Summer Serenity and Fun at Governor’s Island

Governor's Island

Leaving the city behind

This past weekend was the first time we ventured on the ferry to Governor’s Island.  I had been wanting to make the trip for quite a while, and I liked the experience just as much as I thought I would.  It is truly a special place.  It’s quiet, bucolic and  in many ways it seems like a million miles from Manhattan.  If you’re looking for a day where the kids can spend ample time outdoors, without getting bored, Governor’s Island is for you.  A mere 8-minute ferry from the Battery Maritime Building at 10 South Street, right next to the Staten Island Ferry, there are ferries every half hour there and back.  While you’re riding out, you feel like you’re really getting away….for free!

Governor’s Island is open every Friday to Sunday from now until September 25th.  During the week, it’s open from 10am-5pm; on the weekends until 7pm.

Here are some activities you and your kids will love:

BIKING: You can either bring your own bikes (Friday – Sunday) or rent at Bike and Roll.  Through Bike and Roll’s Free Bike Fridays program, adult and children’s bikes are free every Friday for one hour.  Surreys can be rented on the weekend for $35 an hour.  You can ride around the whole of the island in a half-hour and it’s flat, easy for everyone, and the views of Manhattan as you circle the island are breathtaking.

Governor's IslandMINI GOLF: The FIGMENT Minigolf Course has returned in 2011 with 14 holes.  Bug is this year’s theme and it’s free.  What’s for a kid not to love about that?!

ART: The Storm King Art Center currently has an exhibition of Mark di Suvero’s work all over the island.  After exploring the sculptures spread across the island, kids create their own pieces (for free!) at Children’s Museum of the Arts stations (check web site for times).  Special arts events include MWA’s City of Water Day (July 16th), Bodies, Borders and Crossings by the Finnish Cultural Institute of NY (June 24th-July 31st) and the 4 Heads Art Fair (September weekends).

PICNIC: Either bring your own food, or grab food off a truck.  At Picnic Point, you can lunch while overlooking the Statue of Liberty.

FESTIVALS: The long list of festivals this summer includes the FIGMENT Festival, a celebration of arts & culture (June 10th-12th), Cook Out NYC (July 10th), Jazz Age Dance party (June 25th-26th an August 20th -21st) and so many others.  For the complete listing, visit www.governorsislandalliance.org.

MUSIC: Musical events include Rite of Summer Classical Music Festival (July 2nd and September 4th), the Governor’s Ball Music Festival (June 18th), Dave Matthews Band Caravan (August 26th-28th) and more.

SPORTS: Badminton, kite flying, outdoor bocce, unicycling, trapeze flying, swim – and much, much more.

EDUCATION: World Science Festival (June 4th), Civil War Weekend (August 13th-14th and an ongoing 60-minute orientation to thehistory of Governor’s Island.

Does this sound enticing?  It should.  After a our recent visit during the Family Festival, my kids enjoyed a yoga class, a bubble/clown performance, they climbed on the installations around the park, gazed at the Statue of Liberty, spun hoola hoops and ran through the spacious fields of Governor’s Island.  We can’t wait to go back.


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  1. Just wondering if people live on the Island?

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