If you haven’t heard by now, Governors Island is the best new attraction in New York City. A favorite landmark for nature lovers, this former military base brings the best of all worlds to the New York Harbor: significant American history, kid-friendly activities, and interactive outdoor exhibits.
It’s not only a fun waterfront destination but a central piece to the formation of New York City and now a national monument serving tourists and locals alike. Everyone will discover a reason to love Governors Island and once you spend a day here, it’s easy to understand why. Photographers bring out their best camera equipment to capture the perfect shot, cyclists bring whole families out for a day’s bike ride, and history buffs come here for guided tours to dig deeper into America’s coming-of-age story. And when the heat rises this summer, you’ll find city dwellers escaping the populated streets of Manhattan for a cool-off at the island.
We New Yorkers have already experienced the glory that is this greenery, but for first-time visitors, mark your calendars for opening season on Friday, May 27th, and follow this list to get in on Governors Island fun:
1. Figment Fest
One of the island’s long-term exhibits, Figment Fest is a celebration of the creative arts. Throughout Governors Island you’ll find installations on display, plus interactive classes like stone carving and this year’s Burble Bup, a “constantly shifting colored light” inflatable roof. Emerging artists take over the island presenting their post-modern ideas, intriguing visitors along their route and creating buzz for the island’s reputation as a crafters’ hub.
Continuing with the arts and crafts theme, Governors Island is also home to Etsy, a global marketplace for DIY (do it yourself) craftsmen and women. Inside you’ll find an array of boutique and one-of-a-kind items such as jewelry made from kitchen utensils, ceramics and textiles, and fashion inspired by New York itself as presented by the New New group on Etsy. This is also one of several houses in which the public is invited to explore.
3. Picnic Point
Located in the southwestern section of Governors Island, Picnic Point is where families go to lay out and take in views of the harbor. Here you can see Lady Liberty up close while the Staten Island Ferry carries passengers to and from Manhattan and sail boats glide along the Hudson. Children pass by riding along the bike path and make pit stops for Blue Marble ice cream, which serves seasonal and delicious organic ice cream, and others take advantage of a big lawn by setting up picnics with loved ones. It’s one of the best places to sit and stay a while.
4. Parade Grounds
The Parade Grounds is a huge open lawn where various pop-up attractions make their home each week. Throughout the summer, outdoor activities are offered to the public including free kite giveaways, trapeze lessons, and circus workshops. Most activities are free and their calendar of events is regularly updated with new all-ages happenings as well. When the pavilion isn’t used for events, you’ll find folks taking up recreational sports like tossing a frisbee or setting up a makeshift baseball field. Anything fun goes here!
Punk shows, jazz concerts, indie rock bands, and singer/songwriter talents are just a few of the musical performances you’ll catch on the beach at Governors Island. Just about every weekend there are big names getting on stage for fans and making way for up and coming musicians. With free ferry rides from New York’s lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge Park, concert attendees can plan ahead to see their favorite bands perform while taking in some of the best views in the city. Party at your own risk!
With the weather lightening up, it’s the perfect time to set aside a weekend to visit Governors Island. It’s easily a place to pack a New York City day trip with endless opportunities of outdoors fun. Pack a lunch, grab your bags, and hop on the ferry. It’s the season for Governors Island.
For a full event calendar on Governors Island 2011 season, visit www.govisland.org.
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