As one of the most iconic sites of New York City, we put walking across the Brooklyn Bridge at the top of our to-do list on our trip to NYC.
Driving in from upstate New York to the city with a vanful of kids meant that we were just a bit nervous about driving on city streets, and weren’t quite sure what we were getting ourselves into.
A bit of research about what to expect certainly made for an enjoyable and memorable afternoon spent walking across the Brooklyn Bridge and at Brooklyn Bridge Park.
I wanted to share a bit of what we learned for other families looking to experience this classic staple of New York City tourism.
Should I Start from Manhattan or Brooklyn?
The best way to see the Manhattan skyline as you walk across the Brooklyn Bridge is to start on the Brooklyn side of the bridge. This way you’ll be facing toward the Manhattan side, seeing all the iconic views in that direction.
If you plan to walk across the bridge and then turn around and walk back, it won’t matter as much which side you start on, as you’ll see the Manhattan views either coming or going.
However, if you’re planning to walk one way and then hop on the subway or take a water taxi or some other transport option, you’ll get better views if you start in Brooklyn and head across toward Manhattan.
If your location dictates one starting side over another, don’t think you’ll miss out on the experience. You’ll have 360 views of iconic sites everywhere you look.
How to Get to the Brooklyn Bridge
After you’ve decided which side of the bridge you want to start your walk on, you need to figure out how to get there.
Your options include taking the subway, or taking Uber, a taxi or personal car.
If you’re already in the city, the easiest way to get there is taking the subway.
Subway stops on the Brooklyn Side
To get to the Tillary Street pedestrian entrance (more on that below), use these subway stops:
- 2/3/4/5: Exit at Borough Hall. (The Clark Street stop is also nearby for the 2/3 trains.)
- A/C/F: Exit at Jay Street – MetroTech.
- N/R: Exit at Court Street.
To use the Prospect Street underpass and stairs entrance, use these subway stops:
- A/C/F: Exit at High Street – Brooklyn Bridge Station.
- 2/3: Exit at Clark Street. A bit farther, but still walkable.
Subway stops on the Manhattan Side
To get to the City Hall entrance to the pedestrian walkway, use these subway stops:
- 4/5/6: Exit at the Brooklyn Bridge – City Hall station. This is the closest station to the bridge.
- J/Z: Exit at Chamber Street.
- 2/3: Exit at Park Place.
- R: Exit at City Hall.
- A/C/F: Exit at Chambers Street.
If you’re taking a taxi or Uber, direct your driver to one of the intersections mentioned in the next section, wherever you have decided you’d like to start your walk. I recommend the Tillary Street – Brooklyn Bridge Blvd. entrance on the Brooklyn side.
If you’re driving into the city, like we did, and need to find a place to park your car, I recommend putting one of the nearby parking locations (recommendations listed below) into your GPS.
Alternatively, you can scout the roads for street parking once you get near your selected pedestrian pathway entrance. This may lead to cheaper parking, but will almost certainly take longer and include more stress, especially if you’re not used to NYC driving.
Where Do I Start to Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge?
Brooklyn Bridge Pedestrian Walkway Brooklyn Side
If you’re walking across the Brooklyn Bridge from the Brooklyn side, you can access the pedestrian path from two locations:
Tillary Street & Brooklyn Bridge Blvd. This is effectively the main entrance to the pedestrian path on the Brooklyn side.
Here at the intersection of Tillary Street and Brooklyn Bridge Blvd you will find the entrance to both the bike lanes and pedestrian path in the center of Brooklyn Bridge Blvd, between lanes of traffic.
Prospect Street & Cadman Plaza East. If you’re coming from the waterfront (Brooklyn Bridge Park, for instance), the nearest access to the pedestrian path is at the corner of Prospect Street and Cadman Plaza East (Washington Street).
Here you will see an underpass leading to a staircase that takes you up onto the Brooklyn Bridge pedestrian path.
Brooklyn Bridge Pedestrian Walkway Brooklyn Side
From the Manhattan side, you also have two options to access the pedestrian path:
Brooklyn Bridge Promenade on Centre Street. At the eastern end of the New York City Hall area, cross Centre Street and onto the promenade itself. From here just walk straight along the pathway and onto the bridge.
Park Row Underpass. Park Row is a street that heads under the Brooklyn Bridge promenade. To use this lesser known access, head down Park Row to a staircase entrance leading up onto the walkway.
Where Do You Park to Walk the Brooklyn Bridge? Is There Free Street Parking in Brooklyn?
You can always make the rounds on the city streets, whether in Manhattan or Brooklyn (Dumbo area) to search for street parking. If you have sharp eyes and a quick nerve, it’s certainly possible that you may find a parking spot.
