There is no shortage of warm-weather family activities in Brooklyn, but I find myself continuously making the trip to Brooklyn Bridge Park throughout the spring and summer months. Spanning 1.3 miles along the East River, Brooklyn Bridge Park is an 85-acre waterfront green space promising recreation, sustainability, and environmental exploration. Where else can you fish, roller skate, kayak, barbecue, hit some spectacular playgrounds, catch the ferry to Governors Island, see FREE outdoor movies, explore a sensory labyrinth, or visit an environmental education center? Plus, the Lower Manhattan skyline views never fail to impress.
We’ve rounded up our favorite things to do in Brooklyn Bridge Park with kids. Looking for more green spaces to explore? Bookmark our Guide to Parks and Playgrounds in NYC.
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The southern half of the Brooklyn Bridge Park contains six refurbished piers, each offering something special. Pier 1 has lawns and extraordinary views of Manhattan. Pier 2 offers basketball and handball courts, a fitness center, roller skating, play areas, and kayaking. Pier 3 features a labyrinth and peaceful, gorgeous green spaces. Pier 4 has a lovely sandy beach. Pier 5 boasts sports fields, fishing, a playground, a hibachi-style barbecue, and bike paths. Pier 6 is where you’ll find expansive playground areas featuring sand, water, swings, and climbing nets. The ferry to Governors Island is here too, as well as volleyball courts and a dog run.
Remember, these are just the highlights—check the park’s website for all its offerings, including upcoming events, as well as closures, and new openings.
Check out the super long and fast slides at Slide Mountain. Photo by Julienne Schaer for the park
1. Play on Pier 6
Take in the skyline from the top of Slide Mountain at Pier 6 and zoom down together—it’s worth it for you too, mom or dad. The entire playground is phenomenal.
2. Ride a Bike
3. Go Fishing
Reel in a big one at one of the new fishing clinics for kids and adults this summer at Pier 5.
It’s easy to jump on the ferry to Governors Island from Pier 6. Photo by Matt Nighswander
4. Hop on the Ferry
Catch the ferry from Pier 6 to spend the day on Governors Island, which is now open year-round. The car-less island has playgrounds, a 57-foot slide, and a tree house. Must-see destinations include glamping accommodations, a zip line, a kayaking dock, and more.
5. Go Butterfly Watching
Grab a pair of binoculars and go butterfly watching. Butterflies are so abundant in the park (thanks to pollinator-friendly planting strategies) that a guide is available for download.
6. Attend a FREE Event
Leave your wallet at home to enjoy the year-round FREE family events and programming. Events include kiddie concerts, outdoor summer movies, walking tours, free kayaking, and plenty of sports and exercise sessions.
7. Discover Your Inner Botanist
Download the park’s plant guide and plan a colorful family scavenger hunt for the best blooms!
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This little gem of a beach is a nice place to relax after a bike ride or stroll. Photo by Etienne Frossard
8. Lounge on an Urban Beach
Slip off your shoes and bury your toes in the sandy beach at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 4. Swimming and wading are not permitted, but you can launch non-motorized boats.
9. Scale a Wall
Scale the mega outdoor climbing wall at The Cliffs at Dumbo.
10. Explore the New Library
The Adams Street Library debuted in 2021 and has a spectacular children’s section—all just steps from the fun in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
11. Catch a Concert
It took us months of exploring Brooklyn Bridge Park before realizing there was often live music happening right under our noses at Bargemusic. Check out the FREE Saturday concerts during warmer months.
Cool off in the WaterLab, one of the city’s top FREE splash pads. Photo by Julienne Schaer for the park
12. Splash and Climb
Perhaps the best sprinkler in the city, the WaterLab sprinkler playground at Pier 6 is a great place to
13. Go Dancing
Hit the dance floor at the Big Summer Get Down, an all-ages dance party on the Pier 3 plaza
14. View the Public Art
There are lots of cool public art projects scattered throughout the park. Make a game of it and try to find them all.
