Brooklyn, New York City’s most populous borough, is awash in history and culture. Originally a city in its own right, Brooklyn was joined with the surrounding areas, including Manhattan, in 1898 to form what we now know as modern day NYC. This rich history that goes back to the colonial era, has influenced the borough’s character, as well as its architecture, with large swaths of the borough being considered to be part of Brownstone Brooklyn as well as being designated historic districts. In recent decades even the neighborhoods outside of what would be considered prime Brooklyn have experienced a renaissance as the borough has been going through a major real estate and development boom.
The Best Neighborhoods in Brooklyn
Take a look at the best places to live in Brooklyn. Explore various areas and discover the coolest, safest and nicest neighborhoods in Brooklyn.
Located in the southwestern corner of Brooklyn, and separated from the rest of the borough by the highway, Bay Ridge has maintained a cozy, small-town vibe even as many of the surrounding neighborhoods have gentrified. Known for its stunning waterfront parks that offer up spectacular views of the Verrazano Bridge, Bay Ridge is one of the nicest neighborhoods to call home in Brooklyn. The area is filled with cobblestone, tree-lined streets and historic row-houses. Bay Ridge’s tight-knit community has long made the area popular with families, attracting many who were looking to plant roots in the area over the years, yet in recent times the neighborhood’s relatively attractive real estate prices have made Bay Ridge appealing to a more diverse crowd. This has, of course, led to rapidly rising real estate prices, and an influx of new residents moving in from other parts of the city. The R train is the only subway to pass through the neighborhood, but those looking for a more scenic commute can enjoy taking the ferry to downtown Brooklyn’s business districts or Lower Manhattan.
Bedford-Stuyvesant, better known by its shortened nickname of Bed-Stuy to most New Yorkers, has recently been making a name for itself as one of Brooklyn's most dynamic neighborhoods. Bed-Stuy has come a long way from its "Do or Die" days when Biggie called it home. Nowadays this largely residential neighborhood charms residents and visitors alike with its tree-lined streets and collection of over five hundred 19th century row-houses and brownstones, many of which are located in the Stuyvesant Heights Historic District. Bed-Stuy’s stunning architecture coupled with the areas attractive real estate prices has helped attract an influx of new residents and businesses, quickly revitalizing the neighborhood in the process. The neighborhood’s once rough and gritty streets are now home to dozens of hip cafes, trendy bars and restaurants, and some of the New York City’s best jazz clubs and lounges.
Boerum Hill offers its residents a delightful mix of classic old-world Brooklyn brownstone living combined with a more trendy West Village type vibe. The community is known for its tranquil, tree-lined streets as well as its architecture and is home more than two hundred 19th century townhouses and brownstones, most of which are located in the to appropriately named Boerum Hill Historic District. The neighborhood is conveniently located in the heart of Brooklyn, providing easy access to the borough’s many attractions and entertainment venues, including Barclays Center. It is also only a short 20-minute subway ride from Manhattan. Boerum Hill also offers plenty to do within its boundaries, especially when it comes to the district’s thriving shopping, culinary and bar scenes. The area surrounding Smith and Court Streets, in particular, is home to a bevy of chic shops, designer boutiques, hip bars, and trendy restaurants. Overall, Boerum Hill is one of the best neighborhoods in Brooklyn to live in.
Brooklyn Heights (originally known as Brooklyn Village) is a cozy, residential neighborhood known for its rich history, picturesque cobblestone streets, and stunning architecture. The neighborhood is often referred to as the epitome of “Brownstone Brooklyn” by locals, with its iconic rowhouses, many of which predate the civil war, helping lead to the city’s creation of the Brooklyn Heights Historic District in 1965, the first such district in New York City, to ensure the preservation and protection of the area from unwanted development. Located directly across from Manhattan, on the banks of the East River, this scenic neighborhood offers residents a convenient commute into the city and jaw-dropping views of New York City’s skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge. The neighborhood is also home to a lively waterfront Promenade and a great collection of trendy shops, chic cafes and excellent restaurants.
