For a number of years now, soaring real estate prices in New York have pushed many residents to move to areas a little further away from Manhattan. With the arrival of this new population, some neighbourhoods ended up completely transformed! Such is the case of Williamsburg, a neighbourhood in Brooklyn that is a perfect symbol of the city's gentrification.
A large number of artists have settled here, and this neighbourhood, which attracts more and more visitors, is now one of the trendiest in New York. In this article, you can discover the best things to do and see in Williamsburg 😊
Why visit Williamsburg?
Unlike many Manhattan neighbourhoods, Williamsburg does not have a lot of tourist attractions, but that doesn't mean there is nothing to see there – far from it! Over the years, Williamsburg gained a lot of popularity, so much so that it has now become the neighbourhood for hipsters and young New York artists.
There you can discover a typical New York City neighbourhood with a lively and pleasant atmosphere. Williamsburg is located between the East River and Bushwick. You can easily take advantage of this to discover Bushwick – Brooklyn’s emblematic district. It is the heart of New York's street art scene. Here, graffiti is truly elevated to the rank of art.
On many of the buildings, you will find many murals by world-renowned artists, but let’s not forget that there are also a number of trendy restaurants and bars, as well as some great shopping spots 👍
Where Domino Sugar Refinery, the world's largest sugar refinery once stood, you can now discover one of Brooklyn's most enjoyable parks. The park opened in 2018 and covers almost 2 hectares. It also has many facilities for children and adults.
These facilities include loungers for relaxing by the river, a large playground with slides and other structures, pétanque strips and beach volleyball courts, and a dog park. A long footbridge crosses Domino Park from north to south, and makes for a nice walk with beautiful views over the city.
At the end of the day, you can also watch the sun set behind the Williamsburg Bridge and the Manhattan skyline.
Right next to Domino Park, a huge black and white mural by French contemporary artist JR can be seen. This montage of over 1000 photographs blends in perfectly with the setting to stunning effect 🤩
Bedford Avenue is the true heart of Williamsburg. It is a very lively street with many shops, cafes and restaurants. If you feel like doing a little shopping while visiting the area, this is the place to go! Bedford Avenue is perhaps one of the best shopping streets in all of New York – especially if you are looking for vintage items.
You will find a wide variety of shops and boutiques here, such as the Mini Mall, a small but very original shopping mall, or Red Pearl, the perfect shop to find a little souvenir to bring back from your trip to New York. Not far from there, Artists & Fleas, the temple of vintage located at 70 North 7th Street, is not to be missed either.
Just around the corner from Bedford Avenue and North 5th St, you can also discover one of the most famous pieces of street art in the city: a magnificent 6-metre long and 3-metre high mural by Australian artist Brolga depicting boxer Mohamed Ali🥊
There are other beautiful artistic creations here too, including spectacular and colourful works by Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra. One of his most famous creations is on the façade of 147 Bedford Avenue, but I'll let you discover what it means by yourself 😉
Discover Williamsburg and its specialties 🍔
What better way to discover this neighbourhood in Brooklyn than with a food tour of Williamsburg? Following your guide, you'll discover not only the neighbourhood’s streets and urban art, but also the shops and bars of Bedford Avenue. Even better, once your tour is well underway, you will be brought to a pier in the neighbourhood to taste New York specialities – like a local. The professional guides have some amazing surprises in store for you! But don't forget to book this activity now for the price of £53 per person 😋
The Williamsburg Bridge may not be the most famous bridge in New York, but it is the most iconic landmark in Williamsburg. This early 20th century suspension bridge, which for 20 years was the longest in the world, connects Manhattan’s Lower East Side neighbourhood and Williamsburg.
The bridge can be crossed on foot or on bike, and offers beautiful views of many of New York's iconic sites as you go.
