NYC Travel Tip: Governor’s Island

Open to the public since 2003, Governor’s Island is a great summer retreat when one wants to escape island life on Manhattan.  A repurposed Army base, this summer-only hideaway has been on my “to see” list for a while and I was glad to make a trek to the island, despite the simultaneous HOPE conference.

On Gov’s Island facing toward Lower Manhattan.

There is a short ferry from Manhattan’s Battery that takes about ten minutes or so of actual travel time.  Besides some great views of Brooklyn, the statue of liberty, Ellis Island and lower Manhattan, most of the northern part of the land is open to the public.  I was surprised to see a sand-filled beach beer garden and an abundance of table vendors from ice-cream trucks to recycling campaigns to political activists.  All of this in front of a backdrop of closed military barracks and parade grounds makes for a surreal sight.

Tall ship passing between Governor’s Island and Manhattan. There was a decent wind that day, which would make for a great day for sailing!

Renting bikes is popular here and so are collisions or near collisions among urban-dwellers who don’t get out of the city much. But, if one can manage to avoid a handshake with a bicycle, sitting and watching the water traffic is entertaining enough.  By the way, the island, the ferries and the walking is free (as in beer)!

Google Earth view of Governor’s Island, Brooklyn (with Bridge) and lower Manhattan. If I was properly prepared, I would have brought my GPS with me to record the trip…

I recommend visitors bring water and snacks with them as the on-island carts are very much aware that you are stuck on an island.  Also, when the military left apparently so did the sanitation system as most of the toilets are port-a-potties.  But, besides these realities of island-life, it really is worth the trip on a nice day and besides central park, it’s probably the closest open-air escape from the city.

NYC Water Taxi with Staten Island ferry. In the background, lower Manhattan. The water taxi was featured in AFAR‘s picture mash-up a few months ago which featured taxis from around the world.
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3 thoughts on “NYC Travel Tip: Governor’s Island

  1. Great pictures! I’m glad you finally got to explore Governor’s Island. We’ll have to visit the beer garden before it closes for the year.

    1. Definitely! Everyone there looked like they were having fun. Although, I didn’t see any one-liter mugs like I did in Munich, instead they were plastic cups 😕

      I thought you were supposed to be studying important things like US v. Warshak?!?!

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