NEW YORK — It’s a less than 10-minute voyage from Lower Manhattan to a place that doesn’t much seem like New York City at all.

What You Need To Know

  • Governors Island reopens to the public on Saturday, May 1

  • To allow for social distancing, visitors must reserve tickets in advance

  • The island is accessible by ferry from Manhattan and Brooklyn 

  • The island didn't open until July last year because of the pandemic

Governors Island is a former military-base-turned-park, and is ready to welcome visitors back. The ferry ride is a fun way to start the journey.

"I love this ride, it feels like an actual way to start and stop your day where you get to take a breath and look around the entire harbor and get excited for what's coming," said Clare Newman, president and CEO of The Trust for Governors Island, which operates 150 acres of the island.

Workers have been busy planting and getting the grounds ready for the island's May 1 reopening. Photo courtesy: Roger Clark

The island reopens to the public on Saturday, May 1. After a coronavirus-shortened season last year, the destination for open space, culture and food is back on schedule.

"Having the island as a place where you can feel like you have really gotten away and taken a break is so critically important," Newman said.

The island staff works year-round, but is particularly busy now as they prepare for visitors. Senior Gardner Malcolm Gore and his staff are doing some weeding, sprucing up one of the island's most popular areas, Hammock Grove.

"It's always exciting for the opening of the season, I love having the public here seeing them out here enjoying the garden, it's what I do this for," Gore said.

The island offers visitors panoramic views the of Big Apple skyline and New York Harbor. Photo Courtesy: Roger Clark

The gardeners are getting a hand this year from a flock of sheep, brought to the island from the Friends of Tivoli Lake Farm in Albany, to chow down on invasive plant species. There is also human assistance in the form of Volunteers like Phil English, a Temple University Finance Professor who has been pitching in on the island for five years.

"Even something that would seem as mundane as weeding, one of the nice parts is you can point at it and say, I did that," English said.

The preparations range from making sure vendors and cultural institutions that have a seasonal residency on the island have what they need, to bringing out comfy Adirondack chairs and the hammocks in Hammock Grove for folks to enjoy them.

Sheep from the Friends of Tivoli Lake Farm in Albany are chomping at the bit to help keep invasive plant species at bay this year on the island. Photo courtesy: Roger Clark

The Trust's Director of Operations Planning, Mollie McGinnis, said their hard work is all about providing a fun and safe experience for visitors. 

"I think it just reiterates why we do the work that we do to have people out here and seeing them enjoy all the things that we work on throughout the whole year," McGinnis said.

For information on reserving advance tickets for ferries from Manhattan and Brooklyn and COVID-19 protocols, visit