Bed-Stuy’s 18 Coolest Spots & Things to Do (by a Local)

A woman standing outside a Bed-Stuy NYC garden cafe decorated with plants and signs.

Welcome to one of Brooklyn’s greatest neighborhoods: Bedford–Stuyvesant (aka Bed-Stuy), where brownstone and tree-lined streets meet powerful history, black pride, and culture. We’ll explore the hidden gem spots and activities, from jazz venues to art clubs and beyond. As a local New Yorker, here are the coolest things to do in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn!

I. What Makes Bed-Stuy So Special?

Bedford-Stuyvesant (Bed-Stuy) is a cornerstone of Black American cultural heritage in New York City, rivaling Harlem in its contribution to the cultural renaissance across the city. This neighborhood has been the cradle for icons in music, literature, and activism. Jazz legends like Miles Davis, hip-hop pioneers Biggie Smalls and Jay-Z, and trailblazers like Lena Horne have all contributed to Bed-Stuy’s rich cultural fabric. These figures, alongside community institutions and local businesses, have fostered a strong sense of identity and unity within Bed-Stuy. 

Despite gentrification and socioeconomic shifts, Bed-Stuy’s community spirit endures. The neighborhood actively preserves its unique identity and celebrates its contributions to American culture. The neighborhood’s legacy is visible in its vibrant cultural events, community centers, and public art, including murals of Biggie Smalls that symbolize Bed-Stuy’s pride in its heritage. 

Tompkins Avenue (one of my favorite streets in Brooklyn) illustrates the neighborhood’s vitality, with its eclectic mix of Black-owned shops, restaurants, and brownstones. 

II. Best Things to Do in Bed-Stuy

1. Brownstone Jazz ★

Located inside a traditional brownstone, Brownstone Jazz is a Black family-owned jazz bar (and bed and breakfast) that keeps historic jazz alive with intimate performances in their living room. They also share the history of jazz in Bed-Suy, their connection to prominent figures, and information about the songs they perform. Come here to reconnect with Bed Stuy’s rich roots in jazz. It’s also BYOB here.

Bonus: Some of the musicians used to work with jazz icons, such as Lena Horne, and share some of their first-hand stories about her! 

2. Artshack Brooklyn ★

This non-profit ceramic studio provides pottery enthusiasts with classes and workshops regardless of age and ability! Not only are these free for low-income individuals, but they also offer scholarships to kids and host free community days for locals. What struck me about this wonderful place is the positive, warm energy from everyone, which is what you would need to further your skill! To know more about Artshack Brooklyn, see their displays at their show and attend their events. 

Artshack also has a cafe, which serves food and drinks on ceramics made in house. True to their commitment to fight racism, the cafe has an anti-racism library!

3. Lunatico ★

Run by a musician trio with a passion for good music, food, and drinks, Lunatico is home to amazing jazz performances, creative cocktails, delicious Mediterranean and South American plates, and cozy interiors. Their two-set performances vary nightly from jazz, modern Dominican music, and beyond! Before visiting, make sure to check their calendar and get there early! Lunatico also welcomes donations from visitors to help musicians keep doing what they love!

4. Cafe Erzulie’s Garden for Live Music ★

On the border of Bushwick and Bed-Stuy sits this Haitian-American cafe-restaurant that’s hidden behind a flower shop. In the evenings Cafe Erzulie crafts cocktails and hosts jazz nights on Wednesdays and Thursdays at their covered backyard garden. By the end of the week, it becomes a nightclub and events space visited by the Black queer scene! They also open private cabanas for bottle service!

5. SEED Brklyn  ★

SEED Brklyn is more than just a Black-owned clothing store, but an intersection of fashion, art, culture, and coffee. Enter the place and you’ll be greeted by awesome music and a greenhouse cafe surrounded by vibrant light and art installations. Walk a few more steps to the shop with a well-curated collection of clothing, footwear, accessories, home decor, art books, and collectibles, mostly by Black and independent designers. They also host digital art and events at their gallery, The Oasis.

