Aerial View-Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York-Courtesy NYC & Company and Julienne Schaer

Barclays Center

Opened in 2012, the modern, sweeping Barclays Center has quickly become a crown jewel in Brooklyn's collection. Steps from the Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center subway station, the stadium seems to rise out of the ground like a rust-colored beehive, bright lights flashing. You can catch a Brooklyn Nets game or one of the venue's multitude of star-studded concerts, which have included Beyoncé, Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake

Exterior View-Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) ,Brooklyn, New York-Courtesy NYC & Company and Kate Glicksberg

Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM)

Located in Fort Greene, close to Barclays Center and Mark Morris Dance Center, the Brooklyn Academy of Music is renowned for its cutting-edge programming, including contemporary dance, theater, opera, film and music. Its Next Wave Festival in the fall draws some of the world’s most impressive performers, including Pina Bausch Tanztheater Wuppertal (this renowned company has never performed in Manhattan, always preferring Brooklyn’s most avant-garde vibe). Friday night, there’s a live music series and you can also catch readings, lectures and conversations with the artists. It’s a vibrant cultural center and its diverse programming makes it well worth the trip from Manhattan.

Aerial View-Brooklyn Botanic Garden ,Brooklyn, New York-Courtesy Antonio M. Rosario

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Clocking in at 52 acres, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden doesn’t have the size of its sister in the Bronx (which measure some 250 acres), but this gem of a green spot in Prospect Heights is well-worth a visit, even if you’re staying in Manhattan. There are festivals throughout the year, particularly around the time the stunning cherry blossoms are in bloom, but the Botanic Garden is a glorious oasis throughout the year. Don’t miss the Japanese pond and garden, the Shakespeare Garden and the impressive vegetable and herb garden. The Botanic Garden can easily be combined with the nearby Brooklyn Museum.

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Aerial View-Brooklyn Bridge + Brooklyn Bridge Park ,Brooklyn, New York-Courtesy NYC & Company and Julienne Schaer

Brooklyn Bridge

One of the oldest suspension bridges in the country, the Brooklyn Bridge was the first bridge to connect Brooklyn and Manhattan.
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brooklyn bridge park views of lower manhattan over the water at sunset

Brooklyn Bridge Park

Brooklyn Bridge Park is a former industrial wasteland that is now of the city’s most beautifully landscaped parks, with waterfront views.
Aerial View-Brooklyn Flea ,Brooklyn, New York-Courtesy Kate Glicksberg

Brooklyn Flea

Started as a quaint neighborhood bazaar, the Brooklyn Flea (it launched in 2008) is a sprawling market that takes place in Fort Greene in the summer months and inside the gorgeous One Hanson Place bank building the winter (there's also a smaller spin-off in Williamsburg in Sundays). Judging from the prices, it's more estate and high-end vintage than flea, but it's a great spot for local mementos and cool finds (there are about 150 vendors, from antique furniture dealers to jewelers) and people watching. Location varies.

long paved promenade with view of nyc skyline across water

Brooklyn Heights Promenade

Offering far-reaching views of the Manhattan skyline, a walk down the Brooklyn Heights Promenade is a reminder of why New York City is so special. Come at sunset and bring your camera. Afterwards, dine at one of the many lovely restaurants in Brooklyn Heights.

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Aerial View-Brooklyn Museum,Brooklyn, New York

Brooklyn Museum

This beautiful Beaux-Arts style museum is the city's second largest, with a staggering 1.8 million works in their collection. There are exhibits from all over the world (including amazing Egyptian artifacts), but the emphasis is on American art and artists. Blue-chip names featured at the museum include Georgia O'Keefe, Mark Rothko, Norman Rockwell and Edward Hopper. Architecture buffs should check out the Memorial Cculpture Garden, which features beautiful salvaged pieces of demolished New York City buildings. On the first Saturday of every month, the museum hosts one of Brooklyn's coolest parties, Target First Saturday, with djs, musicians and free entertainment. Check the museum website for the traveling exhibitions, which have included Jean-Paul Gaultier, Ai Wei Wei and El Anatsui in the past.

Aerial View-Coney Island ,Brooklyn, New York-Courtesy Boris

Coney Island

After the devastation wreaked by 2012's Hurricane Sandy, this Brooklyn institution reopened its gates better than ever. Quintessentially American, Coney Island today is not very different from its 1950's heyday, with kitschy boardwalk shops and legendary Nathan's Hotdogs still intact. It's crammed during the summer months with visitors waiting to ride the storied Cyclone roller coaster, but there's something utterly authentic NYC about the experience. You can also take a stroll along the boardwalk to Brighton Beach with its mostly Russian and Eastern European population. If you go early in the morning, year round, you can see older women (and some men) swimming laps in the freezing ocean.

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Prospect Park

This grand urban oasis was built in the 1860s, the project of landscaping visionaries Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who also created Central Park. The 585-acre Prospect Park is truly Brooklyn’s backyard; in fair weather, locals can be found blissing out on Long Meadow’s grassy knolls, getting lost in the wilderness of the Ravine, and tossing Frisbees in the Nethermead. City planner Robert Moses also put his stamp in the diamond-shaped green space, adding the Prospect Park Bandshell (where the wonderful summer concert series Celebrate Brooklyn! takes place) and kid-friendly Prospect Park Zoo. The park’s latest architectural marvel is the Lakeside complex, a $74 million redevelopment three years in the making that opened in 2013. Families should not miss its two multiuse skating rinks, comprised of an ice rink for hockey and skating in the winter and a water playground and roller-rink in the summer.

Kitchen at Smorgasburg ,Brooklyn, New York


The epitome of what Brooklynites love to hate (or hate to love) about their newly hip borough, the Smorgasbord food market grew out of the ever-popular Brooklyn Flea. Boasting over 100 delicious vendors and views of the Manhattan skyline, Smorgasburg has locations in Williamsburg and DUMBO. Its vendors offer some of the most delectable, inventive food in the borough. Check out the whoopie pies from Batter and Cream, East LA-import El Super for delicious Mexican food, the city's best doughnuts from Dough, the supersize sandwiches from the indulgent Cemita or the celebrated barbecue from southern sons Mighty Quinn's BBQ. Get there early to beat the crowds. Open weekends during the summer. Location varies.

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