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Governors Island
Photograph: Governors Island/ Timothy Schenck

Governors Island is reopening to the public on July 15

The sprawling, 172-acre island will officially be open seven days a week.

By
Collier Sutter
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New Yorkers can once again take one of the best day trips that doesn't require leaving the city. After months of extended closure, Governors Island is officially reopening to the public on July 15. 

The 172-acre island will return with limited capacity for passive recreational activities. Cooped-up New Yorkers can look forward to hiking, running, biking, picnicking and birding throughout the sprawling green space.

“Equitable access to open spaces in our city has never been more important, so we’re thrilled to welcome New Yorkers to Governors Island in just a few short weeks,” said Clare Newman, President and CEO of the Trust for Governors Island. “This summer, Governors Island will be an affordable, local getaway for New Yorkers who need it most. 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!” 

Masks will be required while onboard the Governors Island Ferry, both above and below deck. Visitors must reserve ferry tickets in advance through a reservation system, and only a limited number of tickets will be available for purchase in person for each time slot.

To increase access to the island from communities with less available green space, Brooklyn ferries to Governors Island will now depart from Atlantic Basin/Red Hook (instead of Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6). Brooklyn ferries to Governors Island will kickoff service on Saturday, July 18, and will run Saturdays and Sundays. For Manhattanites, ferries will depart daily from the Battery Maritime Building at 10 South Street in Manhattan.

Capacity on ferries will be limited during the 2020 season to adhere to social distancing measures, so you'll want to plan ahead. Round-trip ferry tickets will cost $3 for adults, but—if you get up early—ferries before noon on Saturdays and Sundays are free for everyone. Ferries are also free for New York City Housing Authority residents, military service members, seniors 65 and over, and riders under the age of 12. The Trust will also offer special waived fares for non-profit community-based organizations, youth camps, and senior centers throughout New York City, if booked two weeks in advance.

“Governors Island is an idyllic place for New Yorkers to spread out and enjoy summer in the City,” said Alicia Glen, Chair of the Trust for Governors Island. “While the season was cut short by the pandemic, the Trust has worked around the clock to increase access to the Island for those hardest hit. I look forward to enjoying the views from the Island’s fabulous outdoor dining spots – thank you to the Trust staff and all of our partners for giving New Yorkers safe and secure access to one of the City’s true gems.”

As for activities this year, visitors can take advantage of the island's seven miles of car-free bike paths, with bike rentals available from Blazing Saddles and Citi Bike— plus you can bring your own bike onto the Governors Island ferries for no additional cost.

The Urban Farm, including GrowNYC’s Teaching Garden and Earth Matter’s Compost Learning Center, will be open on weekends. Public art installations also remain on view, such as Shantell Martin’s The May Room, a commission for the 2019 season. Visitors can take self-guided tours and walks to explore Governors Island history and transformation on govisland.org and through Urban Archive’s app.

governors island hammocks
Courtesy The Trust for Governors/ Timothy Schenck

For those looking for a more relaxing escape, dozens of comfortable hammocks in Hammock Grove are still available for use. You can also expect to find a variety of food and beverage vendors open, including Island Oyster, for tropical inspired cocktails and summer bites; Fauzia’s Heavenly Delights, an award-winning Jamaican-fusion establishment offering Caribbean classics (and vegan and gluten-free options); Kimchi Taco, for Korean-inspired tacos and bowls; Makina, serving up traditional Ethiopian and Eritrean food; Threes Brewing and The Meat Hook, for local craft beer options and offerings from the popular butcher shop, among others.

Governors Island will be open to visitors daily from 10am to 6pm on weekdays and 10am to 7pm on weekends. 

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