Governors Island is a really amazing gem situated right in New York Harbor. But unfortunately, many New Yorkers never think to venture over there. However, the island is open to the public seven days a week from late May through late September each year. With so much to offer and many cultural events taking place throughout the warmer months, make it your mission to spend a day at Governors Island this summer.
Governors Island is fairly easy to get to – just hop on a ferry from the Battery Maritime Building. Kids under 12 travel for free and you can even bring your bikes with you. Once you step onto the island, it’s almost like you’ve been transported back in time. It’s peaceful, serene and full of historical significance.
The two main edifices on the island: Fort Jay and Castle Williams were built between 1796 and 1811 and served as defensive structures during the Civil War. The past history of the island is in full view to visitors, as there are a multitude of kid-friendly, historical activities taking place all summer long. Here is just a sampling:
Here you can witness first-hand how soldiers, civilians and even prisoners lived on the island during the 19th century through re-enactments by historical actors.
If you really want to get in on the action, you can learn how a 19th century artillerist lived – there’s even an exciting (and loud!) canon demonstration. From there, visitors can take a look at the huge Civil War-era canons at Fort Jay. Head’s up – you may want to bring along ear plugs for this one!
Junior Ranger Activity Booklet
Kids can receive their very own official Junior Ranger Badge by completing the Junior Ranger activity booklet. Simply download a copy here, complete the activities and bring it to a park ranger. Pretty cool!
In addition, there are daily tours of Castle Williams, Nolan Park and the Arsenal District as well as hikes throughout the island and much more, such as a Jazz Age Lawn Party, taking place two weekends in June and August. Be sure to pack a lunch before you go or on weekends, you can choose from a variety of food truck vendors at the Governors Island Food Court. Set up a picnic area either at a table or on blankets underneath a shady tree for a truly relaxing experience.
Make time to visit Governors Island this summer and you’ll be wondering what took you so long in the first place.
This article originally appeared on MommyNearest.com