10 Fun Things to Do on Governors Island

Gillian Osswald

Summer and Governors Island make a perfect pair. The 172-acre island, a former military base used in the Revolutionary War and War of 1812, serves as a seasonal recreation space with green lawns ready for picnics, paths fit for bicycle rides and hammocks primed for relaxing in the sunshine. It’s a short ferry ride away, less than 10 minutes from Manhattan’s Battery Maritime Building (daily) or Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6 (weekends only). Upon arrival, you’ll find plenty of ways to explore the New York Harbor oasis—no matter your style or speed. Read on for a few of our favorite island activities.

1. Watch a free movie.

Outdoor movie screenings are a city tradition, and this year Governors Island is getting in on the fun. Head to the Parade Ground to catch an NYC-themed flick on select Friday nights.

Courtesy, Governors Island

2. Go “ice” skating—in the summer.

Don’t wait for the holidays to break out those skates. The unique synthetic ice of Mel’s Rink looks and acts like real ice but won’t melt even in the warmest weather.

Courtesy, Governors Island

3. Sleep over in style.

Thanks to the decked-out tents courtesy of Collective Retreats, visitors can now glamp (glamorously camp, of course) on the island overnight.

Jacob Hashimoto, Eclipse. Photo: Timothy Schenck

4. Experience the art scene.

Public art installations, like The Eclipse, by Jacob Hashimoto, are all around the island (check out as well Rachel Whiteread’s Cabin on Discovery Hill), while rotating exhibits regularly take up residence on Colonels Row.

Photo: Kate Glicksberg

5. Pedal a quadracycle.

Bikes are great way to explore the island’s 7 miles of car-free paths, but rent a quadracycle or six-person surrey for double the wheels and the fun.

Photo: Timothy Schenck

6. Slide down NYC’s longest slide.

Kids and teens can head for The Hills to see impressive views of the City before sailing down Slide Hill’s 57-foot namesake attraction.

Courtesy, Governors Island

7. Enjoy drinks with a view.

Cocktails, oysters and waterfront views await at Island Oyster, a sprawling tropical-themed drinking destination near the Soissons Landing ferry stop.


8. Play a round of mini golf.

Putt your way through a whimsical, artist-designed mini golf course produced by Figment, a free annual art festival.

Photo: Kate Glicksberg

9. Attempt the Charleston.

Twice a summer, the Jazz Age Lawn Party invites revelers to kick up their heels in their finest vintage duds.

Photo: Timothy Schenck

10. Chill in a hammock.

Grassy, sunny Hammock Grove proves you don’t have to be doing much of anything to enjoy the Island life.