Up-and-coming Bushwick is quickly becoming one of Brooklyn's coolest neighborhoods, making a name for itself as an industrial outdoor art gallery. In recent years Bushwick has attracted an influx of new residents including a bevy of young professionals, artists, and other creative types, many of whom have been driven out of neighboring Williamsburg by ever-rising real estate prices as well as the recent L train shutdown. This has helped spark a renaissance in the neighborhood, with a multitude of new businesses moving in and opening their doors. Knickerbocker Ave, traditionally the commercial heart of the neighborhood has been transformed with art galleries, lounges, comedy clubs, bars, restaurants, and shops. The neighborhood has been quick to shed its former rough and gritty reputation and revitalize, now making itself known for its flourishing art and cultural scenes.
Carroll Gardens offers its residents the perfect setting to experience quintessential Brooklyn brownstone living with a touch of European flair thrown in. The neighborhood’s tranquil, tree-lined streets and park give the neighborhood a laid back, relaxed air while its many trendy cafes, acclaimed restaurants, and chic boutiques create a vibrant social and entertainment scene. Named for Charles Carroll, one of colonial America’s wealthiest men and the only Roman Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, Carroll Gardens has a rich cultural heritage. Over the years, Carroll Gardens has attracted many Irish, Italian, and most recently French immigrants, all of whom have left their mark on the neighborhood influencing its character with their culture and traditions. This is reflected in the many mom-and-pop businesses and artisanal shops you'll find in this tight-knit community.
Clinton Hill is a centrally located and picturesque Brooklyn nabe that appeals to many people that are looking for a place to lay down roots. As the Pratt Institute and St. Joseph’s College are both located in the neighborhood, Clinton Hill also attracts a substantial stream of artists and students who call this community home. The laid back vibe in the area has also attracted upper-middle-income professionals in recent years, as well. As this exclusive nabe grows, many luxury apartments and high-end restaurants have recently been built.
Although Clinton Hill is a smaller neighborhood, it boasts an incredible restaurant scene that resembles that of a much larger community. Sisters restaurant and cocktail bar is one of the most beautiful establishments in the area and is a popular place for happy hour or dinner and drinks. Another staple for many Clinton Hill residents is Mekelburg’s, which is part specialty grocery store and part bar.
Picturesque brownstones and brick rowhouses make up the majority of the homes in Clinton Hills. Towering above historic mansions and carriage houses are new condominiums and rental buildings. As is the case in most of NYC, real estate in Clinton Hill is pricey.
Cobble Hill is without a doubt one of the nicest neighborhoods in Brooklyn. The area is known for its rich history, reflected in its well preserved 19th-century architecture, built in the Greek, Italian, and Romanesque revival styles, which has led to most of the neighborhood being designated The Cobble Hill Historic District. Brownstones and row-houses line the area's tree-lined, cobblestone streets creating a relaxed, college-town vibe. With large Italian and French populations living in Cobble Hill the neighborhood is home to many fantastic restaurants and bars, giving it a unique European vibe, and even plays host to Bastille Day celebrations each summer. The area around Court Street (and Smith Street, a block over in neighboring Boerum Hill) in particular is a wonderful place to spend a relaxing afternoon grabbing a light lunch on a restaurant terrace or browsing the areas many trendy boutiques and shops. The northern area of Smith Street has even been affectionately called Brooklyn’s restaurant row by the area's residents due to its excellent culinary scene.
Crown Heights is a residential neighborhood in Central Brooklyn that is home to approximately 143,000 people. The area is best described as up-and-coming, as an influx of new residents have moved in during the past decade as they’ve been drawn in by attractive real estate prices. Crown Heights also benefits from a convenient location in the heart of Brooklyn, giving residents access to plenty of public transportation.
There’s more to Crown Heights than just cheap real estate and a good location though. The area is known for its architecture, and it’s many pre-war row houses and brownstones. Crown Heights also has an incredibly diverse population, and residents enjoy a wonderful mix of ethnic restaurants that have given the area a reputation as being a foodie destination. Additionally, folks who live here enjoy the many museums, parks, and green spaces in the neighborhood including the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Museum and Prospect Park, which borders this up-and-coming nabe.
