For the ultimate deep-dive into the history of New York’s greatest public park, take the Secrets of Governors Island Walking Tour led by Kevin C. Fitzpatrick, author of The Governors Island Explorer’s Guide. This is the first and only guide book for the Island; it was nominated by the Guides Association for New York City for the Apple Award for Outstanding Achievement in Non-Fiction New York Books.
Kevin, a licensed New York City sightseeing guide, started leading this walking tour in 2006. Besides the fine National Park Service rangers, he has given more tours than any other guide on the Island, for 13 years.
Private charters are also available if you contact him. There are other tours of the Island, but this is the only one that is two hours in length and covers both city and federal landmarks, visits Fort Jay and Castle Williams, and shows visitors the secret spots. Hear some dark secrets and see where the bodies are (literally) buried.
For more than 200 years, Governors Island was closed to the public. Learn how a former military post became New York’s greatest new park. This tour is for anyone who wants to learn about the island’s past, present, and future. It’s an active walking tour of pathways and hills, of approximately three miles. The island is only accessible by a seven-minute ferry ride; your ferry ticket is included in the cost of your tour.
* Three hundred years of island history, from Dutch explorers to the Jazz Age Lawn Party;
* Learn about the military role from the American Revolution to the Cold War;
* Architectural history of all Army buildings and Army housing;
* Climb Outlook Hill to see the Statue of Liberty and enjoy 360-degree Harbor views;
* Significance of all fortifications and military use of the island;
* See 3 houses of worship, the schools, and community buildings;
* See rare photos, maps, and drawings from Kevin’s personal collection.
Tickets must be bought at least 2 hours in advance of the tour start time.
Battery Maritime Building
10 South Street
New York, NY 10004
(GO TO MAP)
The Guide: Your guide will have a BLUE flag.
The meeting time is always at least 30 minutes before the schedule start time. If it is a 2:00 p.m. tour, meet 1:30-1:45 p.m. inside the lobby of the Battery Maritime Building. The cost of your ticket is included with advance purchase. Arrive at the ferry terminal at least 30 minutes before departure time. The ferry departs promptly, do not miss the boat.
This tour is designed for tourists, locals, families, and groups of friends. You’ll visit more than thirty locations and come away with a new appreciation for the area.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where do I get on the ferry?
Manhattan at the Battery Maritime Building, 10 South Street (next door to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal).
How much is the ferry fare?
The cost of the ticket is included in the tour.
What should I bring?
* Extra cash, as there are food and beverages available for purchase on the Island. There is an ATM, but it sometimes runs out of money!
* Water bottle (you can refill for free on Island);
* Comfortable shoes (no high heels, dress shoes, wedges), we go over uneven surfaces;
* Dress for the weather, we are going to be outdoors;
* Camera and phone charger;
* Sunscreen recommended.
Do we go inside any buildings?
Yes. If they are open to the public the day we are on the tour. We will go inside the Commanding General’s Quarters, Castle Williams, and Fort Jay. Touring other buildings depends if they are open to the public (schedule determined by the Island). The visits are for limited amounts of time determined by your guide. You can always return to explore what catches your attention afterwards. Note: Tours of the interior and parapet of Castle Williams are only given by the National Park Service.
I want to come from Brooklyn
If you want to take the ferry from Brooklyn, and meet the guide on the Island, you must contact him a day in advance to get alternate meeting location on Governors Island. This is not a problem at all.
I want to go to the Island on an earlier ferry
See above, to meet the guide on the Island, you must contact him a day in advance to get alternate meeting location on Governors Island. This is not a problem at all.
Does the tour start and end at the same place?
The tour does not start and end at the same place. Your tour guide will be more than happy to give directions to the ferry dock or point you in the right direction for your next destination.
What about inclement weather?
Tours will run rain or shine. We ask that you check the weather forecast and dress accordingly if inclement weather is predicted. If a serious storm is predicted that may impact the tour, you will be notified by e-mail, under these circumstances.
Are there bathrooms along the way?
Yes. Restrooms are available at the meeting location. There are also restrooms along the route.
How long is the tour?
Approximately two hours.
Can I bring my dog?
No dogs are allowed on Governors Island, except service dogs with proper papers.
Is the tour appropriate for kids?
Yes it is great for families.
Can I book a private tour?
Yes, reach out here to book a charter tour for 2 to 50 people.