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21 Best Things To Do In Bushwick, Brooklyn (From A Local)

By Jessie Festa & Dale P. This Bushwick neighborhood guide includes affiliate links to trusted partners!

Looking for the best things to do in Bushwick?

Then you’re in the right place!

Bushwick is one of the coolest neighborhoods in Brooklyn, known for its vibrant nightlife, art scene, dining, and secondhand shopping.

This eclectic neighborhood has rapidly evolved and gentrified over the last two decades, making it a popular destination within New York City for young people who are looking for a more affordable neighborhood to live in.

It’s considered more offbeat and edgy than other neighborhoods in Brooklyn. Although the area has experienced rapid development, it still retains a grittier vibe and has more of a “cool factor” than many other places in the borough thanks to its plethora of experimental art performances, thought-provoking street art, underground parties, and more.

But, what should you do when visiting?

Keep reading, as this neighborhood guide contains the best places to go, things to do, activities, and places to eat in Bushwick.

Looking to capture your time in NYC with beautiful photos? Book a Private Photo Journey, a walking tour that includes photos of your group to keep. Or get a styled, custom shoot that tells your unique story through a NYC Influencer Shoot or Professional New York City Shoot. These experiences are offered by Jessie on a Journey’s sister company, NYC Photo Journeys. Email [email protected] with inquiries.

A Local’s Guide To Bushwick & NYC [Free Guide]

Before we dive into our article on the best things to do in Bushwick, I invite you to grab a copy of my free NYC Local Guide.

It shares a mix of popular and non-touristy things to do in NYC, with a few highlights from the PDF guide being:

  • Where to get creative java drinks — in beautiful Instagrammable cafes in NYC, too!
  • How to discover unique opportunities for exploring nature in New York City!
  • Ways to get off-the-beaten-track to explore a side of the city many tourists miss!

Once you’ve grabbed the guide, keep reading to discover the top places in Bushwick you shouldn’t miss.

Where Is Bushwick?

Bushwick is a neighborhood in New York City that is located in the borough of Brooklyn. It is in the northern part of Brooklyn, on the boundary line with the borough of Queens.

The neighborhoods that border Bushwick include Ridgewood (which is actually in Queens), Williamsburg, East New York, Brownsville, and Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Bushwick’s location and its connection to the subway makes it accessible from Manhattan and other parts of Brooklyn.

The neighborhood is served by the L and JMZ subway lines. The Jefferson stop on the L train and the Morgan stop on the L train are two very popular access points for the neighborhood.

Broadway and Flushing Avenue are two of the main streets that run through Bushwick.

East Bushwick is another area within Bushwick near the Halsey stop on the L train. It’s near to a number of yummy restaurants as well as The Evergreens Cemetery (mentioned below).

To reach Bushwick from Midtown Manhattan, it’s about 30 to 40 minutes on the subway. It’s even quicker from Downtown Manhattan, making the neighborhood easily accessible to visitors who want to check out the abundance of dining, shopping, and entertainment options that Bushwick has to offer.

Map Of Bushwick

To help give you a lay of the land, here is a map of Bushwick in Brooklyn:

map of Bushwick in Brooklyn NYC

You can also click here for an interactive Google Map.

Getting Around Bushwick

While Bushwick is a relatively large neighborhood, you certainly don’t need a car to explore.

To travel longer distances around the neighborhood, it’s recommended to take the subway or ride a Citi Bike.

Once you get to the area of Bushwick you’d like to explore, wander on foot to really feel the beat of the neighborhood. Traveling on foot also allows you make discoveries you may have missed otherwise!

woman getting around Bushwick on foot
Skip the car and explore Bushwick on foot. Photo via Jessie Festa.

History Of Bushwick

Bushwick has a rich history, especially as it’s one of six of the original King’s County towns founded by the Dutch in 1661. At the time, it was known as Boswijck (Bos-Wih-Jick), meaning “little town in the woods” since the area was all woodland.

When thinking about Bushwick history, there are two major things that typically come to mind: beer and blackouts.

Bushwick was founded on beer, with thousands of German immigrants flooding the neighborhood in the 1800s and opening up breweries.

According to NY Food Museum, by 1898, almost 50 breweries operated in “Brewer’s Row” in Bushwick — which came to be known as the Brewing Capitol of the United States.

After WWII, German residents began leaving and breweries began consolidating outside the state. By the 1970s, this once wealthy neighborhood had become more working class.

During this time, Bushwick also saw a shift in demographics from German and Sicilian to Hispanic.

