Brooklyn New York Walking Tour (Self Guided), New York

Brooklyn, one of New York City’s five boroughs, occupies the western tip of Long Island and is connected to neighboring Manhattan via the iconic Brooklyn Bridge. The area is known primarily, these days, for its ethnic diversity; it also abounds in a variety of recreational, cultural and historic attractions. The most notable landmarks include Brooklyn Heights Promenade, Prospect Park, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Museum and the Central Library overlooking Grand Army Plaza. For a more detailed view of Brooklyn and its key attractions, follow this self-guided tour and explore.
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Brooklyn New York Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Brooklyn New York Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » New York (See other walking tours in New York)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.4 Km or 3.4 Miles
Author: doris
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Brooklyn Botanic Garden
  • Brooklyn Museum
  • Mount Prospect Park
  • Brooklyn Public Library
  • Grand Army Plaza
  • Dekalb Market Hall at Brooklyn Downtown
  • New York Transit Museum
  • Brooklyn Heights Promenade
1
Brooklyn Botanic Garden

1) Brooklyn Botanic Garden (must see)

Rated as one of the best botanical gardens in the US, the Brooklyn Botanical Garden is a safe, clean and well-manicured park – a quiet oasis in the middle of the bustling city. Commissioned in 1910, this 52-acre area houses a variety of specialty gardens and has over 10,000 species of plants placed in unique themed landscapes. Among them are a Japanese Garden, a bonsai garden within the Steinhardt Conservatory, a rose garden with over 1500 species, and a Plant Family garden where plants are grouped by family to show their evolution. There is also a Cherry Tree walk and esplanade with over 200 species of Asiatic Cherry trees. The best time to visit the BBG is late April when the annual cherry blossom festival gets underway.

Other unique gardens within the park include the Shakespeare garden with plants and flowers mentioned in his plays and poems, a fragrance garden for the visually impaired – with signposts in Braille, and a Children’s garden designed especially for the benefit of young visitors. The Brooklyn Botanical Garden has two gift shops and a garden reference center that serves as a resource to professional and amateur botanists. A Beaux Art style conservatory within the park, called the Palm House, serves as a venue for weddings and events with space for over 300 guests.

Why You Should Visit:
The BBG is known for periodical festivals and special occasions, so check their calendar online to find out what's in bloom at the moment.

Tip:
The entry is free on Friday mornings, before 12 PM, but the prices are very reasonable anyway, considering how much there is to see. There is also a great shop and a cafe.
If you look for serenity, go during a week, if you can, when there's nothing "on" so you can wander around in quiet, absorbing the beauty with every turn of the path. This is especially true of the Japanese Hill and Pond Garden, which are simply magnificent.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Fri: 10am-4:30pm; Sat-Sun: 10am-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Brooklyn Museum

2) Brooklyn Museum (must see)

With the space of 560,000 square feet (52,000 m2), the Brooklyn Museum is New York's second largest in physical terms and by far one of the most interesting. It holds a collection of roughly 1.5 million items, ranging from historic objects to artifacts and pieces of architecture. Here, alongside permanent exhibitions, featuring objects from around the globe, you will find temporary themed exhibits that run for six months or more.

Opened in 1897, the museum was initially called the Brooklyn Institute for Arts and Sciences. The Beaux Art style building was designed by a firm of architects, called McKim Mead and White. In 2004, a new pavilion, designed by James Stewart Polshek, was added to the complex.

A significant part of the collection is antiquities, specifically those from Egypt – spanning over 3,000 years. African, Oceanic, and Japanese art make for notable collections as well. American art, starting from the Colonial period, has a strong representation either. Several rooms within the museum display parts of historic houses reconstructed in a bid to showcase the evolution of art and architecture through ages. Among the presented artists here are the likes of Mark Rothko, Edward Hopper, Norman Rockwell, Winslow Homer, Edgar Degas, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Max Weber. The museum also has a "Memorial Sculpture Garden" featuring salvaged architectural elements from all over New York City.

