Governors Island Ferry Dock

Top Reasons to Visit Governors Island in 2018

Governors Island 2018 

How to Get to Governors Island

Governors Island 2018 opens on May 1, and hosts events until October 31. The easiest way for you to access Governors Island is to take a ten-minute ferry that costs two dollars for a round-trip fare. Though ferries from Manhattan operate daily, the Brooklyn ferry only runs on Saturdays and Sundays.

Manhattan Skyline
Lower Manhattan rises across the harbor from Governors Island, New York.

What to do on Governors Island

Activities that may draw you to Governors Island include music festivals, performances, art exhibits, tours of historic forts, arts and crafts, storytelling, cultural events, and more.

Check out their website for a schedule of Governors Islands events. You can find a whirl of things to do including children’s creative play and educational camps. Plus two ball fields and a soccer field are available for pick up games, or you can reserve them in advance.

Other activities include four sliding boards, a maze, rock climbing, Citi Bike rentals, and a  jogging or walking path. Also, if you would like to volunteer, you have a range of opportunities.

The Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island
The Statue of Liberty stands proudly on Liberty Island.

Island Oyster Restaurant and Food Trucks

Located overlooking New York Harbor, the Island Oyster restaurant and bar makes you feel like you are dining on a tropical island. While you inhale the pungent harbor air, you can peruse the menu that lists a variety of oysters and lite fare menu selections including small plates, burgers, tacos, and more.

For other options, you can find food trucks, pop-ups, and beer gardens. Moreover, you may bring food and reserve a grill or picnic table, but you must purchase your alcohol on Governors Island.

What to do on Governors Island

If you’re not interested in entertainment,  you can escape mass moving Manhattan to see something different, at your own pace.

If you choose a weekday without a Governors Island planned event, you can probably ride bikes without dodging people or vehicles. Plus, you can drift through paths lined with perennial gardens where golden rudbeckias, pink coneflowers, and mixed grasses sway. Additionally, you can see Manhattan’s skyline, the Statue of Liberty, and the Staten Island Ferry from a unique perspective.

The Freedom Freedom Tower at One World Trade Center rises in the background.
We ride Citi Bikes on Governors Island, New York.

Fort Jay and Castle Williams

Furthermore, see star-shaped Fort Jay and tour Castle Williams. Comparatively, while Fort Jay is star-shaped, Castle Williams is a circular fort that had imprisoned Confederate soldiers.

Castle Williams was a prison for confederate soldiers.
Castle Williams is the “best preserved circular fortification in the nation.”

Don’t miss the hammocks, the longest slide in NYC, the view from The Hills, Cabin, Compost Learning Center, the Teaching Garden, Billion Oyster Project, and the junkyard adventure playground.

Adventure Playground NYC

Children create with scrap materials
Governors Island junkyard playground sparks children’s creativity.

The junkyard playground allows children six to twelve years old to build and experiment with scrap materials using hammers, nails, and saws, while supervisors watch and keep parents at bay. Boards, sheets, blankets, rubber tires, metal sheets, orange construction cones, wheels, and large plastic duct tubes–large enough to crawl through–are examples of the junk that litters the playground. Adventure Playground on Governors Island, NY

At the Adventure Playground NYC, children experiment with scrap materials and use their imagination to create unique structures.

Adventure Playground
Children attend weekly summer camps in the junkyard playground.
Junkyard Playground
Supervisors keep parents away while children build with junk.

Governors Island Camps

If you have children, check out the Governors Island camps. They can experience the environment and gardening through the Grow NYC Teaching Garden. Moreover, they will learn about the importance of composting at the Compost Learning Center.

Another option is to stop by the New York City Audubon nature center to discover unique facts about birds. Plus the Billion Oyster Project is an ecosystem education with the goal of continuing the restoration of the oyster population in the New York Harbor.

Governors Island is a Vacation from Manhattan

Governors Island is a beautiful diversion from busy Manhattan. There’s plenty to do for all ages.

Though if you are uninterested in scheduled events or crowds, you can unwind, exercise, and learn something new on less-busy days.

Furthermore, even if you love busy Manhattan, Governors Island offers breathing space. Cruising past the flower gardens and winding roads make you feel like you are in a country setting until you gaze across the New York Harbor at the Manhattan Skyline and the Staten Island Ferry. Though you are not far from the city, the New York ferry transports you literally and figuratively to a new world.

