Summer Days on the Staten Island Ferry
September 4, 2013

It’s getting to be that time of the summer where you begin thinking seriously about all the things you want to squeeze in before it’s time to back to school. We’ve put in countless hours at our favorite playgrounds, swam in the fountain in Washington Square Park, sought relief from the heat wave at the swimming pool, and air-conditioned environs of the Metropolitan Museum of Art—as well as on the roof.  So what’s left? The Staten Island Ferry.

The last time we did this excursion our youngest, Halina, was still traveling by stroller and Riley was still developing his endurance as a walker. Now they’re both well-seasoned bikers and scooter riders, so we decided to build our trip on the ferry into a longer excursion. There are plenty of urban hikes, depending upon where you live, that you could take to reach the ferry terminal in Battery Park. For us the most convenient was to travel along the Hudson River Greenway from our apartment in Morningside Heights, however if you live on the east side of Manhattan, or are coming from the Bronx, Queens or Brooklyn, the East River Greenway (a.k.a. East River Esplanade) could work just as well.

It was an absolutely fabulous day. The sun shone brightly and further inland the weather was balmy. But along the river—particularly whenever we rode through a big patch of shade—it could seem downright chilly. On summer weekends the Hudson River Greenway is packed with bikers and rollerbladers, however on a weekday it was virtually empty. We didn’t hit any crowds till we got closer to Battery Park, where we were suddenly surrounded tourists who’d come everywhere from Nepal to Nebraska.

On the Ferry

As you may know, one of the best things about the Ferry is that it’s free. But this, among other benefits, makes riding the Staten Island Ferry a popular adventure for the above mentioned tourists. Before this trip, I’d thought that heading down to the Ferry, riding it over Staten Island, then turning around and riding it right back would probably seem like an odd plan to most people. Imagine my surprise when it turned out at least half our boat had exactly the same idea!

It happened, of course, because the notion makes a lot of sense. The ferries run every half hour on the weekdays, and trip only takes about 25 minutes each way—dropping you off just in time to catch your return ride. Plus, once you’re out on the water the view is gorgeous. Depending what side of boat you’re on, you can watch Governor’s Island, the Statue of Liberty float by. The view of Manhattan, whether you’re coming or going, is simply breath-taking. We packed sandwiches and made the trip into an ad hoc picnic, however there is also a concession stand on the boat where we got ice cream for dessert.

By time we landed back in southern Manhattan we were exhausted. I only at that moment calculated that we had traveled about 8 miles to get there that morning. On the subway ride home, however, we were already making plans to do it again soon.

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