On the first Saturday of a month, the Brooklyn Museum hosts a free evening of public entertainment. Guided tours by docents are available. Visitors can also browse at the bookstore or relax at the cafe located on the premises.

Why You Should Visit:
This museum has it all: a fantastic permanent collection, which includes Judy Chicago's 'The Dinner Party' (don't miss it!), temporary exhibits, convenient location, helpful staff, free coat check, and other amenities. So, if you are nearby or don't want to wait in lines to see Manhattan museums, check it out!

Tip:
Try taking the elevator to the 5th floor and working your way down for each exhibit, as opposed to walking up the stairs.

Opening Hours:
Wed: 11am-6pm; Thu: 11am-10pm; Fri-Sun: 11am-6pm;
First Saturday of a month (except September): 11am-11pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Mount Prospect Park

3) Mount Prospect Park

Mount Prospect Park, the second highest point in Brooklyn, once offered sweeping views over New York City as far off as New Jersey. Very much so, in fact, that in 1776 the location was used as a lookout point by the Continental Army.

The park was commissioned in 1860 after a reservoir was built on top of the hill, in 1856, and the Brooklyn City Council decided to maintain the surrounding land as a park to preserve the purity of the water. Thus, Mount Prospect Park came into being, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. In 1996, major changes occurred, thanks to the efforts of the City Council Member, Mary Pinkett, seeing playground for children reconstructed with new play equipment, safety surfacing, picnic tables, swings, a new fountain and drainage system added.

Sadly, today the park no longer commands the same view as it did centuries ago, as a lookout post. Still, the place is quite enjoyable, dog-friendly recreational ground suitable for the whole family. Tai Chi lessons are given here every morning and the playground gives hours of entertainment for kids. Also, the park is located conveniently close to some important cultural venues like the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Public Library.
4
Brooklyn Public Library

4) Brooklyn Public Library

Designed to resemble an open book, the Central Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library is one of the largest Art Deco buildings in the United States. Originally designed in Beaux Art style by architect Raymond Almirall, it was later redesigned, in an Art Deco style, by architects Githens and Keally after World War I and the Great Depression made the construction too expensive to complete in the 1930s. As a result, all the original expensive ornamentation was removed and the third floor demolished.

The present building comprises two floors with a space of over 350,000 square feet, and includes a large auditorium, called the S. Stevan Dweck Center for Contemporary Culture, used for hosting lectures, public readings, musical concerts and family events. Other than housing the administrative headquarters of the Brooklyn Public Library System, the Central Branch serves about a million readers each year.

Upon entry, visitors are greeted with a massive “gate” which is decorated with a variety of gold icons, including various historic and literary figures, such as Moby Dick and Walt Whitman. Other than the traditional rows of books covering a universe of topics, this library offers computers for research and plenty of seating. The staff are very helpful and cheerfully offer assistance to the visitors.

Why You Should Visit:
The Central Branch library is a great space to duck out of the summer heat with small kids. The children's section provides "bundles" on a range of topics which makes it easy to gather books for a curious toddler who doesn't have the patience to locate books but can spend hours in this friendly environment. Books, toys and brightly painted murals on the walls make it a true hidden gem of Brooklyn!

Tips:
You can also obtain a passport in a very short time at this library. There is a fee for obtaining your passport, but it sure beats dealing with the wait at a post office and other locations.
Avoid the bathrooms if you can, they are the worst kept secret of the neighborhood and are used by runners and park goers in addition to library patrons.
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Grand Army Plaza

5) Grand Army Plaza

Grand Army Plaza forms entrance to Prospect Park, Brooklyn, and is dominated by the ornate Arch of the Soldiers and Sailors crowning the gateway. The plaza is named after the Grand Army of the Potomac, otherwise known as the Union Army – victors in the American Civil War. When it was first built in the 1860s the space was simply called The Plaza, and was the first traffic free parkway in the world that connected a park with the main roads.

