The Staten Island Ferry is just another form of public transportation for Staten Island-ers, but for everyone else it’s a fun (and free! As opposed to $28 on the Ellis Island ferry) way to get to know New York City better.
The ferry runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It leaves from Whitehall Ferry Terminal in Manhattan and glides on the East River for about 15 minutes until the St. George Ferry Terminal in Staten Island. Hot tip: Avoid rush hour. Real tourists (not cool ones like you and me) can be annoying and locals will get vicious. I suggest going as the sun sets on a warm Summer’s day to get the best view of Lady Liberty. Never have I ever seen a statue look so beautiful.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much to do in Staten Island (yet). Day or night. Most people coming from the city go straight back on the next ferry, but since every passenger must disembark the boat you might as well stay and have a beer.
We went to a bar called “River Dock Cafe” located in the ferry terminal and took advantage of their harbor-facing terrace. We had beers and some appetisers as the sun went down on the gorgeous Financial District skyline while echoes from a nearby baseball game acted as background noise. It was kind of romantic.
Don’t worry if you head back towards the city at night – the view is just as beautiful. New York City is all glitz and glamour in the dark.