Under this strange name hides actually the most important food market in America, nothing less! If you're in New York between April and October, then you simply have to go here at least once, on the banks of the East River in Williamsburg, on Saturdays between 11am and 6pm. For the record, "Smorgasburg" actually means... absolutely nothing. Its creators, who are also behind the Brooklyn Flea Market’s creation, simply thought the name sounded good.
The Smorgasburg is an open-air food market that attracts over 20,000 people every week. There are more than 100 food stalls, and you'll be spoilt for choice to say the least! Specialities from all over the world can be found there 😁
Note that Smorgasburg is not limited to Williamsburg, and that it also takes place on Friday at the World Trade Center and on Sunday at Prospect Park – Brooklyn's most famous park.
New York Contrasts Tour
New York Contrast Tour is a sightseeing tour that goes through all five of New York City’s boroughs and helps visitors experience the city's incredible cultural diversity.
The tour is so enjoyable not only because it passes through some of New York's most popular neighbourhoods, such as Harlem, Chinatown and Little Italy, but also because it is a great way to discover other sites besides Manhattan. You can for example visit the Malba neighbourhood in Queens, but also Bushwick and Williamsburg in Brooklyn.
Of all the things you will get to discover during this 5-hour tour, one of the most striking will probably be the New York street art. You'll be amazed by the city’s history, its most beautiful murals and the knowledgeable commentary of a local guide. The price of this activity is approximately £45 per person 🙂
East River State Park
East River State Park, also known as Marsha P. Johnson State Park, is located along the river north of Williamsburg, in Brooklyn. It is a large green space of almost 3 hectares and offers many picnic areas 🧺
Here, it is possible to enjoy magnificent views of Manhattan, especially from the Charlotte Beach side.
A little further north at Hurricane Point, you can also have a good time enjoying peace and nature while admiring the Manhattan skyline and a beautiful sunset. The park’s southern part is where the Smorgasburg takes place every Saturday.
Where to sleep in Williamsburg? 🛏️
If Williamsburg is where you want to put down your suitcases during your trip to New York, here is the perfect hotel to stay in the city: the Hotel 42! It is located in the heart of the neighbourhood and you will therefore be close to all the places of interest I talk about in this article – Domino Park, the East River piers and many others! An overnight stay at this hotel is around £130, which includes breakfast, American style of course. The rooms are modern and the hotel offers additional services such as a gym, luggage storage, bar and of course a restaurant 😉
Take a cruise from Wall Street to Williamsburg
What if I told you that in New York, it is possible to take one of the most enjoyable cruises in the world at a very affordable price? Indeed, the NYC Ferry company sails on the East River and connects Wall Street and Williamsburg (South Williamsburg or North Williamsburg, a stone's throw from the East River Park), making a stop in the DUMBO neighbourhood on the way (Fulton Ferry).
From the Pier 11/Wall Street ferry terminal to the North Williamsburg terminal, the trip takes just over half an hour, during which you'll have plenty of time to discover beautiful views of Governors Island, Manhattan's financial district, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge, Domino Park and many other sites along the East River.
The ticket for this wonderful mini-cruise costs only $4, or about £5 – and only $1.35 for seniors. The trip is free for children under 44 inches, which is to say 1 metre 11.
You can find more information, see the sailing schedule and even book your ticket on the official NYC Ferry website.
Walking tour of the Williamsburg neighbourhood
If you want to experience and appreciate the unique charm of Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighbourhood, I suggest a small group tour with an experienced guide who knows the area and its history inside and out.
On this two-hour guided tour of Williamsburg, you'll have plenty of time to learn about one of the city's most popular neighbourhoods, check out iconic sites, sample the cutting-edge culinary offer, admire the wonders of innovative architecture, and most importantly, discover the most beautiful views and street art. A true immersion in the neighbourhood’s unique atmosphere awaits you! Price of the activity ? About £26 per person 🙂
That's all for now! I hope this article has helped you plan your next visit to New York City, especially if you intend to discover the Brooklyn district. I also recommend checking out some of the New York passes – they are bound to come in handy during your stay and most even include some activities in Brooklyn! 😁