Governors Island

Coolstuff Team
September 22, 2023

Looking at the water from Wall Street, Staten Island, or Red Hook, there is one thing in common (aside from the Statue of Liberty) and that’s Governors Island. Over the last few years, the once-forgotten piece of land has gotten a major updo thanks to artists, conservationists, and landscapers so we figured it was about time we gave you a little guide to the underestimated island. And for the record, we had this guide written before Prince William went looking for oysters on Governors Island this week.


Our home base on Governors Island was the seasonal luxury camping spot, Collective Retreats near the hills of the island. While you could definitely visit the island in the form of a day trip, an overnight stay at Collective Retreats is a fun way to make it feel like a real vacation while only being an 8 minute ferry ride away from Manhattan.

We loved having a “staycation” where we felt like we were removed from the city, but could still take in its amazing views of the skyline and lady lib. The variety of room options like their luxury tents and panoramic suits allows you to choose your own adventure during the stay. 

Collective Retreats Governors Island


Governors Island is the perfect place to go for a casual weekend away. The meals you have here will be fun, outside and relaxed. Head to the food truck area on the island, or to one of their many water-front restaurants to grab a bite. Here were some of our favorites:

The Arts Center Cafe & Bar

Pizza Yard

Taco Vista

Little Evas

Threes Brewing


On Governors Island, art is everywhere – from sculptures and installations to the LMCC Arts Center, so much good art is available to the public. We loved seeing artists in residence hopping onto the ferry with supplies in tow, and the injection of creativity helps set the tone for the island. Take a walk around Outlook Hill and see some of our favorite creative moments around the island:

LMCC Arts Center

Moving Chains by Charles Gaines

Cabin by Rachel Whiteread


We were so glad we decided to spend our Saturday exploring the island by bike. Rent a couple of beach cruisers from Blazing Saddles, or go the classic route of taking Citi Bikes for a spin and take a lap (or two) around the island, pass by Colonials Row, and stop at one of the many food trucks for a bite. 

After you’ve finished your exercise for the day, take a beat at Hammock Grove or play a chic game of French boules sport pétanque at CARREAU CLUB.

If you’re more of the R&R type, sign up for a day pass at QC Spa where you can take a dip while soaking in the city views.


While Gov Island isn’t necessarily a shopping destination…you can catch a great market on the weekends. FAD Market sets up shop on King Ave and makes for a great way to discover your new favorite makers (as well as that gift for a friend you’ve been meaning to buy.)


While spending a day or night on an island in the middle of the East River may seem intimidating, Governors Island is actually very easy to get to! There are two ferries which run to the island – one from Manhattan and one from Brooklyn – making your arrival flexible. 

Head here for all of the ferry schedule info!