DUMBO is considered one of Brooklyn’s most coveted neighborhoods. This charming local district Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass (aka DUMBO) is home to historic warehouses, cobblestone streets, a thriving arts scene, high-end restaurants, endless waterfront parks and walkways offering up stunning views of the Manhattan skyline from the edge of the Hudson River (there’s even a tiny beach). Some of NYC’s most iconic photographs are created on its breathtaking piers and along Washington Street, a lively hub of trendy bars and restaurants that’s been dubbed the most Instagrammable spot in Brooklyn. Enjoy this curated guide to the perfect day discovering DUMBO, cameras at the ready.
Places to Stay
1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge pulsates with the hip factor associated with Manhattan’s top hotels but is better described as an urban waterfront retreat inspired by nature. Leading the charge as the first luxury hotel to land in the area in line with Dumbo’s new cool, 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge was designed by local artisans using native plants and reclaimed materials. The hotel’s commitment to sustainability is evidenced in the organic elements infused throughout the property. Furniture is crafted from refurbished pine taken from the Coney Island boardwalk, the reception desk sculpture is made from the remnants of roof shingles and the spacious rooms are accentuated with lush plants and moss gardens. The undoubted highlight is the to die for views of Manhattan and the East River, best enjoyed over a sunset cocktail at Harriets Lounge and pool deck, or from the floor-to-ceiling windows in each guest room which take the city life edge off.
Places to Eat +Drink
If you needed further proof that Dumbo is out to rival Manhattan as a burgeoning hotspot, it now has its own Soho House. Dumbo House is an exclusive members-only club occupying two floors of the historic Empire Stores building. Hang with the creative crowd on the panoramic rooftop terrace or lounge in a private cabana by the pool and soak in the tropical colors and relaxed retro Mexican-inspired vibe.
Cecconi’s is Dumbo’s answer to Manhattan’s famed Pastis in the Meatpacking District. The chic modern Italian come classic American restaurant sits under the Brooklyn Bridge, a floor below Dumbo House in the historic Empire Stores building, which like many culinary favorites in the area is in hot demand for its amazing waterfront and city views. The interiors feel more like a high-end Parisian club with expansive rooms, velvet mini-sofas and chandeliers. The best spot on a warm day or at sunset is the awning-covered patio, especially for a brunch of Eggs Florentine with spinach and goat cheese. Or try the lobster spaghetti washed down with a Rose Spritz or one of signature Negronis at twilight.
Atrium is a hip, lively haunt favored by locals and New York’s A-list who head here for its regional New American cuisine with a chic French twist. A quintessential DUMBO restaurant, industrial architecture meets landscaped gardens (there is a live green wall). Just steps away from the water’s edge and Brooklyn Bridge Park, the waterfront views, locally sourced seasonal and cocktail program courtesy of Brooklyn’s only Master Sommelier make Atrium a must.
The River Café
The River Café is a Brooklyn classic set in a beautifully curated garden on the East exuding romance and nostalgia. Known for having some of the best views of the Manhattan skyline the Cafe is also world-renowned for its wine program, under the direction and guidance of Joseph DeLissio since 1977. While other New York City restaurants may claim to have more extensive selections, The River Cafe, is the winner of the prestigious Diamond Wine List Award.
Time Out Market
Time Out Market is what happens when you create an elevated culinary and cultural experience through the lens of some of the world’s best food and travel editors. Bringing their famous city guides to life, Time Out curated an experiential gastronomy adventure in the heart of DUMBO. The concept involves inviting the best global chefs, cocktail architects, and tastemakers to renovated warehouse space in the historic Empire Stores complex to showcase their skills in a casual accessible food court style format. Go to this NYC outpost to embark on a culinary journey where 21 local vendors will serve up a taste of quintessential New York city fare, which today means everything from burgers to steak, Mexican, Thai, Middle Eastern, and of course pizza.
Walk the Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge is one of New York City’s most iconic landmarks. Start your DUMBO adventure by strolling along the bridge from the Manhattan side over to Brooklyn. Pause midway and take in the skyline views before continuing on to Brooklyn Bridge Park. If you’d like a more active and interactive experience take this 2-hour biking tour across the Brooklyn Bridge to learn about the history of the famed bridge’s construction and more about the area.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
This sustainable waterfront park and walkway stretches 1.3 miles along Brooklyn’s East River shoreline. Designed by landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, the former deteriorated industrial stretch, was made over into Piers 1- 6 where you will find rolling hills, riverfront promenades, lush gardens for a riverside picnic, bike paths, a pop up pool and endless sports fields. My personal favorite is Pier 1. Stop first at Ample Hill for an ice cream cone before venturing out for a stroll to soak up unbeatable views of the East River and Manhattan Skyline. The area is so stunning it’s worth hiring a local Brooklyn photographer to capture your experience.
Jane’s Carousel is another major Instagram moment in DUMBO. Built in 1922 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company the retro carousel was lovingly restored by Jane and David Walentas and donated to Brooklyn Bridge Park. Now housed in a gorgeous glass pavilion, designed by Pritzker-prize winning architect Jean Nouvel, you’ll find it in the Empire Fulton Ferry section of Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Explore Art Galleries
DUMBO has its legacy in the art world thanks to the area’s recent resurgence it is once again an epicenter of art and creativity. Today the neighborhood is devoted to supporting local artists and the thriving art scene. Converted warehouses occupy influential artist residency programs and arts organizations and the cobblestone streets are home to artists’ studios, chic galleries and local creatives. On the must-see list are Klompching Gallery to explore contemporary photography displays through the lens of global photographers. The A.I.R. Gallery, a permanent indoor and outdoor garden exhibition space that encourages female artists to explore their creativity and share their perspective with the world. While LAND is a non profit studio and gallery for artists with developmental disabilities.