NEW YORK: EAT SEE PLAY SHOP SLEEP TIPS OUT OF TOWN

BROOKLYN

East River Ferry

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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.

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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.

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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.

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