New York City boasts one of the most extensive underground train systems in the world, making it an ideal metropolis for those who want to explore on foot. But while the subway is a convenient way to get around, it lacks any semblance of natural beauty. For that, you’ll want to give its ferry fleet a try: One of the most popular routes sails up and down the East River, with stops in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. Along the way, you’ll catch prime views of the Manhattan skyline, the Brooklyn bridge, and boats of all sizes navigating the river. (You can even sip on a beer or a glass of rose as you take it all in!) If a scenic river cruise for the price of a subway swipe sounds good to you, try out this itinerary based on the East River Ferry’s stops.
Photo Courtesy: The Paris Cafe
The East River Ferry route begins at Wall Street, on the far southern tip of Manhattan. One of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, the South Street Seaport features beautiful river views, abundant green spaces, charming cobblestone streets, and numerous bars and restaurants, some dating back to the 19th century. One can’t-miss example is the Paris Cafe, a quaint pub and eatery founded in 1873 that’s just a few blocks from Pier 11, where the ferry station can be found. Despite its name, the cuisine at Paris Cafe skews classic American, and it’s a great spot to kick off your day with a hearty brunch. Paris Cafe offers strong renditions of breakfast classics like eggs Benedict, blueberry pancakes, brioche French toast, and steak and eggs, complemented by your choice of a mimosa, bloody Mary, bellini.
Burgers, fish and chips, fried chicken, seafood chowder, sirloin steak with mushrooms and onions
Photo Courtesy: janescarousel
The ferry’s next stop takes you to DUMBO, a picturesque neighborhood right over the Brooklyn Bridge. Famous for its historically-landmarked blocks, a robust pizza scene (popular pizzerias Grimaldi’s and Juliana’s are both located on Old Fulton Street, just minutes from the ferry station), and its roster of galleries and performing-arts venues, DUMBO is also home to Jane’s Carousel, an extremely-Instagrammable merry-go-round built in 1922. The carousel is an obvious itinerary addition for families with kids, but adult visitors in search of whimsy can also reclaim their youth by taking a ride for the very reasonable price of $2.
Photo Courtesy: @mjtraynor
A quickly-shifting neighborhood with an impressive repertoire of watering holes, South Williamsburg makes a perfect ferry stop for the mid-afternoon. For well-crafted New-Orleans-inspired cocktails in a beautiful space, head to Loosie Rouge. If you get good weather for your visit, there’s a small patio space loaded with creeping vines and perennials, and the bar’s drink menu includes creative libations like the Rubus 3.0 (rye, Campari, raspberry balsamic shrub, and prosecco) and The Grindhouse (espresso-infused tequila, cocoa liqueur, and cream sherry).
Loosie's Cup, The Jaguar, Bamboo Sazerac
Photo Courtesy: @suadaland
The East River Ferry’s North Williamsburg stop drops you just a few blocks from the William Vale, an upscale hotel with an exciting array of shops, bars, and eateries. For a quick bite in the open air, take the side staircase up to Vale Park, a green space with cafe tables and a vintage Airstream trailer doling out remarkable griddled burgers. Mister Dips offers Single Dip (one patty) and Double Dip (2 patties) burgers loaded with aged cheddar, lettuce, tomato, and Mister Dips’ special sauce. They also serve loaded waffle fries, and if you find yourself still hungry for dessert, Mister Dips’ dipped cones like the Berry Gibbs (strawberry dip, Nilla wafers, and sweet cream) and the Chocolate P.B.D. (dark cocoa and salted peanut butter dip) are well worth a try.
Special Dip burger, The Big Kahuna sundae, Dirty Dipped waffles
Photo Courtesy: Brooklyn Bazaar
The North Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenpoint features no shortage of live music venues, but if you want to catch a concert, enjoy some karaoke, and sip on a potent frozen margarita all in one space, Brooklyn Bazaar on Greenpoint Avenue (a few blocks from the East River Ferry station) is the spot for you. Housed in a former banquet hall, Brooklyn Bazaar includes a stage space for live music, multiple bars, private karaoke rooms, and a burger joint if you need a post-drink nosh.
Photo Courtesy: gantrygram
The only Queens stop on the East River Ferry route, the Long Island City station is located on the bank of the river, adjacent to the famous neon Pepsi-Cola sign. As the ferry boat approaches the station, you’ll have the opportunity to snap a head-on photo of the sign to post on social media. Once you’re off the boat, head one block east and grab a bar seat at Rockaway Brewing Company, a hip microbrewery offering tastings of new releases and pints of special brews.
Photo Courtesy: annnacheng
For a nightcap and dessert rolled into one, take the ferry back to Manhattan, get off at the East 34th Street stop, and walk to Tipsy Scoop. This ice cream shop specializes in dairy treats infused with alcohol, with hits including Chocolate Stout and Pretzel, Strawberry Rhubarb Bourbon, and Tequila Mexican “Hot” Chocolate.
Strawberry Champagne sundae, dark chocolate whiskey salted caramel ice cream, maple bacon bourbon ice cream, raspberry limoncello sorbet
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