Free Things To Do In Brooklyn, NY: Top 25 Most Unique Spots | Stanton House Inn

Park Slope neighborhood in South Brooklyn

Brooklyn, New York, is famous for its rich history, diverse neighborhoods, and vigorous arts scene. And yet, did you know that there’s so much to discover here without spending a dime? With a mix of parks, museums, concerts, and historic sites, there are countless free things to do in Brooklyn that cater to everyone’s interests.

 

So, whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or an art aficionado, get ready to explore the best free activities Brooklyn has to offer. Trust us, you’ll be amazed at what you can experience in this bustling borough without breaking the bank!

 

Ready to explore the best free things to do in Brooklyn, NY? Let’s get into it:

 

Quick hits

  • Explore Brooklyn’s history & beauty for free with our guide to 25 top spots!
  • Marvel at the Manhattan Bridge Overpass in Dumbo, or take a tour of the Brooklyn Brewery.
  • Enjoy live music and vibrant street art, plus unique attractions like Jane’s Carousel and YI GALLERY exhibitions.

free things to do in brooklyn ny Free Things to Do in Brooklyn, NY: Top 25 Most Unique Spots
Map design by Stanton House Inn

A Brief History of Brooklyn, New York

The city of Brooklyn as it appeared in 1879, depicted from above. Currier & Ives published this image.

Brooklyn has a rich tapestry of history that spans over 400 years. It started as a small Dutch settlement and has transformed into a diverse borough of New York City. As you walk down its tree-lined streets and historic neighborhoods such as Fort Greene and Bedford-Stuyvesant, you can’t help but feel the city’s past. And all while witnessing its continued evolution.

 

Colonial Era

map of Brooklyn in 1766

The Dutch were the first Europeans to settle in Brooklyn, on the western edge of Long Island. The Lenape tribe originally inhabited the land. The Dutch West India Company established six original parishes:

 

  • Brooklyn Heights
  • Gravesend
  • Flatlands
  • Midwout
  • Nieuw Utrecht
  • Bushwick

 

In 1653, they founded the colony’s capital, New Amsterdam, in what is now the NYC Financial District.

 

The English captured the New Netherland colony in 1664. This led to the establishment of the Province of New York. In 1683, Kings County was partitioned, marking the birth of a new political entity. The largest engagement in the American Revolutionary War, the Battle of Long Island, was fought here in 1776. The British controlled the region until the Treaty of Paris in 1783, which led to their evacuation from the New York City area.

 

19th Century

Winter Scene in Brooklyn, circa 1819-1820, by Francis Guy

The first half of the 19th century saw the growth of urban areas along the economically strategic East River shore of Kings County. The Town of Brooklyn was the first to urbanize, with the Village of Brooklyn incorporated in 1816. The Town of Bushwick, further up the river, saw the incorporation of the Village of Williamsburgh in 1827. It separated as the Town of Williamsburgh in 1840 and formed the short-lived City of Williamsburgh in 1851. Industrial development brought shipbuilding and manufacturing to the northern part of the county. Williamsburgh and Brooklyn combined into a greater City of Brooklyn in 1855.

 

By then, Brooklyn was the twin city of New York City and the third-most populous American city. As such, it played a significant role in national affairs. The affluent districts of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill were home to notable figures. Meanwhile, Brooklyn Heights was home to prominent figures like Henry Ward Beecher and James S. T. Stranahan. Economic growth continued, and the city built centralized waterworks, including the Ridgewood Reservoir. The peripheral Kings County towns maintained independence until Brooklyn absorbed them all by the end of the century.

 

The Great Mistake of 1898

1883 print of the Brooklyn Bridge by Currier & Ives, and still one of the best free things to do here

The completion of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883 strengthened Brooklyn’s ties to New York City. Progressives voted to merge with Richmond, Queens County, and New York City, becoming just part of the five boroughs. Many residents still call the merger the “Great Mistake of 1898”.

 

How to experience Brooklyn History

To truly understand Brooklyn’s history, visit historic places like:

 

  • Brooklyn Bridge Park, renowned for its spectacular views of the East River and Manhattan skyline
  • The Brooklyn Historical Society is a great place to learn about the borough’s rich past
  • And Park Slope, where you can explore the picturesque streets and appreciate the architectural beauty

 

These completely free tours are ways to delve into Brooklyn’s history and appreciate its beauty. Consider starting your tour by uncovering Brooklyn’s historical treasures. Soon, you will be captivated by this exceptional borough of intriguing landmarks and scenic green spaces.

