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Governor’s Island, New York

by Susan Finch

Sep 28, 2019

Jazz Age Lawn Party, Governors Island, New York City © Paul Stein | Flickr

Destinations / North America

The tiny island dotting the New York Harbor just south of Manhattan often goes unnoticed by tourists but offers a respite from the bustle of the city. The 172-acre island in New York Harbor was once a military base for the U.S. Army and later for the Coast Guard. Governor’s Island was closed for more than two centuries before becoming an award-winning public park with part of it run by the National Park Service. Currently serving as a seasonal destination running May 1–Oct, 31, Governors Island is in the process of becoming a year-round campus for learning and entrepreneurship, as well as expanded for commercial and non-profits.

Dock at Governor’s Island and grab a beer by the waterfront, rent a bicycle or take a leisurely stroll around the island. For a thrill, head to the 10-acre public park called The Hills for the longest slide in New York City running 57 feet long and rising three stories tall. The relatively new park features four manufactured hills rising up to 70 feet above the island and filled with recycled debris from the residential buildings and parking areas demolished on the site.

Visitors explore area museums and the historic, open-to-the-public buildings showcasing ongoing art exhibits. Guests can also explore Castle Williams, join an official walking tour, enjoy free kayaking, play in the fountains or lay around in a hammock. The island also hosts special events and festivals year-round. But one of the best things to do at Governor’s Island is to share a bite at Picnic Park and people-watch with waterside views.

Accessible every day of the week during the open season, Governor’s Island is only accessible by ferry from Pier 6 in Brooklyn or the Battery Maritime Building in lower Manhattan. A handful of ferries run free during the day, with the rest of the day a $3 round-trip fee for adults and children over 12 years.

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