The Best Spots to Visit in Brooklyn Heights (Nyc Local Secrets)
Looking for a Brooklyn neighborhood that’s easy to get to, with beautiful architecture, hidden gems and gorgeous leafy streets? Visit Brooklyn Heights on your tour of Brooklyn neighborhoods. Here, you’ll be delighted that all the things to do are free, which is one of our favorite ways to help travelers save money during trips.
Brooklyn Heights is home to historic brownstones, cobblestone streets, access to Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and tiny dead-end lanes that make the perfect photo spots.
Can you tell we like to find places where we can avoid the crowds? Wander through Brooklyn Heights away from the park, and you’ll find just that.
We personally vouch for Brooklyn Heights because we lived there! We really enjoy the quick access to Brooklyn Bridge Park, all of the historic buildings and history and the promenade.
How do you get to Brooklyn Heights?
Brooklyn Heights is very connected by subway. You can take the 2/3/4/5 to Borough Hall, to arrive at the closest part of the neighborhood to bustling Downtown Brooklyn. You can take the R train to the Court St. stop, which connects underground to the Borough Hall subway station.
To get to the part of Brooklyn Heights closest to Brooklyn Bridge Park, take the A or C trains to High Street. To get even closer to DUMBO, take the 2 or 3 train to Clark Street. The station intersects with Henry St., a commercial area with restaurants and bars where you can grab a bite.
Need a coffee? We recommend Vineapple, one of our favorite best cafes with WiFi in Brooklyn.
Is Brooklyn Heights one of the most beautiful spots in Brooklyn?
In all honesty, we think it is one of the most gorgeous neighborhoods in Brooklyn. If you walk along the leafy streets, you’ll notice that this area is historic. It’s so old and true to its nature that little has changed about many colonial homes in 200 years.
What to do in Brooklyn Heights
There’s so much to do and see, mostly all for free, in Brooklyn Heights. Even while we lived here, we would do these things to have fun on weekends and weeknights.
Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
Did you know that Brooklyn Heights was the first suburb of Manhattan? It’s true! Before the Brooklyn Bridge was built (it’s close by! Try to walk across, or at least give it a shot half-way), people had to take a ferry.
💡 Our tip: The Brooklyn Bridge is usually crowded and can get even dangerously crowded during holiday season (Christmas) and seem over-touristed. If you’re running or biking, the Manhattan Bridge is a much better option, as it’s a bridge less traveled by tourists.
The best time to visit the Brooklyn Bridge is early in the morning, between 7 and 9 a.m.
See the shops on Montague Street and Henry Street
Brooklyn Heights is characterized by two commercial areas, and that’s about it. They are Montague Street between Clinton and Hicks, and Henry Street around the Clark Street subway station (2 and 3 train). Both of these places have their fair share of stores and restaurants. Brooklyn Heights is a little light on the bar and cafe scene.
If you’re ready for dinner, you can go to our favorite Brooklyn Heights restaurant, which is Lantern Thai. For dessert, stop by Emack & Bolio’s Ice Cream for sure.
For snacks on your way to the park, you can go to the Key Food Supermarket or Fresh Start Marketplace (Montague between Clinton and Court St.). If it’s brunch time, go to the Heights Cafe and sit outside to people-watch, or eat at Le Pain Quotidien.
One more – Montague Street now has a cat cafe, the Brooklyn Cat Cafe. It’s on Montague between Hicks Street and Montague Terrace (another beautiful quiet street).
Local secrets: Find the dead ends at Love Lane, Hunts Lane and Grace Court Alley
The cutest lanes, which qualify as some of the shortest streets in Brooklyn, are Love Lane, Hunts Lane and Grace Court Alley. These little dead-end streets are home to converted carriage houses and quiet doorsteps. Love Lane got its name from being a place where lovers would walk and go on dates, back during the neighborhood’s earliest era.
We really like these lanes for taking a quick photo or two. Keep in mind that all the homes in these lanes are private, meaning people live here and if you’re taking photos of their homes, well, please be respectful!
Find the Joralemon Street secret ventilator brownstone
Joralemon Street has the best colors and you may even find a facade that serves as a ventilation building for the 4 & 5 subway line under this street. Can you find it? Most locals don’t even know about this building. It literally blends right in.
Don’t blink, or you might just walk right by. Okay, secret’s out: it’s located at 58 Joralemon Street.
Check out 1Hotel in Brooklyn Heights
1Hotel isn’t really a secret. It’s actually a super-trendy fairly new hotel in the area. There’s a cafe in the ground floor with coffee and cookies for a snack while you’re out in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
If you go to the lobby of 1Hotel, you can enjoy the wonderful decorations. You’ll find vertical plants hanging on walls, unique design and a beautifully-designed restaurant.
Head toward the elevators and sometimes there are free cookies (more cookies!), fruit and something to drink there. Use those elevators and take it to the roof to get your fill of excellent views above the East River.
Look for the Brooklyn Heights Fruit Streets
🚶 Walk around the Fruit Streets – Orange Street, Cranberry Street and Pineapple Street, with their charming architecture. This is the Brooklyn Heights that you’re picturing in your mind.
The Fruit Streets are largely residential, as they stem from Henry Street, where more of the commercial action is going on. Keep in mind that the brownstones and historic homes are all homes of real people, so being respectful of everyone’s privacy is key.