 

The Best Free Things to do in Brooklyn, NY

Stunning view of the Brooklyn Bridge over the East River

Brooklyn is a city of iconic landmarks and a thriving arts scene, all available to explore for free. You can delve into the city’s history, relax in its lush NYC parks, or attend a variety of free concerts. With so much on offer, there’s something to entertain everyone in this vibrant borough. We will guide you through 22 of Brooklyn’s top spots that you can visit without spending a dime. Get ready to experience the best of Brooklyn and create some unforgettable memories!

 

Brooklyn Bridge

The iconic Bridge from Brooklyn Bridge Park

Don’t miss out on the iconic Brooklyn Bridge! This magnificent suspension bridge, opened in 1883, serves as a link between Brooklyn and Manhattan. It offers stunning views of the city skyline. The bridge’s towers soar 278 feet into the sky, showcasing a marvel of engineering. It’s a must-see landmark for all visitors.

 

Take a leisurely stroll, jog for some exercise, or cycle across the bridge. You’ll be rewarded with extraordinary views of downtown Manhattan and the East River. Best of all, visiting the Brooklyn Bridge doesn’t cost a dime. It’s a must-do activity for everyone.

 

Brooklyn Bridge Park

Sunday morning in Brooklyn Bridge Park

Located in the trendy DUMBO neighborhood, Brooklyn Bridge Park is a waterfront oasis. It offers numerous attractions and activities. The park features six piers. Each pier offers its own specialty, such as sports courts, outdoor sculptures, gardens, and more. You can enjoy stunning views of the city from various vantage points while exploring Brooklyn Bridge Park.

 

Brooklyn Bridge Park offers more than just captivating scenery. It provides an array of complimentary activities for all age groups. This makes it a perfect place for exploring. You can participate in a fitness class, marvel at the Manhattan skyline, or relax with a picnic on the grass. With a multitude of attractions and leisure options, Brooklyn Bridge Park is an ideal spot for an entertaining day out.

 

If you’re in the mood for something sweet, don’t forget to visit Jane’s Carousel. This historic carousel is located within the park. While it’s not entirely free, a spin on this beautifully restored attraction will only set you back two bucks. It’s a small price to pay for something so memorable.

 

Prospect Park

Pavilion on the lake in Prospect Park

Prospect Park, designed by the same masterminds behind New York’s Central Park, sprawls as an urban oasis. It offers a serene escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. The park is filled with vast green spaces, playgrounds, and hosts various free events. If you’re looking for a tranquil spot to read, a location for a run, or wish to attend one of the park’s complimentary events, Prospect Park is the perfect place. Don’t miss out on this city respite. Organize a picnic, invite your friends and family, and dedicate a day to exploring this attractive park at the heart of Brooklyn.

 

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Cherry blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

If you’re seeking a tranquil and colorful experience, make sure to visit the Brooklyn Botanic Garden during its free admission hours. This stunning garden is home to thousands of different plant species spread across a variety of specialty gardens.

 

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden offers free entry every Tuesday and Saturday from 10 AM to noon. You can also visit for free on every weekday from December through February. The garden’s lush landscapes and serene ambiance make it an ideal spot for relaxation. Best of all, you can appreciate the beauty of nature without spending a dime.

 

Brooklyn Museum

An empty Brooklyn Museum

Art lovers will find a treasure trove at the Brooklyn Museum. It houses an impressive collection of over 1.5 million works from all corners of the globe and spanning thousands of years. The museum’s vast array of paintings, sculptures, and artifacts offer a unique cultural experience to visitors of all ages.

 

And the Brooklyn Museum has an added bonus. On the first Saturday of each month, from 5 PM to 11 PM (excluding January and September), entry is free. Don’t miss this opportunity to explore this remarkable museum. Immerse yourself in the world of art without spending a penny.

 

Marvel at the Manhattan Bridge Overpass in Dumbo

DUMBO

Don’t miss the chance to capture the perfect photo at the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. Located in the trendy Dumbo neighborhood, this iconic bridge boasts stunning architecture and a picturesque location. It serves as a fantastic backdrop for your snapshots. Head to the corner of Washington and Front Streets to capture the iconic and unforgettable view.

 

Brooklyn Heights Promenade

view from the promenade along Brooklyn Heights

When you’re in the mood for a leisurely stroll with a view, the Brooklyn Heights Promenade is a must-visit. This scenic walkway offers breathtaking views of Lower Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty. The charming atmosphere and stunning vistas make it an ideal spot anytime of year.