Some of these street parking spots are free, while some may be metered. It all depends which streets and neighborhoods you are in. Most street parking in this part of Brooklyn is not reserved for residents, which means anyway is free to use parking spots they find on a first-come, first-served basis.
With street parking, however, be aware that parallel parking in NYC is much tighter and more aggressive than in many other places. You’ll see many cars with bumper covers to protect against scratches from other drivers who literally push their way into a tight parking spot.
To avoid the hassle of searching for a parking spot, save time, and possibly your bumpers from dings and dents, you can find garage parking in the vicinity.
Here are a few options that will provide parking relatively close to where you want to start your Brooklyn Bridge walk.
LAZ Parking: 304 Pearl St, New York, NY 10038
Quik Park Nassau LLC: 150 Nassau St, New York, NY 10038
Icon Parking: 243 Pearl St, New York, NY 10038
Icon Parking: 111 Lawrence St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Sands Parking LLC: 66 Sands St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
SP+ Parking: 200 Cadman Plaza W, Brooklyn, NY 11201
This is certainly not an exhaustive list of parking options, but represent a few great options. You can expect to pay in the range of $25 – $40 for 3 hours of parking.
We parked at LAZ Parking near the Brooklyn Bridge Park. While it was fine as a parking experience overall, it was a bit farther from the pedestrian walkway entrance, and was a bit pricier than others nearby.
When Is the Best Time to Walk the Brooklyn Bridge?
The best time of day to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to avoid crowds and get the best photos is early morning. Sunrise will give you that soft, flattering light that makes for great pictures without harsh lines and shadows.
Getting there by 9 or 10 a.m. at the latest will help you beat the crush of tourists and pedestrian commuters.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a magical experience and thrive on the energy that a crowd brings, you may find the best time of day for your walk to be around sunset. This will also provide ample opportunity for stunning sunset photos of the harbor and skyline.
Walking the Brooklyn Bridge at night is also a thrilling option, with the lights of the bridge itself and the entire city skyline offering an unforgettable view. Just be smart out in the city after dark, and don’t venture out on the bridge if no one else is about (past 11 p.m. or so).
The worst time of day to make your walk is mid-day, at least as far as pictures are concerned. In hot summer weather, the relentless sun on the shade-less bridge may also be a bit unbearable, although the constant breeze does help.
How Long Does It Take to Walk the Brooklyn Bridge?
It takes about 30 minutes to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge if you’re walking at a fast pace. But most tourists aren’t there for a powerwalk, and the crowds will often prevent that kind of speed anyway.
If you’re walking the bridge at a leisurely pace, stopping to admire views and take pictures, plan on the walk taking closer to 1 and a half hours, one way.
Doing the walk with kids will also demand a slower pace, but young kids can probably cross the bridge in an hour and half, even with lots of stops for water and snacks.
If you’re doing an out and back walk, plan on at least 2.5 hours to walk across and then back, with plenty of time for photo ops and breaks to admire views.
Is it Free to Walk the Brooklyn Bridge?
Yes, it is completely free to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. It is also free to bike across and even drive across.
That’s not to say that you won’t incur some costs as you set out to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, however.
If you take the subway from your home or hotel, you’ll have the cost of subway fare, minimal though it is, to factor in.
If you’re driving into the city, you’ll have to find a place to park, which almost always comes with a hefty fee in most of either Brooklyn or Manhattan.
But aside from the associated transportation costs, it won’t cost you anything to actually walk across the bridge.
It’s also nice to know that it’s free to visit Brooklyn Bridge Park, right on the water at the foot of the bridge. The park provides excellent views of both the bridge and the Manhattan skyline across the river. You can even catch pretty good views of Lady Liberty out in the harbor.
Tips for Taking Photos on the Brooklyn Bridge
The shot that everyone wants to get on the Brooklyn Bridge is a shot with no other tourists in it. If this is your goal, there are a few ways to try to accomplish it.
- Go early. Aim for a sunrise walk when there will be far fewer people afoot.
- Go in bad weather. When it’s rainy or cold, fewer tourists will venture out on the bridge, so you’ll have a better chance of capturing that shot with no one else in it. Stormy weather also makes for more dramatic pictures, which is an extra plus.
- Be patient. Even if there seems to be a steady stream of foot traffic in both directions, if you line up the shot you want and wait for a few minutes, you might be lucky enough to catch a gap to snap that shot before the crowd streams through again.
Other general tips to keep in mind:
- Be aware of other pedestrians and tourists. Treat others as you want to be treated.
- Early morning and late afternoon light make for the best pictures. At midday, you’ll be fighting against blown-out color and harsh lines and shadows.
- Stand in the middle of the walkway to get symmetry with the bridge lines. Just be mindful of others as you do this.
Tips for Walking the Brooklyn Bridge with Kids
The Brooklyn Bridge is a safe and fun walk with kids. The rails are high enough to prevent falls, and the walkway is easy to traverse. They will be delighted with the views and the people-watching opportunities.