Need a pick-me-up? There’s a Joe’s Coffee on Pineapple Street and Hicks Street.
The Brooklyn Bridge Wooden Foot-Bridge (2020 UPDATE: IT IS CLOSED)
There is a wooden bridge at the end of the Promenade. It brings you down to DUMBO. To get to DUMBO, you can walk on the street or take this shortcut. The actual bridge isn’t a secret (although, we’d love if it is because it can get rather crowded.) Our secret is to catch the view here at the end of your day. If you get a friendly sky, the light becomes magical.
How to find the Brooklyn Heights Promenade
Walk down Montague or Remsen Street to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. These streets will take you to the end of the Promenade. Come for golden hour and stay for sunset, when you can witness the sky changing beyond the outline of the Statue of Liberty and the Lower Manhattan Skyline.
This is also a nice place to go running, walking the dog or walking with friends and family. It can attract a good number of tourists, but early and late, it’s locals-only.
The Brooklyn Heights Promenade ends at a street called Columbia Heights, between Orange and Cranberry Street.
UPDATE 2020: Because the footbridge taking pedestrians down to Brooklyn Bridge Park is now closed, I suggest walking down Columbia Heights (Street) for getting down to the park level. This is the best walk and avoids the larger streets with more traffic. You’ll also save time.
Tips for Visiting Brooklyn Bridge Park
🚶 Walk down Joralemon Street all the way to the water (see our update about the footbridge in this article), where you’ll find the recently redeveloped piers that now house soccer fields, tennis courts, ping pong tables, basketball courts, picnic tables, grills and playgrounds.
Brooklyn Bridge was recently re-done in past years, and now there are elevated patios surrounded by trees, large grassy laws, natural vegetation and additional piers with sporting fields. There’s so much to do. You can walk all the way from the base of the park at Pier 6 (Atlantic Avenue) to the John Street Park in DUMBO. It’s nearly a 30-minute walk altogether.
This is a park for all people. There are also bars on boats (in the Spring and Summer), cafes with snacks and New York ferry terminals, where you can buy a ticket to ride a ferry to Manhattan or southbound to Red Hook and Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
Take photos at the most famous Brooklyn Bridge Park photo spot
The most famous photo spot in Brooklyn Bridge Park is at Old Pier 1. At sunset, you’ll see lots of photographers come here to get the famous shot of the old dock and the East River. The sun will go down to the west near the Statue of Liberty. From here, you can see the Lower Manhattan skyline.
This is also the place to go on September 11, when annually, the city puts up memorial lights that will emanate from Ground Zero and nearby. Here, you can see a beautiful reflection in the water (and you won’t be alone in taking the photo). This is a touching way to commemorate the lives lost on that day.
More photo spots in Brooklyn Bridge Park
Did you know Brooklyn Bridge Park has a beach? It’s called the Pier 4 beach, and this is a cool and unique place to take a photo.
For more photo ideas, go to the Panoramic Viewpoint near the ferry terminal for East River Ferries. This is a nice sunset spot if you didn’t make it to the Old Pier 1 or the Brooklyn Bridge Promenade.
One more photo spot is near the Ample Hills Creamery Fire Boat House. From standing right by it, you can be very close to the Brooklyn Bridge itself and get close-ups from ground level.
Go running or biking in Brooklyn Bridge Park
If you’re staying in Brooklyn Heights or in nearby Downtown Brooklyn, Jay Street Metrotech or Cobble Hill, the park is a great place for runners and bikers. The park has some hill and some flat ground. Keep an eye out for the designated bike lane. If you’re a pedestrian, watch out for bikers!
Have a BBQ in summer at the Brooklyn Bridge Park BBQ Area
There is a designated spot for BBQs in Brooklyn Bridge Park, at the BBQ Area between Piers 4 and 5. On summer nights, come here to see the BBQ scene, as local families really like to grill some burgers and have snacks here at the tables.
Explore the less touristy streets below Joralemon Street
The streets between Joralemon and Atlantic Avenue have the least number of visitors. If you really want to feel like a local, first of all, don’t tell anyone we told you this.
You can walk on Willow Place, Garden Place and Sidney Place to complete avoid other tourists and crowds. These are beautiful leafy streets with gorgeously-manicured brownstones and historic homes. If you’re heading back to the park, stop at River Deli or Clover Hill for a bite to eat. Both are located on Columbia Place, a quiet residential street.
Tip-toe through the Brooklyn Historical Society Library
While we lived in the neighborhood, we took a day to visit the Brooklyn Historic Society’s library. This was a fascinating place, and shh! – you have to be VERY quiet while you’re here during visiting hours.
We did something cool which was use the city’s database to look up facts about our ancestors. Seriously! Becca found her great-grandfather’s data and her grandfather’s military documents in the NYC historic data database.
If you’re not from the area or don’t have family from here, this can still be fun for you. The books in the shelves are somewhat ancient, considering how old the US is. If you’re a fan of books, this is a must-see.
Were these the best tips for visiting Brooklyn Heights’ local secrets?
We sure hope so. From cafes and restaurants on residential streets for the best times to walk the Brooklyn Bridge and see the sunset, we’ve surely shared what we know about one of our favorite Brooklyn neighborhoods.