The best places to play and eat on Governors Island in 2019, and how to get there from Brooklyn and Manhattan by ferry!
Governors Island, one of our favorite summer playgrounds, will reopen to the public on Wednesday 1st May 2019 and remain open until Thursday 31st October 2019. This year, they will also be offering special late night opening on Fridays and Saturdays until 10pm. Here’s what’s not to miss on the fun, pedestrian-only island, only a short ferry ride from Manhattan or Brooklyn!
While the Island is open as of 1st May, the *FREE* (how amazing, right?!) play:ground adventure playground and junk yard spread over a massive 50,000 square feet, won’t be open until May 4th. The opening hours for Play:ground are 12pm – 4pm and they are open whether rain or shine. The team behind play:ground supplies young people with materials for building, exploring, imagining and yes — destroying! If you love the idea of your little ones being handed over hammers, nails, saws, paint and tires, just prepare them with old clothes and closed-toed shoes, and they’ll be ready for adventure.
Recommended for 6 years and older and children are supervised by play:ground supervisors while in The Yard (the older kids’ area), and parents can either hang out and watch at a distance, or explore other areas of the Island. As the play:ground is so popular, they recommend parents print and sign their waiver at home to bring with them. One waiver can last the whole summer.
Pssst… Looking for more *FREE* things to do in New York City? Check out our article on 52 Free Things to Do in New York here.
Adventures at Governor’s Island
Adventures at Governor’s Island offer zipwiring, a maze, a climbing challenge and mini golf on the western shore of Governor’s Island, from 11am – 6pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Weight restrictions apply.
Collective Retreats are offering their amazing luxury text experience on Governor’s Island again this year, where you can camp while admiring the bright lights of the city. Rates range from $150 to $500 per night, and tents can accommodate two adults, or two adults plus one larger child on a single bed. Any additional kiddos (aged 6 or under) will need to bunk in with mom and dad, sharing a bed, which makes this a tricky option for larger families. At night, you won’t be able to wander Governor’s Island at will — guest need to stay within bounds of the retreat after hours.
The Slide Hill
The Slide Hill Play area includes the longest slide in the city at 57 feet. Your kids will love clambering and sliding their way around it! This area is designed for ages 5-14 years, and features a wide family slide, as well as two ADA accessible slides (complete with ADA access at the back of the hill).
And there’s more!
- The Play Lawn offers two natural turf ballfields available by permit, and when not in use, visitors can play pick up games
- Check out the Hammock Grove Play Area featuring play structures for all ages
- *FREE* kayaking will be available from June 15th to September 14th from 11am to 4pm on weekends
- The KoKo Tiny House project will be offering workshops on teaching kids to think innovatively, on various weekends. For more details, check out their website.
- Rent some bikes and cycle around the island!
Governor’s Island are introducing some new vendors for the new year, including Makina Cafe, which will be serving up modern Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine, Neapolitan Express where you can grab an authentic neapolitan pizza, or try a Venezuelan hot dog from Perros Y Vainas. One spot that has been around for a while but which is experiencing a fresh buzz is Island Oyster, who were recently nominated for the 2019 James Beard Award. They save most of their tables for walk-ins, but given their popularity, you try grabbing a reservation in advance.
How to Get There
From Brooklyn (Weekends only)
- Take the Governor’s Island Ferry on weekends from Pier 6 in Dumbo. Check out the schedule here. Kids ride for free!
- Take the NYC Ferry South Brooklyn route on Weekends. Check out the schedule here.
- Take the NYC Ferry East River route on weekends. Check out the schedule here.
Take the Governors Island Ferry from Battery Maritime Building, 10 South Street, on both weekdays and weekends. Schedule here.
One last note — dogs are not allowed on Governors Island, so leave your fur babies at home.