Weekending on Governors Island: Green Spaces, Restaurants, and Spas Just a Stone’s Throw From Manhattan

The best part of New York City doesn’t even feel like a city.

governors island

Governors Island, from above. Photograph by Maremagnum/Getty Images

The best part of New York City doesn’t even feel like a city. The onetime military base just 800 yards off Manhattan has gotten a major makeover and now has green spaces and bike trails, plus new bars, ­restaurants, a spa — all you need to feel miles away from city life.

Ferries leave from Manhattan, at the Battery Maritime Building, and from Brooklyn, at Pier 6 at Brooklyn Bridge Park and Atlantic Basin in Red Hook. Reserve your $3 ticket in advance.

Stop by homegrown Joe Coffee at the Liggett Terrace food court to fuel up with a latte made from beans roasted in Queens’s Long Island City neighborhood.

Italian-based spa QC NY (day passes from $88) unveiled its first U.S. property this month, with saunas, steam rooms, and a Roman-bath-for-the-21st-century feel. Book a massage, or bob in the thermal pool with unobstructed views of the Manhattan skyline.

Feast on seared tuna tacos paired with watermelon margaritas from the umbrella-shaded picnic tables on Taco Vista’s convivial waterfront deck.

Ice Cream
Break for a few scoops of masala chai, lemon cardamom, or any of the other South Asian-inspired flavors at the outpost of Cobble Hill, Brooklyn-based Malai.

Happy Hour
One of NYC’s best breweries, Threes Brewing is pouring pints of hazy IPA out of a shipping container surrounded by a sprawling patch of grass with lawn games and lounge chairs.

Check In
Overnight stays on Governors Island are now open to the public thanks to Collective Retreats (from $254 per night). Plush tents come with private bathrooms, breakfast delivery, and waterfront decks overlooking the Statue of Liberty.

Channel upscale campfire vibes at Fire & Water at Three Peaks Lodge, the on-site restaurant where entrées like Hudson Valley-sourced salmon are cooked over a wood-fire grill.

Published as “How to Explore Governors Island” in the “Escape to New York” guide in the September 2021 issue of Philadelphia magazine.