There are so many wonderful things to do in Bed-Stuy, perhaps the coolest neighborhood in Brooklyn (I may be biased, as this is where I live)!

Bedford-Stuyvesant (or Bed Stuy) is aptly named after two communities, Bedford and Stuyvesant Heights, which joined to form one Brooklyn neighborhood in the late 90s. 

The neighborhood was once a Dutch farming town before being invaded by British troops during the Revolutionary War in the late 1700s. By the late 1800s, elevated railways and the Brooklyn Bridge stimulated greater migration into Brooklyn neighborhoods, attracting middle- and upper-class residents and resulting in numerous historical brownstones that line Bed Stuy’s streets. 

In 1936, the subway opened and allowed the migration of African-Americans and Afro-Caribbeans into the community. By 1940, there were 65,000 Black residents, and by the late 20th century, Bed Stuy was the largest black neighborhood in New York City. 

Today, Brooklyn grapples with rapid gentrification as an alternative to Manhattan’s oversaturated housing market. Renewed interest in Bed Stuy stems from this. Still, a palpable black and brown cultural identity here makes this beautiful neighborhood feel truly special. I’m excited for you to witness that for yourself.

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Things to Know Before Visiting Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn

Where is Bed-Stuy Located?

Bed Stuy is a neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York City. It’s located in the northern part of Brooklyn, surrounded by the neighborhoods of Clinton Hill, Crown Heights, Williamsburg, and Bushwick. Bed Stuy is well-connected to other areas of Brooklyn and the city, which makes it a convenient base for exploring different attractions and experiences around Brooklyn.

Getting to Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn

Getting to Bed Stuy is convenient with various transportation options: 

By Train: The A/C (Franklin Avenue and Nostrand Avenue stops), J/Z (along Broadway Avenue), and G subway lines serve Bed Stuy. You can hop on these trains to reach different parts of the neighborhood. Check the subway schedule or use a navigation app to be informed of updated routes. 

By Bike: If you prefer biking, you can easily rent a Citibike and follow Google Maps for directions to Bed Stuy. Bed Stuy is just underneath Williamsburg, one of Brooklyn’s most popular neighborhoods for newcomers. The neighborhood has bike lanes and is bike-friendly.

By Car: Bed Stuy has relatively easy parking options. You can park your car on the streets, where you’ll find parking meters on major roads. However, during the day, it’s usually possible to find free street parking. Just make sure to check the parking signs for any restrictions on specific days or times.

Is Bed-Stuy Safe?

Bed Stuy is very safe! Bed Stuy has had a troubled past and there continues to be a negative portrayal of Bed-Stuy that persists even today. In my five years living in this neighborhood, I have had no personal or witnessed safety concerns during the day or night. As with any new place that you visit, be sure to remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings. But also, be at ease knowing that your perspective on Bed Stuy will transform after experiencing this awesome neighborhood.

Notable Facts about Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn

Black Community in Bed-Stuy

There are an estimated 200,000 residents living in Bed Stuy, and around 50% identify as Black. Go for a stroll and notice the beautiful diversity and endless selection of black-owned businesses, some of which will be highlighted below.

Bed-Stuy Brownstones

Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn has the highest number of brownstone buildings compared to any other neighborhood in the borough. These elegant rowhouses, typically made of brown sandstone, are a defining feature of Brooklyn’s architecture. They contribute to Bed-Stuy’s unique character and historic charm. Architecture buff or not, get ready to fall in love with these homes!

Bed-Stuy Celebrities

Jackie Robinson: The legendary baseball player Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball, lived in Bed-Stuy. His longtime home was located in the neighborhood before it was sold in 2016.

Spike Lee: Acclaimed filmmaker Spike Lee has a strong connection to Bed-Stuy, though he does not live there. His influential film “Do the Right Thing” (1989) was set in the neighborhood and explored racial tensions in a Brooklyn community during a hot summer day.

Lil’ Kim: The acclaimed rapper was born in Bedford-Stuyvesant, where she grew up and crossed paths with Notorious BIG, Foxy Brown, and Nas. 

Notorious B.I.G.: While the late rapper Notorious B.I.G. (also known as Christopher Wallace or Biggie Smalls) is often associated with Bed-Stuy, his childhood home is technically located in the neighboring hood of Clinton Hill. Nevertheless, Bed-Stuy played a significant role in shaping his musical career, and he often repped the neighborhood in his songs.

Mike Tyson: The former undisputed heavyweight boxing champion, though not originally from Bed-Stuy, called it home and had a significant impact on the neighborhood’s reputation due to his boxing career.