6. Visit the Coolest Bookstores in Bed-Stuy

Bed-Stuy is also a neighborhood that does not forget readers in the neighborhood. Check out these bookshops that don’t only sell books, but exist for something more than reading and literacy! 

  • Dear Friend Books: This woman-owned, independent bookstore-bar is a great place to browse vintage and artsy books and vinyl records while enjoying tea, kombucha, wine, or beer either in its wood-furnished interiors and serene patio. They also host a range of events including writing workshops and exhibits, making it one of the best bookstores in New York City!
  • The Word is Change: This neighborhood bookstore offers a nice selection of new books and buys and sells old ones. They also host a variety of gatherings that range from book club, book talks, poetry nights, and events centered around marginalized groups. Their space is wheelchair-accessible!
  • Adanne Bookstore: This Bed-Stuy bookshop, owned by a Black woman educator, offers an inclusive space where readers access titles penned by authors of color. Aside from facilitating a book club, they also host various events, including art and educational workshops. A part of this bookshop is undergoing renovations to allocate more space for reading, fostering a community where knowledge and various perspectives are shared. 

7. All Night Skate (Best Friends Bar)

Don’t be deceived – there is no skating rink here! Kidding aside, adored with retro decor, arcade games, and throwback music, All Night Skate pays homage to the overnight skating party experience, making it a great place if you’re feeling nostalgic but want to have fun! They serve fantastic drinks as well as Mr. Tacos’s Mexican food

Tip: If you come in your skates, they’ll give you a special price on their drinks!

8. Art Galleries

The art galleries in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, NY, showcase a diverse range of contemporary works, reflecting the vibrant cultural fabric and creative spirit of the neighborhood. Here are some of the best Black-owned art galleries in the neighborhood:

  • Welancora Art Gallery: Founded by a Black woman, this Brooklyn art gallery provides a platform for Black artists, offering engaging exhibitions that explore diverse perspectives and contribute to the cultural vibrancy of the community.
  • Richard Beavers Gallery: Featuring contemporary works by famous and unknown artists from NYC and around the world, this NYC art gallery shares details of these artworks in depth. They also have a location in SoHo!
  • The Bishop Gallery: True to their motto, “keeping the art world in check,” this contemporary art gallery serves as a safe space where everyone is welcomed to view art or display their own regardless of social status.

9. Herbert Von King Park 

This Brooklyn park is more than an average green space. Herbert Von King Park is a community-oriented space that hosts lots of free events, including spring scavenger hunts for kids, urban gardening programs, and live music at its open theater. It has picnic tables, a basketball court, a baseball field, and an outdoor gym. Kid- and dog-friendly, it has multiple playgrounds and a dog park! Plus, it’s accessible to Citi Bikes!

10. Life Wellness Center

If you think you need to slow down, pay a visit to this Black-owned wellness center where you can get an excellent massage. Their thoughtful and skilled team also offer other services such as acupuncture, chiropractic, and reiki healing. Don’t forget to stop by their shop, where you can browse some scented items, nourishing products, and handcrafted cultural creations. Life Wellness Center also has a garden house where they hold a variety of events and display the apparel and plants they offer.

11. Community Gardens and Plant Nurseries

Check out these community gardens where you can cultivate new passions beyond growing produce!

  • Green Acres Community Garden: This non-profit, volunteer-run urban farm is a space where members grow fruits, teas, and bushes and tend to livestock. Aside from their community nutrition education initiative, what I love the most about Green Acres are their educational projects and social events that range from queer gardening programs and plant dye workshops!
  • Hattie Carthan Community Garden: An advocate for food justice and access to fresh, nutritious food, this people of color-led farm is an inclusive space where people can grow food. Not only do they have community farmers markets from July to November Saturdays on Clifton Place and Sundays at 19 Burden Street) They receive donations that support livestock and volunteers!
  • Seasons: This black-family-owned, woman-led plant nursery, garden, and community center is a place where you can get beautiful house plants and credible plant care advice. They hosts workshops, too!

