Riding the Staten Island Ferry is one of the best things to do in New York City! Not only can you see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, but you will get magnificent views of the lower Manhatten skyline too. And guess what?! It won't cost you a cent!!
Riding the Staten Island Ferry at night
One of the top things we wanted to do on our NYC bucket list was to ride the Staten Island Ferry at night. If you are wondering if you should make time for this activity on your trip we highly recommend it!
Because we had two weeks to spend in New York, we rode the ferry during the day and night. I couldn't say if one was better than the other. They both have their advantages. Riding the ferry at night definitely had less people on the ferry which was nicer than having to fight the crowds for a decent viewing spot. Obviously one of the best things about riding the ferry at night is seeing the lower Manhatten skyline all lit up. It was so beautiful!
The ferry ride itself takes about 25 minutes and once you reach Staten Island, you will have to disembark. If you plan to head straight back to Manhatten, then you will need to quickly go back through the terminal to board the same ferry back. If you miss the ferry back, you will need to wait about 30 minutes for the next one to arrive.
There is a free WiFi service available at the terminals and on the ferries. You can also find a kiosk on the ferry selling snacks such as hot dogs, muffins as well as beer.
NOTE: You can not get off at the Statue of Liberty. You can see this post on how to visit the Statue of Liberty.
The best free bar in NYC!
The Staten Island Ferry is the best free bar in New York City! We took a couple of drinks for our night time excursion and we were not the only one's... Cheap drinks and some of the most beautiful views of the Manhatten skyline made this one of our favorite things to do in NYC. If I lived here, this would become a regular occasion.
When our friend who had become a recent resident of the city asked us what had been our favorite thing to do so far was, we told him about our night ride on the Staten Island Ferry. He informed us it was well-known with locals as being the best (free) bar in NYC.
STATEN ISLAND FERRY SCHEDULE
The Staten Island ferry runs every 30 minutes on the hour and half hour, however during rush hour ferries run every 15 minutes. The Staten Island Ferry operates year-round 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. No need to buy a ticket... it's free!
How to get to the ferry terminal
The Staten Island Ferry departs from the Whitehall Terminal located in Battery Park. Battery Park is in lower Manhatten on the very tip of the island. The closest subway stations are Bowling Green and South Ferry Station and from either of those stations it is less than a 5 minute walk.
If you are using the New York City Hop On Hop Off Bus, you can get off at the Battery Park stop located on State Street between Battery Place and Bridge Street.
Where to stand for the best views
In both of our experiences riding the Staten Island Ferry during the day and night, almost everyone made a beeline for the front of the boat.
If you want the best views of the Manhatten skyline as you are departing, the best views are seen from the very back of the ferry. It was surprising to me that there was only a handful of people riding at the back which is perfect if you want to be able to snap a couple of pictures without anybody else standing in your photo's.
To see the Statue of Liberty on your way to Staten Island, the best views will be seen from the right side of the ferry. And for the best views of the Statue of Liberty on your way back from Staten Island you will want to stand on the left side of the ferry.
Views from the Staten Island Ferry at night
From the ferry, you will have stunning views of the Lower Manhattan skyline, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the Brooklyn Bridge.
You can view photo's from our recent trip on the Staten Island Ferry at night below. We stood at the back of the boat on the upper deck on the way out to Staten Island and rode at the front of the boat on the lower deck on the way back to Manhattan.
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