Jay-Z: While not specifically from Bed-Stuy, hip-hop superstar Jay-Z proudly represented his Brooklyn roots and often mentioned the neighborhood in his music, showcasing its influence on his life and career.

Best Things to Do in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn

1. Discover the Best Coffee Shops

One of the very best things to do in Bed-Stuy is to visit one of the many cool coffee shops in the neighborhood. Who doesn’t want to start their day off with a delicious pastry and/or a solid cup of coffee?

Stonefruit: This is a great coffee shop for delicious caffeinated beverages, breakfast items, and a great coworking space. They also have a plant and flower shop in the back where you can pick up a beautiful bouquet for your loved one. 

Corto: This is a nice option if you want tasty food and a place to rest after a long walk around Bed-Stuy. It’s one of the best spots for delicious focaccia sandwiches and espresso drinks that you likely have not heard of. I tried the marochinno drink, which is an espresso with cocoa powder and milk foam – yum!

Playground Coffee Shop: An ultra-hip cafe and community space.  It’s a popular spot for freelancers during weekdays and hosts events like poetry readings and tag sales. It is attached to Playground Annex, a bookstore that highlights the literary works of black, brown, queer people.  And of course, the coffee is fantastic!

2. Indulge in Delicious Food

Tree-lined street with Brownstones, one of many great things to do in Bed-Stuy

Bed Stuy has a terrific array of food with so many different cuisines and price points to choose from. 

Grab a bacon-egg-cheese sesame bagel from Greenberg’s Bagels or order a slice at Valentine’s Pizza. Both establishments neighbor each other and offer outdoor seating year-round. 

Places like Pilar, Saraghina, and Peaches Hot House have been open for years and offer amazing reasonably-priced brunch, lunch, and dinner, solid drinks, and great outdoor options.

If you are planning far ahead, try to snag a reservation at the Dept of Culture, an amazing pre-fixe dining option that has skyrocketed in popularity. There is limited seating around a large dining table. The chef and owner offer you the background story of each dish as it is served.

Try a beef patty! Bed Stuy is a big Caribbean hub and rightly has some of the best Caribbean food that you can try. Go to a Jamaican shop like Pattie Hut & Grill and try out a traditional beef patty. Alternatively, they have chicken, fish, and veggie options.

3. Enjoy Unique Shopping Experiences

Bed Stuy is also home to some of the best shops and small businesses around Brooklyn. From vintage clothing to antique furniture, Bed Stuy certainly offers a cool unique shopping experience.

Peace & Riot: Owned by an interior designer, the Bed-Stuy boutique has everything you need to improve your home. You’ll find a captivating collection of unique items from art prints, fashionable accessories, handcrafted jewelry, stylish home goods, and thoughtful gifts.

SEED Brklyn: Not just a typical concept store—it’s a lively community space that combines fashion, art, and more! Peruse through curated fashion and accessories, admire digital artworks, and visit their bustling coffee shop inside.

Harold and Maude Vintage: Offers unique vintage pieces. Explore their collection of clothing and accessories to discover one-of-a-kind items.

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4. Join a Dance Class at Cumbe

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Cumbe is a dance studio in Bed Stuy, within the Restoration Plaza, with class offerings of various African and diaspora influenced dance styles – Samba, Sabar, West African, Afrobeats, and more.

Experience the rhythms and storytelling embedded in the movements, connecting to the African heritage that has transcended time and space. Through these classes, participants can better understand the diverse dance styles. The experienced instructors at Cumbe guide students in mastering the intricate steps, footwork, and body isolations, enhancing both their technical skills and cultural awareness

Whether one is a beginner or an experienced dancer, Cumbe welcomes all with open arms, fostering a sense of community and unity among individuals passionate about embracing the rich tapestry of African diaspora dance and culture. There are several class offerings every day. Learn more HERE.

The Richard Beavers Gallery in Bed Stuy is a vibrant and unique art space located in the heart of Brooklyn, New York. Founded by artist Richard Beavers, the gallery has become a staple in the Brooklyn community as well as beyond. 

The gallery features a curated selection of artwork from local and international artists, including paintings, sculptures, photography, and more. The gallery’s mission is to showcase work that reflects Bed-Stuy’s cultural richness.

It is also dedicated to creating a platform for dialogue about contemporary society and activism through art. Since its opening in 2015, Richard Beavers Gallery has hosted numerous exhibitions featuring thought-provoking artwork from both established and emerging artists, with each exhibition offering something different for visitors to experience. 

Richard Beavers Gallery provides a safe space for people from all walks of life to come together in conversation about art, culture, and politics. Check out the website HERE!