Today, about 56.3% of the neighborhood identifies as Hispanic. This can also be seen through the language, food, art, events, and more — though you’ll also see many hipster offerings as the neighborhood has also been largely gentrified.

Going back in time, in July of 1977, Bushwick experienced something that would truly hurt the neighborhood for years to come: a 25-hour blackout.

While the blackout happened all over NYC, Bushwick was one of the neighborhoods hit the hardest, with looters and arsonists completely destroying 35 blocks and causing many local businesses to close for good.

Sadly, this decimated Bushwick’s commercial retail hub, and many who could afford to leave did.

In the 1980s, Bushwick was further hurt by the NYC crack epidemic.

Luckily, in the late 90s and early 2000s, Bushwick began to see important progress with low income housing improvements and a number of social service initiatives.

When visiting Bushwick today, you can still see and experience some of the history and culture mentioned above — from 18th century brewery facades to Dominican bakeries to a growing retail hub on and around Broadway.

As Bushwick becomes a popular place to visit, you’ll also find an endless amount of unique restaurants, bars, music venues, art galleries, creative classes, and more.

In short, there are many interesting and fun things to do in Bushwick, as you’ll see below!

the old Otto Huber Brewery facade on Brewer's Row in Bushwick, Brooklyn
Part of the old Otto Huber Brewery on Brewer’s Row. Photo via Jessie Festa.

Is Bushwick Safe?

Is Bushwick a safe neighborhood? Some people are concerned about visiting Bushwick because they have heard that it’s not safe.

While it’s true that Bushwick has a higher crime rate than the national average, the neighborhood is still perfectly safe, as long as you use common sense.

Avoid walking around alone late at night in Bushwick, especially on unfamiliar or desolate streets that are not well-lit. Some areas in Bushwick are more industrial and can get very empty at night.

You should also be mindful of your surroundings and exercise caution. For example, don’t walk down the street with headphones in your ears while staring down at your phone. This is the kind of common sense safety advice you should follow anywhere in New York, not just in Bushwick.

Since Bushwick is a popular nightlife destination, it’s also particularly important to take safety precautions on a night out.

Be mindful of how much you drink, keep an eye on your friends, and remember that it can be worth spending more on an Uber home rather than taking the subway — particularly if you’re drunk or in a desolate area. You might also consider carrying a few travel safety essentials, such as a personal alarm.

However, in general, Bushwick BK is very safe overall.

While Bushwick used to be very dangerous, crime rates in the neighborhood are currently at an all-time low. Some people still think of Bushwick as the less safe, higher-crime neighborhood that it was a couple of decades ago, but that is no longer the case.

In fact, when comparing the crime rate for Bushwick with the crime rate for Midtown Manhattan, you’ll notice the latter is much higher, according to Area Vibes. Yet, most tourists don’t think twice about visiting Midtown.

Safety concerns should not put you off from visiting this awesome neighborhood, and as long as you use common sense and stay alert, you are not likely to experience any issues.

murals within the Bushwick Collective in Brooklyn, New York
Murals in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Photo via Jessie Festa.

Best Things To Do in Bushwick, Brooklyn

Curious what to do in Bushwick to have a great time? Here are some top local experiences to add to your Brooklyn itinerary:

1. Book a private photo tour

To really experience the best of Bushwick, book a private NYC Photo Journey led by a licensed New York City sightseeing guide and professional photographer.

Part tour, part photoshoot, you’ll leave the experience with interesting stories as well as beautiful photos to keep.

One popular itinerary is Times Square – Central Park – Upper East Side – Brooklyn Bridge – Bushwick, which offers a gorgeous mix of classic sites, nature, architecture, skyline, and street art.

Click here for full details or visit @NYCPhotoTour on Instagram for photo examples.

Note that this experience is offered by NYC Photo Journeys, which is owned by Jessie Festa of Jessie on a Journey.

group of women exploring the best things to do in Bushwick Brooklyn on a private photo tour
Group of friends having fun on a private photo tour in Bushwick. Photo via NYC Photo Journeys.

2. Book a professional photo shoot

One unforgettable Bushwick experience is doing a Professional NYC Photoshoot that includes vibrant street art photos.

This experience comes with a pre-shoot planning call to go over your vision. You can choose to have photos shot in RAW or JPG, and there are different packages to fit various budgets.

Most people opt for a 2- or 3-hour shoot, which typically includes 3-4 locations.

Click here for full details or visit @NYCPhotoTour on Instagram for photo examples.

