Last Updated on January 26, 2022 by Sophie Nadeau
If you’re visiting New York City on a budget, then it’s worth noting that there are a myriad of low-cost activities that will allow you to see the best of the city and soak up the ambiance. One of the coolest things to do is to take the Staten Island Ferry, which in turn provides one of the best views of the Statue of Liberty to be found anywhere in New York. Here’s your ultimate guide on how to take the Staten Island Ferry and travel tips to know before you go.
A history of the Staten Island Ferry
The history of the ferry which transports passengers between Staten Island actually dates all the way back to 1810. Once upon a time, countless ferries would have transported voyagers between Manhattan Island now boroughs of New York long before any of the bridges that are so synonymous with the New York skyline were constructed.
When the Staten Island Ferry began operating during the 19th-century, it was a privately run operation. However, nowadays the ferry is an integral part of the city’s public transportation system. Today, the ferry is the busiest passenger ferry in the world!
Incredibly, an impressive 22 million use the free Staten Island Ferry service on an annual basis. This amounts to 70,000 passengers a day (not including weekend days). Indeed, as well as being a must-see attraction for visitors to New York, the ferry is also an essential commuter route for those traversing between Staten Island and Manhattan.
How to take the Staten Island Ferry
If you’re visiting the city for the first time, then the easiest way to get on the ferry is by heading to the Whitehall Terminal near Battery Park. This terminal features amenities such as an indoor waiting room and several spots where you can grab a snack or a bite to eat.
Ferries run 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I.e. you can get on a ferry whenever you want. The daytime will offer the best Statue of Liberty views, while an evening ferry ride will allow you to enjoy views of the New York skyline lit up by millions of twinkling lights.
Depending on what time of the day you opt to take a ferry while depend on how frequently ferry services run. With this being said, departures usually take place between every twenty minutes to an hour. Rush hour/ commuting hour is undoubtedly the busiest time of the day and so avoid morning or late afternoon/ early evening ferries if possible.
In total, the Ferry route covers 5 miles and the journey time is roughly twenty five minutes in each direction. The two terminals are Whitehall Terminal in Manhattan and St. George Terminal in Staten Island, which can be found on the Northern tip of the Isle.
Things to know before taking the Staten Island Ferry
You should know before visiting that almost every ferry provides outdoor seating, which in turn gives the best possible views of the Manhattan Skyline, as well as the Statue of Liberty. When heading from Manhattan to Staten Island, the Statue of Liberty will be on the right-hand side of the boat (i.e. Starboard side).
This direction of the ferry route also operates closest to the Statue of Liberty, in turn meaning the best views of the free Ferry route. Every boat offers indoor seating, though windows are pretty minimal and so the outdoor seating of the ferry is the best option if you’re looking to enjoy the New York views.
Whether you choose to explore Staten Island or simply wish to head straight back to Manhattan after enjoying the free boat ride, you should note that you have to get off the ferry at the ride. If there’s not too much of a queue, then you can simply get off the ferry and head back onto the one that you’ve just left.
Things to do in Staten Island
If you have a little more time, then you should know that there are a number of worthwhile activities and things to do on Staten Island itself. Some of the top attractions of Staten Island include enjoying a beer at the Flagship Brewing Company, rollerblading at Roller Jam USA, and learning about local history in the Staten Island Museum.
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