The best things to do on Governors Island with kids

There are so many things to do on Governors Island with kids, so hop on the ferry and let the adventure begin

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Photograph: Courtesy Timothy Schenck

 

Can't decide what things to do on Governors Island this season? That's easy—you'll just have to explore everything! 

Located in the heart of New York Harbor, one of our go-to family attractions offers scenic views, a country environment and a plethora of outdoor activities for kids and adults. You might want to get used to the ferry because you'll be on it quite a bit once you get a load of the island's 2019 lineup. 

From festivals and outdoor movies, to zip-lining and free kayaking, there is never a shortage of things to do on Governors Island. You and the fam will get a taste of art shows, hone your athletic skills and, of course, frequent one of the coolest kids' playgrounds NYC has on its roster. (Psst: Did you know Governors Island has the largest slide in NYC?)

We'll see you on the ferry, friends! Don't forget to save us a spot on Hammock Grove. 

When does Governors Island open?

This year, Governors Island opens on May 1, 2019.

Things to do on Governors Island

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Photograph: Courtesy Play:ground NYC
News, City Life

The Yard

While moms and dads might be inclined to take a breather on Hammock Grove, little adventurers are going to make a beeline to this 50,000-square-foot play area once it reopens on May 4. 
Previously known as Play:Ground, the Yard takes a unique approach to downtime. Kiddies 6 and up can tinker with loose parts and atypical objects (think cardboard, rope, wood planks, tires) as they work toward creating something out of this world. Don't worry, parents: Staffers are on hand to assist when needed. It's certainly a great way to keep kiddies active and curious, especially as the fourth season approaches. The go-to spot will now offer one of the coolest after-school programs in town: Adventure Club, a three-hour playtime on Monday through Thursday from 3–6pm from Apr 29–Jun 20. Enrollment ranges from $300–$1,100 for the semester, and spots are filling up fast! (Learn how to register on The Yard's website.)

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Photograph: Courtesy Timothy Schenck
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The Hills

When a playground houses the biggest slide in New York, an afternoon visit is mandatory. At 57 feet, the long and curvy slide Slide Hill at Governors Island offers kiddos a chance to race to the bottom with the wind in their hair. Make sure they wave hello to Lady Liberty on their way down!

 

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Figment NYC

Every year at the parade ground (the largest open green area on the island), Figment NYC brings a series of interactive art installations to Governors Island—expect an artist-designed minigolf course, a custom tree house and a walk-through pavilion.

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Timothy Schenck

Bike rentals

With five miles of car-free paths, zipping around the island on a bike is a no-brainer. Free cruiser rentals are offered weekday mornings (kids’ bikes, child seats and tandem bikes are also available at various prices). Have bikes of your own? Bring ’em over with you on the Governors Island Ferry, departing from the Battery Maritime Building or Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 6.

Bonus: This season, Governors Island is expanding its offerings to include pedal cars, scooters and balance bikes, which will particularly be a hit for families with kiddies in tow. 

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Timothy Schenck

Hammock Grove

Kids will love clocking some lazy swing time in the Hammock Grove, a 10-acre slice of heaven. Fifty red-rope hammocks are rigged up on treelike poles—if you’re lucky, you and the fam can grab two or three and bliss out with BYO story-time books. It’s also right near the ball fields, a play area with climbing structures and swings, plus play fountains
in Liggett Terrace.

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Photograph: Courtesy CMA

Art Island Outpost

Located outside Building 14, the Outpost is open from 11am to 3pm on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the summer. Skilled Teaching Artists from the Children’s Museum of the Arts help kids partake in art and recycling projects inspired by nature at their tent-shaded tables. Ages 1–15.

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Photograph: Courtesy  NY Carousel Entertainment
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Zip-line

Prepare for extra adventure—this will be an experience for the books! The Flywire Zipline, giant Maze and Climbing Challenge walls are perfect attractions for thrill-seekers. While kids are zipping away, parents can watch their adventures comfortably on the ground in the new shaded recreation area. Don't forget to pick up a snack at the refreshment station during the wait!

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Picnic

Reserve a grill or picnic table via this gatherings form for your next BBQ. The reservation even includes a Radio Flyer wagon for transporting goods to the grilling area.

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Photograph: Courtesy Governor's Island
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Mini golf

Fore! Visitors big and small can practice their putts at a new nautical-themed mini golf course. The 18-hole attraction—in the backdrop of gorgeous NYC scenery—opened to players in June 2018. Kids and adults will aim for a hole-in-one while their golf ball travels around a blue whale, mini lighthouse and other adorable features on the course. Tickets are $7 per person or $25 for a group of four.

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Photograph: courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Senor Don Gato

Kayak (for free!)

No need to make your way out of the city to enjoy outdoor activities like kayaking. Governors Island offers FREE kayaking at Pier 101. No matter how many times you've paddled beforehand, you're welcome to take advantage of free sessions on Saturdays from June 15–Sept 14 from 11am–4pm. 

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Photograph: Courtesy Governors Island
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Outdoor movies

Summer is the perfect time of year to enjoy a movie screening...outdoors, of course. Once the warm weather hits, New Yorkers head to their favorite green spaces where movies are projected onto large screens at dusk. Naturally, Governors Island is one of the fan-favorite spots thanks to its lineups and gorgeous views. Keep an eye on the island's website for a 2019 roster! 

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Photograph: Courtesy Timothy Schenck
News, City Life

Stay late

If the kids are hyped up on sweets, there's no need to leave the party early. On Fridays and Saturdays, Governors Island will now remain open until 11pm, so continue the fun. Chances are they'll tuck right in once they get home.

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