On a hot summer day, you can be out on the water in Lower Manhattan in minutes. Unlike anywhere else in the city, there are dozens of boat, ferry and island combinations to make you feel like you’re on a vacation away from NYC for the day – or just for lunch!
Take a free ride
Walk down to the Whitehall Terminal to board the Staten Island Ferry for a refreshing trip on the water, absolutely free of charge. Each leg of the trip takes 25 minutes, and ferries leave every half hour all day and night. Make sure to stand on the side that passes the Statue of Liberty for an up-close view, and take in the skyline on the ferry ride back. This can be a quick hour long escape, but why not plan in an extra hour to two to explore Staten Island before returning to Lower Manhattan.
Visit New York’s playground
Just next to the Whitehall Terminal is the Battery Maritime Building, a gorgeous Beaux-Arts building built from 1906 to 1909, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. Worth a visit itself, the building is also the jumping off point for ferries to Governors Island, which is open from May 1 – October 31. This urban oasis has a park, a concert venue, a giant art space, a rock-climbing wall, a 57-foot-long slide on Slide Hill, a Hammock Grove, a mini golf course, and a 300-foot-long zip line with skyline views, plus excellent food options. Feel like staying the night? You can even ‘glamp’ with views of the Statue of Liberty with Collective Retreats.
The only way to the Statue
Whether it’s your first or fiftieth visit to New York City, there will always be something special about connecting to the country’s history at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The only way to do that is by booking with Statue Cruises (so don’t believe any other boat or ferry company that says they can take you there!). The three-hour tour takes you to the statue then makes a stop at Ellis Island before heading back to land.
Skip the subway
You can take a ferry to all five boroughs from Lower Manhattan, the city’s main ferry hub. A one-way fare on NYC Ferry costs $2.75, the same as a subway line, without ever having to spend time underground. Millions of commuters take the ferries, but for tourists, this is the most refreshing way to move around the city. You can get to many places in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, even the Bronx, but the most exciting escape by ferry is to the Rockaways, an hour-long ferry ride that leaves from Pier 11, in Lower Manhattan.
Sail the harbor
While the other options on this list involve larger ferries on a mission from point A to B, a trip with Manhattan by Sail is a relaxing hour-long sail into the New York Harbor and back. This is a true sailing experience, where you can watch the crew gracefully put up the sails and serve you drinks (and even brunch!) all while pushing away from the shore and sailing toward the Statue. Luxurious, relaxing and affordable, you spend an hour breathing in fresh air and getting perspective on how incredible the New York waterways truly are.
Stay grounded – the water by bike
Not the sailing type? Why not explore on two wheels along the shore instead. You’ll get the same fresh air and wind in your hair when you rent a bike with Bike Rent NYC, without ever having to leave solid ground. There are plenty of bike lanes along the coast to explore from river to river, and if you want to combine a bike and boat adventure, bring your rental on board the ferry to Staten Island, Governors Island, the Rockaways, or other parts of the five boroughs to explore even more of the city during your stay!
For all things Lower Manhattan, visit www.downtownny.com.