East River Ferry

IMG_6362

Before moving to Brooklyn we lived in Midtown Manhattan, far enough from both the Hudson and East Rivers flanking the sides of the island that sometimes long stretches of time passed without a glimpse of the water. The opposite is true of our life now in Brooklyn, where we can see the East River from our apartment and our walks frequently take us along the waterfront, the shape of the skyline on the opposite shore becoming ever more ingrained in our visual memory. A whole new perspective is gained when viewing the city from the water, though, and my very favorite way to do this is to take a ride on the East River Ferry.

IMG_6435

IMG_6410

Serving seven terminals along the shores of Manhattan and Brooklyn, the East River Ferry is loved by both resident commuters and visitors alike. Its route takes it from 34th Street in Manhattan over to Long Island City in Queens before proceeding south to the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Greenpoint, Williamsburg (two stops), and DUMBO and then finishing back across the river in Manhattan at Wall Street. (The same trip is then repeated north along the river, and in the summer months an eighth stop is added at Governor’s Island). Traveling directly under three of New York’s iconic bridges, the views from the ferry are spectacular, and riding on the open-air upper deck is incredibly refreshing. I never tire of scanning the shoreline as the boat motors up or downriver, searching for familiar places from a new vantage point.

IMG_6395

What sets the East River Ferry apart from boat tours around Manhattan is the nature of the stops themselves: right in the heart of vibrant neighborhoods, you can find excellent restaurants, shops, and green spaces within a few blocks of the terminal locations, making the ferry a convenient way to explore and travel between Brooklyn’s waterfront communities. At only $4 a ride ($6 on weekends, children five and under are free), riding the ferry also provides some of the least expensive entertainment in the city. A sunset cruise northward, with Lower Manhattan and the bridges receding behind you and the midtown skyline  – Empire State and Chrysler Buildings prominently on display – looming large as you pull into 34th Street is a memorable experience.

A few notes:

  • You must purchase tickets prior to boarding, either at vending machines located at all terminal locations or through the East River Ferry’s mobile app.
  • Strollers remain on the lower deck you enter on.
  • Weekend afternoons can be busy, but travel outside of peak commuting times on weekdays or on weekend mornings is much quieter.
  • There is a free shuttle bus in Manhattan to/from the 34th Street terminal during morning and evening peak hours on weekdays.

ALSO IN THE AREA:

top_of_the_rock_deck_good_view_1
Top of the Rock

Top of the Rock

If you are looking for that take-your-breath-away New York City view,  Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center is really as good as it gets.  With three levels of wrap-around walking terraces set atop one of the most spectaular Art Deco buildings in the world — it really is a must visit if you are in town, and I found it an especially easy place to take children (kids under five are free!)  After a recent visit  I also thought it was a far superior option to the Empire State Building (which I have heard is kind of a run down mess inside).  It’s kind of nice to have a photo OF the Empire State Building in the background with a view that is equally as nice in a less cramped and hectic setting. One of my favorite parts of the whole visit was the ride in the elevator… that alone was worth the trip (I won’t ruin the surprise as to why but it was way cool!)  And as if it couldn’t get any better… it’s right next door to Rockefeller center where there are tons of places to eat afterwards with kids.  If you are going to do the NYC tourist thing – I say by all means, this is a must for the photo books and kids will dig it.

Area: Midtown Manhattan

(Image from Pure Contemporary)

ALSO IN THE AREA:

IMG_6362
East River Ferry