“Have you heard of the Staten Island Ferry?” That’s what a guy we were talking to in Brooklyn asked. I’d heard of the ferry, of course, but I didn’t know anything about it. Turns out there’s a free ferry between Manhattan and Staten Island and it transports 60,000 passengers between the islands on weekdays. It takes about a half hour each way and the views can’t be beat. So the morning of our last day in NYC, before we left Manhattan, we hoofed it down to the tip of the island, cutting through TriBeCa and the Financial District — where people were lined up to take their photo next to Wall Street’s famous bull statue — on the way. If you’re looking for free things to do in NYC, then the Staten Island Ferry should be at the top of your list!
About the Staten Island Ferry
The Staten Island Ferry is a 5-mile cruise that operates between the tip of Manhattan near Battery Park to Staten Island. The cruise goes right past the Statue of Liberty, Governors Island and Brooklyn. The views are simply fantastic and unbeatable.
Read More: Free Things to Do in New York City
The Good & The Bad of the Staten Island Ferry
The good: the Staten Island Ferry is the right price — it’s free. And the views are really quite nice, especially on a clear, bright day like the one we had. You get first hand, unobstructed views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the Lower Manhattan skyline, a few lighthouses, bridges and more. Apparently they also sell beer on the boat, if that’s your kind of thing and you can’t wait until you find a bar/restaurant/store. The bad: It’s a free for all. Because the ferry is free everyone seems to take it. There’s no organization or orderliness. The doors open and the hordes of people surge forward, pushing to try and get onto the boat. Then once on the boat, everyone pushes to get what they anticipate will be a great view.
Clearly once you’re past rush hour the majority of the riders are tourists. Once the ship docks in Staten Island, instead of sticking around the visit, everyone hightails it from the exit back to the departure gate to get on the next boat. Admittedly we were guilty of this as well.
If you have the timing right on this — I couldn’t imagine doing this in the height of summer or late in the day — it’s really quite nice. You certainly can’t beat the price and the views are lovely. The Staten Island Ferry is definitely worth a cruise!
Most tourists will be doing a round trip starting in Manhattan at the Whitehall Terminal on 4 Whitehall Street. The Staten Island side operates from the St. George Ferry Terminal on 1 Bay Street.