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5 New York City Water Views You Can't Miss
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  • States:
    New York

Walking the streets of Manhattan, it’s easy to forget you’re on an island.

And with multi-lane highways encircling the borough, it can be a challenge to enjoy the scenery and history of New York Harbor—unless you take to the water. Here are five great ways to do it.

1. Governors Island

This patch of green is just a seven-minute ferry ride from the southernmost tip of Manhattan and has been a Native American fishing ground, U.S. Coast Guard base, site of a meeting between Reagan and Gorbachev and, now, a public park and National Monument. In addition to military history and blissful quiet—only a handful of vehicles are allowed on Governors Island—you’ll also find special events throughout the season, which runs until September. The best part about the island? The ferry is just $2 round-trip!

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2. Riverside Park

While most of Manhattan is ringed by highways, urban planner Frederick Law Olmsted designed this section of the Upper West Side to work with the water. Riverside Park stretches from 72nd to 158th Streets, drawing bikers, joggers and, boat buffs. The 79th Street Boat Basin is home to skippers smart enough to avoid NYC rents by living aboard.

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3. City Island

Far from the hustle of New York but still part of the city, this New England-style enclave is the last thing you’d think of as metropolitan. But it’s worth the long haul to gorge on seafood while watching yachts cruise by. Johnny’s Reef Restaurant at the south of the island has an old-fashioned feel that makes for great photos…and piles of seafood, of course. Visiting is free, but the fried clams will cost you.

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4. Free Kayaking

Sporty locals have been passing around a secret for years: The New York City Downtown Boathouse will loan you a kayak and let you paddle around the Hudson for free. More serious boaters might score a spot on a three-hour tour, but since you can’t sign up ahead of time, availability depends on how many others show up.

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5. Sailing School

If the 4 options above seem too easy for you, the Manhattan Sailing School offers ASA basic keelboat certification over two days out of the North Cove in Battery Park City. You’ll get to spend two days trimming jibs and taking the helm of a J/24 with three other students and an instructor. Reservations are essential. Want a quick city tour of the Big Apple? Visit our city tour guide.

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Getting There

To reach New York City from international destinations, fly into John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in Queens or Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) in nearby Newark, New Jersey.