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The best things to do on Governors Island

Catch the ferry to enjoy amazing things to do on Governors Island from epic festivals and themed parties to zip-lining

By Jennifer Picht and Time Out New York contributors |
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Photograph: Courtesy Kreg Holt

There are so many things to do on Governors Island that you could easily spend your entire summer there. The car-free oasis is best known for The Hills (one of city’s best parks offering unreal 360-degree views of New York harbor), but it’s also home to highly-recommended events such as the Jazz Age Lawn Party, a pink-and-white rosé festival dubbed Pinknic, FIGMENT NYC outdoor art fair and more. The island continues to grow and expand too. In the past year, Governors Island set up several beer gardens and new eateries as well as a zip-lining and rock-climbing course. Get ready to load up your calendar with all the amazing events coming up starting in May 2018.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Governors Island

Best things to do on Governors Island

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Jazz Age Lawn Party 2015
Photograph: Lauren Spinelli
Music

The Jazz Age Lawn Party

Slap on your spats and practice the Charleston because the Jazz Age Lawn party returns to Governors Island. Sip on Prohibition-era cocktails or a glass of bubbly and none of the back-alley hooch of the day. Food vendors will be on hand to keep your Lindy Hop hoppin’.

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Pinknic
Photograph: Jane Kratochvil
Bars, Wine bars

Pinknic

From noon to 9pm each day, 12,000 revelers—dressed in nothing but pink and white, duh—descend onto Governors Island for this rosé-themed fest. Settle onto rosé-hued designer blankets for stemless glasses of still, sparkling and champagne rosé selections. The afternoons will be soundtracked with live DJ sets and more performances.

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Photograph: Courtesy Russell Hayden
Things to do

Holi Hai Festival of Color

Governors Island hosts the Holi Hai Festival of Color in May. If you’re not familiar, Holi Hai is a party celebrating the coming of spring through live music and dancing, while guests throw rainbow-hued powders all over each other. That’s right: Everyone gets tye-dyed!

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Art

FIGMENT

Arts group FIGMENT takes over Governors Island with its usual hodgepodge of mind-bending, genre-crossing projects. For its opening weekend, wander through more than 300 projects, which include live performances. Bonus: There's also a mini-golf course!

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Photograph: Lawrence Schwartzwald
Things to do, Literary events

NYC Poetry Festival

For the last eight years, a number of the city’s poetry-reading series and their affiliated collectives have taken over Governors Island for a day, creating a stage for the many voices of NYC, both celebrated and underground. This year, the crew of the Poetry Society of New York does it again, presenting readings from more than 200 poets and 50 organizations.

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Photograph: Courtesy the Trust for Governors Island

Adventures at Governors Island

The island already has an impressive playground which includes slides for adults, but there's also another adult and kid-friendly attraction: Adventures at Governors Island.This fun zone comprises a climbing wall, a maze and a ziplining course located on the Western Development Zone near Liggett Terrace.

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Photograph: Courtesy Kate Osborne Photography
News, City Life

Camp on Governors Island

Governors Island allows visitors to camp overnight for the first time in 2018. That's right, you don't have to travel upstate to sleep beneath the stars this summer. New York's car-free oasis has partnered with Collective Hotels & Retreats to transform six acres of the island's Western Development zone into an eco-friendly outdoor lodging retreat that can sleep up to 100 guests.

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Citi Bike
Photograph: Courtesy Noffar Gat

Free Bike Mornings

Two-wheeling fiends already know that Governors Island offers amazing bike paths, and visitors are welcome to BYOB (bring your own bike), rent or hit up the Citi Bike kiosks. However, you can also borrow a bike for free for an hour between 10am and noon every weekday. Ride like a baller without the cost? Sign us up!

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Photograph: Alexander Pincus

Eating and drinking

There are at least two dozen food vendors serving delicious fare on the island—think Blue Marble Ice Cream, Fauzia’s Heavenly Delights and more. Boozehounds can also appreciate the island’s bars: Little Eva, Governors Beer Co. as well as Island Oyster (a pop-up oyster bar and beer garden from the folks behind Grand Banks) that serves amazing seafood and fabulous cocktails. On May 5, a new Mexican restaurant called Taco Beach opens on the Eastern side of Soissons Landing.

Planning a picnic?

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