Top Things To Do in Brooklyn and Harlem

Planning a trip to NYC? You’ll no doubt want to tick off Manhattan’s hotspots – the Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, and Times Square, to name a few. But, once you’ve had your fill of world-famous landmarks, why not venture into the lesser-explored areas of the city?

Popular Harlem hangouts include the Apollo Theatre, where Ella Fitzgerald got her start, the Levain Bakery where you can feast on giant cookies, and Striver’s Row where you can explore gorgeous European-inspired architecture. Over in Brooklyn,  there’s the trendy Williamsburg neighborhood to discover, Brooklyn Museum where you can get your culture fix, and of course, the iconic Brooklyn Bridge to see up close.

The best way to hop from one neighborhood to the next is on a Big Bus Tour, which not only takes you from A to B, but offers all the history and local tips you need from dedicated guides. Get your New York Explorer pass and make the most of a 2-day  Hop-On Hop-Off tour.

Brooklyn bucket list

Take the perfect Brooklyn Bridge photo

There’s only one way to get this iconic New York snap – on the bridge itself. Get close to this world-famous structure and admire its geometric cable construction from below. You can walk, drive, or bike across, or hop on a Big Bus tour and learn all about the history of the bridge as you travel across.

Have a day of fun at Coney Island

Harness your inner kid at Luna Park – a traditional, fairground-style park with retro rides and fun eateries. Coney Island is also home to one of New York’s best beaches, and there are plenty of concerts and events to keep you busy all year round.

Smell the flowers at Brooklyn Botanic Garden

This stunning 50-acre green space boasts one of America’s biggest rose collections, a magnificent Japanese garden, and a fragrance garden where you can embark on a sensory journey. You’ll also find rare bonsai trees in the greenhouse and unique rainforest trees which are used to produce life-saving drugs. If you’re visiting in spring, don’t miss the gorgeous cherry blossom.

Be a hipster in Williamsburg

This popular and exciting Brooklyn neighborhood is where the cool kids hang out (AKA you)! Stroll around the hipster-hood and enjoy the lively arts and music scene. There are numerous cafes where you can people watch, and trendy restaurants to check out. In fact, Williamsburg is Brooklyn’s foodiest neighborhood, so don’t miss the chance to sample the local cheese, wine, and produce.

Harlem Hangouts

See a show at the Apollo Theatre

Louis Armstrong, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, and Ella Fitzgerald have graced the stage at this historic venue. Take a backstage tour or book a show and get the full experience. Every Wednesday, the theatre puts on an ‘Amateur Night’ which has been running since 1934.

Sample sticky buns at the Levain Bakery

Oprah raved about the sticky buns at this famous bakery back in 2009, and it’s been keeping sweet-toothed customers coming since them. In fact, the queues often snake around the block, so get there early to bag yourself a tasty treat. The bakery’s most famous offering is the giant chocolate chip cookies – be sure to grab one ahead of your day’s exploring.

Discover a different side to Central Park

When we say Central Park, you probably think Wollman Ice Rink, the zoo, the fountain – all the famous spots. But, head north of the park and you’ll find a peaceful 40-acre wood and a calm pond surrounded by local fisherman. Take some time out from the hustle and bustle of the city to explore this quiet oasis.

Stroll along Striver’s Row

These European-inspired houses make the perfect Instagram snap. Stroll along this historic enclave and take photos of the film-set scenery. This area was home to a few famous residents including Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr, and Bob Dylan.

Until June 1, we’re offering two-day Big Bus New York Tours on the New York Explorer pass which give you access to the Harlem and Brooklyn neighborhoods along with central Manhattan. Don’t miss out – grab yours today!


The information contained in this post, to the best of the author's knowledge, was accurate at time of publishing. We do our best to ensure and maintain the accuracy of this information.

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