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Itinerary: One-Day Family Staycation in Downtown NYC

October 21, 2020
View of Statue of Liberty from Governors Island

This leisurely outdoor family staycation in downtown New York includes biking, shopping, hiking, relaxing, and picnicking. It also has great photo spots for the NYC skyline, parks, and bridges, so be sure to bring your camera.

Itinerary Details

Cost: mid-range

Traveler type: family

Number of days: 1

Interests: food, parks, monuments, tours, architecture

Special needs: wheelchair-accessible

Transportation: walking, boat

Season: spring, summer, fall

Author type: expert

Itinerary for One Day in Downtown NYC

Governors Island

Governors Island grassy area for NYC itinerary

3 hours

Take a free 5-minute ferry to Governors Island.  You’ll need to book your ferry ticket ahead of time online.

It’s free or a nominal $4 fee for adults depending on time or if you’re an NYC resident. Plan to spend 2-3 hours here. This car-free island is an oasis for New Yorkers with amazing views of the skyline and Statue of Liberty. You can bring or rent a bike. There are lawn chairs and picnic tables.

kids biking on Governors Island

Historically, it was a Coast Guard base, and you’ll see buildings and residences from that time which are now converted for public use as activity space. I taught my kids how to ride bikes here. We come here to relax, read, and picnic. There are also food trucks and food stalls plus playgrounds for kids and lots of space to explore.

South Street Seaport

South Street Seaport view of bridges in downtown NYC

2 hours

After returning from Governor’s Island, walk 15 minutes north to South Street Seaport. Take in the amazing sight of the bridges. You’ll be able to see Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg bridges.

You can also enjoy the outdoor art.

South Street Seaport Art in NYC

Browse the shops and grab dessert or food. Take the escalator to the rooftop deck for more amazing views and a restaurant bar.

Rest your legs here.

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge walkway

2 hours

Our next adventure is a 1 hour walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Or for those who prefer not to walk, you can take a 15 minute ferry.

Here’s a view of the map for comparison.

Walking across Brooklyn Bridge:

Google Map of your walk across Brooklyn Bridge for the one-day NYC itinerary

Walking across the bridge when it’s sunny and hot can be uncomfortable, so be sure to be prepared with water.

Taking the ferry:

Google Map of a ferry to Brooklyn Bridge from Wall Street

If you choose to walk, make sure not to wander into the bike lane as bikers will be screaming through. Stay to your right. There are a few places, such as each of the pillars, to take photos.

End at the Brooklyn Bridge Pier Park to relax and enjoy the sunset over the Manhattan skyline.  There are a lot of great food and dessert choices nearby.