I’m often asked by guests on Run Tours for unique things to do in New York City and my number one suggestion is usually a visit to Governors Island. Just 1/2 mile away from the southern tip of Manhattan is Governors Island which has a very long history as a military base. The island’s name comes from British colonial days when the island was dedicated to New York’s royal governors. It became an army base after the American Revolution when Fort Jay was built in 1794. Then Fort William was constructed in preparation for the War of 1812. It became the country’s largest Coast Guard base in 1966 through 1996 when it was then closed due to a federal budget crunch. It was sold to the City of New York in 2002 with the promise that it’s purpose would be reserved only for public enjoyment and not for commercial or residential development.
Today as you arrive via a 6 minute ferry ride you quickly are transformed back into time. You’ll see the old forts and 19th century houses originally built for officers. You’ll also encounter army administrative buildings and winding treelined walking and running paths. There are several events that happen on the island starting from May 1st through October 31st, including musical performances, art exhibits, barbecuing, picnicking, bike rentals even overnight accommodations in large tents that are outfitted like luxury hotel rooms. You can even head over to Slide Hill and go down a 57 foot high winding slide!
But I don’t think its a surprise that my favorite activity is running on Governors Island. You can cover just over 4 miles but the best part is the absolutely amazing view of New York Harbor and the Manhattan skyline. You can also experience an extremely close view of the Statue of Liberty. If you’re hungry and thirsty after your run there are usually some very good food trucks. Ferry service runs every hour during the week and every half hour on weekends. The fare is is free from 10:00am to 11:30am on weekends and on weekdays just $3 round trip for adults and children under 13 years can ride for free. Governors Island is a must see if you want a very special New York experience!