Governors Island 2013 Season; Events, Music, Food and More!

Plenty of things to do at Governors Island this summer, like the picnicing in the fields and lounging on hammocks

The list of must-do NYC summertime rituals just keeps getting longer: free Shakespeare (in the Park and in the Parking Lot), free concerts everywhere, outdoor movie festivals galore, Coney Island for the new rides (and the Mermaid Parade, on June 22), Rockaway Beach bouncing back from Sandy, on and on.

Over Memorial Day Weekend I kicked off my summer with one of my personal favorite seasonal excursions, a trip to Governors Island. And though a good chunk of the territory is closed for construction this year (the popular Picnic Point, for example, will be inaccessible until 2014), there are still plenty of excellent reasons to jump on the free ferry and spend the day in the middle of New York Harbor.

Ferries to Governors Island are fun for kids

Cycling on Governors Island bike rentals

Contruction at Governors Island

First, about that construction. There's lots to look forward to, including a redone Liggett Terrace (with public art and "water features") and the 10-acre Hammock Grove, with 1,500 new trees and, of course, hammocks. You can get a good view on the ongoing construction from a viewing station set up in the main archway along Colonels Row. In the meantime, however, pretty much everything south this area is closed… which mostly matters if your all-time favorite activity on Governor's Island is cycling. Because when you can't circumnavigate the island–and right now, you can't—the cycling path ends kind of abruptly. 

A beautiful day on Governors Island as New Yorkers enjoy the warm weather and beautiful scenery.

Governors Island food vendor, Little Eva's, supplying food to the people

So Many Things to Do on Governors Island

That said, everything north of Colonels Row is open and in fine shape, including the vast Parade Ground (which this year is peppered with what I assume to be Hammock Grove hammocks), and the more intimate and shady Nolan Park, flanked by all those pretty yellow houses. If you don't bring your own picnic, Governors Island's food offerings have steadily improved over the years, and this summer the solid Little Eva's is slinging its tacos, hot dogs, beer, and pork sandwiches in a comfy little grove right next to the Parade Ground. Also: there's a Blue Marble Ice Cream cart, home of possibly the city's best scoop of Salted Caramel, just FYI. There are tours of Castle Williams; shopping at the boutique-ish Better Than Jam, where you can buy goods from local artists and crafters; a compost education center featuring Patches the goat (and special guests); a Shipwrecked exhibition, with several cool relics; and, of course, excellent kite flying, scenic strolling, holding hands, lazing around. 

A big scoop of Salted Caramel icecream from Blue Marble Ice Cream cart, one of the food vendors on Governors Island

People walking aroung Governors Island attraction, Castle Williams

Governors Island Events, Concerts, and Festivals

And there are the great Governors Island events, including the can't miss Figment Festival on June 8th and 9th, which is one of my favorite things that happens all year long and is fantastic for kids as well. Figment calls itself, simply, an "explosion of creativity" and features cool sculptural art, crazy mini golf (which will be up all summer), lots of music and performances of all description, tons of crafts and interactive workshops and education and activism. Also a crowd-pleaser is the Jazz Age Lawn Party, a kind of mass, 1920s-themed picnic under the trees of Colonels Row, set to live music, featuring dancing, drinking, eating, and flirting, with everyone in elaborate costumes. This ticketed event (it'll cost you $30) goes on four times this summer, on June 15 and 16, and August 17 and 18. 

Image of Governors Island parade ground, a big open field with a red lawn chair waiting to be sit on

More Infomation on Governors Island 2013

Governors Island is located in New York Harbor, and is open every weekend all summer long from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Labor Day Monday as well. Free ferries rides to Governors Island leave often from both Manhattan (at the Battery Maritime Building on South Street) and Brooklyn (at Pier 6 at the western end of Atlantic Avenue). You can find more information and a ferry schedule on Governors Island's website! 

Close up shot of the Governors Island goat, Patches

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