Governors Island has become one of our favorite places to take our tween and teenage boys when we need a reprieve from the hustle and bustle of city life. With 172 acres of things to do, we've enjoyed unwinding with family and friends across the water. From the summer art and performance festivals to the relatively new Pumpkin Point experience in October, it's a hotspot destination for tourists and locals alike, so we were beyond excited when we heard Governors Island would be open all year round and welcoming the holiday season with a new Winter Village—complete with an ice skating rink.
The Winter Village experience makes perfect sense, especially as the temperature drops and families are looking for safe, outdoor fun and affordable ways to keep kids busy this season. Read on for our review and find more seasonal fun in our Guide to Winter Activities.
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Located near the historic, holiday-lit Colonels Row, the Governors Island Winter Village is fun for all ages with lots of winter-themed activities. Guests can revel in taking a spin around the 5,000-square-foot ice skating rink that has glimmers of the New York City skyline in the background and a beautiful Coast Guard-era fire truck nearby for sweet family photos. Admission is $11, but it's completely FREE on Fridays, and it makes for the perfect adventure during weekends and school closings throughout the winter season. Bring your own skates or rent a pair for $8. We're hoping music or live performances will be added once things are more settled because we love to groove and move on the ice.
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Beat winter's chill with lots of layers and a visit to one of the warming fire pits situated nearby.
Although we've had abnormally warm winter days, make sure to check the temperature and layer up as needed. Since the skating rink is so close to the water, it definitely felt much chillier than expected, making the experience less than favorable for our teen, who was underdressed despite our warnings. Fortunately, your crew can warm up by gathering around the handful of quaint crackling fire pits surrounded by Adirondack chairs. As you can imagine, this charming, Instagram-worthy moment is quite popular, so keep an eye out to snag a spot as soon as you arrive!
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Little Eva's is the Winter Village's mainstay eatery, but there are extra options on weekends.
No winter experience is complete without yummy hot cocoa to sip on. You can grab a cup from the neighboring food vendor Little Eva's or nosh on an assortment of comfort food and filling eats that satisfy everyone from foodies to picky youngsters. There was an excellent selection for everyone: brats, vegan chili, fish and chips, and more. New seasonal offerings like s'mores and eggnog are perfect, tasty additions. On weekends, visitors can also stop by an array of food trucks or pick up something from Joe's Coffee during the week.
Once you've had your fill of ice skating, and stuffed your bellies, admire the sparkling holiday lights while popping by Blazing Saddles NYC for bike and sled rentals (anyone else's kids praying for some snow?), or enjoy lawn games like cornhole, can jam, and giant Jenga. Guests can also look forward to winter arts and cultural programming, and there's even a Twilight Winter Bird Stroll in mid-January. This inaugural winter season at Governors Island is not to be missed, so bundle up and enjoy!
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Stop to pose a picture at the old-school fire truck before your Winter Village visit is over.
Know Before You Go to Governors Island's Winter Village
- Daily ferry service operated by the Trust for Governors Island departs from the Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan. Visitors should book their ferry tickets in advance; tickets are $3 per adult and FREE for children under 12, seniors, NYCHA residents, IDNYC cardholders, and everyone before noon on weekends.
- NYC Ferry riders can connect to a shuttle at Wall Street/Pier 11 on weekends until the Coney Island Route launches bringing with it daily service to GI. Find full NYC Ferry information on its site.
- Governors Island's winter hours are 7am-6pm daily; the Winter Village and ice skating rink are open Fridays, noon-5pm; Saturdays and Sundays, 10am-5pm. Extended hours are available for youth, adult, and nonprofit sports leagues and associations.
- Find more winter season things to do on the Governors Island website.
- Be sure to check with the venue for its COVID guidelines and requirements before heading out, and read more about local public safety protocols here.
Photos by author