The Arch of the Soldiers and Sailors was dedicated and the plaza was renamed in 1892. Today, the plaza is halved by 59th Street, with the northern half featuring a gilded bronze statue of General William Tecumseh Sherman, one of the Civil War heroes, and the southern half featuring the Pulitzer memorial fountain, a gift from the Pulitzer publishing family. A great monument to the Civil War period, Grand Army Plaza is studded with many busts and monuments of prominent American statesmen and war heroes and, as such, is an attraction for those who love history.

On Saturdays it hosts a popular farmers' market with lots of stalls and interesting people. As one of the centers of the fabulous borough, with tonnes of restaurants and cafes, plus a nice green respite just steps away, this place is a definite must see for anyone visiting NYC.
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Dekalb Market Hall at Brooklyn Downtown

6) Dekalb Market Hall at Brooklyn Downtown

Brooklyn's own version of the Chelsea market (albeit somewhat smaller), DeKalb Market Hall is a new major addition to the culinary map of the United States fit to beat all the other food markets out there hands down. Located in the City Point development in downtown Brooklyn, DeKalb houses an array of local and regional food outposts serving so many different cuisines that you'd be struggling to know where to begin.

Want a jerk chicken? – done; steam buns? – you're covered; pierogi and kielbasa? – just like they make it back in Poland; and that’s just to start. With more than 40 trendy and delicious places under one roof, you simply can’t go wrong at DeKalb! There are Asian vendors selling ramen, noodles and everything in between, a bakery, a great bar selling craft beer on a tap and in cans, many dessert places, a BBQ, Hawaiin comfort food, a cheesebar, a creamery, hamburgers, you name it. They even have a Katz's Delicatessen here saving you the trouble visiting their iconic, crazy-busy original Lower East Side location if you want.

As an extra bonus, there's even a Trader Joe's to go shopping at afterwards – very convenient! And what's more, DeKalb also hosts daily entertainment and programming, with a custom show kitchen and a stage for live concerts which only adds to the great vibe. The place isn't too brightly lit, has a perfect size (quite big actually!) and has other sit down restaurants (and even a Whole Foods Market!) at the edges, plus communal seating areas, chairs, tables and benches all around. The food and the atmosphere are great, and there literally is something for everyone – meat lovers, vegetarians, vegans alike. Visit here, you won't regret!
7
New York Transit Museum

7) New York Transit Museum

The New York Transit Museum on, or rather under, Schermerhorn Street in Downtown Brooklyn is dedicated to the history of New York’s transport system.

Head down the stairs into a de-commissioned, but beautifully renovated 1936 subway station to view an incredible array of vintage subway cars, exhibitions about the underground tunnel systems and the people who built them, plus antique street level buses and trolleys. There are also fascinating displays of ticket machines, fire hydrants, and signage.

If your visit to Downtown Brooklyn falls between Thanksgiving and New Year, don’t miss the Nostalgia Train and taking a ride on one of the vintage, but fully operational, 1930 R1/9 cars through nine stops on the subway system.

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8
Brooklyn Heights Promenade

8) Brooklyn Heights Promenade

Looking for a great place to enjoy a panoramic view of everything the city has to offer? The Brooklyn Promenade—a one-third-mile stretch of pavement along the East River—is a favorite destination of residents, tourists and couples looking to make out next to an unforgettable span of NYC’s skyline. Breathtaking views of the Brooklyn Bridge and Statue of Liberty are both visible from here, but the Promenade wasn’t originally built for aesthetic reasons: City planner Robert Moses originally wanted the Brooklyn Queens Expressway to run through Brooklyn Heights. After lots of opposition from the local community, the promenade was built to insulate the mansions and tree-lined streets nearby from highway noise and has been doing so since it opened in October 1950.

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Walking Tours in New York, New York

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Midtown Manhattan is the largest commercial, entertainment, and media center of the United States. The area is a home to some of NYC's most iconic landmarks, such as the Empire State Building and Chrysler Grand Central Station, as well as the world-famous Rockefeller Center and Times Square. Follow this self guided walk to explore Midtown Manhattan!

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.5 Km or 2.8 Miles
New York's Central Park Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 Km or 2.9 Miles
Best of Lower Manhattan Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.4 Km or 3.4 Miles
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