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Governors Island
Photograph: Courtesy Shutterstock

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

Allie Early
Written by
Allie Early
Danielle Valente

UPDATE: For an update on 2020 rules, activities and safety procedures, visit

Curious about all of the things to do on Governors Island? Hop aboard the ferry!

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 (like one of the coolest kids' playgrounds NYC—with mighty impressive slides).

This year, things will look a little different: Governors Island will open at limited capacity for passive recreational activities like biking, hiking, walking and bird watching beginning July 15. It'll be open on weekdays from 10am–6pm and weekends from 10am–7pm. Beginning Saturday, July 18, The Trust for Governors Island will offer free ferries to all New York City Housing Authority residents.

“This summer, Governors Island will be an affordable, local getaway for New Yorkers who need it most," President and CEO of the Trust for Governors Island, Clare Newman said in a statement. "We’ve focused on a plan to make the Island more accessible to New Yorkers in areas underserved by parks this season, and have taken important steps to ensure the health and safety of our visitors. We look forward to seeing everyone on the ferry!”

Don't forget to save us a spot on Hammock Grove, friends.  

When does Governors Island open?

This year, Governors Island opens on July 15, 2020 and closes November 1, 2020. 

Things to do on Governors Island

  • Things to do
  • City Life

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.)

  • Things to do
  • City Life

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!


Bike rentals
Photograph: Courtesy Timothy Schenck

3. 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. 

Hammock Grove
Timothy Schenck

4. 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.


5. 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.

Figment NYC

6. 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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