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Gov Island
Photograph: Courtesy Trust for Governors Island

Governors Island, NY guide

Ride the ferry to Governors Island, New York for fun things to do like hiking, running, biking, picnicking and outdoor drinking.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver

If you crave an escape from the city that won’t land you in debt, head to the ever-changing urban oasis of Governors Island, NY which combines park, adult playground and outdoor art space into a single lovely haven for adventure. One of the best things to do in summer is ride the ferry and visit the car-free attraction, so use our handy guide to plan your trip. Governors Island is now officially become a year-round destination for the public to roam, making it an ideal spot to visit on an NYC vacation or staycation.

RECOMMENDED: How to spend 24 hours at Governors Island

When is Governors Island open?

Year-round! The Trust for Governors Island has made the verdant island a year-round destination. It’s open from daily from 7am-10pm, but hours may vary, so be sure to check the website before you go.

How do I get to Governors Island?

It costs only $4 to cruise to the car-free paradise, with ferries leaving every day from Manhattan’s South Street Seaport (the Battery Maritime Building at 10 South Street) and on weekends, from Pier 6 at Brooklyn Bridge Park and from Atlantic Basin/Red Hook to increase access to the island from communities with less available green space.

As mentioned, round-trip ferry tickets will cost $4 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.

Manhattan ferries depart every 30 minutes. 

During the summer the last ferry from Manhattan is at 8:15pm Sunday through Thursday, and 9:15pm on Friday and Saturday. The last ferry off of the Island departs at 10pm Sunday through Thursday and 11pm on Friday and Saturday.

Be sure to lock in your reserved ferry tickets in advance. 

Is there a huge and hilly park on Governors Island?  

You are correct! The answer to a man-made urban cityscape is a man-made outdoor park at the island’s Hills, which rise 75 feet above sea level and offer some breathing space from the city. Zoom down the 75-foot-long slide at Slide Hill; view artist Rachel Whiteread’s permanent installation Cabin at Discovery Hill; or chill at Hammock Grove.

What other outdoor activities does the Island offer?  

New Yorkers can look forward to walking, running, biking, picnicking and birding throughout the sprawling green space on the island. Visitors can also bring their bikes or rent them to use on the island via Blazing Saddles or Citi Bike at Soissons Landing, Yankee Pier and Picnic Point. 

On beautiful summer days, there is free kayaking available at Pier 101 (the Island’s kayak dock). The Downtown Boathouse also offers free kayaking on Saturdays from mid-June to the end of September (11am–4pm). 

Need a spot to host a large family gathering or party? Make Governors Island your backyard and reserve a grill and picnic table and host the ultimate cookout. Reservations must be booked two weeks in advance. 

You also no longer have to trek hours to the Hudson Valley to sleep in a tent. The glamping hospitality group, Collective Retreats (which has locations in Yellowstone, Vail, Sonoma, Hill Country and Hudson Valley), has set up a permanent camp on the western side of Governors Island open during the warmer months.

You can see a schedule of events and art exhibitions on the island here, from the Rite of Summer Music Festival to Pollinator Walks and from outdoor movie screenings to the Jazz Age Lawn Party.

Are there any places to eat and drink on Governors Island?  

Oh, you betcha.


Things to do on Governors Island, NY

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