With more than 2.5 million people in the borough of Brooklyn and 10 million people in nearby Manhattan, it’s easy to get lost in the hubbub of a busy lifestyle. Yet one of the many things that makes Brooklyn so special is its ability to encompass everything that is big city while still staying in touch with the great outdoors. So on your next visit to Brooklyn, wander outside your hotel’s neighborhood and discover the beauty of things to do outdoors in Brooklyn.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
In what is the largest garden in Brooklyn, you’ll certainly find that taste of repose you are seeking at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. This 52-acre garden is nestled perfectly in the heart of Brooklyn and the city’s nearby museums and has been a mainstay in the borough since its founding 100 years ago. Take a walk along the garden’s paths that span over creeks and ponds, through lush forestry areas and feature many plants in bloom throughout the year.
This family-friendly garden features a Children’s Garden that allows children to learn firsthand about the natural world through growing flowers, vegetables, and herbs. For visitors looking to find solace, the Fragrance Garden and the Herb Garden are beautiful ventures offering a taste of peace by utilizing so many parts of the human senses.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
An revitalized 85-acre park along the waterfront, the Brooklyn Bridge Park spans 1.3 miles and offers spectacular views of downtown Manhattan. As it names states, it’s located below the historic Bridge and a crown jewel of the borough. The southern part of the park has six piers with outdoor activities that range from roller skating to playgrounds and a fitness center to beautiful green spaces.
No visit to Brooklyn Bridge Park is complete without visiting Jane’s Carousel, an antique merry-go-round built in 1992 and has 48 carved horses to ride. Enclosed in a glass pavilion, it’s enjoyed by kids and adults from all over the world.
Salt Marsh Nature Center
Located within Marine Park, this nature center is not only a bird-watcher’s paradise but also an outdoor adventure about the importance of ecosystems in urban environments. The 530 acres of grasslands includes a flat pathway along a creek and around the marsh where you will take some amazing photos. In fact, the area is extremely popular as a backdrop for portrait and wedding photography.
The Center offers fun outdoor activities for families and friends including live entertainment each month from storytellers to musicians. Make sure to check out the Marine Park calendar for upcoming events, which could include kayaking, paddleboarding and biking.
Camping in Brooklyn
The stars at night are big and bright. Deep in the heart of… Brooklyn? One of the biggest secrets in the borough is camping at Floyd Bennett Field while the bright lights of New York City flicker nearby. Pitch your tent, build a fire and eat s’mores to your hearts content.
A part of the National Park Service, Bennett Field offers more than camping too. Nearby you can enjoy archery (watch this adorable family video), fishing, hiking and more. As with any national park, there rules and regulations to be followed, including required reservations.
Coney Island Beach and Boardwalk
One of the most popular destinations in the U.S., Coney Island is hubbub of people in the summer and still bustles with activity during the off-season. Grab a Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog and explore the Boardwalk while playing arcade games, riding the 90-year-old Coney Island Cyclone roller coaster or just catching rays on the beach.
If the weather gets extreme, step inside the New York Aquarium for sea lions, sharks and a 4D theater. During the summer, check out the minor league baseball team, the Brooklyn Cyclones or during winter, skate at the Abe Stark Skating Center. Coney Island is a destination like no other in the U.S., and with its history and secrets, it’s been drawing families and friends alike for decades.
BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival
Throughout the summer, this Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival hosts live performances in Prospect Park and is New York’s longest-running, free outdoor arts festival. Musicians like Musiq Soulchild and Bela Fleck and Flecktones have graced the stage with outdoor concerts and entertained Brooklynites for almost 40 years.