12. Shopping at Local Small Business

Bed-Stuy is bursting with small businesses, most of which are Black-owned. Here are some BIPOC-owned places that that you might want to see and support:

  • BGLH Marketplace: This Black woman-owned shop offers a diverse range of all-natural hair and skincare products, catering to the beauty needs of the community.
  • peace & RIOT: Co-owned by a Black woman, this shop provides the neighborhood cute home decor and gift items that answer to the eclectic taste of the neighborhood!
  • The Narativ House: This Black-woman owned offers stylish yet sustainable clothing, jewelry, and items that you didn’t know you needed! They also have an in-house cafe!
  • Make Manifest BK: This Black-owned shop is more than a store, but also a creative space and a community hub, providing a welcoming environment for locals to connect and collaborate.
  • Natty Garden II: This thriving Jamaican-owned plant nursery offers a wide variety of indoor and outdoor plants, fostering a green oasis within the urban landscape.
  • Savant Studios: This Black-owned clothing store offers stylish pieces heavily inspired by the community!
  • Moshood Creations: This long-established Nigerian-owned clothing shop is home to fashion-forward works of art that blends African and Western influence styles.

13. Yoga at Jane Bailey Memorial Garden

A part of the New York Restoration Project, this neighborhood garden is more than a green and event space for senior gardeners. Jane Bailey Memorial Garden is also a community space where you can do yoga as well as hold movie nights, writer’s talks, and jazz nights! They also offer membership, which allows you to have a garden plot and use their spaces and amenities!

The image above shows a community yoga class taught by @parvati_slice.

14. C’mon Everybody (Queer/Gay Bar) 

This queer-owned-and-run bar is known for its lively atmosphere and diverse lineup of events, including live music performances, DJ sets, drag performances, ensuring there’s something for everyone to enjoy. C’mon Everybody’s inclusive ethos fosters a welcoming space where people can dance, socialize, and have a great time. Additionally, their cozy bar serves up delicious cocktails and snacks, perfect for unwinding and making lasting memories with friends!

III. Best Bed-Stuy Restaurants  

After a stroll through the neighborhood, indulge yourself with a culinary journey through the best Bed-Stuy restaurants, where diverse flavors, innovative dishes, and welcoming atmospheres intersect!

  • The Fly: This Bed-Stuy restaurant offers a cozy and laid-back atmosphere where patrons can enjoy delicious wines and the best rotisserie chicken!
  • Saraghina Bed-Stuy: This pizzeria is renowned for its authentic Neapolitan-style pizzas, cooked to perfection in a wood-fired oven and served alongside a menu of classic Italian dishes.
  • Winona’s: This chic, stylish restaurant is known for its seasonal modern American cuisine and innovative flavor combinations, making it a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
  • Trad Room ★: This restaurant combines a gorgeous interior, speakeasy ambiance, and a diverse menu of Japanese-inspired specialities and a range of fantastic drinks.
  • Warude: If you’re craving for both Japanese and Mexican food, this is a 2-in-1 spot where you can get authentic Japanese bowls and amazing tacos!
  • Dept of Culture: This restaurant boasts evenings of impressive, authentic 4-course Nigerian meals and conversations. Reservations are required and bring your own bottle!

IV. Desserts & Sweets in Bed-Stuy 

Treat your sweet tooth from Bed-Stuy’s local bakeries, dessert cafes, and sweet shops that offer amazing treats that will surely satisfy your taste buds.

  • Fan Fan Doughnuts: This donut shop makes small batches of beautifully crafted, delicious artisanal donuts, making sure each piece is a delight to have! The place doesn’t have seats so you have to get these donuts to-go.
  • Caroline’s Donuts: This place offers a delectable array of classic and specialty donuts, freshly made to perfection, ensuring a satisfying treat for every palate. Even if you’re not a fan of donuts, you will love theirs!
  • Ice Cream House Bedford Avenue: Besides yummy kosher ice cream for your NYC August summers, this shop also serves bagels and salads!
  • Clementine’s Bakery: This all-vegan cafe is a gem for people who prefer plant-based desserts. Clementine is a heaven of vegan and organic pastry and to-go meals!
  • Brooklyn Kolache: This cafe brings a taste of Texas to Brooklyn with its authentic, sweet and savory kolaches, which you can enjoy in their indoor space or their nice backyard.