Note that this experience is offered by NYC Photo Journeys, which is owned by Jessie Festa of Jessie on a Journey.

woman exploring the best things to do in Bushwick on a private photoshoot
Professional Photoshoot in Bushwick. Photo via NYC Photo Journeys.

3. Start your day with the best breakfast in Bushwick

Before a big day of exploring Bushwick, stop at one of the many great breakfast spots in the neighborhood to fuel up for your adventures.

Some of the best places to eat in Bushwick for breakfast and brunch include Sally Roots, an American-Caribbean restaurant with a breezy outdoor patio, Le Garage for delicious and hearty French cuisine, and Heavy Woods, which serves breakfast food with a Cajun flair.

Looking for boozy brunch in NYC? Mesa Azteca serves up delicious Mexican brunch dishes like chilaquiles and churro waffles and offers unlimited drinks for $30!

4. Shop the best thrift stores in Bushwick

One of the best things to do in Bushwick, Brooklyn is thrift shopping. If you’re looking to score great deals on vintage and secondhand clothing, shoes, accessories, and home goods, you will find plenty of local shopping options.

Some of the best thrift stores in Bushwick to check out are Le Point Value, Domsey Express, and Broadway Fashion. For furniture, try Green Village Used Furniture.

woman thrift shopping in Bushwick, Brooklyn
Thrift shopping is a popular activity in Bushwick. Photo via Burst / Pexels.

5. Eat at unique Bushwick restaurants

One of the many reasons New York is so popular is the delicious food, and there’s no shortage of unique restaurants in Bushwick.

This neighborhood is one of the best in Brooklyn for delicious, inventive, and diverse cuisine. Whether you’re looking for a high-end dining experience or a yummy place to grab a bite to eat, you’ll be able to find it.

Some of the best food in Bushwick can be found at Faro, which is known for its handmade pasta, Tong for Thai food, and Bunna Cafe, which serves vegan-friendly Ethiopian food.

For a quick bite to eat, try the arepas at Arepera Guacuco or pho at Lucy’s Vietnamese.

And you can’t miss the farm-to-fork pizza at Roberta’s, which also has communal tables — great for making new friends, especially if you’re traveling solo in NYC.

6. Support long-standing businesses

While there are loads of trendy and delicious Bushwick restaurants that have opened in the last 10 years, there are also eateries that have been cooking for the neighborhood since before the hipsters moved in.

A few recommendations:

Head to Gaby’s Bakery for delicious and budget-friendly Mexican baked goods and desserts. While everything is good, the Tres Leches — a sponge cake made with heavy cream, condensed milk, and evaporated milk — is the best.

There is also Angela’s Bakery, a family-run bakery known for its Dominican baked goods and creative cakes.

When it’s time for lunch, visit Los Hermanos Tortilla Factory for traditional Mexican fare and tortillas made with corn masa. It’s also BYOB!

woman eating pastries at Gaby's Bakery while exploring the best of Bushwick BK
Pastries at Gaby’s Bakery. Photo via Jessie Festa.

7. Drink up at some of the best bars in Bushwick

Bushwick at night is when the neighborhood really comes alive. This is one of the best areas in Brooklyn and all of New York City for nightlife. You can start your evening at one of Bushwick’s many bars.

If you’re looking for bars with a fun atmosphere where you can dance the night away, check out Bossa Nova, a divey dance club; Jupiter Disco, a science fiction inspired spot; or Mood Ring, an astrology-themed venue.

For a quieter, more intimate atmosphere — perfect for NYC date night — try Yours Sincerely, The Johnson’s, or Pearl’s Social and Billy Club.

Love board games, budget-friendly drinks, and boob decor? The Boobie Trap will quickly become your favorite bar.

8. Party all night at House of Yes

Looking for things to do in Bushwick this weekend?

House of Yes puts on some of the best events in Brooklyn and is one of the best spots to check out if you’re looking for things to do in NYC after midnight.

Many of their shows and dance parties involve creative themes — like circus-style variety shows and trippy space-themed parties — and often encourage crazy costumes and lots of glitter.

Nearby, Brooklyn Mirage puts on epic all-night dance parties and light shows in an open-air space featuring some of the world’s best DJs.

couple dancing at House Of Yes nightclub
Aquatic themed party of House of Yes in Bushwick. Photo via Jessie Festa.

9. Explore beer culture at local Bushwick breweries

One of the most fun things to do in Bushwick is exploring the neighborhood’s breweries.

Bushwick has a fascinating history when it comes to brewing beer, dating back to the early 1800s. The neighborhood was historically one of the USA‘s top producers of beer, and at one point it even accounted for 10% of the country’s beer production!