6. Swing By Tompkin’s Open Streets in Summer

One of the best things to do in Bed-Stuy in the Summer is visiting Tompkin’s Open Streets on Tompkins Avenue. 

Most Sundays, streets are closed off for street parties, events, and markets. It is a family-oriented affair that brings the community together. It includes vendors selling food and unique trinkets and several DJs playing music on a makeshift dancefloor. You are guaranteed to have a great time.

The Open Street events occur between June and October, from 12 pm to 6 pm EST. Each Sunday is themed, and you can find out more information on their Instagram page HERE!

7. Explore Herbert Von King Park

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Herbert Von King Park in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn is a cultural and recreational hub for the community. The 8-acre scenic park features a variety of amenities for locals to enjoy, including an amphitheater, a playground, and a dog run. 

During the summer months, Herbert Von King Park hosts various events such as concerts, film screenings and other activities. The park is also home to several local organizations that provide educational programming for youth and adults alike. With its vibrant atmosphere and wide range of activities available, Herbert Von King Park in Bed Stuy is an ideal destination for those looking to find respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

8. Listen to Live Music

In Bed Stuy, you have several places to go for live music. 

Drop by LunAtico, a live jazz music bar with limited food items that will have nightly performances. It’s a small intimate space that always fills up, and it’s walk-in only, so be sure to get there a bit early for the best seating.

The entrance of Lunatico. One of the best bars in Bed Stuy, and one of many things to do in Bed-Stuy for great jazz.

Brownstone Jazz offers a unique opportunity to hear live jazz in the music parlor of a historical brownstone. This is a very intimate musical experience that you certainly won’t forget. Be sure to book in advance here: 

Psst! They have a dress code and do ask that you not wear t-shirts, tank tops, or athletic clothing. I do not know how strict they are so good luck!

9. Attend the Tiny Cupboard Comedy Show

Catch a comedy show in the smallest place you’ve ever watched a comedy show (thus the name of the venue). Bear in mind – this is technicallyyyyy Bushwick, but I am claiming it as it is just a few steps beyond our neighborly boundary.

The comedians range in experience, mainly depending on the day of the week. I’ve been when the place was packed, and also when there were four other attendees, and both times were equally fun. 

Want to be funny? They offer stand-up comedy classes. Feeling funny? They also have open-mic events. Just want to have a good laugh? For around $15-20 bucks, you can do just that most days of the week. 

Check their website for more details!

10. Go for a Pottery Class at ArtShack Brooklyn

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Clay wheel classes can be a lot of fun, as they allow you to express your creativity and explore new forms of artistic expression. The classes provide an opportunity to get your hands dirty and create something tangible, which can be very satisfying.

ArtShack offers a number of regular classes for clay-wheelers of all levels, and it also hosts several one-off introductory classes that you can do solo or as a pair on Date Nights. These introductory classes are typically held on the weekend. 

Whether you’re starting from scratch or looking to refine your existing skills, clay wheel classes can be an enjoyable experience! Check out their page for more details.

11. Get a Massage at Life Wellness Center

Need a little pampering? You can head to Life Wellness Center and relax in this black-owned space that offers traditional massages as well as reiki and acupuncture. The place provides a relaxing atmosphere, and they have very accommodating practitioners to help you rejuvenate. 

12. Attend a Yoga Session

There are many places to do Yoga in the neighborhood. I recommend that you check out Sevaa, a newer black-owned yoga studio offering multiple classes in a day. Just make sure to book ahead of time as they do not accept walk-ins.

13. Explore the Bed-Stuy Museum of African Art

The Bed Stuy Museum of African Art may be easily missed as you walk by, but it’s truly a hidden gem. This small yet remarkable museum showcases a captivating collection of African art. 

Don’t let its size deceive you – inside, you’ll discover a treasure trove of artistic expression that will leave you in amazed. Take the time to explore the beauty and cultural significance of African art.

14. Check out Bed-Stuy’s Beautiful Brownstones 

As mentioned earlier, there are no shortage of brownstones in Bed Stuy. In fact, this neighborhood touts havings the most brownstones out of all neighborhoods in Brooklyn. 

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Must-see homes include the Akwaaba Mansion, a grand Victorian brownstone that has been converted into a luxurious bed and breakfast. Check out the Bedford Historic District, a designated historic district that showcases a variety of exquisite brownstones with distinct architectural styles. Stuyvesant Historic District is another notable area, known for its elegant brownstones and rich history.

Walking through these charming tree-lined streets feels like stepping back in time, as each brownstone tells a story of the neighborhood’s past. The brownstones in Bed-Stuy are not only aesthetically pleasing, but they also serve as a reminder of the rich cultural heritage and architectural beauty that this neighborhood has to offer. 

