Take a Free Boat Ride on the Hudson at the North River Historic Ship Festival in Tribeca
We love going on boat rides in New York Harbor but when those trips are FREE we enjoy them even more. This weekend, you can do just that at the fifth annual North River Historic Ship Festival in Tribeca. Vintage ships will dock at Hudson River Park's Pier 25 and host hands-on activities that celebrate NYC's rich maritime history, including tours of the vessels, live shows and FREE 45-minute cruises on select ships.
Organized by the nonprofit North River Historic Ship Society, the fest features five meticulously restored crafts including the John J. Harvey fireboat, the Lehigh Valley Barge No.79 (a.k.a. Red Hook, Brooklyn’s floating Waterfront Museum), the 1904 tugboat Pegasus and the Coast Guard Lighthouse Tender Lilac, the last steam-powered boat made in the U.S. back in 1933. The North River Historic Ship Festival is a great way to get out on the Hudson River while enjoying an up close look at these amazing antique boats. Plus, except for the Showboat Circus show, all activities are totally FREE. Of course the boat tours are extremely popular and book up fast. Read on to find out how to snag a spot and everything else you need to know about the fest.
The North River Historic Ship Festival kicks off this Friday, June 21 and runs through Sunday, June 23. Save for Sunday's Showboat Circus show, all activities are FREE and first-come, first-served, so arriving early is a must, especially for the boat rides. The good news: Pier 25 has a fabulous playground and a mini-golf course, so if possible, one adult can wait in line while the rest of the family plays.
Dockside Ship Tours
Friday, June 21, 4-7pm and Saturday, June 22 noon-5pm
While these boats won't be heading into the harbor, you can enjoy a stationary tour of the historic Lehigh Valley Barge No.79, the 1904 tugboat Pegasus and the Coast Guard Lighthouse Tender Lilac.
Saturday, June 22 noon-4pm
FREE; advance tickets are sold out but day-of tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 11:30am
Head out onto the Hudson on the historic John J. Harvey, a circa 1931 fireboat and the Pioneer, an 1885 Schooner owned by the South Street Seaport Museum. The trips are about 45-minutes long, perfect for short attention spans. The fireboat is a great choice for families since it makes a big show out of shooting water that kids really enjoy. There may also be some trips on the tugboat Pegasus, too. If you want to do a boat ride, you must arrive early! We suspect people will start lining up long before 11:30am.
Sunday, June 23, 1 and 4pm
In advance: $13 for adults, $10 for children under 13; at the door: $15 for adults, $12 for children
Enjoy a floating variety show aboard the Lehigh Valley Barge No. 79 starring a cowboy rope artist, a juggler and a comedic songstress. Buying advance ticket recommended.
Educational Activities on the Lilac
Sunday, June 23 1-5pm
Learn how to tie sailors' knots with the ship's crew, pull traps out of the water with the River Project (last year they caught a couple of live sea horses!) and try other nautical activities.
Busy this weekend? There's another fabulous water-themed festival with FREE boat rides to put on your radar: City of Water Day on Saturday, July 20. The Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance sponsors festivities on Governors Island, in New Jersey's Liberty State Park and on the water in between. Enjoy kayaking and canoeing, historic boat tours and rides, live entertainment and more. The boat rides require advance registration so be sure to check the website closer to the date to snag a spot.
Find out about other awesome seasonal activities in our Summer Fun Guide.