- Physical DifficultyThis is the average user-submitted rating on the physical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
- Technical DifficultyThis is the average user-submitted rating on the technical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
This great New York City walk explores the East Bank of the East River, across from Manhattan. Starting in Williamsburg, we begin our tour at McCarren Park before checking out the streets of Williamsburg. Halfway through the walk we hop on the East River Ferry for a quick cruise, before exploring the sights and sounds of Brooklyn Heights.
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Route Description for Williamsburg
This route is one of transformation. We begin in Williamsburg, Brooklyn – a neighborhood that has undergone a radical shift over the past 15 years. While it was once a heavily industrial area populated mostly by Hassidic Jews, Irish, Italian, Polish, German, and Puerto Rican immigrants today it has changed dramatically.
In the 90s, artists moved here, beginning the development of the neighborhood’s now world-famous creativity scene. Gentrification has been pushing them (and the original residents) out due to rising rents, but the cultural vibe still stands strong and there is a lot to see here. We’ll then continue onto the East River Ferry, offering spectacular skyline views, and end at the historic Brooklyn Heights Promenade.
Begin this route at the Bedford Avenue subway station (the first stop on the L line into Brooklyn). When exiting the station go towards the Driggs Avenue exit, rather than the Bedford Avenue one. Once you exit the station head towards the left on Driggs Avenue in the direction of 8th Street. After about 300 m, you’ll run into McCarren Park.
Creating a border between the neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Greenpoint, McCarren Park is a true Brooklyn treasure. During the weekends and warm days, this 35-acre park is bursting with activity – soccer, baseball, bocce, football, tennis – you name it. The park is also home to the recently opened McCarren Park Pool and Play Center (and it’s totally free!). There’s also a large dog park, track, and tons of grassy areas to sit and relax. Spend some time walking around the park. If you’re here on a weekday during work hours, it’s likely to be a little quieter – but lovely and tranquil nonetheless.
Exit McCarren Park on the same side (North 12th Street) where you came in, but one street over, on Bedford Avenue. You should now be on the corner of North 12th Street and Bedford Avenue. Head down Bedford away from the park. This is one of the main streets in Williamsburg, bustling with trendy hipsters, art and culture, vintage shops, delicious restaurants and eclectic bars throughout the day and night. This first section is a bit quiet, but don’t worry it will wake up soon!
After about 300 m, the Meatball Shop will be on your right-hand side. This is a pretty famous place – offering a wide variety of vegetarian and meat, well, meatballs. Stop in here to test them out or continue on, we’ve got a few other food options on this route that definitely won’t disappoint!
As you continue on Bedford, simply take in your surroundings. Especially on the weekends, these streets are absolutely buzzing. You may find people selling homemade goods – such as jewelry, artwork, clothes, and maybe even a man selling poems. (Yes, really, he’s pretty well known. He’ll write you a poem on the spot on a vintage typewriter.) There are also tons of shops, mostly more upscale vintage, but lately brand names have been creeping into the neighborhood (much to the disappointment of the locals).
Continue on Bedford for another 200 m or so until you reach North 5th Street. If it’s a nice day and you’re interested in great atmosphere take a right here and go into the restaurant called Juliette, 10 m or so on the right hand side. They have a rooftop bar (that also serves food if you’re hungry). It’s a little pricey, as are most things in this neighborhood, but it’s really nice to sit up there and relax on a sunny day.
Keep going another 150 m on Bedford and turn right onto North 3rd Street. After about 100 m a famous German biergarten is on your right. This is a nice place to grab a brew if you’re interested. If not, continue on, we’re headed to the river! Stay on North 3rd for roughly 200 m and take a right onto Wythe Avenue.
You may notice a lot of construction here, as the area by the water is still undergoing a massive development project. This definitely isn’t the most scenic section of our route, but don’t worry, it will get better soon.
Stay on Wythe for about 800 m until you hit North 11th Street. This is where the Brooklyn Brewery is located. Since opening in 1984, this locally owned brewery has taken off, and you can find their hoppy brews in bars and shops all over the world. Today, you can still take a tour of the brewery Saturdays from noon-8pm (with free tours on the half hour from 1–5pm) and Sundays from noon-6pm (with free tours on the half hour from 1-4pm).