15. Pose Before the Notorious B.I.G. Wall Art

Don’t miss the iconic Notorious B.I.G. landmark mural in Bed-Stuy. This remarkable artwork pays tribute to the legendary rapper, Biggie Smalls. Take a moment to admire this larger-than-life mural and appreciate its significance in celebrating the neighborhood’s cultural heritage. It’s a must-see for any visitor exploring the vibrant streets of Bed-Stuy.

16. Grab a Drink at Some of Bed-Stuy’s Coolest Bars 

If you want to drink (including great non-alcoholic options), Bed Stuy has many places to choose from. 

Dynaco: This local favorite bar, on the corner of Bedford Avenue and Quincy Street, is the coolest in Bed Stuy. It is dimly lit with a fireplace that they set up during the wintertime. The bartenders are all wonderful and know how to make a great cocktail. Try the Sazerac when you go.

Do or Dive: The most charming dive bar around. They open at noon and tend to be brimming with people at night. The music and ambience are amazing. They have a good array of beers, cocktails, and wine.

Outside of Do or Dive, one of the best bars in Bed Stuy, and also one of my favorite things to do in Bed-Stuy with visitors.

Bed-Vyne Brew: This black-owned bar offers great beer right along Tompkins Street, and is close to many other food establishments. This is the best place to grab a beer and have some jerk chicken from the outdoors.

Show your support and visit LAND, a day rehabilitation center that provides a platform for artists with developmental disabilities to create and showcase their artwork. 

At LAND, these talented individuals express their creativity and share their unique perspectives through various forms of art. 

By visiting the gallery, you not only appreciate their remarkable creations but also contribute to the empowerment and inclusion of these artists within the artistic community.

Final Thoughts about Best Things to Do in Bed-Stuy

We’ve explored some of the best things to do in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, but there’s always more to discover. Enjoy your time in the coolest neighborhood in Brooklyn!

FAQs: Best Things to Do in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn

What is unique about Bed-Stuy?

What sets Bed-Stuy apart is its authentic charm and a strong sense of community. It boasts a thriving arts scene, with galleries showcasing local talent and live performances that celebrate various art forms. Additionally, Bed-Stuy’s historic significance, cultural diversity, and architectural beauty contribute to its unique character.

Is Bed-Stuy gentrified?

Bed-Stuy has experienced some level of gentrification, with changes in businesses, restaurants, and renovated brownstones. The extent and impact of gentrification can vary across different areas of the neighborhood.

Is Bed-Stuy a cool neighborhood?

Bed-Stuy shares a cool and hip vibe. Its streets are filled with colorful street art, trendy coffee shops, stylish boutiques, and numerous dining options.

Is Bed-Stuy safe?

Bed-Stuy has made significant progress in terms of safety in recent years. Crime rates have decreased significantly, but you should always be mindful of your surroundings wherever you are! Many residents find Bed-Stuy to be a welcoming and safe place to live.

Can you walk around Brooklyn at night?

Brooklyn, including Bed-Stuy, offers a lively nightlife and is safe to walk around at night. When you’re not feeling safe, always be sure to stick to well-lit and populated areas and avoid isolated streets. That should not be a problem as it’s rare for you to find yourself alone on any Brooklyn street.

How do you pronounce Bedford-Stuyvesant?

The neighborhood’s name is pronounced, “Bed-Sty.” Bed Stuy is a short form of Bedford-Stuyvesant, derived from two names: Bedford, a former village in Brooklyn, and Peter Stuyvesant, the last Dutch director-general of New Netherland. 

Is Bed-Stuy safer than Bushwick?

Both Bed-Stuy and Bushwick have experienced positive changes regarding safety in recent years. While crime rates can vary between specific areas, it’s advisable to research the current safety conditions and be cautious.

Is Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn a good place to live?

Bed-Stuy offers a unique and vibrant living experience. With its rich history, diverse community, and abundance of cultural offerings, many residents find it to be an excellent place to call home. However, personal preferences and circumstances change, so it’s always recommended to explore the neighborhood before making a decision.

What is Bed-Stuy famous for?

Bed-Stuy is known for its historic brownstone architecture, cultural diversity, and contributions to music and arts.

Is Bed-Stuy expensive?

While it’s more affordable than some other Brooklyn neighborhoods, Bed-Stuy has experienced gentrification, which has led to increased prices and crazy rental rates.

What is living in Bed-Stuy like?

Living in Bedford-Stuyvesant provides an urban feel. You’ll find plenty of bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and parks within a comfortable walking distance.

17 Best Things to Do in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn (2023)

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