The 10 best things to do on Governors Island

July 8, 2019

Governors Island is one of New Yorkers’ favorite places to visit come the warm weather. Less than a 15-minute ferry ride from downtown, the Island is both a national park and one of the few places in NYC where you won’t find any cars, making it the perfect place to get away without really leaving. Pack your sunglasses and a picnic blanket, because we’ve rounded up the 10 best things to do on Governors Island, from kayaking and running a 10K to lounging in a hammock and taking yoga in a lavender field.

hammock, governors island, summer
Photo via the Trust for Governor’s Island

1. Hammock Grove

Located in the heart of the island, Hammock Grove offers 50 adorable red hammocks, completely free to use for visitors. Relax and enjoy the weather, and snag a killer view of the Manhattan skyline while you’re at it.

jazz age lawn party, jazz, governors island
Photo via the Trust for Governor’s Island

2. Jazz-Age Lawn Party

It’s almost the ’20s…the 2020s, that is. On August 24 and 25, the Island will host the Jazz Age Lawn Party, a Roaring Twenties-inspired music festival counting down to the 100th anniversary of Prohibition. Aperol Spritz and VieVite are among this year’s sponsors, which means plenty of cocktails and rosé will be on hand. Join hundreds of other revelers as you sip drinks, don your coolest vintage clothing, and Charleston the night away.

kayak, hudson, governors island
Photo via the Trust for Governor’s Island

3. Free Kayaking

The Hudson River might not be the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions kayaking, but where else are you going to have such stunning views of downtown Manhattan? The Downtown Boathouse provides kayaks for free public use at the Island’s Pier 101 every Saturday of the season and offers safety equipment and free instruction.

4. Adventures at GI

You’re never too old to act like a kid. Adventures at Governors Island offers minigolf, a climbing wall, and a maze. There’s even a 300-foot zip line. All attractions are open for children and adults alike every day of the week.

governors island, walking tours, summer
Photo via Flickr cc

5. Official walking tours

While Governors Island is small, it contains a lot of history. The island was first used for fishing by the Lenape tribe, then as an army base for the United States military, then was later designated a National Park. If you want to take a break from relaxing on the lawn, the island’s walking tours run Wednesday through Sunday.

collective retreats, governors island, glamping
Photo via Collective Retreats

6. Camping with Collective Retreats

If you don’t want to say goodbye to the Island just yet, consider staying overnight. Collective Retreats offers luxury camping arrangements, from private tents with electricity and shared bathrooms to mini cabins with air conditioning, room service, and soaking tubs. Guests enjoy complimentary breakfast and yoga classes on the lawn.

biking, bike, governors island
Photo via the Trust for Governor’s Island

7. Biking

You could take in the picturesque sights of Governors Island on foot, or you could bike around the Island instead. Bring your own bicycle, or skip hauling it onto the ferry and rent one for the day. Blazing Saddles has bikes and surreys available for rent, and there are several Citi Bike docking stations.

lavender, field, governors islandPhoto via the Trust for Governor’s Island

8. Lavender Field

Greenery can be hard to come by in NYC, which is why it’s so great that Governors Island has its own lavender field. Join environmental preservation group Earth Matter as they teach yoga and lead craft workshops. Even better, you can take your floral crafts home with you.

race, 5k nycruns
Photo via the Trust for Governor’s Island

9. Governors Island 5k and 10k

Governors Island was once off-limits to most New Yorkers, but nowadays anyone interested can lace up their running shoes and register for a race. NYCRUNS is hosting this year’s Governors Island 5k and 10k the morning of August 10th. Plan to cool off afterward on one of the Island’s shaded lawns.

movie, movie night, governors island
Photo via the Trust for Governor’s Island

10. Free movies at Governor’s Island

Watching free movies in the park on summer evenings is practically an NYC staple, and Governors Island is no different. After Hours is playing July 12, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is playing August 9. Grab a snack from one of the island’s many food vendors, and catch a movie under the stars.


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