Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer
Back to Blog

Things to do on Governors Island

a body of water with a city in the background

welcome to governor's island sign

This historic island has been a popular location for picnics, military training and even concerts. Though it was originally part of the city’s defensive plans, Governor’s Island is now home to a unique mix of recreational activities and historical sites. Located in New York Harbor between the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn, this small island—just under one mile long—offers visitors plenty to do during their day or weekend trip.

History of Governor’s Island

Governor’s Island is an island in New York Harbor, just south of Manhattan. It was created as a military base in 1794 to protect New York Harbor. During the Civil War, the island became a major hospital center to treat wounded soldiers coming back from battlefields. After the war ended, it was used as a training ground for soldiers until 1966 when it was turned into a park. In 2002, Governor’s Island was turned over to the New York State Department of Parks and Recreation. Today, it is open to visitors year round and offers entertaining activities for many people visiting New York City. It features over 30 acres of open space and offers many activities such as concerts, festivals, art installations and more.

Enjoy a bite to eat while on Governor’s Island

You know what they say: if you’re not eating on Governor’s Island, you’re doing it wrong. Luckily for you, this summer food options abound at Liggett Terrace. Thanks to a new partnership with New York Food Truck Association, a rotating lineup of food trucks, usually two at a time, will add even more variety to Liggett. For those seeking the best view in town while they eat, head over to Island Oyster where it’s all about (mostly) seafood in an elegant setting right on the water. If you’re looking for a quick snack and a drink, stop by the Island Creamery. This fresh, handcrafted ice cream shop is one of the best on Governor’s Island.

Urban Farm Tour

Join the Bee Con­ser­van­cy, Earth Mat­ter NY, and GrowNYC for a tour of the Urban Farm on Gov­er­nors Island, and learn about each orga­ni­za­tion’s work. Tours take place on the first Sat­ur­day of every month from 2 – 3:30pm (weath­er per­mit­ting). If you can’t make it to a tour, the Urban Farm is open every week­end from May to Octo­ber from 12 – 4pm for indi­vid­ual explo­ration! What is the Urban Farm on Gov­er­nors Island? The Urban Farm is a 4-acre com­mu­nity farm, locat­ed on the south side of Gov­er­nors Island. Each week, about 80 vol­un­teers from around the city come to work at the farm. They plant, harvest and prepa­re food for our neigh­bors in need through GrowNYC’s Food Recov­ery Program.

Family Friendly Activities

Biking Around the island is a great way to see a bit more of the island. The bike path is great for children and adults alike. There’s a two-mile loop around Governor’s Island that you can ride as many times as you want without needing to cross any streets. The path is smooth, scenic, and goes through some beautiful areas of the island too.

Looking for more Family Friendly Activities? Why not try; running around on the huge lawns, reading in Hammock Grove, running through the sprinkler at Liggett Terrace, climbing the rocks to the top of The Hills (where there are amazing views), playing on The Yard play area (which is basically just a lot filled with tools, construction equipment, piles of wood, tires , ladders , big old pipes , random stuff like crutches and nets… basically anything that lets kids create or invent or even destroy!)

Governor’s Island Social Impact experience

Governor’s Island Social Impact Experience is one of our newest tours that offers a unique opportunity to learn about the island’s history while also making a difference in the community.

With quite a few different ways to make an impact on Governor’s Island this highly customizable tour allows you to choose the activities you are most interested in. A few options to choose from include:

  • The GrowNYC Teaching Garden at Governors Island is a 1.5-acre garden that provides free, hands-on education to New Yorkers of all ages. It’s also a living classroom where thousands of children each year learn the fundamentals of growing food and taking care of plants.
  • The Billion Oyster Project shell nursery where you’ll see several hundred oysters growing in large plastic bins The Billion Oyster Project is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to restore New York Harbor by offering citizens an easy way to get involved and help grow native oysters.
  • Earth Matter NY and its composting facility. Earth Matter NY is a nonprofit organization that composts food scraps from the city’s restaurants, schools and hospitals. They create a natural fertilizer that is used by farmers, community gardens and backyard gardeners.

Whether you have a group of friends or colleagues this group tour is perfect way to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Interested to book? Check out the tour page and get in contact with us to book!


Governor’s Island is the perfect place to spend a summer day. The island is a New York City treasure. It’s got beautiful views, fun activities and lots of history. It’s fun, it’s family-friendly, and it has something for everyone. All you need are some friends and good weather!