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The best boat tours in NYC

All aboard! Book these boat tours in NYC for incredible views of the Statue of Liberty and other iconic landmarks.

The Hornblower Infinity on the waters around Manhattan.
Scott Barrow
By Annalise Mantz and Time Out New York contributors |
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Why settle for walking/bus tours in New York City when you could cruise the harbor on a boat tour? The upper deck of a yacht or rail of a sailboat offers some of the most incredible views in city, from the breathtaking skyline to glimpses of the legendary attractions. Plus, you won’t have to deal with packed subway cars or jammed streets. Better book your tickets ahead of time, though: locals and tourists alike will no doubt have some of these cruises, sunset sails and yacht parties on their list of can’t-miss things to do in the summer.

Best boat tours in NYC

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Hudson River
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/

Circle Line: Complete Manhattan Island Cruise

The Circle Line’s famed 2.5-hour guided circumnavigation of Manhattan Island is a fantastic way to get your bearings and see many of the city’s sights as you pass under its iconic bridges. It’s the only sightseeing cruise to circle the island, giving you unparalleled views of three rivers and all five boroughs. You’ll even pass within 100 feet of the Statue of Liberty. Better get your camera ready! $43

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New York Water Taxi
Photograph: Courtesy New York Water Taxi

New York Harbor Hop-On Hop-Off Cruise

You can't miss the water taxis, they look just like the car versions: big, bright and yellow. These little beauties cruise round New York Harbor daily, passing major sites like the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings, Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty. You can stay on and complete the entire loop in 70 minutes, or hop on and off as you please, exploring the greats eats, shops and attractions in NYC's waterside neighborhoods. $37

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Statue of Liberty
Photograph: Shutterstock

Statue of Liberty Express Cruise

Perfect for the sightseer who knows exactly what he or she wants, this Circle Line express tour goes right to the Statue of Liberty—no pit stops this time. Listen to an expert guide point out some lower Manhattan landmarks before pausing for photos right next to Lady Liberty. And since this cruise only takes an hour, it’s easy to fit into even the busiest itinerary. $30.99

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Shearwater
Photograph: Courtesy Manhattan By Sail

New York City Sunset Sail

Bask in a Manhattan dusk as the sun sets over the city. From your vantage point aboard the boat, you'll get a romantic view of the Statue of Liberty and other landmarks lit by a golden glow. Sip on a cocktail while you watch too, as there's a full bar on the boat. $55

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5
Coors Light & Hot97 Present Rock the Yacht!
Photograph: Courtesy Hornblower Cruises & Events

Rock the Yacht New York City Party Cruise

Get a taste of the Big Apple’s nightlife scene with this evening boat tour on the East River. Hornblower’s Rock the Yacht booze cruise has everything you need: a fully stocked bar, a dance floor and a killer DJ. Whether you go for the basic ticket or upgrade to the premium open bar, you’re sure to have a night to remember. $35 and up

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NYC Skyline
Photograph: Shutterstock

AIANY Lower Manhattan Architecture Tour

The area south of 59th Street is packed with architecturally significant buildings: There’s the Chrysler Building, the Woolworth Building, the Empire State Building and One World Trade Center, just to name a few. This 90-minute boat tour led by a member of the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects will cover all of Manhattan’s most significant structures, plus the Brooklyn Bridge, Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty. Sip complimentary beer, wine or champagne from the bar while you learn about infrastructure, parks and architecture. $48

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Hudson’s By World Yacht New York Dinner Cruise
Photograph: Courtesy Viator

Hudson’s By World Yacht New York Dinner Cruise

You’d be hard-pressed to find another restaurant with views this good. Board the three-level yacht Hudson’s at the 41st Street Marina for a three-course meal and two-hour sightseeing cruise. You’ll order off a seasonally inspired menu of dishes like Prince Edward Island mussels, pan-seared salmon and wild mushroom pappardelle. Upgrade to a higher-priced ticket to sip beer and wine from the premium open bar or snag prime window seating. $159–$209

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things to do in ocean city nj
Photograph: Shutterstock

Circle Line: Beast Speedboat Ride

Adrenaline junkies will want to book tickets for this supercharged half-hour ride through New York Harbor. The 70-foot speedboat known as the Beast zooms toward Statue of Liberty at 45 miles per hour, kicking up plenty of waves. In fact, the ride can get so intense that guides recommend wearing wetsuits. $30

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Sailing on the Hudson River
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/

Champagne Brunch Sail in New York City

Fresh air, ocean waves, unlimited prosecco and a massive brunch spread of bagels, lox, cream cheese, quiche, fresh fruit and more—it’s fair to say that this midday cruise on the Shearwater really does have it all. Sit back and relax and the crew guides the restored 1929 sailboat out into the harbor. If you’re lucky, the captain will even let you take a turn at the helm. $100.66

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Brooklyn Bridge Park
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/

Private New York City Sunset Boat Tour

Don’t want to share your views of the city skyline? You don’t have to on this private two-hour tour of the Hudson River at sunset. It’s your party, so you can bring any food or drinks you like on board. The crew will greet you with a complimentary bottle of champagne, too. You’ll feel like a high roller as you kick back on your yacht for the evening. $500–700

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Staten Island Ferry
Photograph: Shutterstock

Staten Island Ferry

Put your purse away, because the Staten Island Ferry is totally free. That's right, in one of the most expensive cities in the world, you can find a free ride. This old chugger has been going since before any bridges were built, transporting folks from the 'burbs to Manhattan in 25 minutes. It still functions as a commuter necessity, but more and more sightseers are taking it to get the stunning panoramas of lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. Boats leave South Ferry at Battery Park and run 24 hours a day.

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