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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. As of 2021, Governors Island has officially become a year-round destination for the public to roam.

RECOMMENDED: How to spend 24 hours at Governors Island

When is Governors Island open?

Year-round! The Trust for Governors Island has made it a year-round destination. It's open daily from 7am to 6pm, but this summer, Soisson's Landing is open until 10pm on weekdays and 11pm on weekends.

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 hourly from 10am to 6pm on weekdays and from 10am to 7pm on weekends, and Brooklyn ferries from 11am to 7pm. 

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 and 102 (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.

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

Oh, you betcha.

What can you do in the winter at Governors Island?

For the first time in 2022, visitors were welcome on the island during the winter months. While it can be brutally cold and more desolate than usual, it offers a quiet respite from city life with quite a range of activities. 

Its Winter Village had ice skating, food and hot drinks by Little Eva's, fire pits you could warm up nearby and even a pop-up sauna called HotBox Mobile Sauna. You could even rent sleds for when there's snow on the ground. On Saturdays, through April, you could bring your dog to the island and take them to a specific off-leash area.

Governors Island winter village
Photograph: Sari Goodfriend


Things to do on Governors Island, NY

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