Looking for a green sandy respite away from the concrete jungle of NYC? Take a peek at Governors Island!
There has been such a buzz about this place! It is located just off shore of Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn and the bottom tip of Manhattan. Snippets of information including “Water Taxi Beach”, military history, and free ferry rides have had me intrigued. Open for the season ONLY Friday 10-5, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday Holidays 10-7 through September 25, 2011.
The hubs and I, feeling adventurous on a beautiful day, set out to experience the island. After a short walk, subway ride, another short walk in the wrong way, a fence hop, another walk and finally, the lovely ferry ride, we set foot on Governors Island! But really, I’m just trying to be funny. Getting there should have been no problem. A few wrong turns combined with new sandals, new blisters, and new band-aids turned our trip into a true adventure.
You can only get to the island by Ferry, excuse me, FREE ferry! Seems unbelievable considering the increasing subway fares, tolls, and gas prices we face every day. Even more reason why you should take advantage of the free ride. You can catch the ferry in Manhattan from the Battery Maritime Building in lower Manhattan (Friday, Sat, Sun, & Mon Holidays) or in Brooklyn from Pier 6 of the Brooklyn Brooklyn Bridge Park (Sat, Sun, & Mon Holidays- no ferries Friday). View the ferry schedules & directions for more information.
We took the free ferry from Pier 6 in Brooklyn. I had been to Pier 1 Brooklyn Bridge Park before so I assumed Pier 6 would be close by. It was close, but 6 was a bit of a walk south from the main park. The map wasn't much help and the walk was confusing with lots of bikes sharing the same pathway and zero signage. BUT Brooklyn Bridge Park is beautiful, especially at Pier 1 right under the bridge and I definitely suggest you check it out. To skip the scenic route, head West on Atlantic Ave From Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn until you hit the water. Pier 6 is located at the very end. If all the travel thus far has made you hungry, a Bark Hot Dog stand was located not too far from the ferry line! The ferry was at the dock when we walked up with 2 lines for boarding already assembled; people with bikes and people without. Boarding was quick and efficient, no one was left behind. Time at sea lasted 10 minutes.
Happy to be back on dry land, we steadied our sea legs and made our way to Water Taxi Beach for some refreshments. Right away we passed by Bike and Roll, you can rent bikes by the hour up to a full day. **FREE 1 hour bike rentals on Fridays!!**Fridays, May 27- September 23, 2011...BUT remember..no free Brooklyn Ferry on Fridays! Bummer...
Water taxi beach was more low key than I imagined. There were a few families with their kids playing in the sand, small groups of adults sipping on draft beer, and a few singles just enjoying the sunshine. The one food option when we were there served up the expected delicacies; burgers, fries, wings, hot dogs...the summer favorites. Our food bill: 2 burgers, 2 fries, 1 bottle of water, 1 fountain soda= $23. It was OK- I'd prefer one of the options back in Brooklyn.
After the beach we walked around Castle Williams on the northwest point, enjoying the unobstructed views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Needing some time in the shade we found solace along the rows of colonial houses and giant elm trees. It's really such a unique place filled with so much history. First as the Native American's "Nut Island", then in Dutch/English/Dutch/English control and a major player for NY in the War of 1812 and the Revolutionary War. To learn more, check out some Governors Island History!
There is a large field where public and private events are held. That day it was a kids science festival and I can't comment because we didn't go anywhere near it! But we did see some trapeze action. The Trapeze School New York is offering flying trapeze classes and lessons on Governor Island, see schedule and pricing info.
I would definitely recommend taking an afternoon to explore this very interesting historical island!