Staten Island Ferry from Governors Island
The Staten Island Ferry cruises  New York Harbor.

 Citi Bike Tip

Most importantly, read the fine details if you rent a Citi Bike. Furthermore, ensure you return your Citi Bike on time and lock it in the bike rack.

We had a bad experience with Citi Bike. Though we returned our bikes on time and felt confident that we had locked them in, Citi Bike tried to charge us a $100 fee stating that we didn’t secure one of the bikes correctly, though we both heard it click when we pushed it in the rack.

When I had returned to my Manhattan hotel room, a Citi Bike agent contacted me and suggested that I return to Governors Island on the ferry, though the boat had stopped running for the day. He recommended that I relock my bike to avoid overage charges.

Unfortunately, this interaction with Citi Bike put a damper on our trip. Therefore my point is: Don’t let this happen to you!

Does Governors Island interest you? Are you more likely to visit during an event or when it’s less crowded?

What do you think about Citi Bike accusing us of not docking our bikes properly and attempting to charge us  $100 overage fee?


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28 thoughts on “Top Reasons to Visit Governors Island in 2018

    1. You are right, we had a great day until I heard from Citi Bike, thank you for your comment. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  1. I do love Governor’s Island! I have gone to a few events there and it is also a great place for a picnic. The views are spectacular. I’m sorry you had trouble with Citibike, and I can’t believe the guy wanted you to go all the way back there. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

    1. Anisa, thanks for your comment, I think that the Citi Bike agent knew that we weren’t returning. I wanted to make people aware of potential overcharges. Also, after a few emails that dropped the extra fee. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  2. I love the Adventure Playground idea! What a great way to boost creativity in kids. I’ve never been or considered visiting Governors Island, but maybe we’ll visit next time we are in NYC. I won’t be using Citi Bike though ;), hope it worked out for you in the end.

    1. Emended-Reka, thanks for your comment. After a few calls and emails, Citi Bike dropped the charges but they made a bad impact on our day.

  3. This certainly seems like it would be a nice change of pace from Manhattan. I love when large cities have these fun escapes so close by. I will definitely be adding Governor’s Island to my bucket list.

    1. eddiemeardon, Thanks for your comment. You are right, we had a great afternoon on Governors Island.

  4. I haven’t been to the Governors Island yet! Looks like there are so many things to do there! I´d probably drop by the Oyster restaurant first thing #TheWeeklyPostcard

    1. Anna, thank you for your comment. Governors Island has a lot to offer, and I think that dropping by the Oyster restaurant is a good bet.

  5. That’s unfortunate with the bike incident. I don’t blame you for feeling that way though. One little mishap can really put a damper on what could have been a great day! They need to get this sorted! #theweeklypostcard

    1. Adventure Born, thank you for your comment. You are right, despite Citi Bike, it was still a great day.

  6. This sounds so cool! So is the island only open in the summer? What happens the rest of the year? Sounds like lots of fun stuff to do, throw in a free ferry and I’m convinced. I wouldn’t be hiring a bike though….!

    1. Rachel, thank you for your comment. Governors Island is open May 1 to October 31, during the warmer months since most activities are outside.

  7. Wow I’d never actually heard of Governor’s Island before! Sounds like a fun thing to do in the warmer weather… you would find me at all the food trucks!

    1. Sarah, Governors Island offers a nice venue for warm weather, thanks for your comment.

  8. I had not heard about Governor’s Island. We were in NYC a year ago and went to Battery Park, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty. Next trip, we will have to visit here!

    1. Sharon, thank you for your comment. Governors Island is worth a trip whether you attend one of their festivals or visit on a quieter day.

  9. I never realized there was so much to do in Governors Island. It sounds like it offers so much for locals and visitors during the warmer weather. I love the playground they have set up for the kids. The views look fantastic too. We’ll keep this in mind when visiting NYC during the summer.

    1. Hi Mary, thank you for your comment, there is a lot to do and Governors Island is a great venue for a picnic.

    1. FunFitnessFamily, thank you for your comment if you are into fun, fitness and family, you would like Govenenor Island. I hope that you get a chance to check it out.

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