Governors Island

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Photograph: Donald Yip

Governors Island

2/5

Governors Island

3/5

Governors Island

4/5

Governors Island

5/5

Governors Island

Governors Island Free
A seven-minute ride on a free ferry takes you to this seasonal island sanctuary, a scant 800 yards from lower Manhattan. Thanks to its strategic position in the middle of New York Harbor, Governors Island was a military outpost and off-limits to the public for 200 years. It finally opened to summer visitors in 2006. The verdant, 172-acre isle still retains a significant chunk of its military-era architecture, including Fort Jay, started in 1776, and Castle Williams, which was completed in 1812 and used as a prison. The 22-acre area containing the forts and historical officers’ residences is now a national landmark. Today, the island is jointly run by the city, the state and the National Park Service, and it provides a peaceful setting for cycling (bring a bike on the ferry, or rent from Bike and Roll once there). The island hosts a program of events, such as concert series and art exhibitions (see website for schedule), and where else can you have a picnic directly across from the Statue of Liberty?
Venue name: Governors Island
Contact:
Address:
New York

Opening hours: 7 days/week, 10am–7pm. May 23–Sept 27
Price: Ferry is $2 roundtrip

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  • Sculpture Until Tuesday September 22 2015 Free
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  • Festivals Until Sunday September 6 2015 Free
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  • Saturday September 12 2015
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Average User Rating

4.7 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:0
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LiveReviews|4
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Brian M

Stepping off the short ferry ride from lower Manhattan to Governor's Island is like taking a step back in time.  The island was purchased from Native Americans for 2 axe heads and a handful of nails, according to a bronze plaque in the ferry waiting area.  Since that purchase, the island has been inhabited by the British and eventually the Americans. You can go into the century old homes, Fort Jay, and Castle Williams, which was a former prison for Confederate soldiers.  On the day I visited, they had actors dressed as Civil War soldiers firing a cannon from the 1850's.  If you want to get around the island quicker, you can rent bikes for a small fee.  There are food trucks of many cuisines and there is always a concert or art exhibit going on during the summer season.  There are no cars, therefore no honking or congestion, much like in the mid 1800's. 

Grace I Chen
moderator

Governors Island is hands down my favorite place to take visitors. It’s no longer a “best-kept-secret” as more and more events are being held on the island each summer, but nevertheless, it is big enough where you can easily find quiet places to explore. What makes this place extra special is knowing that it was once an army base where my husband visited as a young child (his father is an army veteran). It’s pretty neat learning about all the history behind this place and seeing how the history has been retained as the island has evolved into a fantastic park. Bonus - there are bikes and kayaks to rent, and depending on what day/time you visit, rental may be free.


d m

Pros: Bring a bike and go on a sunny warm day:)

Cons: transportation to and fro.