I’ve long been curious about Brooklyn’s Dumbo neighborhood but the few times I’ve walked under the Brooklyn Bridge to explore it, I wasn’t sure if I’d really found it. (DUMBO actually stands for down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass.” It’s the area between the two bridges and a few blocks east of the Manhattan Bridge.) So this recent walking tour of Dumbo offered by the NYTimes may some day come in handy. See below:
The Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn, once warehouses and longshoremen, is now hot and hip. On an itinerary inspired by The New York Times and conducted by Urban Adventures, discover one of the most fascinating neighborhoods in the city, including some spots off the tourist trail. Catch the ferry from Manhattan and have an experience that combines local sights with hands-on and exclusive access.
New York Times Exclusives:
- Tour the Smile to Go bakery with a staff member to watch pastries being made and taste them fresh out of the oven.
- Pour your own beer at Randolph Beer, where the beer is also made.
- Meet the staff at innovative places like Powerhouse Arena and the Brooklyn Roasting Company.
- Travel like a local on the commuter ferry from Manhattan to Brooklyn.
- Visit Brooklyn Bridge Park, built partly on old shipping piers, and get breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline.
- Learn the history of Brooklyn’s waterfront and how it has transformed from industrial to recreational.
- Try the offerings at some of the neighborhood’s favorite local food creators and businesses.
- Feel the vibe that has attracted artists, innovators and tech companies and revitalized the neighborhood.
Duration: 3 hours
Meeting point: Entrance of Pier 11 just east of South Street and Gouverneur Lane, underneath the F.D.R. Drive in Manhattan
Starting time: 9:00 a.m.
Ending point: Randolph Beer
Maximum Group Size
Terms & Conditions
Days of Departure
Tour operates daily
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Hour 1: Views of Manhattan and Brooklyn
Meet in Manhattan and hop the commuter ferry for a short ride across the East River to Brooklyn, with great views of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. Land in Dumbo, named not for the elephant, but because it is “down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass.” Long home to shipping piers and industrial warehouses, this charming and historic neighborhood is now one of the most desirable in Brooklyn because of its access to the waterfront, breathtaking views and historic architecture. Walk through Brooklyn Bridge Park, built largely on those old piers, to learn how the waterfront changed from a source of food to a thriving industrial area (where entrepreneurs did everything from process tobacco to create the first cardboard boxes) to an unsafe abandoned slum to what it is today: a beautiful park for recreation and home to modern businesses. Stop at Jane’s Carousel, from a 1920s amusement park. It was purchased by a local artist who restored it, and a glass-enclosed ride offers a view of modern Manhattan from a historic perch.
At the Empire Stores, you’ll see the latest transformation. This brick warehouse block is believed to be the first place coffee was commercially roasted and processed, but was abandoned for many years as shipping moved elsewhere. Now, it has been revived as a community space with shops, cafes and restaurants, rotating art exhibits and an outpost of the Brooklyn Historical Society. Take in the panorama of Manhattan from a secret viewpoint, then head to the Smile to Go, a spinoff of a popular downtown restaurant, the Smile. See where all the pastries are made, watching the bakers at work as you hear about the process. Then sample an array of creative, chef-driven pastries fresh from the oven.
Hour 2: Layers of History
Walk down the old cobblestone streets to see more of the old warehouses and factories that have been converted into lofts, restaurants and art galleries. Stop at Powerhouse Arena. It’s a bookstore specializing in books on art and photography, but is also a space for art exhibitions and literary events, including book readings, launch parties and panel discussions. Meet a manager to talk about the community activities that happen here, and about the literary and art communities that inspire and visit the space.
Pass under the Manhattan Bridge archway and into another part of the neighborhood to visit the Brooklyn Roasting Company. It is housed in an old building that was part of the historic Arbuckle’s Coffee company, whose roasted coffee was a favorite of cowboys for years. Brooklyn Roasting has brought the coffee tradition back to the waterfront. Learn about their history and how it ties into the neighborhood’s past. Of course, sample some of coffee, which is curated and blended from beans from all over the world.
Hour 3: The New Brooklyn
Head farther into Dumbo and learn about the growing start-up and tech world in the neighborhood. Stop for a quick bite at Untamed Sandwiches, which uses sustainable and local food for its braised meat and vegetables. You might stop instead at CUPER, an unassuming cafe inside the Made in NY Media Center, a co-working space and incubator where you can usually find artists discussing projects and business people making deals. Finally, stop at the hidden gem of Randolph Beer. Craft brewing is all the rage, but the Randolph goes it one better and serves its beer where it’s made. Learn about the growing craft beer scene in Brooklyn, and pull your own beer from the tap. (You can’t get much more local than that.) End the tour sipping your beer and reflecting on how far Brooklyn has come, yet how close it remains to its roots.
Tour Inclusions: Local English-speaking guide, pastry, coffee, gourmet sandwich, pour your own beer, ferry ticket.
Tour Exclusions: Additional food and drinks, souvenirs and personal shopping, gratuities for your guide.
Children: No age limit. This is a child-friendly tour. Children between the ages of 6 and 11 inclusively are permitted on this tour at the rate listed above. Please select ‘child’ when booking. Children under the age of 6 are permitted to join this tour free of charge. Please inform us at the time of booking if you’ll be bringing a child under the age of 6. You can do so in the special request box on the checkout page.