When Brooklyn ferry services started in the early 1800s, well-to-do Manhattanites began building beautiful houses in Brooklyn Heights; it's still ultradesirable today for its tree-lined streets and stellar river views. Below, the shore-hugging Brooklyn Bridge Park has completely revitalized a formerly derelict waterfront. Meanwhile, Downtown is boom town. High-rise condos have transformed the skyline, as national retail chains have done to Fulton Mall.
The cobblestoned waterfront area of Dumbo was once strictly industrial, but today is home to luxury condos, shops, art galleries and upmarket restaurants; its tiny, easternmost residential enclave is called Vinegar Hill.
If you're coming from Manhattan, the best way to start your visit to Brooklyn Heights is by taking a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. The end of the pedestrian walkway will leave you at Tillary and Adams Sts, in the heart of Brooklyn's (rather mundane) civic area; walk to the right and cross over Cadman Plaza W, where little Clinton St leads directly to the Brooklyn Historical Society. After a bit of local history (and a peek at the stunning 19th-century library inside), head one block south to Montague St to grab a coffee or a quick snack to refuel before wandering through the quiet streets and refined air of Brooklyn Heights. Whether you follow our suggested route or make your own, don't miss the Brooklyn Heights Promenade for its splendid views of Lower Manhattan.
If you head south to Atlantic Ave, you can check out some local shops or just head west toward the waterfront to amble northwards along the length of Brooklyn Bridge Park. Eventually you'll come to Old Fulton St, where you can have some classic Brooklyn pizza for lunch, or keep wandering into cobblestoned Dumbo, which has plenty of cafes, art and gift shops, bookstores, hip clothing stores and restaurants to occupy you for a while. (If it's a Sunday in spring or summer, don't miss Brooklyn Flea.) Stop by St Ann's Warehouse and grab some tickets for that night's show – or if you're done for the day, you can head back to Manhattan on the F train at York St.
- Brooklyn Bridge Retracing the footsteps of history with a long walk across New York's most iconic bridge.
- Brooklyn Bridge Park Running, cycling, lounging, skating, bouldering, watching the sun set – and more – at these 85 acres of multifarious parkland perfectly situated along the East River.
- Brooklyn Flea Browsing through dozens of tables of vintage clothes, old LPs, antiques, housewares and other interesting bric-a-brac at Brooklyn's favorite weekend arts/flea market.
- St Ann's Warehouse Expanding your cultural horizons with the avant-garde theatrical and musical performances on offer at this venerable arts house.
- New York Transit Museum Exploring the history of New York's vital public transit system on century-old train cars sitting in a long-defunct subway station.
The TKTS Booth in Downtown Brooklyn has a fraction of the crowds that you'll find at the Times Sq location, so while you're in the area it's a great place to pick up discounted tickets for a Broadway show later that night.