 

It’s the perfect location for a romantic date or a casual stroll afterwards for couples enjoying romantic activities in NYC. And the breathtaking views are definitely worth capturing.

 

BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn!

If you’re in Brooklyn during the summer, don’t miss the chance to attend BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! This music festival is free and features a wide range of artists and performances. From indie bands to jazz artists, dance shows, and film screenings, this top pick among free events is worth visting.

 

Green-Wood Cemetery

Green Wood Cemetery Chapel, one of the best free things to do in all Brooklyn, NY

Green-Wood Cemetery offers a unique way to delve into Brooklyn’s history. Established in 1838, this National Historic Landmark sprawls across 478 acres. It houses an impressive collection of 19th and 20th-century statuary and mausoleums. As you wander through the peaceful grounds, you’ll come across the final resting places of many notable figures from New York City’s history. A visit to Green-Wood Cemetery provides a fascinating look into the lives and stories of the people who shaped the city we know today.

 

Brooklyn Brewery

If you’re interested in Brooklyn’s brewing tradition, consider a free tour of the Brooklyn Brewery. Established in 1988, this renowned brewery offers guided tours. These tours give you an inside look at the brewing process and the history of the company.

 

The best time for a free tour of the Brooklyn Brewery is on Saturdays from 1 to 5 PM. During this time, tours are available every hour. This is a great opportunity to learn about the art of brewing and sample some delicious craft beers. Make sure you don’t miss out during your visit.

 

New York Aquarium

Penguin at the New York Aquarium

The New York Aquarium is a must-visit on the list of things to do in Coney Island, NY. It’s home to about 300 different species of aquatic animals. You’ll find harbor seals, penguins, and sharks among them. The best part? On Wednesdays after 3 PM, you can enter the aquarium for free. You’ll have the chance to explore the captivating underwater world and learn about the diverse marine life that resides there.

 

Grand Army Plaza

Feeding the pigeons in Grand Army Plaza

Grand Army Plaza, situated at the main entrance to Prospect Park, is a public plaza that boasts two historic monuments:

 

  • The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch
  • The Bailey Fountain

 

This prominent New York City landmark also hosts the weekly Greenmarket. Here, you can shop for fresh produce and delicious treats from local vendors.

 

With its striking monuments and busy streetscape, Grand Army Plaza is a must-visit destination. It appeals to history buffs and food lovers alike. Take some time to appreciate the plaza’s rich history and its role in the American Revolutionary War.

 

Domino Park

Taco stand at Domino Park

Domino Park, once the site of the Domino Sugar Refinery, is now a modern public space in Williamsburg. It offers a range of recreational activities and stunning views of the Manhattan Bridge. Situated along the East River waterfront, the park boasts a playground, sports courts, and a variety of dining options. Whether you want to unwind with a view or enjoy some friendly competition, Domino Park is an excellent spot for a free day out in Brooklyn. While you’re there, don’t forget to explore the surrounding neighborhood of Williamsburg. It’s famous for its street art and trendy shops.

 

Brooklyn Children’s Museum

Visiting Brooklyn with your little ones? Don’t miss the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. This museum, established in 1899, was among the world’s first children’s museums. It offers a wide range of interactive exhibits and educational programs suitable for kids of all ages. The museum has pay-what-you-wish hours, making it an affordable and entertaining destination for families.

 

Coney Island

sunset along the Coney Island boardwalk

Coney Island is a popular tourist destination known for its miles of sandy beaches, historic attractions, and a boardwalk rich in history. It also houses the New York Aquarium nearby. You can enjoy a leisurely walk along the boardwalk, relax on the beach, or visit the aquarium for a fun-filled day by the sea.

 

Apart from its beautiful beach and boardwalk, Coney Island is home to Luna Park. This amusement park offers thrilling rides and attractions suitable for all ages. While some attractions at Luna Park require an admission fee, you can still enjoy the vibrant atmosphere by just walking through the park. This is a cost-free way to experience the charm of Coney Island.

 

Fulton Street

Take a journey down Fulton Street in Brooklyn, where you can experience a blend of historic architecture and a bustling shopping scene. This lively street is home to the Fulton Mall, a pedestrian-friendly shopping area boasting over 200 stores. As you stroll, you’ll also encounter historic buildings such as:

 

  • The Eagle Warehouse and Storage Building
  • Fulton Ferry houses
  • Commercial Row
  • Tobacco Warehouse
  • The Offerman Building

 

Fulton Street is a must-visit for both shopaholics and history buffs. It offers a unique glimpse into Brooklyn’s past and present. So, why not take a leisurely walk, admire the stunning architecture, and soak up the atmosphere of this historic neighborhood?

