By Lisa Nielsen
Last Saturday started off with a choice of a backyard barbecue or Governor's Island. Curiosity won out and we took the jaunt to Governor's Island. For anyone on the north shore of Staten Island, this trip really is a no-brainer. It is close, FREE and fairly convenient. What drew us there this particular day was an event called Brews, Blues and BBQ. Being a fan of this holy trinity of summer I was not disappointed.
Brews, Blues and BBQ
I had visited the host brewery when I was in Cooperstown (Ommegang) so I was looking forward to having their delicious ale with barbecue. The food did not disappoint either – fish tacos, pulled pork and bratwurst as well as basics like hot dogs, hamburgers and French fries. The band playing this particular day was Guitar Pete.
This event will repeat again on September 10 and 17 and will feature a different band, food and brewery at the “beach” (literally sand and fake palm trees – do not expect a beach to lay out anywhere or dip your toes in the water as I did or you will be disappointed).
Most of the buildings are former housing units but a few are open to the public and it is there that you will find vending machines, restrooms for those port-o-potty phobic (right by the entrance to the ferry) and museums and art galleries.
A bike rider mecca
While sitting down in the beach area I did notice a few children but as of right now Governor's Island seems fairly indifferent to kids unless they like bike riding. Governor's Island is a Mecca for bike riding; I felt out of place walking and on my next visit there I definitely plan on renting a bike. In fact they offer family style bike rentals(4 seaters), which everyone on board seemed to enjoy – especially those not pedaling.
Antique car shows and food trucks
This particular day there was an antique Volkswagen show.(There are always a multitude of activities on any particular weekend and the site is very informative (govisland.com/html/home/home.shtml). While walking the perimeter there was yet another beer garden featuring six point brewery from red hook Brooklyn, a souvlaki food truck and an ice cream vendor – you will definitely not go hungry here and prices are fairly reasonable.
The Ferry Situation
One thing for Staten Islanders to be prepared for is that our ferry does not match up with theirs. I got on the 12 o'clock boat assuming I would catch their 12:30 ferry (they leave every half hour starting at 10am – the last one at 7pm on Saturday and Sunday, 5pm on Friday), but that is not the case. They do not have the waiting space we have so it was a bit confusing when we first got to the docking station. Literally, the Governor's Island ferry is right next door and very easy to get to – but when we got there people were milling on the street and, not knowing what to do, we went in a another door and inadvertently cut the line. They could definitely use a volunteer outside helping to organize the line as they do indoors. The amount of people seems daunting at first but you are moved from one waiting area to another fairly quickly. The longest we waited in one spot was 10 minutes. There is also a separate boarding area for those with bikes and strollers. Also, if leaving the Island later in the day (we left around 4) be prepared for a long line for the ferry ride back. Also note that the site mentions to bring your own chairs for sitting along the water – I would skip this as the only place we did wind up using our chairs was on the crowded ferry home.
All in all despite the minor irritations of getting there and leaving (the ferry is only a 15 minute ride) it is well worth visiting. I will definitely be back, without a chair and ready to ride.