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Some pockets of nature in New York City were the result of early visionaries who knew this growing city would become something of itself, and they knew it was important to preserve natural spaces for the public to enjoy. This history is one of the many reasons places like Central Park are iconic, but I’m also fascinated by those once-industrial spaces that have been transformed into something new, reclaiming the green spaces that they once were.
Brooklyn Bridge Park is surprisingly young, and I recently spent two days doing a deep dive exploration of all corners of this modern-day park so I could give readers a tour of its highlights.
There are so many amazing things to do at Brooklyn Bridge Park—I hope this gives you a high-level view of what the park is like, the top sights, hidden gems, and some of the best things to enjoy there.
Just here for the best photo spots? 📷 Jump straight to the best views in Brooklyn Bridge Park here.
Brooklyn Bridge Park Overview
Brooklyn Bridge Park is located on the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Bridge and offers incredible views of Manhattan as well as a variety of activities, such as bike trails, picnic areas, sports courts, kayaking, quiet walking paths, and more.
If you’ve seen photos of the Brooklyn Bridge with Manhattan in the background, it was most likely from a viewpoint in this park (keep reading to find out where). The majority of the park is to the south of Brooklyn Bridge, but it also runs underneath the bridge and a little to the north.
This area was once a shipping port and later served as a storage area—as recently as 20-25 years ago. When the Port Authority of New York decided to get rid of it, the area’s future was unknown, but eventually the park plans won out. The first portions of Brooklyn Bridge Park opened in 2010, followed by additional sections over the next ten years.
This old working waterfront has now been transformed into a beautiful park that’s beloved by locals.
Today, its industrial past is hidden beneath nature and park amenities. The thoughtful design has a lot of surprising details—like topography created from subway fill on the once-flat waterfront, mature trees planted that conceal the park’s youth, and completely native vegetation that provides habitat and food for wildlife. All of the lawns and native plants in the park are managed organically.
*For detailed information about hours, rules, live music, movies in the park, free history tours, and other events, check out the helpful Brooklyn Bridge Park website.
Park Layout — Piers and Points of Interest
To the south of Brooklyn Bridge, you’ll find six areas that were formerly shipping piers. Some of the park area is actually built on the former pier structure, making it jut out onto the water, while other sections are just the land that the pier used to be connected to. Each pier area is distinct, and they alternate between nature-focused and park amenities like sports courts. Around the outer edge of each pier, you’ll find a wide promenade for walking or jogging.
To the north of Brooklyn Bridge, there are some great views from plazas, grassy areas, and viewpoints. Some have their own park name but are actually part of Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Note: I’ve found that many of the location markers on Google have photos uploaded that are from another spot in the park. I’ve done my best to give you photos of the actual location I’m mentioning, as well as the true location markers in the interactive map at the end.
Also, I looked at some of these locations on Google Street View, and in the process I noticed how much the park has changed in the few years since the street view was recorded! Here and there, I’ve included links to a spot on the map for a more immersive experience, but only where it looks similar to today. Keep this in mind if you’re perusing the park’s layout on Street View—it may look very different!
Overall, keep in mind that Google Maps isn’t perfect, and the best way to experience the best of Brooklyn Bridge Park is to visit in person.
At Pier 1, there’s a lot of variety and a nice balance between nature and manmade.
There are pathways through the woods on a gently rolling landscape, a walkway along the East River with benches to relax, a salt marsh, a playground, and several lawns and overlooks with views of the Brooklyn Bridge, Downtown Manhattan, and Statue of Liberty. At the northern end of Pier 1, you’ll find a ferry landing, places to eat and get ice cream, and a connection under the bridge to other areas of the park.
This is the largest pier and while it does jut out slightly onto the water, it’s not built on top of the old pier structure like the others, but was created from landfill.
The pilings from the old pier are still visible in the water at the southern end of Pier 1 near the salt marsh (check out Google Street View here). When I visited, I saw a lot of birds enjoying this area, and it makes for an interesting photograph with the NYC skyline in the background.
Pier 2 is all about sports. This mostly covered pier has a roller skating rink, basketball courts, pickleball courts, handball courts, turf fields, and more.
