NYC's Best Kept Secret for an Easy Getaway
Updated: Sep 14
With the first few breezes of fall, it’s starting to feel like summer is wrapping up. Of course, we still have many hot and humid days ahead of us, and plenty of time to take advantage of our favorite outdoor activities around the city.
*I first wrote this post two years ago, but I thought I'd update after going during COVID times, since it's still one of my favorite places, and a great way to enjoy NYC while socially distancing*
A couple 2020 updates!
I was really getting worried it wouldn't open this season, but luckily Governors Island was able to open a little later than usual for "passive recreation activities." I really didn't notice any differences from past years as far as things not being open, but I mainly just like to wander and ride bikes, so this was an ideal situation!
Their ferry is now by reservation only to manage the capacity onboard, so you definitely need to do a little more planning ahead! I made the mistake of waiting until it was too late and all times were fully booked, BUT you might be in luck if that happens to you! The NYC Ferry also goes to the island and you can purchase tickets on their app and hop right on.
The ferry has been a lifesaver this summer because we have been avoiding the subway at all costs. We were able to hop on in Astoria and transfer at Wall Street and the whole trip was about an hour. The ferries were super spacious and everyone was great about wearing their mask and keeping their space.
If you do decide to use the Governors Island Ferry, just note that you need to stick to your assigned departure times, or else you risk having to wait in a standby line to get off the island. We waited until the last minute and the line was so long for the NYC Ferry that the last boat filled up and sailed away without us. So we had to find a quiet corner of the island and try to stay warm for the night. Just kidding, they had to send an extra ferry for the last of us stragglers and they weren't too happy about it!
Other than getting to the island, all seemed to be normal! The food trucks were open with plenty of options, and we used our Citi Bike passes to circle the island and laid out on a picnic blanked admiring the gorgeous views. Just note that there are only 3 Citi Bike stations on the island, so if you are planning on biking to the one closest to the ferry, just make sure there are open spots or you'll have to circle the island till you find one (the reason we almost missed the last ferry).
Be sure to check out their website to read up on any changes, and enjoy your time visiting a place that is near and dear to me! The original blog post is below with some fun info!
One of my favorite quick and easy “getaways” from the hustle and bustle of NYC just happens to be a 10-minute ferry ride to Governors Island. While it is just a quick ride away, it feels like you are transported to another universe where you can see postcard-perfect views of the city.
I first visited Governors Island in the summer of 2009, and it has been fun to see how much it has developed over the past decade. The island has a long history as a military and coast guard base but is now known as a hub for outdoor entertainment. Just over the past few years, the island has expanded and added more food options, hammocks, slides, trails, art installations, and anything you can imagine.
The best part of Governors Island for me is the biking. The island has a giant loop around its perimeter that is the perfect leisurely bike ride. You can either rent bikes from Blazing Saddles, or if you have CitiBike like me, there are plenty of bikes and docking stations. Cruise around the perimeter for incredible Manhattan and Statue of Liberty views, and views of the old abandoned housing from the coast guard days.
If you love abandoned buildings like me, this island has enough to keep you entertained for hours. I don’t recommend trying to go into the buildings, but there are rows and rows of apartments, a theatre, and even an old shopping strip sitting unoccupied. They are starting to rehabilitate and repurpose a lot of these buildings, including creating new housing in the coming years. Luckily, they have recently extended their season through October, because it makes a super creepy Halloween setting. I hear they are taking submissions for a haunted house for Halloween 2018, and you better believe I will be first in line!
If you can’t wait (or afford) for the new apartments coming up, don’t worry! You can spend the night in a glamorous campsite thanks to Collective Retreats. There is a range of rustic yet luxurious tents at different prices and sizes, complete with electricity and bathrooms. Their most luxurious option, the summit tent, includes a king bed, private bathroom with a rain shower, complimentary breakfast, and designer decor to make any Instagrammer’s jaw drop. I haven’t stayed overnight yet, but it’s at the top of my list!
If you follow me on Instagram, no doubt you’ve seen a shot or two of Island Oyster, Governors Island’s tropical summer bar brought to you by the team from Grand Banks. They feature a great selection of cocktails, wines, beers, and snacks you can enjoy while taking in a great view of Manhattan and watching the waves crash against the wall (you might even get a little splash!). In addition to Island Oyster, there are two food courts with plenty of options, or you can always pack a picnic and lunch under the trees.
I could go on and on about all the fun things to do, but the best way for you to figure it out is to visit for yourself! Take the ferry, have a drink at Island Oyster, take a spin on a bike, and have a picnic. Enjoy these last days of warmth and fall breezes before we are all cooped up for the winter.✌🏻