What it is: Next year, large swaths of this island oasis will open to the public for the first time since the land became accessible in 2004.
Why you should care: Two words: Hammock Grove. Visitors will be able to relax in a shady enclave filled with hammock-strung trees. More active types can frolic in a new 14-acre area for play that includes two softball fields. These sections will be threaded together with 20-foot-wide paths for bike and pedestrian use. Most exciting, however, are the changes to the island’s topography. Built out of a landfill, it was originally designed to be flat. Soon, however, rubble from demolished buildings will be used to create an undulating landscape with curved, winding paths that increase the visual drama by alternately hiding and revealing breathtaking views of the Statue of Liberty.govisland.com. Opens fall 2013.—Jonathan Shannon