V. Best Cafes & Tea Spots in Bed-Stuy  

Discover the inviting charm and diverse flavors of Bed-Stuy’s café and tea scene, where cozy spaces, artisanal brews, and community vibes converge to create memorable moments for coffee and tea enthusiasts! Some of these are amazing places for brunch in Bed-Stuy!

  • Secret Garden: This Black-owned juice bar and tea house is a refreshing escape with its nourishing drinks in a serene garden-inspired setting. They also offer vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, and raw eats.
  • Stonefruit Espresso + Kitchen: This cozy, woman-owned neighborhood spot is known for its expertly crafted espresso drinks, farm-to-table meals, and warm, inviting atmosphere. It’s partly a plant and flower shop! They open at 7:30 on weekdays, making it a great spot for breakfast in Bed Stuy.
  • Passionfruit Coffee: This coffee shop in Bed-Stuy delights visitors with delicious coffee and pastry. Their lattes are a must-try!
  • Chez Alex: This bakery cafe indulges diners with amazing coffee, sandwiches, and pastries – with lots of vegan options!
  • Brooklyn Tea: This Black couple-owned tea haven offers a curated selection of premium loose-leaf teas from around the globe, as well as expertly brewed cups served in a cozy and welcoming environment.
  • Milk & Pull Bed-Stuy: This Black-owned neighborhood cafe provides a very cozy yet lively, plant-filled space where you can enjoy coffee, specialty sandwiches, and some sunshine!

VI. Best Places to Stay in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York

Discover the perfect blend of comfort and local charm of the best places to stay in Bed-Stuy and surrounding areas, ranging from lovely apartments to impressive boutique hotels.

  • Ace Hotel: Located in Downtown Brooklyn, only 15 minutes from Bed-Stuy, this hotel blends modern luxury with artistic flair. It offers stylish accommodations and a cool, lively vibe that reflects the dynamic spirit of the surrounding neighborhood.
  • Apartment Rental at Putnam Avenue: This apartment rental in Bed-Stuy hits the spot for its great location, cleanliness, and spaciousness. It has everything you would need in a decent NYC apartment.

VII. Best Things to Do in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, NY: Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Where is Bed-Stuy?

Bed-Stuy is about 2 neighborhoods away from downtown Brooklyn. It is south of Williamsburg, southwest of Bushwick, north of Crown Heights, and east of Clinton Hill.

Q: How to Get to Bed-Stuy?

The easiest way to get to Bed-Stuy from Manhattan is by taking the subway or a bus. C, 1, 2, and N lines have stops that lead to the easiest transportations to Bed-Stuy.

Q: What is the History of Bed-Stuy?

Bed-Stuy, boasts a rich history deeply intertwined with African American culture and resilience. From its roots as a thriving community of freed slaves to becoming a prominent hub for jazz and civil rights activism, Bed-Stuy’s history is a testament to its enduring spirit and cultural significance.

Q: Is Bed-Stuy safe?

Yes, Bed-Stuy is a safe New York City neighborhood to visit and live in. More than half of the neighborhood’s population are African-American, while the other half comprises of White, Hispanic or Latinx, and Asian individuals.

Q: Why is Bed-Stuy famous?

Bed-Stuy is popular for its preserved Victorian brownstones, gracing the historic neighborhood with an aesthetic appeal. 

Q: Which celebrities are from Bed-Stuy?

Tons of celebrities and well-known figures are/were either born, raised, or are living in Bed-Stuy. Some of them are rappers The Notorious B.I.G. and Jay-Z, jazz musician Norah Jones, singer-actresses Lena Horne, Vanessa Williams, and Aaliyah, and former professional boxer Mike Tyson.

Q: What is Bed-Stuy slang for?

Bed-Stuy is the short, informal name of “Bedford-Stuyvesant,” a Brooklyn neighborhood merged from two villages: Bedford and Stuyvesant Heights.

VIII. Related Blog Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *