Roosevelt Island
GOOD FOR: Ages 0-4, Ages 5-8

Source:Outdoors with Kids New York City (AMC Books)
Address:59th Street and Second Avenue, Manhattan, NY (tram departure point)
Hours:All hours
Fee: Free
Contact:; 212-832-4540. Tram information: 212-832-4543

Bathrooms: Lighthouse Park, on the northern tip of the island
Water/Snacks: Several caf├ęs, as well as convenience and grocery stores, are within a short walk from the pedestrian walkway that circles the island.

USGS Brooklyn and Central Park;

Fascinating history, good trails, spectacular views, and recreational facilities can be found here.

Roosevelt Island
Photo by: Cheryl and William de Jong-Lambert

Roosevelt Island—2 miles long and 800 feet wide—is a residential island in the East River between Queens and Manhattan. Considered part of Manhattan, its history and geography make it a great destination for those wishing to explore a unique slice of New York City.

Children—and adults—will enjoy reaching the island by the Roosevelt Island Tramway, which you can board with a Metrocard. The tram affords breathtaking views of the skylines all around. Arriving by tram or subway (you can bring bikes on both) leaves you on the southern half of the island. Nearby Blackwell House Park and Playground is one of the few remaining farmhouses in the United States that date to the American Revolution.

Heading north up the western bank, the pedestrian promenade offers a stroll or bike ride around the island’s edge, with spectacular views of Manhattan’s Upper East Side. As you near the top of the island, you will pass Octagon Park, which features the landmark Octagon Tower. The building was once the entrance hall of New York’s first asylum for the mentally ill and is today an apartment complex. The park has picnic and barbecue areas as well as playing fields. Lighthouse Park, at the northern tip of the island, boasts a Gothic lighthouse built in 1872 and is a terrific spot from which to view Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx.

From here you will head south along the eastern bank, with Queens on your left. Just beyond the Roosevelt Island Bridge, you will encounter a stretch of sports fields and courts, as well as a good playground. After passing an apartment complex, you’ll see another similar recreational area. Continue to the island’s southern tip, past the hospital complex, to visit South Point Park, a rolling green space that surrounds a former smallpox hospital and laboratory. You won’t be able to miss the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park.  The park of course features a memorial to FDR and his famous speech, which is a wonderful artifact to stop and discuss. Four Freedoms is a more quiet and thought-provoking destination (no running or ball playing), but it is a unique and important place to visit.

Remember: You can walk or bike across the Roosevelt Island bridge to Astoria, Queens.

Plan B:

The East River Esplanade (Trip 14) and Carl Schurz Park (Trip 16) are just across the river in Manhattan.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Main Street bisects the island north to south, and contains numerous eating establishments.


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