What’s happening at Governors Island this summer? Honestly, what’s not happening there? Since it opened, this car-free destination in New York harbor has always offered tons of free activities for kids, ranging from playgrounds and art fairs, to festivals, food, and more, but the 2018 season is one for the record books. From May to October, Governors Island is hosting so many amazing free events and activities for families, you should probably plan now on repeat visits. From old favorites to new spots (hello, “ice skating” in summer) we’ve got your complete guide to doing Governors Island with kids right!

New for 2018
Below, our picks for the best new spots for kids and families on Governors Island.

Summertime Skating Rink
So, about that ice rink. Located on the western part of the island, Mel’s Rink Governors Island is made from a synthetic material designed for metal ice skates. Providing New Yorkers the rare opportunity to skate during the summer months, it is the first outdoor skating opportunity on Governors Island. Skate rentals will be available for ages, with free skating every weekday from 10AM-12PM.

photo: Collective Retreats

Camping out
Is your family the glamping type? (If so, check out this and this.) And you can add Governors Island to your list of potential overnights.  Courtesy Collective Retreats, this is hardly roughing it. Expect gourmet meals, electricity, deluxe bedding, and more, and a price tag to go with it. But hey: bucket list.

Online: collectiveretreats.com

photo: via Governors Island Facebook page 

The Eclipse and Never Comes Tomorrow by Jacob Hashimoto
Never before exhibited in the United States, “The Eclipse” and “Never Comes Tomorrow” collectively mark the New York-based artist’s first major installation of public art in New York City. The exhibition  will be on display daily inside Governors Island’s St. Cornelius Chapel and outdoors in Liggett Hall Archway through October 31.

photo: Adventures Governors Island

Mini Golf
Home to a zipline (temporarily closed for unknown reasons), maze, and climbing wall, Adventures at Governors Island is upping its game game with the addition of a mini golf course.

Online: adventuresgovisland.com

photo: Yuliya Geikhman

Returning Favorites

The Hills
A 10-acre park populated will hills that offer amazing views, public art, and the chance to get some exercise, The Hills is also home to some seriously super slides. Head to the aptly name “Slide Hill” for some fun both kids and adults enjoy. Read our full write-up here. 

photo: via The Yard Facebook page 

The Yard (formerly play:ground)
It’s called “The Yard” now, but it’s still the same free-wheeling, anything goes junk playground kids can’t get enough of. (If you kid really can’t get enough of it, consider signing up for the summer day camp where it’s all junk, all the time. Read more about it here. 

Online: play-ground.nyc

photo: Governors Island

Hammock Grove
What’s not to love? Fifty red hammocks just asking you to take a load off and relax.

Online: govisland.com

Figment, June 23-24
One of the most anticipated events of the summer for families, Figment is a free annual participatory arts event that celebrates creativity by challenging artists and participants to find new ways to create, share, and dream. The event is founded with the belief that art is not just something that you stand still and quietly look at—it is something you participate in. You touch it, smell it, write on it, talk to it, dance with it, play with it, learn from it. Find it in Colonel’s Row on the island.

Online: govisland.com

photo: via Jazz Age Lawn Party Facebook page 

Jazz Age Lawn Party, June 16 & 17, August 25 & 26
An annual tradition that brings out the flapper in every New Yorker, the Jazz Age Lawn Party is now in its 13th year. It often sell out, and the earlier you buy tickets, the cheaper they are. (The pricey packages are the last to go, often.) Expect live jazz age music from Michael Arenella and folks dressed to the nines. Read our full report on doing with kids here.

Online: jazzagelawnparty.com

photo: Governors Island 

The Basics

Governors Island is open every day from May 1 through October 31. On weekdays, the Island is open from 10 AM to 6 PM. On weekends, Memorial Day and Labor Day, the Island is open from 10 AM to 7 PM. The Island will be open on July 4th from 10 AM to 6 PM.

Getting there: It’s an island, so you’re taking a ferry
Ferries run from Lower Manhattan every day from the Battery Maritime Building at 10 South Street. Direct service from Brooklyn runs from Pier 6, Brooklyn Bridge Park on Saturdays, Sundays, Memorial Day and Labor Day. All weekday and weekend afternoon ferries from Brooklyn and Manhattan are $3 round trip for adults. Children under 12, IDNYC holders and Governors Island Members ride for free at all times and senior citizens’ fares are half price.


Morning ferries (10 AM and 11 AM and 11:30 AM from Manhattan and 11 AM and 11:30 AM from Brooklyn) on Saturdays and Sundays are free for all. There is no surcharge for bicycles. Visitors can purchase ferry tickets at the Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan or at Pier 6 in Brooklyn. Only cash is accepted.

Online: govisland.com


Jazz Age Lawn Party With Kids: A How-To Guide

Head for The Hills on Governors Island!

Coming Soon: A Playground Like No Other (Don’t Miss It!)

—Mimi O’Connor