During a visit to New York City, one place that you might consider visiting is Governor's Island. Until the 1960s, Governor’s Island was a US Army base. It was considered a top-secret location and you won’t find it on older maps of New York. Between the 1960s until 2003, the island was abandoned and neglected. Then, the government sold it to New York City for $1 so they could transform it into a recreational space. It is now a popular attraction for locals and tourists alike. This national park is located in the middle of New York Harbor, and it is accessed by ferries from piers in Lower Manhattan. You will find plenty of things to see and do once you arrive at the island, as there is something to suit all preferences. Here are just ten of the reasons that you should visit Governor’s Island in NYC.
1. You Can Visit for Free
You can potentially have a free day out to Governor’s Island, so it is a fantastic choice for those on a limited budget. If you catch the ferry before noon, it is free of charge. Once you arrive on the island, it is free to roam around enjoying the outdoors, seeing the neglected buildings, using the playgrounds, and sitting with a picnic at one of the open spaces. If you take along a picnic, then you won’t even need to buy lunch during a full-day visit. However, it is best to take along a little cash to make sure you don't miss out.
2. Take a Bike Ride
One of the best ways to see everything the island has to offer is to take a bike ride around the island. You can either take along your own bike or hire one from the bike rental service on the island. Not only can you cycle around admiring the sights of the island, but you can also enjoy some pretty impressive views of the New York City skyline and the Statue of Liberty.
3. Tour the Landmarks
Loving New York says that you should tour all the landmarks during your visit. All the old buildings are abandoned, and this gives it an eerie but exciting feel. Just some of the features of the island to see in your tour are Fort Jay barracks, old houses, a hospital, empty shops, an old theatre, a few schools, and Castle Williams prison. Each of these landmarks is of historic interest, and there are several that have interesting architecture.
4. Enjoy a Free Event
Throughout the year, there are many exciting events, performances, and festivals hosted on Governor’s Island. Each of these will appeal to different groups of people. If possible, you should plan your visit to coincide with one of the free events that are scheduled. This will add an extra element of fun to your visit, so you should check what is on at the time you are planning to make your trip.
5. Relax with a Picnic
One of the best ways to enjoy a visit to Governor’s Island is to take along a picnic so that you can sit in one of the many open spaces, relax, and watch the world go by. There are several structured picnic areas on the island, or you can just find yourself a quiet spot with nice views to enjoy. It is an excellent way of getting away from the hustle and bustle of New York City as Governor Island has a very relaxed vibe.
6. Have a Go at Ice Skating
There are several locations in New York City that have a skating rink during the winter months. However, Governor Island is one of the few places that can boast a skating rink that is open throughout the year. This is a fantastic activity to enjoy for all the family no matter what time of year you visit. It is important to note that there is a small fee to pay for this activity.
7. Go Glamping
While most people just visit for the day, there is the option to extend your visit with an overnight stay. There is a glamping site on the island, says Her Campus. The outdoor accommodation includes luxurious beds, air conditioning, and spectacular views of Manhattan. This is a completely unique experience. If you are not a resident of New York and you are just visiting the area, this accommodation is completely different from any other you will find in the city.
8. See the Art at Governor’s Island Art Fair
One of the best attractions on the island is the Governor’s Island Art Fair, which is great for art enthusiasts and those who want to enjoy an indoor activity while visiting the island. There is a large collection of art from various artists, with some permanent and some temporary exhibitions. During the warmer months, there are sometimes outdoor exhibitions to enjoy.
9. Have Fun Outdoors
T there is an outdoor activity for everyone to enjoy on Governor’s Island. There are zip wires, mini golf for all the family, and kayaks if you prefer some water-based fun. With more than 172-acres to explore, you will never get bored. According to Expedia, the new Adventure Playground is particularly exciting for children. This kids-only space encourages children to use their imagination and explore as they create their own structures from the discarded and scavenged items. There is also an area called ‘The Mess Kitchen’ for younger children.
10. Great Food Options
If you decide not to take a picnic along with you, then you will find plenty of other eating options on Governor’s Island. There are food trucks located across the island and each of these serves a different type of food, such as wings, burgers, or crepes. You could also visit Island Oyster Bar which is located on the shores of the island and serves fresh local oysters in a variety of ways.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn