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.