Governors Island

Attractions , Parks and gardens Governors Island Free
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  • 5 out of 5 stars
(12 user reviews)
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Governors Island (Photograph: Donald Yip)
1/5
Photograph: Donald Yip

Governors Island

Governors Island
2/5

Governors Island

Governors Island
3/5

Governors Island

Governors Island
4/5

Governors Island

Governors Island
5/5

Governors Island

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: Governors Island
New York
10004
Opening hours: 7 days/week, 10am–7pm. May 23–Sept 27
Price: Ferry is $2 roundtrip
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Average User Rating

4.9 / 5

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LiveReviews|12
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Joseph K

I first visited Governors Island with friends on a weekday in the summer and the island was full of children in summer camps. Beware of this if you are thinking about going on a summer weekday! Outside of the unexpected attendance, the Island was great. It's just a short (10min) ferry ride to feel like you're outside of the Big Apple. Turn around and you'll be pleased to see spectacular views of lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. I recommend sticking to the newly renovated West side of the island where you'll find hammocks, slides built into hills, food vendors, and even a quaint beer garden. It's a fun quick trip to get away from the city for an afternoon. 

Samantha M

This is a great spot to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city. The $2 ferry is the cheapest staycation option around. The new Hills provide a gorgeous view of the statue of Liberty, and the new slides are fun for kids (and adults if we're being honest). There's a bevy of food trucks to choose from (Kaya was a popular choice). Don't miss out on Blue Marble's organic ice cream, it's delish. Art lovers will  enjoy all of the installations along with the creatively designed miniature golf course.

DwEater

Governor's Island is a great place to spend the day this summer. It's a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle that is New York City. Just a short ferry ride away, there's lots of activities and things to do. I love biking along the edges of the island, taking in the breathtaking views of the city, and feeling the wind through my hair. You can take some pit stops to just lay in the grass, enjoy a picnic, or eat some delicious food from the food trucks on the island. There's also a park which is great for kids (and adults too!) filled with hammocks, obstacle courses, and swings. I'd also recommend taking a tour of Castle Williams, which used to be a prison. At the very end of the tour, you can go up to the roof which gives you an unobstructed, full view of the city. It's absolutely beautiful. Really fun way to spend the day without breaking the bank!

Christa Sully
tastemaker

Who doesn't love Governor's Island? Not only does it have some of the best vantage points in the city, but it's the perfect way to feel removed from traffic, loud noises and excessive crowds. 


Do me a favor, pack a picnic, rent a bike and spend at least a few hours here. A lot of events take place on here too, including the Jazz Age Lawn Party, which is definitely worth checking out. 


My one tip would be to come early, otherwise you might have to wait a while for the ferries. 

Julie F
tastemaker

Spending an afternoon on Governor's Island is just what the doctor ordered.  A bunch of friends and I wanted to escape the city heat and work on our tan, so instead of the usual subway ride up to Sheep's Meadow we decided to purchase a ticket ($2 round trip) for the ferry to Governor's Island.  While we were there, we rented bikes ($15 for 2 hours), checked out the cool lawn art, and grabbed some grub from the food trucks.  It was relaxing and much cooler, temperature wise, than the city.  What a great (and inexpensive!) way to spend the afternoon!

Peter Y
tastemaker

Is there anything better to do on a gorgeous summer day than taking the ferry to Governor's Island and just wandering the day away? Spoiler alert: there isn't. 


Governor's Island, with its hammock groves, random art installations, and open green space, makes for the perfect day outing. 


Home to Governor's Ball, Panorama (newly created music festival) and Figment NYC, Governor's Island offers fun activities throughout the summer. And the best part of everything? It's completely traffic (except for bikers here and there) free! 

Evelyn D

One of my favorite haunts in the summertime, but make sure you get there early if you want to lounge in hammock grove. It's fun to trek around the whole island and find little hidden streets, check out the fort etc. They also have food trucks, clean bathrooms and lots of places to rest. Don't forget the Jazz Age Lawn Party too. Total NYC gem.

Jaime B

One of the greatest things about New York City is that it comes with getaways from itself—if that makes sense. If you take a ferry or water taxi ( I usually hop on at the Williamsburg waterfront), you can motor right on over to the island that sits just southeast of the southern tip of Manhattan. The cruise will start to relax you as soon as you climb aboard, the sun shining and wind blowing. Once you hop off the island, you have all sorts of activities at your disposable. There's a garden of hammocks that you can nap in. There's usually an art installation somewhere, and an outdoor food court, and the island used to be a military island, so you can check out the fort and the old houses of officers.

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. 

GC
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.