Governors Island
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids New York City (AMC Books)
Address:10 South Street, Slip 7, Manhattan, NY (ferry departure point)
Hours:10 A.M. to 5 P.M. Fridays; 10 A.M. to 7 P.M. Saturdays and Sundays, May 27 to September 25
Fee: Free (including ferry)
Contact:; 212-440-2200

Bathrooms: Building 110 near the ferry landing; portable toilets throughout the island
Water/Snacks: Food vendors throughout the island

Just a quick ferry ride from Manhattan, this island offers car-free roads for biking, an open-air sculpture museum, and excellent picnic spots with terrific views.

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

A mere 800-yard trip from the southern tip of Manhattan, the ferry ride to Governors Island is over before you know it. Once reserved exclusively for use by New York’s British colonial governors prior to the Declaration of Independence, the island was a U.S. military base for almost 200 years before becoming a national monument and park.

The island has a network of well-marked and easy-to-follow carless roads and paths that take you to the star-shaped Fort Jay and Castle Williams, both nineteenth-century fortifications. You can walk around the sprawling campus of former military facilities and residences that are eerily frozen in the midtwentieth century. The island is also an open-air art museum, with a large and eclectic array of modern and industrial sculptures throughout.

The ferry brings you to the northern rim of the island, facing Fort Jay, and from here you can go right or left to circle the island—which is well worth doing. Given the lack of cars, this is an excellent bike ride, and bikes are available to rent near Castle Williams. Once you’ve completed the promenade loop— taking in vistas of the Statue of Liberty, New Jersey, and Manhattan—head inland to check out the art installations and any number of cultural events, music festivals, or street fairs that might be taking place. Remember: Governors Island is in the process of extensive upgrades and renovations. For the latest information on these, visit

Plan B:

Battery Park (Trip 23) and Brooklyn Bridge Park (Trip 31) are both near the Manhattan and Brooklyn ferry landings for Governors Island.


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