The legacy of beer production is evident in the neighborhood’s many breweries.

Some of the best breweries in Bushwick to check out include Kings County Brewers Collective, Bridge and Tunnel Brewery, and Interboro Spirits and Ale. These are great spots to try some local craft beers, especially on a nice day when you can take advantage of outdoor patios.

That being said, enjoying their indoor spaces is also a great way to pass the time on a rainy day in NYC.

10. Meet local makers

Beer isn’t the only locally-made product in Bushwick. In fact, one of the top things to do in Bushwick is to visit the many local businesses passionate about creating quality goods.

Don’t miss:

raw hot chocolate and menu at Fine & Raw
Delicious hot chocolate at Fine & Raw. Photo via Jessie Festa.

11. Explore Bushwick’s vibrant street art

When it comes to fun activities in Bushwick, nothing beats exploring the many murals created by talented artists from around the world within the Bushwick Collective.

Spanning numerous blocks around the Jefferson Street Subway Station, the Bushwick Collective was founded in 2011 by Joseph Ficalora, a Bushwick native whose father was tragically murdered while walking home from work in 1991.

Through street art, he’s been able to help transform these once-dangerous streets into something inspiring, procuring building space from local businesses and helping artists from all over the world to tell their colorful stories.

While you can visit on your own, it’s also fun to explore with a local guide on a street art tour — which is one of the best Brooklyn walking tours. This way, you’ll learn about Bushwick itself as well as the history and culture of graffiti and street art.

Pro tip: try to visit New York City in the summer when the annual Bushwick Collective Block Party takes place. During the event, you’ll listen to live music, eat delicious street food, and watch street artists hard at work.

Mural by Dasic Fernández in the Bushwick Collective in Brooklyn
Mural by Dasic Fernández in the Bushwick Collective. Photo via Jessie Festa.

12. Check out Bushwick’s art gallery scene

Bushwick has a thriving art scene. While the neighborhood is best known for its street art and graffiti, it’s also home to some really cool galleries — like Transmitter and Microscope.

Both of these contemporary art galleries have constantly-changing exhibitions. Plus there is no admission fee, making it one of the best free things to do in Bushwick and a top experience for those traveling NYC on a budget.

Looking to capture your time in NYC with beautiful photos? Book a Private Photo Journey, a walking tour that includes photos of your group to keep. Or get a styled, custom shoot that tells your unique story through a NYC Influencer Shoot or Professional New York City Shoot. These experiences are offered by Jessie on a Journey’s sister company, NYC Photo Journeys. Email [email protected] with inquiries.

13. Stop for a caffeine break at a Bushwick coffee shop

After a busy day of exploring, you might feel the need for a caffeine boost. Luckily, the neighborhood is home to plenty of excellent coffee shops where you can sit down and get your morning or afternoon caffeine fix.

If you’re wondering where to go in Bushwick for the best coffee, try Dweebs, Sey Coffee, Wyckoff Starr Coffee Shop, and Variety Coffee Roasters — which is also a great option if you’re looking for unique NYC souvenirs that are locally-made, as they roast and sell their own coffee beans.

14. Get some fresh air at the park

While it’s no Central Park, Bushwick is home to Maria Hernandez Park, a small green-space in the midst of what is otherwise a very urban neighborhood. Interestingly, the site was once partially owned by PT Barnum — and it even hosted circus events.

There’s also Irving Square Park, a similarly petite but tranquil park in Bushwick.

These parks are great places to sit and people-watch when you’re ready to take a break from walking.

Maria Hernandez Park is one of the most popular places to visit in Bushwick, Brooklyn
Maria Hernandez Park in Bushwick. Photo: Barbara Hubert/Wikimedia Commons.

15. Go book shopping

Shopping in Bushwick isn’t just limited to vintage and secondhand clothing. The neighborhood is also home to some great secondhand bookstores.

For all the reading aficionados out there, you can find some new (old) books to add to your shelves at Molasses Books, Better Read Than Dead, and Human Relations.

16. Have dinner and catch a movie at Syndicated

If you’re looking for cool things to do in Bushwick for a night out in NYC, check out Syndicated. This is a movie theater, bar, and restaurant in Bushwick where you can order dinner from the comfort of your seat in the movie theater.

Tickets are $9, and their programming ranges from cult classics to new indie films. You can grab drinks in the bar before heading in to the movie theater and ordering dinner.

17. Listen to live music

Some of the top Bushwick attractions are the neighborhood’s live music venues. No matter what your taste is, you can always catch some live music in Bushwick.

