Wednesday, July 17, 2019

New York City: 8 Great Ways To Sightsee by Boat

By Jacquelin Carnegie
Pioneer (photo: SoStSeaportMuseum)
Here’s a sampling of some boat rides with terrific views that will help you experience the city in a whole new light, along with some fantastic sightings of Lady Liberty!

FREE (& ALMOST FREE) BOAT RIDES WITH GREAT VIEWS
Staten Island Ferry
Whitehall Ferry Terminal, 4 South St.; www.siferry.com; Free, year-round
(photo: Staten Island Ferry)
Think of this pleasant 25-minute ride as a mini-cruise with some of the world’s best views--the Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor and lower Manhattan. On Staten Island, get out and explore all the wonderful sights such as the Alice Austen House Museum (www.aliceausten.org) showcasing photography in a lovely setting, the Tibetan Museum (www.tibetanmuseum.org), and the Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Garden (www.Snug-Harbor.org).

Governors Island Ferry
Battery Maritime Building, 10 South St.; www.govisland.com
May thru Oct; Free, Sat & Sun before noon. Otherwise, $3
Gov Island (photo: J.Carnegie)
This 7-minute ferry ride whisks you from Manhattan (& Brooklyn on the weekends) to a little bit of nature with spectacular views of the Statue of Liberty and lower Manhattan. After 200 years as a military base, Governors Island is now a lovely public park. The former barracks, for the US Army and Coast Guard, make it look a bit austere, but all the new recreational features are fun to discover and, almost every weekend, there are entertaining activities, concerts, and events. 

IKEA Brooklyn Ferry
Pier 11, Gouverneur Lane & the East River; https://bit.ly/2JXavDC; Free, Saturdays & Sundays
From Pier 11 (a short walk from the South Street Seaport) take the IKEA ferry to Red Hook, Brooklyn. The store is right in front of the pier on Beard St. Shop if you must, or take a lovely stroll along the waterfront, then head to the nearby Fairway Market (480-500 Van Brunt St.; www.fairwaymarket.com). On weekends, pick up something to eat at the salad bar or deli counter, then head to the dining patio with great views of Lady Liberty and New York Harbor.

NYC Ferry
https://www.ferry.nyc
(photo: NYC Ferry)
For just the price of a subway ride ($2.75) you can travel on the East River between Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx--even to Rockaway beach. Get off and explore the offerings at specific stops or just stay on and enjoy the ride. From the 17th to the 19th century, ferries traversed the city's waterways but, as bridges and tunnels were built, the ferries were fazed out. Now, they're back in full-force and a thrill to ride. The major hubs in Manhattan are at East 34th Street and Pier 11 near Wall Street & the So St Seaport.

FREE BOAT RIDES, PLUS EXERCISE
These kayaking and rowing options are offered on a first-come, first-served basis, so get there early. (You must know how to swim.)
Kayaking on the Hudson
The Downtown Boathouse; downtownboathouse.org; May-Oct; Free, Weekends & Tues/Wed/Thurs evenings (Pier 26, North Moore); Saturdays (Pier 101, Governors Island) 
On the weekends and certain weeknights, The Downtown Boathouse offers free kayaking on the scenic Hudson River at two locations. The equipment—boats, paddles, life jacketsand instructions are free. Wear shorts or a swimsuit.
Kayaking in Brooklyn: Pier 2, Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse
(photo: Downtown Boathouse)
May-Aug; Free, Weekends & Wed/Thurs evenings 

Row Your Boat – Manhattan
Village Community Boathouse, Pier 40, Hudson River Park, at W. Houston St.; www.villagecommunityboathouse.org
April-Nov; Free, every Sunday at noon & Tues, 5:30pm

The Village Community Boathouse offers free, group rowing sessions. The aim is to provide safe, public access to the city’s fantastic waterways and to introduce people, especially kids, to the joys of rowing, sailing and boatbuilding. 

NOT FREE BUT STILL WORTH IT BOAT RIDES
In 2012, Hurricane Sandy dealt a blow to the South Street Seaport Museum. While there are currently only a few small exhibits on view, the museum offers wonderful boat rides:
W.O. Decker - Tugboat
South Street Seaport Museum, 12 Fulton St; Pier 16; https://bit.ly/2JMFwaX; May thru Oct; Sat & Sun; Fee, Museum Admission + boat ride
(photo: SoStSeaportMuseum)
                             
We think of tugboats as the "worker bees" of the waterways. This one (refit with a diesel engine) was built in 1930 when steam tugs were a common sight in New York Harbor. Today, enjoy a bit of history on a truly-enjoyable, 45-minute ride on the W.O. Decker, the last-surviving, New York-built, wooden tugboat. Delight in stunning views of the lower Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty.

Pioneer - Schooner Sail
South Street Seaport Museum, 12 Fulton St; Pier 16
www.southstreetseaportmuseum.org; May thru Oct; Weekends & Wed/Thurs/Fri evenings; Fee, Boat ride with/or without Museum Admission (2- or 3-hour cruises)

Enjoy an afternoon or sunset sail on this historic vessel, first launched in 1885. Bring a picnic lunch or dinner and revel in the sights of New York Harbor.

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