Brooklyn Museums and Attractions
Brooklyn is connected to Manhattan by one of the most iconic bridges in the United States, a tourist destination in its own right.
The New York City Transit Museum
Boerum Place and Schermerhorn Street
Borough Hall station (2, 3, 4, or 5 train)
Gallery Annex & Store
Shuttle Passage, Main Concourse
Grand Central Terminal
Housed in a historic 1936 IND subway station in Brooklyn Heights, and easily accessible by subway, the New York Transit Museum is the largest museum in the United States devoted to urban public transportation history, and one of the premier institutions of its kind in the world. The museum explores the development of the greater New York metropolitan region through the presentation of exhibitions, tours, educational programs, and workshops dealing with the cultural, social, and technological history of public transportation. Go to
DUMBO (Down Under the Brooklyn Bridge Overpass) was Brooklyn's answer to Manhattan's SoHo. It became the location for a number of art galleries. Go the first Thursday of the month from 5:30
The Gallery Annex, in Grand Central Terminal (in Manhattan), presents changing exhibits and has an adjoining retail store with interesting items relating to the transit system, including subway token watches, strap-hanger ties, and more. Admission to the Annex is free. Open Monday through Friday from 8
The New York City Transit Museum in Brooklyn is open Tuesday through Friday from 10
The newly expanded Brooklyn Children's Museum at 145 Brooklyn Avenue in Crown Heights (on the Web at
Along Surf Avenue between 37th Street and Ocean Parkway
Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue station (D, F, N, or Q train)
“Coney” is the English spelling for the Dutch word
Coney Island was once the hotspot of the borough, billed as the World's Largest Playground. In its heyday, the early 1900s, attractions like an elephant-shaped hotel, a replica of Baghdad called Luna Park, and a popular nightspot called Dreamland drew large crowds.
Today a stroll on the boardwalk is the perfect way to take in the sea air, and the beach is the place for sun and relaxation in the summer heat. Nathan's has been serving its world-famous hot dogs since 1916, and you can still, uh, relish the experience.
The screams from thrill rides still echo through the park all summer long, and the Ferris wheel will give you a view of all of Coney Island and much of Brooklyn. The amusement park, Astroland, the last relic of what Coney Island once was, has been sold and was set for demolition at press time. The developer's plans call for a mix of amusements and attractions, along with a hotel to accommodate the anticipated tourists. The expected date of completion is 2011.
The former owners of Astroland have retained some of the rides and announced they hope to relocate. The newly invigorated Coney Island, along with Rye Playland, just north of the Bronx in Westchester County, are among the few amusement parks around New York City.
Experience the nostalgia many people associate with Coney Island by looking at the old parachute jump ride, now simply “the tower,” which hasn't been operative for more than thirty years. You can also see the history of Coney Island at a small Coney Island museum. The Sideshows by the Seashore (at West Twelfth Street and Surf Avenue; call 718-372-5159 for information) is home to an old-fashioned circus sideshow with a fire eater, sword swallower, snake charmer, and other entertainers. Note that the show will be too intense for preteens. The adjoining Coney Island Museum is full of fascinating memorabilia from the neighborhood's illustrious past. The boardwalk outside also leads to the New York Aquarium.
In the movie
In the off-season, October through April, the neighborhood is relatively deserted, save for the annual visit from the Polar Bear Club. This bunch of zanies make the news every January by putting on their bathing suits and heading into the ocean for a truly chilling experience.
If you're heading to Coney Island, prepare to spend the day — a warm late spring or summer day is ideal. Bring your blanket, sunscreen, and some patience; parking is not easy. The subway ride from Manhattan will take about an hour. Coney Island can still provide, after all these years, some good outdoor family fun in an old-time landmark neighborhood that is a staple of Brooklyn's historic past.
The Coney Island season kicks off in May with the Mermaid Parade, a twenty-year tradition in which a parade of women — and some men — dress up in their mermaid best to parade along the boardwalk.
The New York Aquarium
Surf Avenue and West 8th
Street West 8th Street-NY Aquarium station (F or Q train)
The city's only full-scale aquarium dates back to 1896 and has been in Coney Island since the mid-1950s, attracting thousands of visitors annually. On fourteen acres off the boardwalk, the New York Aquarium has operated longer than any other similar facility in the country. There are temporary exhibits and special events on occasion, but the permanent attractions are the major crowd pleasers. Such popular exhibits include the Sea Cliffs exhibit, with walruses, penguins, otters, and seals in a re-creation of their native habitat; the new Alien Stingers exhibit of mysterious sea jellies; and the Aquatheater, where sea lions and dolphins perform year round.
With 350 species and more than 8,000 aquatic animals in a host of massive tanks, the aquarium is packed with delights of the underwater world. A new 165,000-gallon exhibition, Glover's Reef, will put you eye-to-eye with jawfish, eels, sharks, and more than thirty-five other species in a coral reef ecosystem. Recently added is the Deep Sea 3D ride ($4 with your ticket, $6 alone), which will carry you down to the deepest depths of the ocean to meet some of nature's oddest creatures. Computer enhanced over the years, the aquarium also offers a wealth of information for learning more about the creatures of the sea.
The aquarium is fun and educational for both children and parents. It's an enjoyable place to spend a few hours after a stroll on the boardwalk. On summer weekends it can get overly crowded with long lines for everything, so it's best to arrive early on a weekday if possible. The aquarium offers dining at the new SeaSide Café and an outdoor snack bar with tables in the plaza.Hours and Fees
The aquarium is open every day of the year and can be visited Monday through Friday between Memorial Day and Labor Day from 10
Admission is $12 for adults, $8 for seniors (sixty-five and older) and children ages two through twelve, and free for children under two. Children under sixteen must be accompanied by an adult. Parking is available for $10, but lots fill up quickly on weekends so get there early.
