A worm's eye view of Castle Williams of General Island from New York Harbor with trees green trees and tower in the back on a sunny day

Can You Drive To Governors Island?

By Dianne Titos | Published on 25 October 2020

Governors Island is a little piece of paradise in the middle of New York harbor. A 10 minute ferry journey from Manhattan or Brooklyn transports you into a peaceful world that feels miles away from frenetic New York City.

Can you drive you Governors Island? Nearly. You can drive right up to the parking lots on South, Broad or Whitehall Streets and board the ferry to the island by foot.

You cannot drive to Governors Island and no cars are allowed on the island at all. You can cross onto the island by taking a passenger-only ferry from Manhattan or Brooklyn and if you're driving you can park your car near the ferry terminal.

Read on to find out exactly how to get to Governors Island from New York and some great tips if you are looking to drive.

Is it possible to drive to Governors Island?

No cars or vehicles are allowed on Governors Island itself but it is possible to drive right up to the harbors in Brooklyn and Manhattan and board the 10 minute ferry over to the island. The Manhattan harbor has more frequent ferries which run throughout the week.

From Manhattan, ferries depart from the Battery Maritime Building in the Financial District.

Ferries to Governor Island from Manhattan run all week, on weekends the ferries leave every 20 minutes from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with the final return ferry from Governors Island to the Battery Maritime building departing at 7 p.m.

In the week ferries leave Manhattan once an hour from 10 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., the return ferry to Manhattan leaves Governors Island at 6 p.m.

The best parking for the Manhattan ferry is from South, Broad and Whitehall street on the Southern tip of Manhattan Island. Rates start from $12.99 for the day.

From Brooklyn, the ferry departs from the Fredericks Marine Terminal in Red Hook. Note this has changed in 2020 and Brooklyn ferries no longer depart from Pier 6. Ferries only leave from Brooklyn during the weekend.

The ferry from Brooklyn runs every 45 minutes from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. from Red Hook ferry terminal. Returning from Governor's Island the last ferry is at 7 p.m. back to Red Hook. On weekdays you should use the Manhattan Pier.

The best parking for the Fredericks Marine Terminal in Red Hook is in St. Thomas. The garage is open daily at 5:30 a.m. until midnight and parking rates are $10 per day.

Battery Maritime Building on a gloomy weather at Manhattan
Ferries from the beautiful Battery Maritime Building will take you to Governors Island.
OPIS Zagreb/Shutterstock.com

How to get to Governors Island?

Governors Island occupies a prime spot right in the center of New York harbor. How long it takes to get to Governors Island depends on your starting point. From Brooklyn Bridge, you can walk out to the Manhattan Battery Maritime museum which is the boarding point for the Governors Island ferry.

If you are driving to Governors Island then you need to note there are no vehicles allow on the island but it is possible to drive to the Manhattan and Brooklyn ferry departure points.

When driving to the Manhattan ferry terminal which is at the Battery Maritime Museum you will find there is no public parking at the Battery Maritime Museum.

You can try and find on-street parking in the area, but as with many places in New York the parking is hard to find, limited to an hour and the cost of tickets are expensive. You'll do far better driving to one of the car parking lots along South, Broad or Whitehall Streets where you can park your car at leisure and not worry about rushing back.

If driving to the Brooklyn ferry terminal which is at the Fredericks Marine Terminal at Red Hook, there is no public parking available at the pier. The best place to park is at St Thomas and then take a short walk down to the ferry terminal.

How long does it take to get to Governors Island?

As Governors Island is in the center of New York the journey times to the island are minimal. The trip to the Battery Maritime Museum which is the ferry terminal for Governors Island from Brooklyn Bridge is a mere 1 mile or 20-minute stroll. From the Upper Eastside, it would take you 6 minutes by car.

Journey times and mileage to the Manhattan ferry terminal for Governors Island from the closest cities are as follows:

  • Boston, MA: 217 miles / 3 hours and 32 minutes
  • Buzzards Bay, MA: 230 miles / 3 hours and 46 minutes
  • Hartford, CT: 116 miles/ 1 hours and 57 minutes
  • Newark, NY: 18 miles / 34 minutes
  • Philadelphia, 97 miles / 1 hour and 36 minutes
  • New Haven 81 miles / 1 hour and 26 minutes

Driving route from New York City to Governors Island

Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive along East River with Brooklyn Bridge and New York City Skyline early morning
Coming from the East Side of New York City, you'll travel through Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive to Governors Island Ferry Terminal.
Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com

If you are coming from the East Side of New York City take the FDR Drive to Exit 1, South Ferry. As you exit, stay in the left lane on southbound South Street, make the U-turn at the side of the Staten Island Ferry terminal.

Now heading northbound on South Street, the Governors Island Ferry Terminal is the large green building on your right located at 10 South Street.

Coming from the West Side of New York City take the West Highway through the Battery Park Underpass. When you emerge from the underpass on to the FDR, take the first exit right at Exit 1 - Staten Island Ferry.

At the first light, turn left, southbound on South Street, in a block you will merge with the FDR exit ramp mentioned above. Stay in the left lane, take the U-turn at the side of the Staten Island Ferry terminal.

Now you are on northbound South Street and the Governors Island Ferry Terminal is the large green building on your right

Things you need to know about driving to Governors Island.

Governors Island is located in the New York harbor, vehicles are not allowed on Governor's Island but you can drive to the ferry terminals in Manhattan or Brooklyn and board the ferry.

An aerial view of Governors Island in Upper New York Bay with beautiful American Architectural buildings, green fields, and trees, Manhattan area, New York City
Enjoy this scenic view in Governors Island.
Roman Babakin/Shutterstock.com

Governors Islands is open to the public throughout the summer months, specifically May 1st to October 31st. Ferry services to Governor Island stop in the winter.

In 2020 booking is now required on the Governors Island ferry to minimize passengers and allow for social distancing. Visitors must reserve tickets in advance through a new ticket reservation system.

You can print your ticket or pick up from the booths at the ferry terminal at Battery Maritime Museum in Manhattan. Arrive a minimum of 15 minutes before the ferry you wish to board.

Visitors must depart the island on their assigned return ferry time selected when purchasing tickets.

Brooklyn ferries only run during weekends. During the week you will need to travel to Governors Island from the Manhattan ferry terminal.

Brooklyn ferries now run from the Red Hook/Atlantic Basin ferry terminal. There will be no Brooklyn ferries from Pier 6 at Brooklyn Bridge Park in 2020.

The ferries from both Manhattan and Brooklyn cost $3 for an adult round trip, $1 for senior round trip and are free for children under 12 (over 12 is classed as adult). If you are a New York City resident then show your ID and travel for free. Early birds catch the worm. Get to the ferry before midday on Saturday and Sunday and travel for free.

There is no additional charge to bring a bicycle, and spots for them are available on a first-come, first-served basis as space allows.