Brooklyn Bridge and DUMBO – itinerary for a great day out for all generations

Brooklyn Bridge 1

Walking along Brooklyn Bridge and DUMBO is a great, cheap day out that pleases kids and grandparents alike, something not easily achieved!

I’ve blogged about it before, as walking across Brooklyn Bridge is invariably high on any New York guide book’s recommended to do list. It’s high and narrow enough to feel quite exciting, with fantastic 360 degree views. It is also free.

As with almost any New York activity, it’s definitely worth getting an early start as the crowds can make it a bit tricky, especially if you’re pushing a pram and dodging cyclists whizzing past you or tourists posing with their selfie sticks and ballet shoes (yes, they strapped on ballet shoes especially. Most peculiar).

Crossing the bridge takes about half an hour, depending on the crowds and how often you stop to take photographs. There’s a wider section in the centre which has more space to stop and admire the view.

Once you’ve reached the Brooklyn side, there’s a shortcut staircase on the left which brings you down onto the corner of Washington and Prospect Streets. From there, it’s a five minute walk to the family friendly DUMBO water front and Brooklyn Bridge Park. In case your kids (or grandparents) ask, DUMBO has nothing to do with flying elephants, it stands for Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass.

Our girls love, love, love carousels, so we headed straight to Jane’s Carousel, famous for combining vintage horses and paintwork with an ultra modern glass box to keep out the elements. You can actually see it from the bridge, if you need any help motivating little legs to keep walking. At “two bucks to pony up”, it’s very cheap by New York standards, and you can’t help but smile as the children float past on their beautifully painted wooden horses, clutching on tight as they grin. You can read my review of Jane’s Carousel here.

After the carousel, there’s a nice walk along the East River, passing a playground, the tiniest sandy beach I’ve ever seen, and various stretches of grass for charging about on.

As the weather was lovely and sunny, we decided to eat outside at Luke’s Lobster, which served the best lobster roll I’ve ever eaten (I had two). It shares a building with No. 7 Sub if hot dogs and chicken sandwiches are more your thing.

We then let the children play roly poly and catch on the grassy hillside along Brooklyn Bridge Park Greenway, which was such a treat for these city kids, before eating enormous icecreams from Brooklyn Icecream Factory. It is worth the queue, they are delicious, and come in clever plastic cones with lids so you can put them down if you need to.

We then split into two groups – the more energetic walked back along the Brooklyn Bridge, while I and the two grandmothers took the children home via the East River Ferry to Wall Street’s very own Pier 11. I still can’t get over the fact that Wall Street actually has its own pier and heliport. It’s just like the movies…

Everyone met up back at our apartment in time for tea, tired, happy and slightly sunburnt. Fab-u-lous darling.

Tips if you fancy this outing with your own extended family:

  • To get on the bridge from the Manhattan side with a pushchair, you need to start at the very beginning on Center Street, opposite City Hall.  If you don’t need step-free access, there’s a little staircase tucked underneath just off Frankfurt Street, between Gold Street and Park Row.
  • Get an early start to beat the crowds, especially on weekends or sunny days
  • If your kids are young/still potty training, definitely bring a potty with you as there are zero facilities on the bridge or anywhere close to either end
  • There are lots of food options in Brooklyn Bridge Park including Shake Shack, Luke’s Lobster, No. 7 Sub, or the very upmarket and expensive River Cafe
  • End the day with a giant icecream from the Brooklyn Icecream Factory before catching the East River Ferry back across to Manhattan

This week’s Highs & Lows:

Highs:

  • Two nights in a row J slept from 7pm to 4am. This is an all time record. Sadly I did not manage the same as I’m still wired to get up every three hours, but it’s brilliantly encouraging after all these weeks. Keep it up, baby J!
  • Taking my mother to Tea & Sympathy for lunch, just the two of us. Don’t think we’ve had a child-free lunch out since T was born, over five years ago.

Lows:

  • More bizarre sleep-deprivation stuff. I woke the other day to find that at some point in the night I had moved everything down off the window sill in our bedroom and carefully placed on the floor. I have a vague sensory memory of leaves in my face – that must have  been the two foot tall leafy pot plant… Lack of sleep is doing v strange things to me.
Tea & Sympathy with my mother
Mother and daughter enjoying Tea & Sympathy

Author: Alex

Hello. Toddling Round New York is my own little blog of our family's experience of moving young kids from London to New York... And of having a baby out here. They are my own baby steps of exploring this incredible city. I lived in five countries in four continents growing up, so you'd think I'd be good at this by now. Here you'll find stories and photographs of our adventures, the highs and the lows of expat parenthood, and some ideas I hope you'll find useful if you're in New York with young kids.

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