Featuring the unique Governors Island and bursting with United States naval history, Governors Island National Monument is a great destination for RV lovers visiting New York City, NY. Governors Island National Monument is located on Governors Island, which is located in the New York Harbor off the southern tip of Manhattan Island.
Governors Island has a rich history in defending America that dates back to 1776 when the Continental Army troops raised military installations during the American Revolutionary War. From 1783 to 1966 Governors Island was a United States Army post that was used mostly as a training ground for troops and a defense point during wartime periods. After this period the island then served as a major United States Coast Guard installation until 1996 when it was decommissioned to save money.
President Clinton was responsible for the island becoming a national monument after designating a 22-acre area, (including the historic Fort Jay and Castle Williams) before he left office in 2001. The official opening for public use occurred in 2005 and now the island has 43-acres of space dedicated to public park, free arts and cultural events, and recreational activities.
The park is only accessible by ferries from Brooklyn and Manhattan so you will have to leave your RV at a campground or parking lot during your visit to the monument. Due to the lack of vehicle access, RV camping will not be possible at the monument, however there is a campground in nearby Jersey City. Governors Island National Monument is open from the late spring to early fall.
Getting to and from Governors Island National Monument can be challenging depending on the time of day that you decide to visit due to the New York City traffic. Since Governors Island National Monument is located in the New York Harbor off the southern tip of Manhattan Island you can only access the monument via ferry.
Most visitors to the monument will either be coming from Brooklyn in the east or from Manhattan to the north. The monument is very easy to find as it is in a very prominent location in the harbor.
Parking near the ferry terminals that take you to Governors Island National Monument can be quite difficult, especially if you are traveling in an RV. Try to park your RV at a location where street parking is available (or in a private lot) and then take public transport, private ride-share, or a taxi as there is no guarantee that you will be able to park an RV near the terminals.
Due to the location of the monument you have the choice of taking a ferry to the island from either Manhattan or Brooklyn. For more information on ferry times check out the NYC Ferry website.
Unfortunately there are no RV campgrounds located at Governors Island National Monument or within Manhattan. Despite this, if you are looking for a place to stay the night, head across the Hudson River to New Jersey, specifically Jersey City. Jersey City has an RV campground located next to Liberty Harbor Marina that is only around 15 minutes from Manhattan. This campground is the best option that you will have if you want to stay as close to New York City as possible.
The urban campground has a total of 50 sites, some of which include amenities such as water and electric hookups. There are also some other handy amenities available, including full restrooms that have hot showers and a restaurant/bar within the RV campground. Please note that there is no dump station to be found so you will have to take your waste with you.
If you do plan to stay at this park consider booking a reservation. The sites regularly fill up due to the close proximity of the RV park to the tourist attractions of New York City.
One of the best ways to make the most of your trip to Governors Island National Monument is to participate in the free guided tours that are offered by the monument rangers. The ranger-guided tours are available to visitors on a first come, first served basis.
While on the tour, you will visit the most well known areas of the island - Castle Williams and Fort Jay. Please note that the Castle Williams tour is limited to 26 participants at a time and it requires ability to climb three flights of stairs.
Adventures at Governors Island is a pop-up amusement park that calls the island home during the summer months. The park is suitable for visitors of all ages and each year the amusement park features different attractions for people to enjoy when the sun is shining.
Each activity costs money and the types of things you can expect to find are a zipline, maze, climbing challenges, and a mini-golf course.
The Annual NYC Unicycle Festival is held on Governors Island during the fall each and every year. The festival has something for everyone, even if you aren't an avid unicycler. Activities that occur during the festival include races, competitions, exhibitions, and a variety of different unicycle sports, such as basketball, hockey, and sumo. If you want to participate in the festival you can do so by registering on the Unicycle Festival website before all the fun begins.
Running throughout the park on the weekends until the island's closure in late October is the Children's Museum of the Arts outpost. This activity attracts young artists who want to participate in free hands-on art-making workshops and art-viewing experiences. The programs are held to encourage children to invent, adapt, and transform their relationship to art and the art-making process.
The program is held at Building 13 within Nolan Park. For more information on the program check out the CMA website.
Once the weather starts to heat up and the island reopens, head to Governors Island National Monument with a full picnic basket. There are some great picnicking facilities available for you to use, including numerous picnic tables, grills, open green spaces, and there are also numerous water collection points.
You also have the ability to reserve a grill and picnic table in advance by paying a fee on the park's website. This could be a good idea if you are traveling with a large group and want to guarantee that you will have a comfortable spot with both a picnic table and grill.
Since no vehicles are allowed on Governors Island, it is a fantastic place for those who love to get active and ride their bikes. In total there are seven miles of asphalt bike paths that you are encouraged to explore and you also have a few different bike rental options available.
There is a private company that rents out over 500 bikes and other pedal powered modes of transport (such as surreys) or you can use one of the docked bike share facilities that are also used throughout New York City. If the timing is right, you can head to the private rental facility and rent a bike for up to an hour for free if you arrive between 10AM and 12 noon.