There’s a rental locker for some sports equipment (like a basketball, football, etc), and the roller skating rink not only has rentals available, it has a lot of different public skate events and lessons (admission price varies). This pier was super popular when I visited on a summer weekend!
Want to get a feel for what Pier 2 is like? Jump right into the center of the courts on Google Street View here.
Tip: Throughout the park, you’ll see pathways to either side of the main promenade (Brooklyn Bridge Park Greenway). Many of them lead to tucked away little spots—from benches to splash pads—and I recommend following your curiosity to see where they lead!
Heading towards Pier 3, it looks like you’re going to be engulfed in nature as you enter from the north side. A heavily wooded maze of pathways is interspersed with salvaged materials, including bollards (metal posts used for mooring ships), that form interactive explorations. There’s also a lawn for picnicking, a wide open plaza on one corner, and a section with picnic tables.
Pier 4 is the pier that’s not actually a pier, or any structure for that matter. There’s a small beach area where this pier used to stand, though no swimming is allowed (humans or pets). You can walk on the beach, look at the man-made “tide pools,” or join in on the free kayaking (temporary location at Pier 4).
Pier 5 offers another sports area—this one an uncovered turf field—plus a playground, picnic peninsula (this BBQ and picnic area was super popular when I visited on a holiday weekend), Pier 5 uplands, and Visitors’ Center.
At Pier 6, you’ll find more natural space, sand volleyball courts, picnic tables, a lawn with nice views, and some restaurants. Unlike Pier 3 with its maze of shrubs and woods, the green space here is more meadow (with a beautiful array of wildflowers), so it feels more open and airy as you look out over the river towards Manhattan.
Back on land in the Pier 6 section of the park, you’ll find a huge interactive playground with tons of splash pads.
There’s another ferry landing at the end of this area, with service by both the NYC public ferry and the Governors Island Ferry. This is where I hopped on the ferry to head back to Lower Manhattan (Wall Street/Pier 11 landing), and it was significantly less busy than the Pier 1 ferry landing on a summer afternoon.
Tip: There are more bathrooms than those marked on Google Maps, so I recommend watching the park directional signs to find the closest one.
North of Brooklyn Bridge
If you head north from the Pier 1 area, under the Brooklyn Bridge, you’ll find more interesting places to explore. The open space is not as large here as on the Piers, but there are plenty of benches, steps, and lawn areas to rest and take in the beautiful views from this part of the park.
Stop off at the historic marker on Emily Warren Roebling Plaza to read about her role in seeing the Brooklyn Bridge’s construction through to completion. Admire the LAND art installation as you make your way towards Jane’s Carousel, an antique 1920s restored carousel that’s a popular stop for families visiting the park.
As I walked around the carousel on a beautiful summer weekend afternoon, I saw lots of people hanging out on the wide steps overlooking the river, along with a few musicians busking here and there.
If you want arguably the best bridge views in Brooklyn Bridge Park, don’t stop walking yet.
At Pebble Beach, you’ll (usually) find a spectacular view of Brooklyn Bridge with Manhattan in the background. Unfortunately, when I visited in 2023, there was a large float with construction equipment in the cove between Pebble Beach and Jane’s Carousel. I’m not sure how long that will be there, but I found a nearby alternative if you’re looking for an uninterrupted postcard view.
Head up the stairs and follow the pathway to the left. There’s a viewpoint above the beach where I found a similar view and some bushes that blocked the construction float.
In the early evening, the Pebble Beach area was pretty busy, but at sunrise I had the place pretty much to myself to capture the glowy morning light as it lit up the bridge and Manhattan skyline.
Finally, you can head a little farther north to John Street Park if you want a view that includes the Manhattan Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge.
Recommended: Check out this post for fun facts about Brooklyn Bridge Park and interesting history tidbits!
Best Viewpoints in Brooklyn Bridge Park
- Pebble Beach (and nearby overlook): This is the classic postcard view of Brooklyn Bridge with Manhattan in the background, including the skyline standout of One World Trade Center. If there is construction or anything blocking the view, head up the stairs and to the left on the pathway for a little overlook. There are shrubs here that can block obstructions on the left of the frame.
- John Street Park: Nice views that include both bridges. Manhattan Bridge becomes more of the focal point, and the Manhattan skyline is still visible but not as prominent. There are places to sit along the walkways in the park.
