Governor’s Island is a small island just 800 yards from Lower Manhattan. Once used as a military base and closed to the public, Governor’s Island was transferred to the City of New York in 2003 and converted into a National Monument that’s now run by the National Park Service. During the summer, it’s a popular little piece of paradise New Yorkers can escape to for the day.
Weekends are lively and full of events, but when I visited on a Thursday morning it was peacefully still, with few visitors.
The ferry to Governor’s Island is $2.00 roundtrip ticket, leaving on the hour from Whitehall Ferry next to Battery Park, just a short distance from where cruises leave for the Statue of Liberty. Use the Whitehall St or Bowling Green subway stops. Between 10am and 3pm on weekdays there’s a scheduled ferry every hour from Manhattan, with returns on the half hour until 6pm. A complete ferry schedule can be found on the island website for both Manhattan and Brooklyn departures.
View of Manhattan from the Governor’s Island Ferry.
This little island is amazing! The old military buildings and houses still cover the island and are home to occasional art exhibits and activities. An old fortification, Castle Williams, sits on the corner looking out on the Manhattan skyline. Wandering around I stumbled upon a sculpture garden and mini-golf park.
An amazing tree house plus part of the mini golf course.
Detail of one of the sculptures in the Sculpture Garden.
It’s all rolling hills, green lawns, and glorious tree-lined pathways. You can walk or bike around the island’s paths. For visitors who don’t have bikes, there are two Citibike rental points on opposite ends of the island.
The couple exhibits I went into were about stepping into the past. Photos of the people who used to live on the island, accompanied by memories they had. It was mostly based on children/teenagers who had live there with their military parents, minutes away from the Big Apple while simultaneously living in this otherworldly, almost suburban, tiny village.
Lives of Governor’s Island brats (as they dubbed themselves).
On weekends there are several food joints open, but the options were limited on the weekday. I only found two options aside from a hot dog truck, a Caribbean/Indian place and Little Eva’s. As a vegetarian my options were even fewer and I wished I would have thought to bring something with me. The veggie pita I bought from the Little Eva’s was, however, quite good (loved the white bean paste) and I happily enjoyed it from one of the hammocks along the paths on the far side of the island.
Not a bad view…
After about four hours taking in the spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty, I said goodbye to Governor’s Island and headed back to the city.
Lady Liberty herself, from the backside of the island.
It’s definitely well worth visiting Governor’s Island if you’re in New york. Hope to visit again sometime, but probably with some other people.