NYC's Most Scenic Waterfront Park: Gantry Plaza State Park

Updated: Jun 29, 2018

Monday was a day of rest for us after an art-filled Sunday spent at the Met and non stop dancing at the Park Avenue Armory. We took the five minute NYC ferry ride from the East 34th Street terminal to the Long Island City terminal to spend some time in Gantry Plaza State Park, NYC’s most picturesque waterfront park. 

You can see all the iconic buildings from this park

The ferry, which is nicely appointed with a full snack bar and plenty of comfortable seating both inside on the main deck and on the open air upper deck, is $2.75 for a one way ticket and tickets can be purchased via the app or at the terminal ticket machines. I did not have to purchase a ticket for Curious G, and the ferry schedules can be found here. We disembarked right by the famous Pepsi Cola sign, which you can see while driving along the FDR or strolling along the East River on the Manhattan side. The promenade is surrounded by green lawns and playgrounds to the East and the most comprehensive views of the Manhattan skyline to the West. After hitting dry land, Curious G took the opportunity to run to the grass to do some light (and unapproved) foraging, and then tried out a few benches.

The ferry ride was quick and smooth

This is available on the ferry. It has adult beverages on tap!

Promenading towards the Pepsi Cola sign

Benches, wooden loungchairs, and other varieties of seating are provided throughout the park

There goes our ferry. Thanks for the ride!

You can see the skyline all the way down to One World Trade Center from this park

Our first stop was the playground just a few minutes away from the ferry terminal, which comes complete with free WiFi, loads of climbing jungle gyms, and those ubiquitous stunning views. 

Love these rainbow foam padded floors

Color everywhere

This boy followed Curious G all over the playground. He kept calling her Molly because she told him she was "Molly the spider". He was impressed with her web climbing skills so he went with it.


We took a lunch break on a picnic bench nearby, followed by a romp in the grass and a quick lounge on the wooden chaises. The air was warm, but not smothering, and the sky was bright blue dotted with white cotton candy clouds. Relaxation was gradually taking over as the bustling Manhattan streets grew more distant.

If I don't look at it, maybe it will just blow away...Curious G wishing for something a bit more epicurean

These EVA Birks may give me some unsightly tan lines but, oh my, they are comfy (and waterproof)! Nothing like a good lounge after lunch, and these chaise loungers were calling our names.

We took a post lunch stroll towards the "Tot Lot" playground and walked along the piers by the namesake gantries. We spotted some ducks, pretty blooms, and many new modern apartment buildings along the way. 

Gantry #1

Beautiful blooms planted along old railroad tracks

Curious G did a cursory run thorough the "Tot Lot" playground before the ice cream truck jingle chimed in. It was a classic Pavlovian situation for the both of us as we immediately hightailed it on over to the truck and ordered two cherry dipped vanilla ice creams. After checking out the Xaviera Simons art installation, ice creams in hand, we sat on a bench and enjoyed the view.

The "Tot Lot"

The view and the vivid colors are a match made in heaven

Basketball court and old fashioned workout equipment

Xaviera Simons' "Convene" display of colorful boats representing international flags (she got up as soon as I read the sign)

Should have gotten more napkins...

We then made our way over to the bleacher seating and, again enjoyed the views while Curious G made me sing the 80’s hits that the LIC Landing by Coffeed played over the speakers. I happily obliged as I have an uncanny memory for all things Duran Duran, Tears for Fears, Hall and Oats, etc (I have quite a catalog of lyrics stored in my head). After the kids who were playing soccer cleared out of the ball field, Curious G took advantage of the empty field with a few laps.

Gorgeous green

View of a perfect summer day in NYC

After that we tried to catch the ferry from the Hunters Point South terminal, which was right next to the LIC Landing by Coffeed, but missed it. There was another ferry scheduled to leave from the Long Island City terminal, where we had originally arrived, in about seven minutes so Curious G jumped into her stroller and we swiftly returned to our starting point. We spent about four hours chilling and playing at Gantry Plaza State Park, and we could have taken a 10 minute walk to Mini Land Play, where $12 gets one child with an adult unlimited playtime during the weekdays (2 hours on the weekend) after the park. Another option would be to check out MoMA PS 1 or the Flea Market, if a full day Long Island City adventure is what you desire. We headed back, rather than extending our stay, because Curious G was tuckered out.

LIC Landing by Coffeed serves snacks, coffee, beer, and wine. There is lovely patio seating along the waterfront.

We saw this after using the Coffeed restroom

We sat on the upper deck on our ride back and enjoyed the beautiful views during the entire ride back to East 34th Street.

Another chance to soak up the views from the upper deck of the ferry!

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