Explore NYC: Staten Island and beyond!

by Haley Davidson

Now that you’ve explored Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, it’s time to check some more iconic New York City sights off your bucket list. Living in Downtown Manhattan, you’ll have easy access to ferries that you can take everywhere from Staten Island to the Statue of Liberty.

Staten Island

Staten Island

How to get there: Take the Staten Island Ferry for free from South Ferry. Note that there is limited public transportation on Staten Island, so plan ahead before setting out to explore!

What to do: Once you arrive at Staten Island, grab a Blizzard from one of the city’s few Dairy Queens and then hop on a bus and set out for the Snug Harbor Cultural Center. The island is a quiet escape from the tourist traps of Manhattan, and Snug Harbor Cultural Center is home to 83 acres of incredible gardens and historical sites. After you take the time to explore, watch the sunset from the ferry and enjoy an incredible view of Manhattan’s city lights.

Governors Island

How to get there: Take the Governors Island ferry from Battery Maritime Building (10 South Street) for free on Saturday and Sunday mornings and $2 at other times.

What to do: Summer is the perfect time to visit Governors Island, a 172-acre island and former military post. To get there, take the ferry from downtown Manhattan (just around the corner from your NYCIntern apartment). After you arrive, spend the day biking through the island’s parks, hammocking, or just taking in the stunning views of Manhattan. If you’re looking for something a little more adventurous, check out the Flywire Zip Line or take a tour of Castle Williams.

Four Freedoms Park

Roosevelt Island

How to get there: From Wall St./Pier 11, take the NYC Ferry to the Roosevelt Island stop for $2.75 each way (same as subway fare, but a different ticket is required). For an incredible view from above, take the Roosevelt Island Tramway. Get there by taking the ⅘ train to 59th Street and walking to the tram stop at 2nd Avenue, then use your Metrocard to pay the $2.75 fare.

What to do: Roosevelt Island has a fascinating history. Formerly home to insane asylums, prisons, and hospital outpatients, visitors now flock to the island to enjoy an unobstructed view of Manhattan’s east side. However, the remains of these more sinister features of the island are still around: you can walk past the remains of the Smallpox Hospital or visit the Octagon, formerly the New York City Lunatic Asylum.

If potentially haunted landmarks aren’t your speed, you might enjoy visiting Four Freedoms Park, a memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt. In the summer, the park hosts book readings, yoga, music performances, and more. You can also explore Cornell Tech’s campus, visit North Point Lighthouse, or stop by the Roosevelt Island Historical Society for more information about the island.

Ellis Island

Ellis Island

How to get there: To visit Liberty and Ellis Islands, you must make reservations in advance with Statue Cruises. Fee typically ranges from $18-24. A single ticket includes access to both Liberty Island and Ellis Island (plus access into the statue, depending on the ticket type you choose).

What to do: If you’re not afraid of elbowing your way onto a crowded ferry full of tourists, visiting Ellis Island and Liberty Island is worth the trip. Before you get on the ferry, walk through Castle Clinton National Monument, a former defensive post against the British that also welcomed immigrants to New York even before Ellis Island opened.

After exploring, you can pick up your tickets for Ellis and Liberty Islands at Castle Clinton. The ferry’s first stop is Ellis Island, and once you arrive, make sure to visit the Immigration Museum, which tells the story of the 12 million immigrants who passed through the island through three floors of exhibits.  

Liberty Island

How to get there: As stated above, you must make reservations in advance with Statue Cruises to visit Liberty and Ellis Islands. Fee typically ranges from $18-24. A single ticket includes access to both Liberty Island and Ellis Island (plus access into the statue, depending on the ticket type you choose).

What to do: If you’re planning on visiting both Ellis Island’s Immigration Museum and Liberty Island, make sure to board an earlier ferry so you have plenty of time. In the summer, you may have to wait in line for a while, so be prepared.

Going into the statue: If you want to go inside the Statue of Liberty, pay a little bit more for a ticket with crown or pedestal access included. Pack light for the day since security is high on the island and you’ll have to rent a locker for umbrellas, laptops, and other prohibited devices. Going to the crown of the Statue of Liberty is an unforgettable experience, but before you purchase your ticket, note that there’s no elevator. The only way up is a tight, 377-step staircase. The climb is a fun adventure, but probably not a good idea if you’re claustrophobic.

The best part of living downtown is being right on the water. Your next New York City adventure is only a ferry away, so get ready to breathe some fresh air and watch Manhattan fade into the background.