Our Wicked Lady is a live music venue, art studio, and rooftop bar, Brooklyn Made is a great concert venue, and Elsewhere allows you to rock out on a rooftop terrace.

Group of friends dancing at Elsewhere Rooftop in Brooklyn
Rooftop fun at Elsewhere. Photo via Jessie Festa.

18. Catch a performance at the Bushwick Starr

One of the most fun activities in Bushwick is catching a performance at the Bushwick Starr, the neighborhood’s hub for the performing arts.

You can see everything from typical theater performances to avant-garde and experimental shows at this innovative community space, whose mission focuses on making the performing arts accessible to everyone.

19. Take a creative class

Bushwick is known for its creative offerings, and this includes unique classes.

Love street art? Book a graffiti lesson to hone your spray paint skills.

There’s also Bushwick Jewelry Casting, which teaches everything from metalsmithing to prong setting and beyond, and The Living Gallery, which offers $15 drink-and-draw classes.

Of if you want to take better photos, BKC teaches beginner through advanced photography courses.

And at Centerpoint Ceramics, you can learn the art of ceramics through a variety of workshops.

These are just a few of the many local class options!

woman taking a graffiti class in Bushwick, Brooklyn
Taking a graffiti class in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Photo via Jessie Festa.

20. Visit the Evergreens Cemetery

One of the more offbeat things to do in Bushwick NYC is visiting the Evergreens Cemetery.

Located on the border between Brooklyn and Queens, this cemetery is the final resting place of many notable New Yorkers, like jazz musician Lester Young and painter Martin Heade.

The cemetery also contains a monument to the victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, a historic tragedy that occurred in New York in 1911.

Although visiting a cemetery might seem a bit morbid, Evergreens Cemetery is a tranquil, well-maintained green-space that many locals stroll or jog through.

It’s a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the neighborhood if you’re looking for some peace and quiet.

21. Explore surrounding Brooklyn neighborhoods

While there are plenty of things to see in Bushwick, there are also several other great Brooklyn neighborhoods in close proximity that are also worth a visit.

Nearby Williamsburg is another hip neighborhood known for its great dining, shopping, and waterfront views of Manhattan.

While here, don’t miss having a rooftop drink at Westlight, exploring artisan wares at Artists & Fleas, and eating your way around the Smorgasburg Food Market (Saturdays 11am-6pm from April through October). There are also numerous Brooklyn food tours focused on this neighborhood.

Greenpoint is a similarly cool neighborhood to check out along the Brooklyn waterfront.

Bedford-Stuyvesant is another Brooklyn neighborhood that borders Bushwick, and while it flies under the radar of many visitors, it is worth exploring.

View from Westlight rooftop near Bushwick, Brooklyn
View from Westlight rooftop. Photo via Jessie Festa.

Best Tours In Bushwick

One of the best things to do in Bushwick BK is to take a tour with a local guide. A few recommendations include:

Click here for a full list of Brooklyn tours.

Hotels In Bushwick

Looking to stay overnight in Bushwick, Brooklyn?

There are so many incredible local hotels, like the Holiday Inn Express Brooklyn – Bushwick, and the nearby William Vale Hotel.

Click here for a full list of Brooklyn hotels!

Prefer self-contained stays? 

Click here to check out unique local rentals!

You can also use this map to search for local stays and experiences:

And if you’re interested in living in a hotel in NYC, there are numerous extended stay hotel options too!

New York City Travel Insurance

When visiting Brooklyn — or anywhere else in the world — it’s wise to get travel insurance.

One of the best travel medical insurance for travelers is SafetyWing as they’ve got a large network and offer both short-term and long-term coverage — including coverage if you’re traveling for months as well as limited coverage in your home country).

Additionally, SafetyWing is budget-friendly and offers $250,000 worth of coverage with just one low overall deductible of $250.

Click here to price out travel insurance for your trip in just a few clicks.

Looking to capture your time in NYC with beautiful photos? Book a Private Photo Journey, a walking tour that includes photos of your group to keep. Or get a styled, custom shoot that tells your unique story through a NYC Influencer Shoot or Professional New York City Shoot. These experiences are offered by Jessie on a Journey’s sister company, NYC Photo Journeys. Email [email protected] with inquiries.

What are your favorite things to do in Bushwick, Brooklyn?

About Dale P.

Dale is a native New Yorker and an NYC-based travel writer and blogger. She loves sharing insider tips about New York City travel and other destinations with others.

Jessie Festa standing in front of grafitti wall

Hi, I’m Jessie on a journey!

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