 

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights

If you’re visiting Brooklyn during the holiday season, don’t miss the chance to see the extravagant Christmas light displays in Dyker Heights. This residential neighborhood is renowned for its elaborate decorations, attracting thousands of visitors every year. Wrap up warm and wander through the festive streets. You’ll be dazzled by the lights and caught up in the holiday spirit. This neighborhood is a must-see destination during the holiday season, if you’re searching for winter activities in New York City.

 

Brooklyn Flea

Perusing the market

If you’re in search of a unique shopping experience, the Brooklyn Flea market is a top choice. Here, you’ll find an array of vintage clothing, handmade crafts, and one-of-a-kind treasures. Situated at the Dumbo Archway on 80 Pearl Street, this market is known for its lively atmosphere. It’s an excellent spot to uncover unique finds and hidden gems. Whether you’re on a mission to find a special gift or just enjoy the vibrant ambiance, a visit to the Brooklyn Flea is a must.

 

Waterfront Museum

The Waterfront Museum is on a historic wooden barge in Red Hook, near the New York Harbor. This unique museum provides a glimpse into Brooklyn’s maritime past. It showcases the history of the barge and its role in the city’s transportation and commerce. Best of all, entry to the Waterfront Museum is free.

 

The Old Stone House

Make a stop at The Old Stone House, a site steeped in Revolutionary War history. Built in 1699, this building played a crucial role in the Battle of Brooklyn. Today, it operates as a museum and community resource, providing a window into the area’s rich past. Step back in time to explore the narratives of the people who shaped Brooklyn’s history. It’s a truly fascinating site.

 

Red Hook Trolley

The Red Hook Trolley is a significant piece of Brooklyn’s transportation history. It once served as a vital connection for the residents of the Red Hook neighborhood. It linked them to other parts of the borough, providing access to work, school, and other amenities.

 

Even though the trolley is no longer operating, it remains a symbol of community and identity for the people of Red Hook. Today, you can see remnants of its tracks and learn about its history by visiting the area.

 

Pioneer Works

A cultural hub in Red Hook, Pioneer Works invites you to engage with art, science, and technology. This innovative space is housed in a repurposed industrial building. It offers a variety of exhibitions, workshops, and events. These showcase the work of local and international artists, scientists, and technologists. Pioneer Works, with its innovative programming and distinctive setting, is a recommended visit. It’s especially appealing for those intrigued by the convergence of art, science, and technology.

 

Brooklyn Grange

Let’s talk about the Brooklyn Grange. This isn’t your average garden. It’s a rooftop oasis in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Each year, they grow an impressive 100,000 lbs of produce.

 

The Grange offers educational programs and events. Their aim? To spread knowledge about urban farming. They believe everyone should have the chance to visit their farm. So, if the fee is a hardship, they provide waivers or reduced fees.

 

From May to October, they hold free open houses. Just keep an eye on their schedule. They also host other events, like yoga classes and dinners. It’s a place worth checking out.

 

Discover Free Arts in Brooklyn, NY

Colorful street art in Bushwick, Brooklyn

Brooklyn is a vibrant borough teeming with free concerts, street art, and cultural events, all contributing to a flourishing arts scene. There’s a wealth of artistic experiences throughout the borough.

 

Read on for some of Brooklyn’s top free events and experiences for aficionados of the arts. Whether you’re an avid art enthusiast or just curious about the local scene, you’re sure to find something in this inspiring city.

 

Go to a Free Lunchtime Concert at the Brooklyn Academy of Music

Lunchtime jazz concert

During the summer season, the Brooklyn Academy of Music hosts a free Lunchtime Music Series. These concerts take place every Wednesday at 12 noon. The series features performances by both established and emerging artists, offering a fantastic opportunity to enjoy live music in a beautiful setting.

 

For more information and a schedule of upcoming performances, you can visit the BAM website.

 

Guided or Solo: Street Art Explorations in Bushwick

Street art in Bushwick

Bushwick, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, is famous for its street art. Here, you can see a diverse range of murals and graffiti created by both local and international artists. If you’re interested in exploring Bushwick, you have two options. You can either join a guided tour or venture out on your own. The Bushwick Graffiti and Street Art Tour is a pay-what-you-like option that provides a guided experience. You’ll gain insight into the art and artists from a knowledgeable guide. On the other hand, if you prefer a self-guided adventure, simply take a walk around Troutman and St. Nicholas areas. There, you’ll find plenty of street art to admire. Regardless of your choice, you’re bound to be inspired by the creativity and talent in this thriving artistic community.

