10 Things to Do in Brooklyn This Summer

This summer, do Brooklyn right. The borough will be filled with outdoor concerts, mermaid costumes, beachgoers, movies, and fantastic food and drink all season long. Here are 10 ideas to kickstart your Brooklyn summer.

Attend a Concert in the Park

Afropunk Festival

There are so many shows in Brooklyn parks this summer. From SummerStage to Celebrate Brooklyn! to Afropunk, you can find an outdoor concert in just about every neighborhood. SummerStage will come to Brooklyn for several shows like Young M.A in Brownsville, Pharoahe in Bed-Stuy, Fela! The Concert in Coney Island, and many more. The Prospect Park Bandshell will host BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! again this year. Lasting all summer long, look forward to acts like Mac DeMarco, Father John Misty, and The National at this beloved free concert series. August 24-25, AFROPUNK Brooklyn returns to Commodore Barry Park in Fort Greene. See Jill Scott, FKA Twigs, Leon Bridges, and Kamasi Washington at this popular two-day festival.  

Visit Coney Island

Coney Island

There’s no reason not to spend a day in Coney Island this summer. This beachside neighborhood in Brooklyn boasts one of the most famous amusement parks in the world, Luna Park, in addition to the New York Aquarium, the family film series Flicks on the Beach, and the glorious weirdness that is the Coney Island Mermaid Parade on June 22. You can do all of that this summer, and/or sunbathe on the sandy beach at this essential NYC destination.

Get Lit at Brooklyn Bridge Park

The Books Beneath the Bridge reading series has returned this summer. Come to Pier 1 on Monday nights in July and August for readings and talks from an exciting slate of writers. Each of the six events is organized in part by a local bookstore such as Books Are Magic, PowerHouse Arena, Community Bookstore, and Greenlight Bookstore. Scheduled events will feature authors like Hugh Ryan, Susannah Cahalan, Rob Sheffield, Marcy Dermansky, and Jenny Xie. 334 Furman St., 718-222-9939,

Snack at Smorgasburg


Smorgasburg, Brooklyn’s smash-hit outdoor food market, has returned for the warm months. Visit Williamsburg’s East River State Park on Saturdays to sample inventive local foods (pizza cupcakes, anyone?) from a wide range of vendors at this popular weekend destination. Sundays, the party comes to Breeze Hill in Prospect Park, peddling Dessert Tornadoes and chicken in a waffle cone to Central Brooklyn. For more on this year’s Smorgasburg offerings in Brooklyn and Manhattan, here’s the scoop. Williamsburg: 90 Kent Ave. at N 7th St.; Prospect Park: East Dr. at Lincoln Rd.;

Make Matcha at Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a natural fit for summer relaxation. While you’re around to see the Herb Garden and the Cranford Rose Garden, take a workshop about the fascinating world of plants. Adult workshops on BBG’s summer calendar will give hands-on experience with making your own living wall art, kombucha, matcha, resin ornaments, flower crowns, and flower arrangements. 455 Flatbush Ave., 718-623-7200,

Watch a Movie Beneath the Brooklyn Bridge

The Big Lebowski

The Big Lebowski

Movies With a View, screening free films under the Brooklyn Bridge, is a perfect summer night waiting to happen. In honor of the series’ 20th anniversary, this year’s lineup represents the best of the best in the series’ impressive catalog. Starting July 11, see Pariah, Girlfight, It Happened One Night, Crooklyn, The Big Lebowski, An American Tale, and Selma every Thursday night through August 29. 334 Furman St., 718-222-9939,

Celebrate Pride at Brooklyn Museum

Nobody Promised You Tomorrow Brooklyn Museum

Tuesday Smillie (American, born 1981). S.T.A.R., 2012. Watercolor, collage on board, 91/2 x 11 in. (24.1 x 27.9 cm). Courtesy of the artist. © Tuesday Smillie

June is Pride Month, and New York City is hosting WorldPride in honor of the Stonewall Riots’ 50th anniversary. Visit Brooklyn Museum’s exhibition Nobody Promised You Tomorrow, meditating on how Stonewall changed art forever. See new work inspired by early LGBT+ activists like Marsha P. Johnson (whose words inspired the exhibition title), Sylvia Rivera, Storme DeLarverie, and Marlon Riggs. Contemporary queer artists working in New York City are featured in the exhibition, presenting work that is as personal as it is political. On view May 3 through December 8, 2019. 200 Eastern Parkway, 718-501-6354,

Watch Electric Cars Race through Red Hook

See electric racing cars reach incredible speeds at the ABB FIA Formula E Championship on July 13. This fast-paced race returns to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook for the third year of this exciting event. In addition to the 22-car race, the E-Prix will feature an Allianz E-Village, with demos and information about electric car technology. 72 Bowne St.,

Eat and Drink on the Waterfront

Tacocina Domino Park

Brooklyn has miles and miles of coastline, and the food and drink offerings along the East River are just as spectacular as the view. In Williamsburg, we’re fans of Tacocina, the casual taco shop at Domino Park, and drinks at two popular rooftops: Lemon’s and Westlight. Get nautical at Brooklyn Barge in Greenpoint, serving laid-back food and drink on the deck of a floating barge. In Dumbo, you have a crowded pool of options, but we’ll point you to the classic River Cafe (with a million-dollar view of Brooklyn Bridge and a chocolate dessert to match) and excellent Mediterranean at Celestine.

Enjoy the A/C at City Point

We’ve suggested many ways of enjoying outdoor fun this summer, but some days get so hot that the asphalt starts melting the soles of your shoes. When that happens, we highly recommend a few air-conditioned hours inside City Point, a fun-filled shopping and dining complex in Downtown Brooklyn. On the bottom floor is the ever-crowded DeKalb Market Hall, a food hall featuring a wide range of local food vendors. On the upper floors are retail stores like Flying Tiger, Target, and Century 21. At the top, you’ll find Alamo DraftHouse, the multiplex where you can see a summer blockbuster and have a beer at the same time. 10 City Point,

About the Author

Merrill Lee Girardeau lives and writes in Brooklyn.

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