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The can’t-miss activity in New York City that won’t peg you as a tourist

The list of iconic, must-visit spots in New York City runs long: there’s Central Park and Times Square, of course. You can’t forget about The Stonewall Inn and a trip to Harold Square to see the world’s largest store (by the way, that Macy’s is big enough to keep THREE Starbucks in business). There’s no shortage of things to do.

So what do you choose to see in one trip?

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A last-minute suggestion of a ferry ride sounded cool, but I was worried it was expensive and would gobble up a lot of my three-day maiden voyage to the Big Apple. I was wrong.

This is the NYC Ferry.

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I hopped on the East River route, which runs from East 34th Street all the way down to Governors Island and Wall Street. Another route takes New Yorkers and tourists from Wall Street to South Brooklyn; a third goes from the Financial District to Rockaway, a popular beach getaway. Since I first visited, they added routes to and from the Lower East Side, Astoria and Western Queens. In 2021, they will add a route to Coney Island.

The boat I boarded was really nice. It has two decks, including an enclosed lower level that’ll keep you cool in the summer and protect you from the wind. You’ll also find a bar serving beer and wine, plus there’s WiFi on-board.

What shocked me the most: the price. A one-way ticket is just $2.75, the same cost as a ride on the subway. And it’s much cheaper than going to the top of a skyscraper like Rockefeller Center or the Empire State Building.

After spotting a long line to get a ticket, I used NYC Ferry’s phone app to buy a pass and could easily scan my credit card without any hassle. I’m glad I did; if I would have waited in line, I would have missed the boat.

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The views are breathtaking. I had a clear view of Midtown Manhattan and the River helped me take some awesome photos. I caught a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty and since I was on a weekend cruise, we stopped at Governors Island (it’s a seasonal stop). And I soaked in some unique views, including a pass underneath the Brooklyn Bridge.

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The East River route will take you about 40 minutes for the one-way trip. Once you’re off, you’re within walking distance to the New York Stock Exchange and the famous Charging Bull.

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Your ticket is valid for 90 minutes once your trip starts. The East River ferry makes six pit stops, so if you want to hop off at Governors Island and walk around, go ahead.

Tips if you take the NYC Ferry:

  • Sit on the top deck of the boat in the back to get the best skyline views.
  • Download and buy your ticket on the NYC Ferry phone app; it accepts credit cards and you’ll be able to skip the line to purchase a spot.
  • Traveling with kids? Measure them before you go. Kids 44″ and shorter ride for free when accompanied by an adult.
  • If you are biking around NYC, your bike is welcomed aboard, but does cost a $1 extra.