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Governors Island NYC is a great destination to be in during the summer. There are activities for all age groups and even the well-known Governor’s Ball. If the weather is nice in New York City and you want to escape the noise of the New York City atmosphere, then head down to Governors Island NYC.
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This year, the Governors Island Ferry will take you across the East River from July with the Governors Island Ferry until the end of September. The great thing about Governors Island ist that it does not feel like New York City at all, which is probably one of the reasons why many locals come here. A lot of tourists really don’t know much about this island.
UPDATE 2021: Governors island will be open all year round!
How do you get to Governors Island?
The Governors Island Ferry Terminal is located right next to the South Ferry Terminal, which is home to the Staten Island Ferry. The trip takes about 3 minutes and you will see that this is mainly used by the locals, children, older residents of New York, and only a small amount of tourists. You can now also take the ferry from Red Hook‘s Atlantic Basin. During last year’s season ferries would run from Brooklyn Bridge Park.
There will be limited capacity on the island and on all ferries running to Governors Island. This will be done through a new ticket reservation system that you can find here. Make sure to get your ticket in advance before heading to the terminal. And yes, all visitors will be required to wear face coverings while being on the ferry, or when social distancing is not possible.
Tickets will be available beginning Friday 7/10 at 10 AM. See more info here. Visitors must depart the Island on their assigned return ferry time selected when purchasing tickets.
The 50 Absolute Best Things to Do in New York (90+ pages)
We’ve chosen the 50 best spots, events and activities to showcase the full diversity of New York City. Even after more than 20 visits, the city never gets boring for us. And with our recommendations, you’ll have a really good time in New York, too, and you’ll have plenty left for your next visit. If you’re not planning a trip yet, you’re sure to get wanderlust after perusing this list!
Is all of Governors Island open right now?
The Governors Island National Monument Fort Jay and Castle Williams will remain temporarily closed. All art installations on the island will remain on view. You can still rent a bike on Governors Island and explore the area by bike. Bike rentals will all remain available. The best part is, Island’s vendors will be open as well.
So get ready for food, coffee, ice cream and drinks by our friends from Island Oyster, Taco Vista, Fauzia’s Heavenly Delights, Kimchi Taco, Makina, Threes Brewing and the Meat Hook, Melt Bakery, People’s Pops, Perros Y Vainas, Joe Coffee, Three Peaks Lodge, Little Eva’s, Sea Biscuit, Pizza Yard, Everything About Crepes, Wings Lovers, Terry & Yahi, and Wafels & Dinges.
Landmarks on Governors Island NYC
Governors Island has a lot of history. The 70-acre island served as the US Army base for decades until the 1960s. It was considered a top-secret location, so therefore on older maps of New York, the island is not to be found. After the cold war, the military retreated. Unfortunately, the island became more and more neglected.
In 2003, the federal government sold the island to the City of New York for a (rather symbolic) $ 1 to transform it into a recreational area. If you go today you will see all of the preserved old houses, Fort Jay barracks, various schools, Castle Williams prison, a hospital, a church, and old supermarkets, as well as an old theater. It seems like a scary movie because everything is abandoned, but that’s what makes it exciting. For the visitors, green spaces, a small miniature golf course, and many resting places were built which invites you to enjoy the island.
Bike Tour and Bike Rental on Governors Island NYC
The best way to explore the island is by bike. Bike rentals are available while maintaining social distancing. You can either rent one on Governors Island for $ 15/2 hours (follow the blue signs after leaving the ferry) or you bring one yourself. The best part is, you don’t have to pay an extra fee on the ferry.
Governors Island NYC has routes specially designed for bike riders. Are you looking for more ideas for cycling in New York? Just be aware that pedestrian lanes, former residences of the US military, Castle Williams and Fort Jay are bicycle-free zones.
In some cases, you’ll want to explore the historic and really imposing houses. We left our bikes in front of the site and it seemed to be ok. Around Colonens Row you will find the most beautiful houses on the island. Large terraces, sumptuous rooms with fireplaces, and a lot of space inside and outside were for the officers.
A Great View of the Statue of Liberty
Governors Island NYC offers breathtaking views of the Manhattan Skyline. But, it also has a wonderful view of the Statue of Liberty. You can pretty much have a picnic with an amazing view. This really is very unique that it’s even worth the visit alone. If you do want to visit Miss Liberty, here are our tips for visiting.
Picnic on Governors Island
In the middle of the island, you will find many playgrounds, as well as picnic spots that can be used. A cafe, several ice cream trucks (great organic ice cream made in Brooklyn), New York City-known food trucks are also on-site.
Also, Governors Island has a small beach including Beach Club. There are regular concerts, festivals, and parties with trendy DJs (Avicci, Laidback Luke and the Bingoplayers played here already). The food here is just as fantastic as the cocktails.
The Most Popular Events
Usually, it is a must to visit Governors Island NYC in the summer because there are a lot of activities that take place. This year most events on Governors Island are canceled. We’ve put together our guide for you so you do not miss any of the spectacular events on the island in the future when events are happening again. You’ll find the best events on Governors Island in this detailed article.
Best time to visit Governors Island?
The early bird catches the worm. Come as early as possible to escape the big onslaught (especially on weekends). The first ferry departs at 6:00 am from Pier 6 (the pier can be found if you turn left at the South Ferry Terminal / Subway Line 1 to South Ferry).
The full schedule of the Governors Island Ferry can be found here.
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I'm a true New York fan! Not only have I visited the city over 25 times but also have I spent several months here at a time. On my blog I show you the best and most beautiful spots of the city, so that you have a really good time! You can also find lots of insider tips in our New York travel guide. Also check out my hotel finder for New York!