Historically the commercial and civic center of the borough, Downtown Brooklyn has seen a rise in residential real estate development in recent years with dozens of new luxury condo towers and apartment buildings being built in the district. All of this residential development makes Downtown Brooklyn the best neighborhood in Brooklyn for finding a luxury rental apartment. With its central location in the heart of Brooklyn, DoBro offers residents great access to public transportation, and a quick, convenient commute to Manhattan all while being just a stone's throw away from the action in neighboring hotspots Dumbo, Fort Greene and Brooklyn Heights. As in other primarily commercial names, evenings tend to be quieter, with fewer crowds and nightlife, creating a tranquil, family-friendly vibe. Attractions in Downtown Brooklyn include the Fulton Street Mall, with its many shops, cafes and restaurants, the NYC Transit Museum, and Barclays Center. The Brooklyn Academy of Music is also only a short walk away, in neighboring Fort Greene.
Dumbo, an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, is one of the nicest neighborhoods in Brooklyn, so it's no surprise that the real estate market is red-hot. The area appeals to New Yorkers with its raw, industrial architecture, picturesque cobblestone streets, relaxing waterfront and spectacular views of Manhattan. Formerly a manufacturing district, the neighborhood was colonized by a mix of artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, and creative types who converted its many vintage warehouse spaces into luxurious residential lofts and tech startup offices. This, in turn, helped spark a development boom in the neighborhood which led to the opening of many chic boutiques, trendy galleries, and a bevy of new bars and restaurants, transforming Dumbo from a lightly populated commercial district into the hip and flourishing residential district it is today, much like Soho and Tribeca before it.
With its picturesque tree-lined streets, 19th-century brownstones and open-air flea & farmers markets, Fort Greene may sound like your typical Brooklyn neighborhood, but in truth, Fort Greene is so much more. With its prime location, in the heart of Brooklyn, this district offers residents fantastic access to Manhattan as well as neighboring Boerum Hill, Prospect Heights, Downtown Brooklyn, and Clinton Hill. The neighborhood’s many parks and proximity to the Brooklyn Bridge also make it a biker and walkers' paradise. Fort Greene Park, which is named after Nathanael Greene, a revolutionary war general who built a fort in the park, was one of the first public parks in Brooklyn and gave the neighborhood its moniker. Fort Greene is also home to an array of trendy coffee shops, cool bars, and chic restaurants making it great for foodies. The neighborhood has a rich history and has long been one of Brooklyn's major centers for arts and culture. Over the years many famous writers and artists, including Truman Capote, Spike Lee, John Steinbeck, and Walt Whitman, have called Fort Greene home.
If you want to live in one of the coolest neighborhoods in Brooklyn, you need to check out Gowanus. This former industrial district has become one of the hottest parts of Brooklyn and has experienced an influx of young, hip residents who are drawn to the area's incredible architecture and attractive real estate prices. As you'd expect, there has been a lot of new residential development, with old warehouses being converted to luxurious lofts and luxury rental towers being built. The vibe in Gowanus is creative and artistic, and you'll find lots of millennials living in this Brooklyn neighborhood. There are numerous breweries, coffee shops, lounges, restaurants, and gastropubs in the neighborhood, providing residents with plenty to do. There's even a Whole Foods Market. Best of all, Gowanus enjoys a great location, bordering Park Slope and Carroll Gardens.
For many years Greenpoint was known as an isolated and sleepy hamlet with a large Polish population located on Brooklyn’s northernmost tip, but recent years have brought about a real estate development boom leading to its rapid transformation into one of the areas most exciting and vibrant neighborhoods. A young, artistic crowd has been drawn to Greenpoint, creating an eclectic mix in this family friendly neighborhood, which you may recognize from its many appearances as a setting in film and television shows (including The Departed, Donnie Brasco, and Law and Order SVU among many others). This influx of new residents has led to a bevy of trendy new shops, hip bars, chic cafes and restaurants opening their doors along the neighborhood's tree-lined streets. With its many parks, stunning views of Manhattan, vibrant entertainment scene and creative yet tranquil vibe, Greenpoint has it all.
