Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Hammocks and Hot Dogs on Governor's Island

What is Governor's Island? It's a sparsely populated piece of land about 800 yards away from Manhattan that's only accessible by ferry. I didn't even know the place existed until I read about it in a magazine article describing the best places to take day trips near New York City. The 172-acre island was a military base for a long time and only opened to the public about 12 years ago, according to its website. Now, the island's grassy fields, great views of Manhattan, and peaceful hammock park attract all kinds of visitors wanting to escape the city.
Jake and I had a few hours to spare when he visited me in New York City, so we decided to be adventurous and check out Governor's Island. The ferry to the island takes off every half hour from Battery Park and only costs $2 per round-trip ticket! The cheap price tag may seem surprising by New York City standards, but the entire boat ride is literally five minutes... we spent more time waiting for the boat to leave than actually riding on it.
Once we got off the boat, we noticed that the island looked pretty empty – probably because it was the 4th of July and a steady drizzle had been falling all day. Apparently, on non-holidays when the weather is nicer, visitors sometimes wait hours to get on the ferry. The island is famous for its views of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty, so the first thing we did was walk along the coast to see the sights. The overcast skies didn't detract from the beautiful photo opportunities!
After checking out the views, Jake and I tried to find the main force behind our decision to visit Governor's Island: Hammock Grove, where about 50 big red hammock swings lie in peaceful grassy fields as the perfect spot for relaxing, reading, or tanning. After a long search, Jake and I finally stumbled upon the semi-hidden park and cozied up on one of the hammocks. We spent a solid hour talking, laughing, and swinging. I'd come back to Governor's Island just to lay out on a hammock with a book, although I'm sure snatching one is difficult during the busy times.
Besides the views and the hammocks, there isn't much else to do besides relax on the endless grassy fields and sightsee. Governor's Island is home to two forts from the 1800s, which were cool but not our cup of tea. Bikers would love the open trails and smooth terrain, and visitors can also rent these multi-person bikes that look like golf carts. I wish I had taken a picture of the fun contraptions! I also think Governor's Island would be a perfect spot to bring a family, considering the various play areas and open areas. I'd recommend bring a picnic, because I couldn't find any restaurants on the island. However, Jake and I ordered a delicious hot dog from a food vendor cart!

Verdict: If you want a quiet day away from the city, look into Governor's Island. Although there aren't too many activities in the area, the hammocks and views are enough reason to visit for an afternoon.