The free ferry to Staten Island, New York City
New York City can be an expensive place to visit. Granted, the cost is worth it, for it's one of the world's most exciting cities. It has all the art, music, culture, and style that you could ever want. However, it's always good to know what the natives know about saving a few pennies here and there. You can pay to take a boat ride around the famous Manhattan harbor, of course. Or you can do what actual New Yorkers do and ride the Staten Island Ferry for free. This is also one of the best ways to view the Statue of Liberty, as the ferry passes in full view of Liberty Island.
The ferry is easy to get to. If you're walking in Manhattan, just keep walking south until you hit the river. The ferry station is at Whitehall and Water Streets. If you're going by subway (an experience in itself for only $2.25), you have several choices of trains depending on where you're starting from. You can take the J or Z train to Broad Street station, the 1 or 9 train to South Ferry station, or the 4 or 5 train to Bowlling Green station.
Unless you're traveling in the wee hours of the morning, which for the ferry means between midnight and six a.m., a ferry should be arriving every half hour or so. In the early hours, it will still be there, but you'll have a longer wait. The ferry runs twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year. Wait at Battery Park and take in the view, then get on the ferry for free. How great is that for a travel bargain!
During morning and evening rush hours, you'll probably have to jostle your way onto the boat. But maybe that's part of the charm, and you can pretend you're a working Manhattanite. There are no cars allowed on the ferry, so it's just you and other folks sitting inside under cover or wandering out to the deck.
Wear a jacket even if it's warm outside because you're on the water and there's often a cool breeze. If you'd prefer a quieter ride, aim for a time during midday hours or later in the evening.
So relax, breathe, and take in the sites of the New York harbor. You'll be passing such noteworthy tourist attractions as the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island (where the first immigrants – maybe some of your relatives – arrived in America, and two spectacular bridges. You'll be close to both the Brooklyn Bridge and the Verrazano Narrows bridge that links New York with Staten Island.
You'll get a pretty complete view of the famous New York skyline with its skyscrapers.
When you get to the Staten Island side, you'll have to get off. You can either debark and then embark again to get back to Manhattan. Or you can go from the ferry dock at Bay Street to wander Staten Island. You can walk to the Richmond County Bank Ballpark to visit the home of the Staten Island Yankees if you're a baseball fan.
The next time you're in Manhattan (or find yourself in Staten Island), do what the locals do and take the ferry.
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