One of the greatest assets of being a New Yorker is our overabundance of beautiful waterfronts. Whether its the East River Waterfront or other lesser-known spots such as Hunter’s Point South or Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg, there are few better or cheaper ways to enjoy an afternoon in the Big Apple. If you’re looking to do something a little out of the ordinary for your next waterfront visit, consider one of these quirky waterfront activities. You’ll thank us later.
Lilac Museum Steamship, image via Travsd
The floating library hasn’t opened just yet on the Lilac Museum Steamship, but this may soon become one of the most remarkable of the Hudson River waterfront activities. The floating library will be open from September 6th through October 3rd and will not only feature, you guessed it, a library, but it will also feature such things as rountable discussions and listening rooms. Did we mention that there will be rope swings?
North Brooklyn Boating Club, who are similarly dedicated to providing free access to New York City’s water, offer a unique annual event allowing New Yorkers to take an overnight rund trip around the entire borough of Manhattan. Untapped Cities was able to participate in the first circumnavigation, which you can check out here. All you need to take part in this amazing opportunity is a membership to the club and a willingness to tough it out from 10 at night to 8 the next morning.
Image via Frying Pan
Pier 66 on west 26th Street is home to many great activities that are as scenic as they are edible. Along with a spectacular view of the Hudson River, visitors of Pier 66 can also check out the historic ship Frying Pan, which also happens to be parked right next to the Maritime Bar & Grill. Frying Pan was a United States lightship built in 1929 that’s now permanently docked and open to the public during the Bar & Grill’s hours of operation. The Bar & Grill itself is built floating railroad barge alongside the Frying Pan and John J. Harvey Fireboat.
Speaking of floating riverside attractions, the Tug Pegasus and Waterfront Museum Barge also gives New Yorkers another way to enjoy the Hudson waterfront. This barge is parked at Pier 25 and is probably the last remaining all-wooden Hudson River railroad barge still afloat. It now gives the visitors the opportunity to learn about the history of the waterfront along with it’s unique performance space.
Image via Zerve
Brought to you by Boroughs of the Dead,this walking tour leads you from the Greenwich Village all the way to the Hudson River, stopping off at many little-known historical landmarks to reveal the stories behind many of the spectral remnants of the Titanic disaster. Ghosts leftover from the Titanic are believed to exist everywhere from the West Village Hotel to the rescue ship Carpathia, not to mention deadly premonitions 14 years before the titanic had even set sail.
Image via Rockaway Jet Ski
Here’s yet another chance for New Yorkers to explore the island of Manhattan from the outside through a little known operation called Rockaway Jet Skis. Beginning in the Rockaways in Queens, expert Jet Ski guides lead on a tour of the city that can take anywhere from one hour to several days. If the waters cooperate, you can do a 4 hour tour and circumnavigate Manhattan. Other areas that people are open to explore through Rockaway Jet Skis include Jamaica Bay, City Island, and Jones Beach. Read about how Rockaway Jet Skis is a part of Hurricane Sandy recovery in the Rockaways.
Unknown even by many native New Yorkers, the Staten Island Boat Graveyard is one of the most fascinating and recommended activities on our list. It is located in Rossville, Staten Island near the Fresh Kills landfill and is unknown even to many New York natives. This enormously fascinating assortment of rusted old ships and dilapidated cabins from the earlier part of the century cannot be accessed by any official tours though, so if you are planning on visiting the graveyard, go at your own risk. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to check out our visit to the graveyard a few years back.
A view of Lower Manhattan from the Downtown Boathouse’s free kayak. Image via Flickr: Katie Killary
Perhaps the best part about enjoying New York’s waterfronts is the fact that it’s free, and nothing beats free. The Downtown Boathouse‘s free kayaking is a classic activity that we would be remiss to include on this list. The Downtown Boathouse can be found at either Pier 26, Governor’s Island, or Pier 96 & 72nd Street. This organization is run by a group of volunteers dedicated to providing free access to the Hudson River by providing free kayaking from the month of May to October. Their services are available from 9:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays as well as weekdays from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Yearly membership available in addition to free lessons and trips.
For even more waterfront fun, check out the Other Islands of New York City City Island, a magical getaway in the Bronx, and this roundup of the other bridges of NYC. Get in touch with the author @DouglasCapraro