When you finish at the Brewery, get back onto North 11th Street in the direction you were going previously. You’ll quickly see the Brooklyn Bowl on your right-hand side. This is a truly unique place, half bowling alley, half concert hall. You can bowl late into the night every night of the week (if you’re over 21 that is), plus they’ve got a full bar and menu. If you’re staying in the neighborhood at night, check out their upcoming shows; it’s an absolutely epic experience!
Take your next left onto North 12th Street and then your first left onto Kent Avenue. After about 150 m the entrance to Bushwick Inlet Park will be on your right. Going right to the water’s edge, this is one of the city’s nicest small parks. Take a stroll here and enjoy the beautiful skyline views just across the river. The park also features some sustainability elements such as a green roof with solar panels and a rainwater collection system.
If you’re here on a Saturday during the spring and summer consider yourself very lucky. The weekly Smorgasborg market is here each Saturday from 11am to 6pm. It’s the largest weekly open-air food market in the US, with roughly 20,000-30,000 people showing up each week to sample every food you could imagine from 100 local vendors.
Exit the park where you entered and continue down Kent Avenue. After about 100 m take a right onto North 5th Street towards the water. Keep going until you get to the ferry stop North 6th Street/North Williamsburg. From here we’re going to hop on the East River Ferry for a short ride to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. The ride is just about 15 minutes, but you’ll have to purchase a ticket ($4 on weekdays and $6 on weekends).
It’s typically pretty windy on the ferry, so we recommend bringing a jacket or sweater. Try to stay on the outer decks, as the views of the city skyline, the Williamsburg Bridge, and the Brooklyn Bridge are excellent. Get off the ferry at the Brooklyn Bridge Park/DUMBO stop (it should be the second stop after Schaefer Landing/South Williamsburg).
When you get off the ferry, head to the left, away from the water. Continue about 100 m, until you reach Old Fulton Street. Head up roughly 50 m (the Brooklyn Bridge should be on your left) and then take a right onto Everit Street.
Follow Everit (which then turns into Columbus Heights) for about 400 m, until you see a pedestrian route to the slight right. Enter here, going in the direction of the now visible Manhattan skyline. Now you’ve officially reached the beautiful Brooklyn Heights Promenade.
This historic stretch is one of the city’s nicest, and also part of Brooklyn’s first Historic Preservation District. It stretches roughly 0.5 km (one third of a mile) with unobstructed views of the Statue of Liberty, the striking skyscrapers across the Hudson and the magnificent Brooklyn Bridge. It’s a favorite spot for walkers, joggers, families, and couples alike.
As you walk down the promenade, you’ll notice grandiose townhouses and mansions that border it on the left-hand side. This neighborhood is full of history dating all the way back to New York’s colonial past. During the 1800s, as New York City and Brooklyn grew at rapid rates, the city’s wealthiest investors found home in Brooklyn Heights. The promenade you’re walking on was first opened to the public in 1950 and is a true neighborhood treasure.
Continue here, taking in the spectacular views until you reach the end (roughly 750 m). There should be a path coming off the left-hand side here. Exit here and take your first left onto Montague Terrace. Now we’re entering the heart of historic Brooklyn Heights. These streets are mostly just quiet, residential passageways, but are a great way to get a better feel for colonial New York City life. Continue on Montague for about 100 m. Take a slight left onto Pierrepoint Street then right on Columbia Heights.
Stay on this street for about 400 m, enjoying the beautiful architecture and relaxed scenery. Take a right onto Orange Street and then your first right on Willow Street (you’ll be going back in the same direction you just came from. Follow Willow for another 400 m, and then turn left onto Pierrepoint Street. After about 50 m, take a right onto Hicks Street. Then after 100 m take a left onto Remsen Street. This is often considered one of the most beautiful streets in Brooklyn Heights. Follow Remsen for about 400 m until you reach Brooklyn Borough Hall. You can continue onto our Brooklyn Bridge route or hop on the subway here at the Borough Hall subway station (serving lines 4 and 5).
Insider Hints for Williamsburg
- Pack an appetite and go slow. There are tons of great bars, restaurants and maybe even the world-famous Smorgasborg market on this route!
- This route is all about scenery – from the beautiful views of the Manhattan skyline to the tranquility of the neighborhood parks.
- Make sure to pack a light jacket or sweater; the ferry can be very windy.
Getting to the Williamsburg Trailhead
Begin this route at the Bedford Avenue subway station (the first stop on the L line into Brooklyn).
Williamsburg Elevation Graph
Weather ForecastCheck Area Weather
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