To make this as fun and smooth a family experience as possible, keep these tips in mind:
- Make sure the kids are wearing comfortable shoes. They’ll be much happier taking a long walk if they’re not getting blisters.
- Keep everyone hydrated. Bring plenty of water with you, and take frequent water breaks.
- Bring snacks. Snacks are always a good motivator and keep everyone in good humor.
- Consider bringing a stroller or a backpack carrier for younger kids. A stroller is useful as a stuff carrier and is less of a physical strain on the parents, but it can be cumbersome to navigate through a crowd. A compact-style stroller is definitely preferable. A backpack is easier to navigate with but can get tiring to carry for a long walk. Either one is useful to contain a toddler.
- If the kids are getting tired or bored, set mini-goals for them or point out and explain landmarks that they are seeing. Play “I Spy.” If necessary, resort to rewards such as an ice cream treat when the walk is finished.
- Compromise if necessary. If the walk proves to be too much, it’s not a defeat to turn around before you’ve finished. Everyone has still had the awesome experience of being on the Brooklyn Bridge and seeing the breathtaking views. Cut your losses and keep the peace.
What to Wear for a Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is not a strenuous hike, as hikes go. There is a slight incline as you walk toward the center of the bridge and a slight decline as you reach the far end (whichever way you’re headed.
However, it’s not exactly a short walk. The length of the pedestrian walkway is about 1.3 miles, and the walking surface is wooden floorboards with small slits between. This being the case, you should definitely make sure you are wearing comfortable footwear in all seasons.
I highly recommend sneakers for the spring, summer, and fall, and comfortable snowboots for the winter. Even if you’re not trudging through snow, you’ll enjoy the views much more with warm toes.
If you’re planning your walk across the Brooklyn Bridge for peak summer weather, plan to wear clothes that are comfortable for walking – breathable and non-constricting.
There’s not much shade to speak of on the length of the bridge, so also bear that in mind. Wear a sun hat and sunglasses, and sun-protective clothing.
For a Brooklyn Bridge walk in the spring or fall, plan on the wind up on the bridge bringing the air temperature down at least 10 degrees. It’s almost always windy up there, so a windbreaker will be a welcome asset on chilly days.
Even if it’s not hot, the sun can still be merciless even on cloudy days, so still keep in mind sun protection such as hats and sunscreen.
New York City doesn’t typically get a ton of snow (at least, as much as other parts of New York State). But that doesn’t mean it escapes the frigid, icy temps of winter.
For a walk across the bridge during the winter months, plan to wear a warm winter coat, hat, gloves and warm boots that will give you grip on possible icy patches.
What to Bring With You
For a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, you don’t need a lot of special gear. But a few items will make sure you enjoy the experience as much as possible, and remember it for years to come.
- Camera – The views are spectacular, and you’re going to want to remember the experience, so don’t leave your camera at home.
- Water – Especially in hot weather, some water will be welcome during your walk. There are often vendors on the bridge selling bottled water, but just to be sure, bring your own along.
- Sunscreen – If you’re out on a midday walk, the souvenir you don’t want to come home with is a sunburn.
- Patience – This is one of the most popular and iconic tourist destinations in NYC, so plan on walking the bridge with several hundred other people. Be prepared to deal with the crowds with patience and humor for a better experience all around.
Can You Bike the Brooklyn Bridge?
Yes, you can bike across the Brooklyn Bridge. Until recently (2021), the pedestrian walkway shared space with a bike lane across the bridge.
To relieve congestion and possible dangerous collision situations with pedestrians, the bike lanes were moved below to the lower deck. This makes for a much pleasanter and less anxiety-producing walk for tourists, but the bikers now don’t get the spectacular view of the city or the bridge. If you’re looking for the views, take the pedestrian walkway on foot.
However, if you’re looking for a quick way to traverse the river by bicycle, the Brooklyn Bridge remains a great option.
You can access the bike lanes from the Brooklyn side of the bridge at the same location as the pedestrian path, at the intersection of Tillary St. and Boerum Pl. (Brooklyn Bridge Blvd.).
On the Manhattan side, you can access the bike lanes from
Other Things to Know About Walking the Brooklyn Bridge
- Don’t leave a lock on the bridge. You may see some left there by others, but if you are caught leaving a lock, you may be fined $100.
- There are no restrooms on the bridge. Public restrooms are a bit sketchy in the environs, so I suggest buying a coffee or an ice cream and using the restaurant facilities if needed before or after.
- Climbing on the structure is strictly prohibited. Be smart and be safe.
- Bring an extra layer. Even in summer, it may be breezy and cooler way up there in the air.
- Vendors may be around on the bridge selling water, fruit drinks, photo ops or other souvenirs. Expect to pay cash only.