before you see some of the borough's best performers on RuPaul's Drag Race or at Bushwig, catch them at this beloved gay dive bar, which hosts near-nightly drag performances, weekly parties and barbecues in the backyard on Sundays (weather-permitting).
The second you step into biergarten, you’ll feel as if you transported to Bavaria rather than Brooklyn. Gather your squad and try to grab a wooden table (preferably by the grill man) inside the boisterous and rustic hall. Don’t order the sit-down meal, order fat kielbasa loaded with kraut (with french fries!) and wash it down with any of Czech or German draft beers. Word to the wise: The drinking den is invaded by big crowds in the evening, so definitely go here to day drink.
This quirky and quaint institution houses all sorts of New York City ephemera, from old postcards featuring the Statue of Liberty to a vintage subway turnstile, as well as permanent exhibits on the history of burlesque in NYC and the 1939 World's Fair. The museum is also an active presence in the community, organizing special events (like a bike parade) and fundraisers.
This Williamsburg video store doesn't only rent movies, it screens them and hosts weekly events, too. You can check out new indie releases while snacking on midnight fare and ordering cocktails, beer and wine at the in-house bar. We’re big fans of the spot’s trivia nights on culty TV shows and movies.
It’s no surprise that Williamsburg’s one and only shopping mall is super Brooklyn. The shops run the gamut from vintage boutiques, antiques, books and handmade jewelry—there’s even a hair salon inside! Most of the local sellers specialize in selling non-touristy NYC souvenirs, so this is a good spot to pick up a gift for your out-of-town relatives.
If you want to score tonight and act out your Grease 2 fantasies, this nostalgic bowling alley is the spot. In fact, the alley doubles as a night club and music venue—DJ Quest Love has a weekly residency here—where you can knock down a few pins as well as pitchers of beer on tap. The stoner-food menu from the Blue Ribbon team offers finger-lickin’ fatty grub for you to snack on before making your way to the dance floor.