Every year we rave about the interactive Figment arts festival on Governors Island. But even if you missed the 2014 edition last weekend, a lot of its cool creations remain on view throughout the summer. Figment is behind the isle's FREE annual mini-golf course and Interactive Sculpture Garden, and they're both quite whimsical this year. Plus the popular TreeHouse, featuring a slide and communal swing, is back for a fourth season.
Check out our slide show to see pics of all the sculptures and some of the most striking mini-golf holes, along with photos of Governors Island's much-buzzed-about 30 new acres featuring hammocks, swings and climbing structures. And since the isle is now open seven days a week through the end of September, you have more time than ever to check out these awesome new attractions.
As always, Governors Island makes for an amazing summer daycation in NYC. We highlighted a bunch of special events and shared our insider tips in May before the isle opened for the season. But now that we've visited this year, we wanted to spotlight some of our favorite new additions. All of them are FREE and open daily.
Located on the Parade Ground, this year's sculptures include Achilles, a life-size giraffe made out of plywood triangles that you can draw on with chalk and a suspended woven Magic Carpet kids can climb on. These were definitely the favorites. Traffic Play, a bunch of life-size traffic lights, looks cool but aside from games of "Red Light, Green Light" there's not much to do here. And A Sharper Lens is basically a giant kaleidoscope that frankly doesn't look all that pretty.
Nearby you'll find the installation Governor's Cup. Thousands of recycled plastic cups form a canopy and seem to drip from the trees. There are even cup capes and clothes to try on. We loved this one and it really drove home its message, that we are in the midst of a disposable cup crisis. Across the way, the TreeHouse is back for a fourth year. Definitely the busiest tot spot of all, children (and grown-ups) love exploring the structure, checking out its funky murals, swooping down its slide and rocking on its communal swing, which I believe is new.
Also located on the Parade Ground, the artsy, politically charged mini-golf course is, as usual, less about game play and more about eye-catching visuals and left-leaning statements. Some holes depict iconic NYC images, like the Original Ray's Pizza hole. Others reference local politics, like the Sayonara hole featuring former Mayor Bloomberg or Attack of King Kristy where New Jersey Governor Christie has been recast as King Kong roaring over the George Washington Bridge. (Subtle they're not.) The course is definitely fun to look at but hard to navigate. But it is FREE and kids don't seem to mind much unless they get frustrated by unplayable holes. Do yourself a favor and don't even try to follow the rules or keep score.
Opened for the first-time ever, this section of the isle includes all kinds of attractions that kids and parents will love. The Liggett Terrace entrance features seating, food trucks, public art and a small maze made from bushes. My daughter and I were particularly taken with Hammock Grove, home to 50 bright-red hammocks that really stand out against the grass and 1,500 newly planted trees. We had to wait until the very end of the day before we were able to try them out. It seems like folks claim their hammocks early and relax in them all day. I can't say I blame them (even though I had to resist the urge to tell them, "It's nice to share"). Nearby you'll find wooden climbing structures, a rope tower and a smattering of swings (they really could use more of those. I think I counted four). Beyond that you'll find the large open Play Lawn, great for sports games or just running amok. You also get a stunning view of the Statue of Liberty here.
All of these new attractions are open every day, so if possible check them out on a weekday since they're quite crowded on weekends. And of course, there are plenty of other things to see, do and experience on the isle so be sure to read our in-depth Governors Island post before visiting with kids.