 

The Bushwick Collective: An Artistic Hub

For art enthusiasts, a visit to The Bushwick Collective is a must. This outdoor gallery showcases murals and street art from renowned artists worldwide. Joseph Ficalora founded this artistic hub in 2012. It features work from both local and international artists, adding a vibrant and exciting element to Brooklyn’s arts scene. Don’t miss out on the stunning artwork on display.

 

Enjoy a Free Summer Concert at the Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk

concert at the Ford Amphitheater

If you’re in Brooklyn during the summer, seize the opportunity to attend a complimentary concert at the Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk. This lively venue hosts a variety of performances, from live music to outdoor concerts and music festivals, offering something for everyone to enjoy.

 

Grab your friends and family, pack a picnic, and enjoy a fun-filled day of music by the ocean.

 

Industry City

Industry City, located in Sunset Park, is a unique transformation of an industrial space. Previously the Bush Terminal, it now houses a variety of art installations, shops, and events. The space is alive with street art and outdoor sculptures, and it hosts interactive art exhibitions from local and international artists. The YI GALLERY program, in particular, showcases the work of emerging and mid-career artists, making Industry City a compelling destination for art enthusiasts.

 

This venue also pulses with a range of free events throughout the year. The list includes:

 

  • Live music performances
  • Workouts
  • Outdoor movie screenings

 

For the latest happenings, be sure to check out their events calendar. Industry City is a dynamic space, and its creative energy is worth experiencing.

 

Brooklyn Public Library

The Brooklyn Public Library is an architectural marvel of a repository and a center for cultural events. Its modernist design features beautiful gold-leafed figures that represent the evolution of art and science. This makes it a must-visit destination for both book lovers and architecture enthusiasts. Spend some time exploring the library’s vast collection or attend a free event. You can also simply relax and soak in the inspiring atmosphere of this iconic building.

 

Tl;dr

Brooklyn, with its rich history, diverse neighborhoods, thriving arts scene, and beautiful green spaces, offers a ton of free things to do. Visitors can explore and enjoy everything from walking across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge to attending a free concert at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The vibrant street art scene in Bushwick is also worth discovering. There’s are so many free things in this bustling borough that can cater to anyone’s interests.

 

So, why not explore the amazing free things Brooklyn has to offer? You can create unforgettable memories without spending a dime. With a multitude of sights and experiences, this unique and vibrant corner of New York City is sure to captivate you.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Should tourists stay in Brooklyn?

Brooklyn offers a wealth of experiences for visitors. Its walkable sidewalks, serene parks, tight-knit communities, and family-friendly activities make it a great destination. Whether you’re exploring New York alone or with family, Brooklyn could be ideal.

 

Read our guide to the best places and areas to stay in New York City for the full run-down.

 

What is Brooklyn known for?

Brooklyn is a distinct neighborhood, set apart from the hectic pace of Manhattan. It boasts iconic attractions such as Coney Island, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Prospect Park. Locals claim it’s home to some of the best pizza in New York. With vibrant museums, flea markets, parks, and bars, Brooklyn offers visitors an experience they won’t forget.

 

Is Brooklyn less expensive?

Brooklyn is typically less expensive than Manhattan. In Brooklyn, the average cost per square foot is $47. On the other hand, in Manhattan, it’s $67. So, if you’re looking for value, Brooklyn might be your best bet.

 

What are some of the best free activities to do in Brooklyn?

There are numerous free activities to enjoy in Brooklyn. You could marvel at the stunning views from the Brooklyn Bridge or take a leisurely stroll through Prospect Park. The Botanic Garden offers free exploration opportunities. For music lovers, there are live performances at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

 

Where can I find stunning views of the Manhattan skyline in Brooklyn?

If you’re seeking stunning views of the Manhattan skyline in Brooklyn, consider these locations. Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, and the Manhattan Bridge Overpass in Dumbo all offer breathtaking vistas.

 

2 Comments

  1. Extremely charming views all around… places mentioned — and I’m a Brooklynite…were astonishing for my own eyes.

  2. Thank you so much for the appreciation, Deborah! I’m happy to hear that I had some new ideas for a Brooklynite! I’ve only recently scratching the surface of exploring Brooklyn more in-depth. So be on the lookout for more awesome things to do in your own backyard on our blog!

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