I am visiting New York in July. It is hot and humid. The first day, we brave the heat and walk in Central Park and the Brooklyn Bridge to DUMBO. However on Sunday, Andrea suggest we go to Governors Island to escape the heat of New York City.

My hotel is the Hyatt Grand Central Station. It makes it easy as  I just walk down into the terminal to the subway. Since COVID you don’t need a metro card anymore, you just pay with your phone. Coming from California I marvel at how convenient it is to have a good train and subway system. I take an express line 4 downtown to Bowling Green. In less than 20 minutes I emerge on the southern tip of Manhattan.

I meet Andrea, Tony and the girls in front of the National Museum of the American Indian. We walk to the ferry terminal and see a line already. Andrea booked tickets, free for New Yorkers, $3 for everybody else, a steal if you think about it.

On the Ferry to Governors Island

The moment the boat leaves, the breeze coming from the river immediately makes the weather more pleasant and the sticky humidity from the city disappears.  It is a short ferry ride with great views of the Statue of Liberty in the distance. We have the girl’s bikes with us and we make sure we are one of the first exciting the boat as we need bikes for the grown-ups. There are citibike stations on a couple of locations on the island, so we quickly make our way to the one close to the ferry. We want to make sure there are bikes available that are charged and want to beat the other people from the ferry.

Governors Island history

Governors Island served as a important military post for years and as the backdrop for a number of historic events. The island was  the setting for the relighting of the newly refurbished Statue of Liberty by President Ronald Reagan In 1986. In 1988, President Reagan hosted a final meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev on Governors Island, and in 1993, the United Nations sponsored talks on the Island to help restore democratic rule in Haiti.  The Coast Guard closed its facilities on Governors Island in 1995 and in 1996,it became a New York City Historic District. In 2005, the island opened for the public for the first time.

Exploring the island

It is a Sunday and it is a holiday weekend, as a result there are a lot of other bikers while we explore the island. We first cycle around, stopping to take pictures of the Statue of Liberty and the skyline of lower Manhattan. There is not a cloud in the sky. We stop for ice-cream, before continuing our ride to the slides. After returning the adult bikes we had the plan to go to the playground. Unfortunately, they close at 4 and it is already 4.30 when we get there. Instead we explore the inner and higher part of the island. Most of the houses there are used to show local artists work. Tony and Briony play catch for a while on the lawn.

Bar hopping on Governors Island

It is 5 o’clock, it is time for adult fun, it is time to go bar hopping. Our first stop is the newly opened Gitano Island. When we get there, there is a long line to get in and another long line to get seated. We are thirsty and do not want to wait, so we move on to Taco Vista.

Drinks with a view

There is a nice table in the shade, with a spectacular view of the New York skyline: from the Statue of Liberty, to the Hudson river, Battery park and the southern tip of Manhattan, the East River, the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge and Brooklyn. We order finger food and cocktails and enjoy the view and the company. The next stop is Island Oyster. We time it right, a ferry is just about to leave, so some people just left and we find a table at the front, with the same spectacular views. I am excited at the prospect of some fresh oysters. Unfortunately, when we ask for the menu, the bartender tells us that they do not serve food today. But the rose is cold and dry and it is a great spot to people watch and relax on a sunny summer evening so I am not complaining.

Day people, night people

Next to Island Oyster is the new QCNY spa, with outdoor spa pools with a view of Manhattan. For $90, you can can enjoy 3 hours of all spa amenities. Or, if you want to spend a whole day being pampered, you pay $122. We decide that we need to come back one day for a spa day.

For now, the bar tender is starting to close up, so we decide to take the 7PM ferry back to Manhattan. The ferry arrives with a new load of people. Instead of the families with kids that came over on the ferry with us earlier in the day, these have been replaced by a young crowd, all dressed up and ready to party. Apparently the new bar, Gitano Island, is open till 11PM and one of the hot party spots on a summer night like this. We are happy to take the ferry and train back. We managed to escape the heat of New York City and are looking forward to a nice shower.


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