Where: Staten Island Ferry
4 Whitehall St, New York, NY 10004
Why: It’s free, runs 24/7, and short of a private boat ride, it gives you the best possible view of the downtown skyline and the Statue of Liberty
What: Except for late at night, the Staten Island Ferry runs every 30 minutes between the bottom of Manhattan to the terminal at the top of Staten Island (Schedule). Especially great if you have visitors in from out of town, it works like this. Show up at the Whitehall Terminal at the very bottom of Manhattan Island (you can get there with the 4,5, R, or W train). A free ferry leaves every 30 minutes on the hour and half-hour. You’ll see the queue forming as the next boat is getting ready to accept passengers. Board the ferry and find a great seat or place to stand towards the back of the boat (the side facing Manhattan). After you slowly depart from Manhattan enjoy the ~22 minute ride. About half-way through the ride, you’ll pass directly in front of the Statue of Liberty.
After you arrive on Staten Island, you have some choices. If you want to return immediately back to Manhattan, it’s super simple. Get off the ferry, follow the signs (and the crowd doing the same thing as you) around to the next boat. You have plenty of time to get to the next boat, so don’t be nervous. If you want to explore Staten Island, something well worth doing.
Tourists usually ride this boat during the day, but I actually prefer the night-time ride even more. There’s nothing like seeing lower Manhattan in all it’s night-time glory.