5 Reasons to ride the NYC Ferry this Summer: Sports, Carousels, Food, Art, Views, Mini Golf and More

Updated: Aug 23, 2018

The NYC Ferry is only $2.75 for a one way ticket, provides stunning panoramic views of the city, offers Chardonnay and Don Julio on tap (I kid you not), and gives you access to Domino Park, Brooklyn Bowl, Gantry Plaza State Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Governor’s Island, Pier 17, and the SeaGlass Carousel from Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. In case you haven’t read my posts on these fabulous places to play, eat, and spend an ideal summer day (or night), here is the condensed version of my posts with most of the pics, less of the text.

The Eclipse by Jacob Hashimoto is on view for free in the St. Cornelius Chapel on Governor's Island

1. Governor’s Island

Governor’s Island (weekend service only via NYC Ferry East River route)

From Battery Maritime in Manhattan all week or from Pier 6 on the weekends

We have been taking Curious G to Governor’s Island every summer since she was five months old. It also made it to our 23 Things to Do This Summer. A family can easily spend a full day on the island. We just spent five hours there on a drizzly Sunday! This year, we brought C.G.'s scooter instead of her stroller, so that she could zip around the island.

We started out at Liggett Hall Archway, where we marveled at Jacob Hashimoto’s beautiful installation Never Comes Tomorrow . We then made a stop at the Hammock Grove playground a few steps away. After some climbing (and a smattering of rain drops) we made our way over to Nolan Park, where Children's Museum of the Arts hosts their Island Outpost free art projects on the weekends this summer. On the way there, we stopped into the St. Cornelius Chapel to view Jacob Hashimoto’s The Eclipse where 15,000 rice paper and bamboo kites hang from the chapel ceiling.

After constructing paper crowns and experimenting with other materials at the Island Outpost, we walked over to play:groundNYC's Yard, where kids can literally play in a junkyard. Parents are not allowed in the junkyard area for kids that are 6 and older; the play:groundNYC philosophy is to allow kids to explore freely without boundaries. Parents who are less inclined towards free-range parenting can supervise their kids within arms reach in the newly built playground section for kids 5 and under.

Our stomachs beckoned us to the food trucks lined up in Liggett Terrace, where we enjoyed empanadas, mozzarepas, hot dogs, fries and ice cream. One of these days, I would love to have a post-lunch drink or two at the Island Oyster. Instead, we ran through the maze and played mini golf before jumping back on the ferry. We could have stayed to ride a rented quad bike around the island's 7 miles of biking paths , visit the urban farm, enjoy slide hill, ice skate on an outdoor rink, and indulge in some hammock time.

A little drizzle could not dampen a fun day at Governor's Island

Future golf pro in the making

No, this is not the set of Mad Max and there were no little raggamuffins crawling out from the rubble...and, yes, I was holding my breath as my 3 year-old stood on top of an old piano bench and leaned over to explore the interior of a dilapidated piano

In case junkyards are not your thing...

The maze has been a hit with Curious G for two years running now. This year, the glamping tents served as additional scenery

Last year, we started out with some recon on a rented quad bike before mapping out our island itinerary.

Slide Hill was one of our first stops last year, and we all admired the lady in the background for braving the searingly hot slides with such gusto

The Urban Farm won Curious G's vote for best attraction last year

2. Brooklyn Bridge Park

DUMBO Terminal

Brooklyn Bridge Park has so much to offer. We could not boil it down to just one post! Each individual pier has enough to offer to warrant a full-day visit. This summer we visited a handful of times already. Highlights from our first visit of the summer can be found here. We love to spend a morning riding Jane’s Carousel, playing in the Main Street Playground, and having lunch at Cecconi’s. We also come back a few times during the summer to relax and stroll around the piers; and to visit the Water Lab and other playgrounds on Pier 6.

The Water Lab on Pier 6 is one of the most expansive splashpads in the city

There are multiple playgrounds on Pier 6

Yes, you can roller skate on Pier 2. You can also participate in the other sports listed here

Roller skating on Pier 2!

Soccer, anyone?

You could also just relax on one of the many green lawns and stare at the open sky and all the beautiful flowers

There's a beach too!

There are so many walking trails; both shaded and open

Jane's Carousel

3 . Domino Park and Brooklyn Bowl

North Williamsburg Terminal

Domino Park is the newest destination on this list, and we visited shortly after it opened. Our first visit took place after a ride over on the L train, but we’ve since discovered that the ferry is another fun way to get there! Brooklyn Bowl is also only a 10 minute walk from the ferry terminal, and a 15 minute walk from Domino Park, so the two can be rolled together into a day of mega fun. On Sundays, they host Family Bowl from noon to 5 pm, which includes a kid-friendly concert where kids can strut their stuff on the dance floor along with the whole family.

The most Instagrammable splashpad in NYC this summer can be found at Domino Park

So many climbing opportunities!

Playground with a view


So many running opportunities

Just so many!

Brooklyn Bowl

Gutter guards and these handy guides are available for the kiddos

Each lane comes with a table, couch seating, and waiter service

The Family Bowl concerts are usually themed, and we were there for the Bob Marley tribute

4. Gantry Plaza State Park

Long Island City Terminal for the North Side of the Park by the Pepsi Cola sign

Hunter’s Point South Terminal for Southern side of the park by the LIC Landing

We discovered Gantry Plaza State Park last year and immediately fell in love with the unmatched views of the Manhattan skyline, the relaxing atmosphere, the space to roam, the two playgrounds, and just how fresh and new everything is. We returned earlier this summer and plan to keep returning until the temperatures drop in the wintertime.

This waterfront park wins for most expansive views of Manhattan

Playground #1

Playground #2 known as the Tot Lot

Art and Ice cream...typical scene for Curious G

Green ball field that could not be dreamier

One of the scenic piers

Beach Volleyball!

The infamous Pepsi Cola sign

5. SeaGlass Carousel and/or Pier 17

Wall Street / Pier 11 Terminal

Pier 17 opened this summer and we visited several times with friends to relax on the deck, enjoy the views, and check out the colorful Geronimo installation. It quickly became a hot spot for photo ops; and you can read all about our first visit; along with details on our SeaGlass Carousel ride here.

Vibrant balloon sculpture by Geronimo on Pier17

The flowers on the Floral Wall have changed throughout the summer

Gorgeous Views

The Beautiful SeaGlass Carousel

The magical glow of the changing colors

Ready for another ride

FYI, you can also take the NYC Ferry to Rockaway Beach. We have not done it, but friends have recommended a return trip during the sunset for a delightful scenic treat.

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