15. Go Shopping
Support 80 vendors and score vintage items, unique gifts, and snacks at the Brooklyn Flea. The Flea is now in Dumbo, right off the park’s northern end on Saturdays and Sundays from April through December.
Rent some skates and glide to the music at the Pier 2 rink. Photo by Julienne Schaer for the park
16. Strap on Your Skates
17. Skip Rocks
Head to Pebble Beach, between the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, and test your rock-skipping abilities while noshing on a box of treats from One Girl Cookies and taking in the views.
18. Get an Education
Learn about local ecology and sustainability at the awesome Environmental Education Center. Kids love the touch tank, where they can handle local starfish, shells, plants, and rocks.
19. Listen to a Read-Aloud
Join children’s librarians from the Brooklyn Heights Library for Summer Reading Storytime each Wednesday in the park.
Take a ride on Jane’s Carousel. Photo by Shinya Suzuki via Flickr
20. Ride a Historic Carousel
21. Build a Castle
Hit Sandbox Village at Pier 6, a massive destination sandbox for the preschooler crowd, to build sandcastles and play hide-and-seek in the faux log cabins.
22. Fire up the Grill
Barbecue on one of Pier 5’s hibachi-style grills and feast at one of the picnic tables. Get to Brooklyn Bridge Park early in the day to nab a spot. Toddlers will love the adjacent tot playground.
23. See Spot Run
Satisfy your pet envy by watching the dogs romp at the Pier 6/Flatbush Avenue-adjacent dog run, or the more scenic Main Street run.
24. Eat More Ice Cream
Grab a cone at Odd Fellows Ice Cream. It specializes in wacky flavors that are decadent and delicious.
Keep Brooklyn Bridge Park beautiful and clean by volunteering with the Green Team. Photo courtesy of the park
25. Beautify the Park
Volunteer with the Green Team to learn about gardening and give back to the park that gives so much to all of us.
26. Know Your History
Brush up on your borough history with a stop at the Center for Brooklyn History’s Dumbo outpost right off of the park. Currently, it’s open for special events and by appointment only.
27. Take a Boat Ride
28. Chill Out with a Book
Climb the granite terrace at Pier 3 for a better view, or borrow a book from the nearby book cart while you lounge in the grass. Let the kids enjoy the new garden labyrinth.
29. Paddle a Kayak
Kayak on the East River from Pier 2 for FREE in the summer months. Little kids can ride with a parent at most times, but take note: Sunday afternoons are reserved for families and kids as young as 7 can paddle solo.
30. Look Up
The Green Roofs at Piers 1, 5, and 6 are a great way to learn about sustainability. They keep buildings cool in summer, warm in winter, and add a much-needed element of Mother Nature to our concrete jungle.
Climb to new heights and enjoy the view of Manhattan from the Pier 5 playground. Photo courtesy of the park
31. Pick a Playground, Any Playground
32. Get Fit
Pump some iron at the Pier 2 fitness area (yes, they have a section for kids!) before stuffing yourselves with the best salted caramel ice cream this side of the East River at Ample Hills. It’s all about balance, right?
33. Eat Lobster
What is summer without a lobster roll? Introduce kids to the taste of the sea at Luke’s Lobster shack in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
34. Take a Selfie
Capture your fun day at the park with a family selfie in front of the traveling Dumbo reflector sign.
35. Watch a Movie
Spread your picnic blanket and one of the park’s FREE summer movies.
Bathrooms can be found from one end of Brooklyn Bridge Park to the other (a major bonus for little ones). We like the ones at Fornino at Pier 6, the new bathrooms at the boathouse, and those at the other end of the park in the Environmental Education Building.
Hungry? Concession stands abound in warm weather and family-friendly restaurants are never far. Also worth noting: Shade can be found everywhere. For more to see and explore in the neighborhood, check out our Dumbo Neighborhood Guide.
A version of this post was published in 2018; it is updated annually. Additional reporting by Margaret Kelly.