Park Slope, located on the western slope of Prospect Park, is one of the most well-known, desirable, and safest neighborhoods in Brooklyn. The neighborhood’s sterling reputation precedes it as Park Slope has long been considered to be amongst the best New York City has to offer and was even named one of the “Greatest Neighborhoods in America” by the American Planning Society. Park Slope is home to an eclectic mix of residents, with picturesque townhouses and row-houses on the neighborhood’s well-manicured, tree-lined streets attracting families looking for classic Brooklyn brownstone living, while the neighborhood’s thriving entertainment and restaurant scenes appeal to a younger, hipper crowd. 5th and 7th Ave, in particular, are home to many great boutiques, book & record stores, coffee shops, wine bars, and beer gardens. Prospect Park is also a major attraction and a great place to spend a weekend afternoon enjoying a picnic, barbecue or bike ride.
Prospect Lefferts Gardens
Prospect Lefferts Gardens is an incredible Brooklyn neighborhood, in the heart of the borough. The area gets its name from three local landmarks, Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, and Lefferts Manor. In recent times, the neighborhood has attracted many new renters thanks to relatively cheap rents compared to other parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan. Apartments for rent in Prospect Lefferts Gardens provide incredible value, and the neighborhood has much to offer, starting with unparalleled access to Prospect Park. Most rentals in Prospect Lefferts Gardens are in low rise buildings or multi-family homes.
There is a large Caribbean community in the neighborhood, helping to create a vibrant cultural and entertainment scene, with many excellent ethnic restaurants, as well as a bevy of chic lounges, and trendy cafes.
Located on the waterfront and separated from the rest of Brooklyn by the Gowanus Expressway (I-278), Red Hook has retained much of its historic charm and character. The neighborhood is a throwback to old New York with its red-brick buildings, cobblestone streets, and industrial warehouses. The relative isolation of Red Hook makes it attractive for families and those who want to be part of a tight-knit community. Red Hook's overall lack of transportation (the nearest subway station is almost a mile away) has also helped keep rents and real estate sales prices from rising at the dramatic rates seen in nearby Carroll Gardens and other parts of Brooklyn. Lately, however, the neighborhood has seen a wave of new infrastructure being built, including a new ferry service to Manhattan and other parts of Downtown Brooklyn as well as the introduction of Citi Bike. There has also been some new real estate development. While some residents are worried about the changes this may bring, many are happy with changes and improved accessibility to the rest of New York City.
Located in southwestern Brooklyn, Sunset Park is a diverse nabe that is known for its waterfront location and its namesake park, which boasts jaw-dropping views of the Manhattan skyline. For decades the neighborhood seemed to be forgotten by many, with rents seemingly stagnant, and little real estate development. This made it an ideal landing spot for immigrants and led to the growth of large European, Chinese, and Latin American communities in the neighborhood. Things have quickly begun to change in recent years, however, and Sunset Park has experienced an influx of new, younger residents along with the businesses that cater to them, particularly in the western half of the district, closer to the waterfront. Nowadays the area can best be described as up-and-coming with Sunset Park West being amongst four neighborhoods named “New York’s Next Hot Neighborhoods” by the NY Times. All in all Sunset Park is a great place to call home, and there are still plenty of deals to be had on real estate here.
A care-free, independent and artistic hipster vibe is at the heart of Williamsburg, where you’ll find no shortage of restaurants, boutiques, cafes, rooftop bars, outdoor markets, and live music venues. Formerly a commercial district, Williamsburg was rezoned and redeveloped on a large scale starting in the mid-1990s with its many industrial warehouses being transformed into luxury residential apartment complexes and lofts. Nowadays, Williamsburg is one of the best neighborhoods in Brooklyn. The area has a vibrant cultural scene and is also home to many art galleries as well as some of Brooklyn’s coolest street art and murals. This rich cultural and entertainment scene has led many to compare the neighborhood with Berlin, even creating the moniker of “Little Berlin.” Williamsburg is conveniently located in the heart of Brooklyn, offering easy access to Manhattan, a lively waterfront with many parks and stunning views, as well as some of the best nightlife in New York City.