- Pier 1 Outer Promenade: The views here are some of the best in the park (aside from Pebble Beach). Enjoy the benches with unobstructed skyline views straight ahead, along with the Brooklyn Bridge in view to the right.
- Granite Prospect at Pier 1: From the pathway leading to the top of the stairs, the river and portions of the skyline come into view and are framed by the surrounding trees. This is a nice place to snap a photo or just sit down on the stairs for a rest. After exploring all areas of the park over two days, this became one of my favorite places!
- Time Out Market Rooftop: The rooftop of Time Out Market offers pretty good views of the Brooklyn Bridge to the left and Manhattan Bridge to the right. It’s popular, so it can be hard to frame photos just the way you want them, but if you’re just looking for a place to enjoy the scenery this is a great spot! Taking the stairs up also offers a few interesting photo opportunities of the bridge through the arched brick windows.
- Squibb Park Bridge: This spot on the walkway bridge from Squibb Park offers a unique skyline view with the bridge and trees in the foreground. It’s a nice photo spot, but note that there are no benches or anywhere to sit.
- Harriet’s Rooftop Bar: This popular rooftop bar is part of 1 Hotel and is an amazing place to grab a cocktail around sunset for spectacular views of Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge.
Where to Picnic in Brooklyn Bridge Park
Whether you’re looking for picnic tables with a view or a grassy lawn to spread a blanket, there are lots of options for places to picnic throughout the park. Here are my top picks, but head to the map at the bottom of the post for even more ideas.
- Bridge View Lawn or Harbor View Lawn at Pier 1: The thoughtful park design is evident with the gentle slopes and views nicely framed by trees on these Pier 1 lawns. Get two drastically different picnic views from each of these lawns.
- Picnic tables at Pier 3 or Pier 6: Enjoy the “pier” experience at these picnic table groves with waterfront views surrounded by nature.
- Granite Terrace: This is a nice spot to bring takeout or a small lunch picnic for a couple of people. There are a few tables and chairs here, and it has a decent view while being tucked away from the crowds.
Where to Read or Journal with a View
If you’re looking for peace and quiet, I recommend going to the park early in the morning before all the crowds. There are lots of benches along walkways, as well as outdoor furniture tucked away in many places (even during busy hours). This is just a small selection, and I recommend exploring to find a place you find relaxing!
- Benches along the Pier 1 outer promenade: These run up and down the promenade. The south corner near the marsh is a little quieter (though not as great views as you’re facing away from the bridge).
- Granite Prospect: If you’re comfortable sitting on granite steps, this spot is a little more tucked away than directly on the promenade.
- Granite Terrace at Pier 3: There are some tables and chairs here, as well as little nooks with different types of seating, where you may be able to find quiet spots even during busy times of day. This area and the surrounding pathways are my top pick for tucked away spots to enjoy a book.
Where to Walk in Brooklyn Bridge Park
- Any of the winding pathways to the left or right of the main promenade (Brooklyn Bridge Park Greenway). Follow your curiosity along these unique paths, each with their own surprises, like hidden seating areas or small splash pads for kids.
- Pier 3 Labyrinth: This maze of pathways winds through dense shrubbery, and the interactive features made of salvaged materials make it an interesting place to explore.
- Pier 6 Meadows: The pathways on this pier lead through beautiful wildflower meadows, so they’re especially great in warmer months when the flowers are in bloom.
- If you’re looking for a long walk to get in your steps rather than meander aimlessly, loop around the outer promenades of each pier. This route is about 2 miles one way.
Tip: Another great way to see Brooklyn Bridge Park is to take a bike ride! Bikes are only allowed on the main path (greenway), so you can bike one direction on a CitiBike and walk the other—allowing you to take different routes.
Brooklyn Bridge Park Map
Feel free to open up this Google My Map and make a copy into your own Google account. Access it on the web to edit your copy or simply view it on the Google Maps app on Android or iPhone. Never used Google My Maps? Check out my guide to planning a trip with Google My Maps for more info!
Brooklyn Bridge Park Photos
Have you been to Brooklyn Bridge Park? What’s your favorite thing to do there?