There is always the perception that there is no open green space in New York City and you would be so wrong. In August, I was invited to go on a lazy picnic on Governors Island, a 172-acre national park, by Veziah from Jamasia Eats, She has made an appearance in a previous post when we had Filipino food here and a night at the museum here. She organizes a yearly picnic on the island for friends and family that I was very flattered to be invited to.
Some History About Governors Island
Governors Island is described this way on the National Park’s website;
From its military beginnings as a colonial militia in 1755, Governors Island became a major headquarters for the U.S. Army and Coast Guard, making it one of the longest continually operated military installations in the country until its closure in 1996. Military decisions made throughout the island’s history reverberated through communities and neighborhoods across vast oceans. Although no longer a military post, Governors Island remains in public service
There are tours every hour to discuss the historical significance of the island and the part it’s played in defense of the city. Because of its location guarding the city and providing a training area for the active military, it was always a jewel in the harbor for the State of New York.
Although the island’s fortifications became defensively obsolete by the 1830s, Governors Island remained in military service, while other harbor island installations were converted to non-military uses. The island became an administrative and training center for a peacetime U.S. Army and it served as a mustering point for personnel during the Mexican and Civil Wars. It also served as a federal arsenal, and an army music school. It was during the Civil War that Castle Williams’ use changed from a coastal fortification to a prison first for Confederate prisoners of war, and later as a military stockade for the U.S. Army. By 1878, Governors Island evolved from a small military outpost to the army headquarters for the Military Division of the Atlantic and Department of the East, responsible for coordinating army activities for the eastern United States. Once Governors Island became a headquarters, officers were able to bring their families to live on the island.
Where Is Governors Island?
It’s in between Staten Island and Manhattan, and accessible by a five-minute ferry ride for two dollars. It’s only open from Memorial Day weekend to the last weekend in September each Summer (in Summer of 2017, Governors Island is open until October 31). It is now considered a park, imagine a whole island is a park in the middle of the New York City harbor. Awesomeness!
What Can You Do On Governors Island?
The views of Manhattan and the grounds are so beautiful! There is also an urban farm, historic fort, a castle, a baseball field, a beer garden, zip line, the Hills and a bike path that runs the entire border of the island and you can rent bikes and surreys by the hour.
Besides getting a workout in from bike riding, the walk around the island is hilly and challenging, wear comfortable shoes. There are food trucks at the picnic areas, all summer and the annual Vendy Awards at the end of the summer which picks the best of the best of New York’s food trucks happens here as well. So there is always great food to share on the grounds.
By the way, a lazy picnic is a picnic where you don’t have to cook and you can bring things that you’ve bought just before heading out to the island, no stress, no cleanup. We blew bubbles and gorged ourselves with our food. I love coming to this event every year and spending time with friends that I don’t get to see often enough.
It was really hard not taking pictures at every corner, I was annoying people with my camera. Haha! So this is a taste of what I do when I am not writing. Such a great experience and Governors Island is a jewel that not enough people visit in New York.
Have you every visited Governors Island? Do you have a similar space where you live that makes you feel like you are stepping into a painting? Tell me about it in the comments below, I’d love to hear.
Until our next rendezvous…
22 thoughts on “Lazy Picnic on Governors Island In NYC”
This is going to sound a little nutty, but I am an closet (not so closet) Bravo watcher. I believe it was Real Housewives of New York a fews years back that had some sort of a lunch or birthday party on Governor’s Island. True, NYC does have its pockets of greenery, just not very much.
Actually there is quite a bit, just that no one slows down enough to notice it all. There are 1700 parks, playgrounds, and recreational facilities in the five boroughs, consisting of over 28000 acres that’s pretty decent in a city with 8 million plus people where space is a premium
I rally enjoy learning about New York City through your blog. Before I started reading it, I imagined the city to be mostly paved over, crowded with skyscrapers and people and plenty of crime. It has been very enlightening to read your posts highlighting the beautiful parks, sights and events one can enjoy there. Nice job Trudy!
Thank you. I really think you would enjoy yourself here, although it would definitely take more than a week.
It’s on my list Trudy! Especially if I can work in a coffee or lunch rendezvous en New York with you! ?
Aaw so sweet! Definitely!! If you visit during Summer you can also visit Governor’s Island, there’s supposed to be a lot of bird watching there too!
I thought of you today when I saw this. http://gothamist.com/2015/12/02/bird_watched.php
Hey Trudy!!! You made my day! Thanks for thinking of me. When I make to to the Big Apple, I hope we can have coffee, lunch, or … I have not seen a bunting yet. But some day! Cheers from Portlandia! ?
Sure! That beautiful bird must have been lost because it’s native to the South, but our weather has been extra mild so I guess he wasn’t ready for Mexico yet. I just thought that he was breathtaking. I haven’t seen one either. Cheers from the Big Apple
? Good to know that even birds can get lost. Many years ago I saw an emporia goose where we lived in California at the time. He was lost too!
Poor thing will figure it out once it gets colder next week. But he’s causing a stir in the meantime.
He’ll most likely be okay. Animals tend to be smarter than humans most of the time! ?
This all looks incredible, I’d love to visit New York one day!
Thank you! It’s really peaceful.
I grew up in NYC. My Dad worked on Governors Island in the late 50’s and early 60’s, for the U.S. Dept of Agriculture. I had always wanted to go back and in 2008, my dream came true when a relative, knowing I wanted to see the Waterfalls, suggested I take the free ferry from Manhattan to Governor’s Island to get a good look, and my husband and I did, I’m amazed at how much development has taken place since that 2008 trip. I only stayed about an hour or so. I would love to go back one day, just to walk in my Dad’s footsteps.
There seems to be a lot of festivals held there now. And of course picnics and bicycle riding.I love all of the above. But I did see a lot of construction happening as well, so next year there will be more to see.
Oh didn’t have time to go there but def will next time ! Great post
You’re welcome! You should carry a picnic and plan to stay the day!
Ok thanks for the tip!