Sometimes we forget that New York is really an island city. Tourists know this: you see them jam-packed on boats with the word “Screamer” or “Cruise” on the side. But why should they have all the fun? New York kids love boat rides too. But you don’t have to be squashed in with the masses to enjoy our harbor and rivers. Instead, take advantage of our commuter and specialized ferries, which are less crowded and a lot cheaper. Here are four ferry rides that offer a great way to explore the city and give you a break to sit back and enjoy the breeze.

Hudson River Ferry

Pssst. Don’t tell anyone, but sometimes we can’t wait to go to New Jersey – that is, if we’re taking the Hudson River Ferry. As your starting point, use the World Financial Center terminal, although there are also terminals at Wall Street/Pier 11 and Midtown/West 39th Street. Located in Battery Park City, the WFC stop is in the heart of Rockefeller Park, one of the city’s premier open spaces. Vast lawns, a self-pedaled merry-go-around, a thrilling slide at Teardrop Park - what more could your kids want? A ferry ride, of course.

Why Ride: The Hudson River Ferry is really targeted toward New Jersey commuters. The downside is that it runs only Monday through Friday. The upside is less tourists and more room for kids and their caregivers. Buy a ticket for the Hoboken NJ Transit Terminal, and climb aboard one the double-decker catamarans, the same as those used on the East River Ferry route.

Insider Tip: Be sure to head up to the upper deck and get ready to be overwhelmed by Manhattan’s skyline. The short 10-minute ride ends at the recently renovated Erie Lackawanna Ferry Terminal. Hop off and romp around Pier A Park, which hosts concerts in the summer, or stay onboard, drink in the breeze and views and return to your home base.

Cost: $6 adult, $3 children age 6 to 11, free for children age 5 and under.
Terminals: From Manhattan: Midtown/West 39th Street, World Financial Center, Wall Street/Pier 11.
Times: Monday to Friday, 6:00 am to 9:30 pm.
Schedule: Please check website for a full schedule.

– Alice Perry

(Photos courtesy of Alice Perry and New York Waterway.)