Governors Island NYC 2011: Mini-Golf and Mark di Suvero Sculptures

View of Governor's Island in NYC from Brooklyn with greenery and blue skies

Governors Island in NYC has definitely become one of the premier summertime daycation destinations, for leisurely strolling or biking or scooting and taking in those beautiful views; for picnicking and relaxing and playing on the huge main lawn, the Parade Ground; for engaging in any number of the participatory activities that have become part of the scene here, from summer-long exhibitions to one-day-only food festivals and concerts and family fairs. And, amazingly, even as its attendance soars, Governors Island still feels special, and undiscovered, with a wonderful welcoming spirit to all. We went on Saturday, on the season-opening weekend, and fell in love with the place all over again. 


A row of blue bicycles in front of a brick building at Governor's Island in New York City

If you've never been to New York's Governors Island, here are the basics: there are free ferries leaving Manhattan (at the Maritime Building on South Street) and Brooklyn (at the newly renovated Pier 6, at the end of Atlantic Avenue), every half hour or so, all weekend long, starting in the late morning through the late afternoon. The Governors Island ferry takes about five minutes from Brooklyn, slightly longer from Manhattan, and you can bring bikes, strollers, scooters, whatever you like. There are also bike-rental spots at both the Manhattan and Brooklyn  ferry embarkation points, and a standard two-wheeler will cost you $15 for two hours. Or you can rent one of those four-person pedal cars, just as a goof. 

Bikers ride along the fence with a view of the Statue of Liberty at New York's Governor's Island

Of course, you can also be like us, and just walk everywhere. Governors Island in NY is only about two miles around the entire perimeter and everything on the interior is all very accessible to everything else. The walk from Colonel's Row to Picnic Point, for example, is about fifteen minutes. There are food stands and coffee kiosks scattered around Governors Island, as well as a number of vending machines for beverages. And there are swings and tons of things to climb and jump around upon, as well as–nice touch–comfortable places to sit and read or rest in unexpected places. 

Two large beautiful brick homes situation on rolling green grasses on Governor's Island in NY

As far as Governors Island special activities and exhibitions for 2011, there are more than a few highlights about which to get excited. First, you should know that the great art collective FIGMENT is back, with an all-new, always free, mini-golf course (the theme this summer: bugs), AND their terrific Sculpture Garden, featuring around a dozen climbable, bounceable, bangable, buildable pieces by different artists. Located in the Liggett Terrace right off Colonel's Row, the whole FIGMENT set up is just terrific. 

Unique mini golf green leading to a graffitti type sculpture - a little boy swings his club on Governor's Island

A little boy wielding his club and two girls putting on the mini golf course at Governor's Island

Also new to Governors Island in NYC this summer: thirteen of Mark di Suvero's spectacular sculptures, on loan from the excellent Storm King (another great summertime destination, by the way, though you need a car to get there), as well as from private collections. Spread throughout Governors Island–the biggest pieces are on the Parade Ground and at Picnic Point–these huge, often whimsical works fit perfectly with both the setting and the character of the place. We loved them all, though the Mark di Suvero sculpture with the swings and the steamroller wheel was clearly the most popular with the kids. And almost every weekend there something new going on, including a Polo (!) tournament this Sunday, June 5, and the FIGMENT festival the weekend after that.    

A giant red Mark di Suvero sculpture with iron balls and forms emerges from the grass at Governor's Island

Governors Island 2011 Details 

Governors Island is open from Friday to Sunday, and on holiday Mondays, from now through September 25. Governors Island is accessible via ferry, which is free and leaves from both downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn at regular intervals through most of the day. For more information about the Governors Island ferry schedule, Governors Island bike rentals, and Governors Island special events and activities, please see the Governors Island website.  

Two red adirondack chairs for relaxing and taking in the views of the river at the Governor's Island point

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