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden
1000 Washington Avenue
Eastern Parkway-Brooklyn Museum station (2 or 3 train)
Smack in the middle of Brooklyn are fifty-two of the most lavishly beautiful acres New York City has to offer. More than 750,000 people visit this spectacular tribute to Mother Nature annually. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is located among the red brick buildings, row houses, storefronts, and municipal buildings that characterize much of the borough.
Consisting of gardens, greenhouses, and exhibits, the garden offers a visual mirage of colors and a host of pleasing fragrances all year round. The following are just some of the attractions offered by the garden:
The Shakespeare Garden, like its Central Park counterpart, features flowers mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare in a setting modeled after an English cottage garden.
The Cranford Rose Garden has tens of thousands of rose bushes. They grow in formal beds, up over arches, and onto the accompanying pavilion. The Rose Garden opened in 1928 and comprises one acre of a massive outdoor flower gallery.
The Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden is brilliantly landscaped with bridges, waterfalls, a koi pond, a viewing pavilion, a waiting house, and shrubs carefully designed and shaped. Established in 1915, it is one of the oldest and most popular Japanese-inspired gardens outside Japan.
The Fragrance Garden, built in the 1950s, is designed for people who are visually impaired. It features flowers in raised beds, various aromas, and textured foliage. Braille plaques help guide visitors. Enjoyed by the sighted as well, it was the first garden of its kind in the country.
The Children's Garden, first opened in 1914, is a place where children can learn about plants by enjoying the hands-on experience of planting and gardening. Instructors teach children of all ages about plants, insects, and animals. A thirty-minute tour covers activities and displays and gives children a chance to care for and harvest flowers and vegetables. Some 25,000 youngsters have tended this garden over the years.
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden features its own Celebrity Path in homage to a surprisingly long list of famous Brooklynites. Among those included are Mel Brooks, Mary Tyler Moore, and Maurice Sendak; their names are inscribed on stepping stones that meander through trees and plants just south of the Japanese Garden.
Osbourne Garden is a formal setting, complete with fountain, seating, and columns found in traditional Italian gardens. Within the three-acre garden is a 30,000-square-foot center lawn surrounded by flowering trees and shrubs.
The Steinhart Conservatory, built in the late 1980s, is a modern $25 million complex. Its greenhouses display the thousands of indoor plants that are part of the Botanic Garden. A new attraction is an extremely rare Wollemi pine. Touted as a major botanical find of the century, the Wollemi pine was believed to be extinct for two million years, but a small grove of trees was discovered in Australia's Blue Mountains, setting off worldwide excitement for a majestic plant that managed to survive seventeen ice ages over the past millennia.
The Terrace Café offers gourmet lunches and beverages with outdoor dining in the warmer months.
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is located on Washington Avenue, on the south side of the Brooklyn Museum.
From April through October, the garden is open Tuesday through Friday from 8
Admission is free to the public on various days off-season and Saturday mornings until noon; otherwise, it is $5 for adults over sixteen, $3 for seniors (sixty-five and older, free on Fridays) and students with IDs, and free for children sixteen and under. A discounted Brook-lyn Art and Garden Ticket includes both the Garden and Brooklyn Museum.
Guided tours are free and feature seasonal highlights. They are offered at 1
It's easy to get around Brooklyn's cultural sites with a free shuttle. The Heart of Brooklyn Trolley leaves from Prospect Park's Wollman Center and Rink on the hour and makes stops throughout Prospect Park, as well as near the Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Museum, Prospect Park Zoo, and Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It operates Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays from noon to 6
200 Eastern Parkway (at Washington Avenue)
Eastern Parkway-Brooklyn Museum station (2 or 3 train)
Of New York City's museums, the Brooklyn Museum is second in size and importance of its collection only to the Met. Founded in 1823 as the Brooklyn Apprentices Library Association (with Walt Whitman as one of its first librarians), the museum now resides inside a massive 1893 Beaux-Arts structure designed by McKim, Mead, and White (who also designed the West Wing of the White House). It houses more than one million paintings, artifacts, drawings, and photographs and even has its own newly renovated subway station.
One of the world's most renowned collections of Egyptian art — Brooklyn Museum curators go to Egypt every year for digs — covers the third floor. Jewelry, ivory, gold, and even a wrapped 2,600-year-old human mummy can be found in the installation that was ten years in the making.
The building houses masks and shields from Central Africa and art of the Pacific from Polynesia, Malaysia, and Indonesia. There is a large collection of pan-American art, including a fifteenth-century Aztec stone jaguar, textiles, ceramics, and gold objects. An extensive collection of Asian art includes works from Cambodia, China, India, Iran, Korea, Japan, Thailand, Tibet, and Turkey.
There are eleven period rooms, ranging from a seventeenth-century Brooklyn Dutch farmhouse to a magnificent smoking room from the Rockefeller house. Paintings and sculptures from American and European artists span some seven centuries, with masterpieces from Frans Hals, Monet, Degas, and Picasso.
In 2007, the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art opened on the fourth floor. The 8,300-square-foot space encompasses a gallery that contains Judy Chicago's seminal work
The Brooklyn Museum hosts a series of programs of art, music, and dance called Target First Saturdays, from 5
There's plenty here to interest the younger set, and it provides a great cultural history for visitors from around the world. A sculpture garden boasts a recently restored thirty-foot replica of the Statue of Liberty.Hours and Fees
The museum is open Wednesday through Friday from 10