Governors Island

Adventures at Governors Island: Zip, Climb, and Get Lost (for Fun!)

Every summer, the activity-packed Governors Island seems to become even more of a family fun zone. Its latest kid-centric destination is Adventures at Governors Island, a trio of thrilling outdoor attractions that debuted over the Memorial Day holiday. My tween and her friends were so excited to check out the 300-foot zip line, the 25-foot climbing tower, and the 3,600-square-foot maze that we decided to brave opening weekend. Overall we had an awesome experience (yes, even the parents), but we have some important tips to help your family get the most out of your Adventures.

Raring to ready, set...summer? Make the most of these sunny, warm days with our Summer Fun Guide and Parks & Playgrounds Guide!

Zip Line and 25-Foot Climbing Tower to Open on Governors Island

Governors Island has long been one of our favorite places to play and the summer fun is about to get a lot more thrilling on the isle.

Adventures at Governors Island, a new high-octane entertainment zone boasting a zip line, 3-D climbing wall, and maze debuts this Memorial Day weekend (weather dependent), and we can't wait to check out the exhilarating attraction. Its opening will double the number of zip lines in NYC—to two.

Enjoy Free Boat Rides on New York Harbor at City of Water Day

We live in a city surrounded by water, but when's the last time you and your kids enjoyed a day out on New York Harbor? Taking a boat ride in NYC is fun and exciting, and gives you a fresh perspective on our city and its majestic waterfront. While there are lots of different kinds of NYC sightseeing cruises in summer, some may feel a bit touristy for us natives, and others cost a pirate's booty! That's why I always mark the annual City of Water Day on my calendar. It's one of the few times you can go on a New York Harbor boat tour for FREE.

This day-long celebration of our waterfront lands on Saturday, July 15, 2017 and features a slew of water-themed activities in and around Governors Island and other locations. As you can imagine, the FREE boat rides are extremely popular, so it can be tricky to snag tickets for them. We've got the scoop on what your family needs to do to enjoy a no-cost cruise and everything else you need to know about City of Water Day.

Governors Island Will Open a Month Early in 2017

Governors Island, long one of our favorite summer spots, will open to the public on Monday, May 1 this year, nearly a full month ahead of its usual schedule. Typically it opens for the season on Memorial Day weekend.

The earlier opening isn't just for weekends, either. Ferries will shuttle New Yorkers to the massive park seven days a week, from May 1 through October 1, offering access to the brand-new playgrounds it debuted last year, art, and cool festivals like Figment. Suddenly we know what we're doing for Mother's Day 2017! 

7 Free Outdoor Art Exhibits to See with NYC Kids Now

Want to see some art with your kids, but can’t handle the hordes of summer tourists? (Guilty!) Believe that museums make more sense during the frigid winter months? (Also guilty.) Just not able to make your work hours or the kids' naps coordinate with FREE hours at NYC museums? (Hand raised.)

Here’s the solution: check out these seven outdoor art exhibits on display in NYC now. Since they’re located in city parks and other public spaces, they’re FREE! All have art that is interactive (to some degree), educational, and fun for kids. At one exhibit—Swale, a traveling barge with a “floating food forest”—you can even feed your kids healthy food they pick themselves. What could be better? Maybe the fact that you're outside and your children can run around afterward and get tuckered out? (Guilty again.)

Slide Hill Opens on Governors Island with New Playground Fun

The Hills are alive on Governors Island. July 19 marked opening day for the long-awaited addition of new green spaces and playground fun on this seasonal city play space. Judging by the throngs of people dashing up the granite scramble as soon as the ribbon was cut, we weren't the only ones excited to check out this new section of the island.

Made up of four distinct hills, the 10 acres of parkland include 70-foot-high Outlook Hill, 25-foot-high Grassy Hill, twin 40-foot peaks together dubbed Discovery Hill, and Slide Hill, which is undoubtedly the most family-friendly of them all, packed with four slides.

New Adventure Playground Lets Kids Saw, Hammer, and Build

Ever since I read The Atlantic's article about "adventure playgrounds" a few years back, I've been obsessed with bringing my now-ten-year-old daughter to one. Like many school-age children, she lost interest in slides, swings, and climbing structures around the third grade, but kids won't find any equipment like that in the just-opened play:groundNYC on Governors Island. In fact, they won't find any traditional play equipment at all! But they will discover enticing piles of junk (wooden planks, old tires, broken treadmills and strollers, crutches, even a toilet seat) and tools (saws, hammers, and nails) that they can do anything they want with—the only limitation is their imagination. Perhaps the best part (at least from a child's perspective): No parents are allowed.

Freaked out yet? Don't be. The founders of this amazing, 15,000-square-foot, FREE outdoor creative space are mostly NYC parents with young children, and they've put a lot of thought, time, and money into it. And it's FREE to play, of course!

Check Out the 57-Foot Mega Slide and More at Governors Island

If we were giving out rewards to “most improved” NYC park, surely Governors Island would blow the competition away. The trust that operates 150-acres of the island under the direction of the city continues to open new parklands, add more kid-friendly features and expand hours, making it a must-do on every New Yorker’s summer bucket list.

Summer 2016 will see the addition of an entire hill of slides, including one that will reportedly be the longest in the city at 57-feet-long, a brand-new treehouse and the debut of the city’s only “adventure playground,” a free-for-all, kids-only build and destroy space. Oh, and it is all FREE, our favorite kind of summer fun.

Governors Island opens for the season on Saturday, May 28, Memorial Day weekend and hosts its annual Family Fun Day that Sunday. Not all the features will be ready for opening day, but some will.

Here’s a breakdown on what’s new and when it will be available for family fun on this car-less isle.

Best Events for Preschoolers in NYC This Spring

We've rounded up 14 of the city's best spring events for the preschooler and toddler set just as we near the end (we hope) of sub-zero temps and snow! We've included buzzy shows like Peppa Pig Live!, mellow but lovely performances like Curious George: The Golden Meatball, the always blow-your-socks-off Sakura Matsuri spring festival, a preschooler-friendly ballet and much more happening in April and May 2016 for New York City's younger kids.

Even more family springtime entertainment ideas can be found in our 2016 GoList, March GoList and our Event Calendar

10 NYC National Parks and Monuments for Junior Rangers

In my world, summer generally means a visit to Grammy and Papa's rustic, woodsy Colorado cabin. While I love raising my kids in NYC, with all of the museums, parks and culture it has to offer, I also enjoy escaping from the urban jungle so we can explore the great outdoors.

One fun and educational way to do that is the national Junior Rangers Program, which we discovered last summer in Colorado. My kids received different activity books—geared toward their respective ages—to read and complete with the promise that, once they were done, they could meet with a Park Ranger, discuss what they'd learned and be sworn in as Junior Rangers complete with badges.

Although my children became Junior Rangers far from the Big Apple in Rocky Mountain National Park, NYC kids can do it at 10 sites right here in and around Manhattan.

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