New York City is surrounded by water, and with an always-expanding network of ferries, it's easier than ever to hop on a boat for a day trip to a not-so-distant shore. While the destination is important, of course, getting there is part of the fun, because cruising on the water is much more exciting for jaded city kids than taking the boring old subway.
We've already raved about all the family activities you can enjoy on Governors Island, and riding the FREE Staten Island Ferry is on our list of the top 100 things to do with kids in this town. But here are five more NYC ferries that offer cool rides to popular places where there are lots of things to do and see with the kiddos.
Hop on the East River Ferry to explore attraction-packed neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens.
East River Ferry to Brooklyn and Queens
Terminals: East 34th Street and Wall Street in Manhattan; Long Island City, Queens; Greenpoint, Williamsburg and Dumbo, Brooklyn
Fare: One-way - $4 on weekdays, $6 on weekends for ages 5 and up. Two children under age 5 ride free with each paying adult. $1 extra per bike.
Explore a new-to-you NYC neighborhood via the East River Ferry. This commuter boat hits the attraction-packed neighborhoods of Dumbo, Greenpoint, Williamsburg and Long Island City, and you see plenty of New York Harbor sights along the way, including great views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the downtown Manhattan skyline when going to Brooklyn. Strollers are welcome on board and there's even a bike rack.
In Dumbo you'll find the northern end of Brooklyn Bridge Park, featuring Jane's Carousel, the Main Street and Pier 1 Playgrounds and the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, all a short walk from the dock. If you're up for it, stroll or cycle south to enjoy the rest of the green space's many attractions, including a seasonal pool and a roller-skating rink on Pier 2, and one of the best playgrounds in NYC on Pier 6. Find even more things to do in the area in our Dumbo Neighborhood Guide.
In Long Island City you can explore a pair of gorgeous, riverside green spaces: Gantry Plaza State Park and Hunters Point South Park, both of which boast playgrounds, water play areas, lush lawns for picnicking and stunning views of Manhattan's Midtown East. About a mile inland you'll find cutting-edge art at MoMA PS1, plus many small local galleries along the way. Find even more things to do in the area in our Long Island City Neighborhood Guide.
In North Williamsburg hit East River State Park, which has playgrounds, picnic tables, amazing views of downtown Manhattan and the seasonal Smorgasburg market on Saturdays. About a half-mile inland is McCarren Park, which has a very popular pool. See our Williamsburg Neighborhood Guide for more ideas for things to do in the area. Keep in mind, the East River Ferry also has docks in nearby Greenpoint and South Williamsburg, though more family attractions are located in North Williamsburg.
RELATED: 20 Things to Do on the East River Ferry Route
Hoboken boasts a lovely, waterfront pathway with great views and fun playgrounds.
New York Waterway to Hoboken
Terminals: West 39th Street, Pier 11 and the World Financial Center in Manhattan to Hoboken, New Jersey
Fare: One-way - $7-$10.75 for adults, $3-$6.50 for children ages 6-11, depending on where you board. Two children under age 6 ride free with each paying adult.
Another commuter ferry that makes for a fun day trip to another state! Lovingly called the "sixth borough," Hoboken offers lots of attractions and activities. Stroll or cycle along the waterfront and take in awesome views of downtown Manhattan. It's worth traveling to Pier C for its exceptional sand and water play areas. Pick up a sweet treat at Carlo's Bakery of Cake Boss fame, and then walk down quaint Washington Street. Bonus: Children under age 12 ride FREE through Labor Day.
Just across the Hudson River, Liberty State Park features lush lawns, awesome views and the Liberty Science Center.
Liberty Landing Ferry to Liberty State Park
Terminals: Manhattan's World Financial Center to Liberty State Park in Jersey City
Fares: One-way - $7 for adults, $5 for children ages 7-12
Explore another Hudson River park on the opposite shore. Liberty State Park offers incredible views of the Statue of Liberty (plus yet another ferry to the Statue and Ellis Island in case you want to see them up close). Other attractions include the Historic CRRNJ Train Terminal, a small nature center and the huge, hands-on Liberty Science Center.
Located on the western part of the Rockaway peninsula, Jacob Riis Beach makes for an relaxing day trip.
Rockaway Beach Ferry to Jacob Riis Park
Terminals: Pier 11 to Jacob Riis Park, Queens
Fares: One-way - $20 for adults, $10 for children ages 5-12. $5 for bikes and surfboards.
The name of the ferry is slightly misleading as you end up at Jacob Riis Beach, which is west of Rockaway Beach. That said, it's one of our favorite, family-friendly shores and the weekends-only boat gets you there in just under an hour. Once you arrive, soak up the sun and surf, and check out the recently opened Riis Park Beach Bazaar for artisanal eats.
RELATED: Rockaway Beach Neighborhood Guide
If you tire of Sandy Hook's shores, explore its historic lighthouse.
Seastreak to New Jersey
Terminals: East 35th Street and Wall Street in Manhattan to Sandy Hook or Sea Bright, New Jersey
Fares: One-way - $26 for adults, free-$10 for children ages 5-12. $5 for bikes.
These luxe cruisers take you to a pair of popular New Jersey beaches in style. Enjoy amenities you don't find on other ferries like free Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, TV and a snack bar. In just 45 minutes, families will arrive in Sandy Hook where a free beach-side shuttle deposits visitors at seven miles of beachy long shore. Swimming not your thing? Sandy Hook also offers biking, hiking, boating, fishing, birding and a historic lighthouse to explore. On weekends only, you can also take the Seastreak to the ocean at Sea Bright.
Find more seasonal activities in our Summer Fun Guide.