One of the largest natural harbors in the world, New York Harbor is the gateway to Manhattan. It’s also a scenic spot to explore and a must for first-time visitors to New York City, with photo ops aplenty along its walking trails, bridges, and piers.

The Basics

Most visitors go to New York Harbor for the views of the city’s beloved Statue of Liberty. Look at her from afar, or get up close on a sightseeing cruise. Many tours to the Statue of Liberty include a stop at Ellis Island, another can’t-miss New York landmark—and Liberty and Ellis islands offer sweeping views of downtown Manhattan.

Alternatively, jet-ski, kayak, or boat in the harbor waters, or embark on a dinner cruise or sunset sail for a glimpse of Manhattan at its brightest. Or, simply take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry or one of the other public boats that transport both locals and tourists around the city.

Things to Know Before You Go
  • The Staten Island Ferry is free, and a 1-way trip lasts around 15 minutes.
  • Sightseeing cruises typically offer food and beverages for purchase.

How to Get There
Located at the mouth of the Hudson River, the New York Harbor is served by cruise ships, commuter ferries, and tourist boats. Sightseeing and dinner cruises usually leave from Battery Park. If you’re taking the subway to Battery Park, get off at Bowling Green station.

When to Get There
New York Harbor is a 24-hour destination, with watercraft arriving and departing at all hours. Evening is arguably the best time for a sightseeing tour—there’s something magical about watching the city light up after dark.

Governors Island

The biggest island in New York Harbor, Governors Island is a former military outpost open to visitors from May through October. Covering more than 170 acres (69 hectares), this piece of land has a history that goes back to the early 17th century. Explore Fort Jay, Castle Williams, Colonel’s Row, and the South Battery, or check out the various temporary art installations and the annual art fair.


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