Guide to Governors Island

aerial view of Manhattan skyline and Governors Island

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Located in the New York Harbor, Governors Island is a former military base that has been opened to the public and offers car-free biking, art exhibits, performances, picnicking, tours and more. Many of the things to do on Governors Island are completely free, including the ferry ride to get there!

Basics

  • Getting to Governors Island: Ferry service to Governors Island is offered daily from late May until late September. On Saturdays, Sundays and Labor Day, ferry service is available from Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 6. Daily ferry service is offered from Manhattan's Battery Maritime Building (10 South Street), adjacent to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. Check out the Governors Island Website for full directions and ferry details.
  • Visiting Hours: The Island opens to the public daily at 10 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m. on weekdays, 7 p.m. on weekends.

    Good to Know

    • Governors Island has drinks and water for sale, but no water fountains.
    • There are numerous options for food, but it's also a great place to bring your own picnic.
    • Dogs and pets are not allowed on Governors Island.
    • Kids under 14 must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
    • There are public restrooms.
    • Arrive at least 30 minutes before your ferry departure time for both traveling to and from Governors Island.

    History

    Located in the New York Harbor, Governors Island was a military base for nearly 200 years before being closed by the Coast Guard in 1996. In 2003, the Federal Government sold most of Governors Island to the people of New York for $1. The Federal Government and the National Park Service oversee 22-acres of the Island - the Governors Island National Monument which includes two 1812-era forts.

    The remaining 150-acres of Governors Island is managed by the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation. Governors Island offers a variety of educational, non-profit and commercial activities for visitors.

    Things to Do

    • Picnicking - Pack a picnic, bring a blanket, and enjoy yourself. Alternatively, there is plenty of food for sale from a variety of vendors on the island.
    • Car-free biking - you can bring your own bike over on the ferry, or rent one from Blazing Saddles.
    • FIGMENT's art installations - Including Mini-golf, interactive sculptures, and a tree house, FIGMENT's installations on the Parade Grounds are fun for the entire family.
    • Host an event - For a small fee, you can reserve grilling stations and/or groups of tables to have a party.
    • Take in the view - The Island offers fantastic views of the Statue of Liberty, as well as downtown Manhattan and the Brooklyn Promenade.
    • Concerts - The Beach at Governors Island hosts concerts throughout the season, and is also just a fun place to hang out when you're on the island.
    • More events - Depending on the week, Governors Island has a wide variety of different activities taking place, including everything from art installations and food events to mini-golf and farm stands.