NYCity Mama loves Saturdays. Normally her weekends are full of things to do, places to go, people to see. And this Saturday was no exception. But it was exceptional in how slow everything was going. She couldn’t manage to wake up earlier than she did, nor could she manage to get moving as fast as she wanted to, which meant no one else was moving faster either. By the time she looked at the time it was almost 12:00PM.
And it was then that they managed to leave the apartment minus the 11 year old who was feeling under the weather. They were making their way downtown towards the ferry terminal at the end of Battery Park. Today was the day Governor’s Island was opening for the season and there were a lot of things in store to celebrate. However, by the time they arrived, the lines were unbelievably long. So long in fact that her always-up-for-anything husband began to try to convince her to leave this adventure for another day, but she wouldn’t give in to the notion. So they made their way down the block and around the corner, to the end of the very long line.
They accepted the idea of being on line forever. This is one of the things that you have to learn to deal with when either living or visiting NYC. The lines. For everything and anything, it seems, there are lines. Sometimes they move fast (like the one they were on today) other times, not so much. But the good thing about most New Yorkers, including tourist, is that they don’t wake up early. Thus the secret to avoiding the most insane line is too always plan ahead and be there earlier than most others would be.
As they waited they were approached by security and instructed to follow. Not knowing exactly what was going on, but seeing other parents with strollers behind them, they followed. Turns out that they were guided past the incredibly long lines, and right onto an awaiting ferry for departure to the Island. Amazing how having small children can be such a convenience! It wasn’t long before the ferry set off and the boys were out on the bow taking in the nice breeze, warm sun, and amazing views.
It wasn’t too long before they arrived to the shores of Governor’s Island. They were greeted by friendly staff and directed towards the various things to do, once of which included bike rentals. Mama and her husband wanted to rent some bikes and ride around the 2.2 miles of island shores, but the kids were in a more active, adventurous mood so they decided instead to leave that on their to do list for next time. They instead decided to stroll while the boys ran around (in whatever opposite direction their parents were going) and stalled for long minutes picking up twigs and pebbles and throwing them into the water.
The walk along the shore was peaceful. One would consider the island small in comparison to its neighboring NYC, but despite its size and everything going on nearby, it was also incredibly quiet. They came upon the Castle Williams, an impressive structure from the 1800s which has gone from a fort created with the purpose of defending New York from potential British invaders, to a preschool, to possible history and monument center. Though there isn’t much to see right now, the surroundings hold such history that it’s difficult to walk away and not sense the intensity of it.
After “exploring” the Castle, they made their way to the polo match taking place a short walk away. This was all the rage that day since Prince Harry from England was playing. They came up to where the crowd had gathered to watch the match, sitting on the lawn, drinking champagne and enjoying their picnic. Mama caught some of the match, but truthfully, aside from the horses, the kids weren’t very interested. So they moved on.
They made their way to the center of the island and after purchasing some thing to eat and drink (from the one food vendor on the island), they grabbed a picnic table and listened to the music being played by The Mad Tea Party. The boys moved to the beats as they ate their hot dogs, and some how, just like that, the threat of a tantrum that had been looming since they got there disappeared and everyone seemed happier. It seems that for Mama’s kids all it takes is some good music and grilled food to get them in the best mood possible.
Hanging out on this part of the island was the most best part of their visit. It was relaxing, and the weather was comfortable. They joined other families having picnics on the lawn and the boys played and freely ran around. It wasn’t crowded, or noisy. This is where the Island’s concerts normally take place, and it is a wonderful spot for it without a doubt. There are beautiful, tall trees all around to provide shade as well. Mama and her husband walked around the area, looking at the buildings and really enjoying their time there.
They started making their way back to the ferry. There was definitely a sense of peace to them, the kind you get after being away from the busy hustle and bustle of everyday life for awhile, except this time it was only 10 minutes out of the city and for only a few hours. They had their list of things to do next time the came back. Governor’s Island has activities going on all Summer and Fall (can you imagine how beautiful it must be here in the Fall?) and Mama and her family can’t wait to return. The line back home was long, but Mama suspects that this won’t be the norm (the day of their visit coincided with a majoy event featuring celebrity royalty, so it’s to be expected), and the lines moved fairly quickly.
As they made their way home, everyone happy and quiet, they expected to be over with the day’s Adventures. But, this is New York City, and when in NYC unexpected Adventures can be found at every corner.
The ferry ride and access to Governor’s Island are free of charge. Packing a lunch and drinks is highly recommended. The park’s vendors are cash only, and bike rentals are per hour charge. They provide rentals for families with small children as well, though this go fast. Check out the official site for listing of upcoming events.
To Be Continued: South Street Seaport: The Adventure Home