Paris has the Eiffel Tower. London? Big Ben. When you think of Manhattan, what comes to mind? The New York skyline, of course. It’s familiar to everyone because it’s starred in more ads, movies, and television shows than George Clooney. And it’s always amazing. I’ve lived within 30 miles of the city my whole life and I still crane my neck to catch a glimpse of the city from airplane windows, taking off and landing.
But the ultimate place to appreciate the skyline isn’t from above. It’s best seen from the water. Manhattan is an island, surrounded by the Harlem, East, and Hudson Rivers, and the Atlantic Ocean. If you’re visiting New York, you can’t leave until you get your postcard view. Here are 5 ways under $50 to get up close and personal with the Manhattan skyline.
- Ride the Staten Island Ferry. Let’s start with the best part…it’s free. That’s right. Free. And it runs 365 days a year, round the clock, rain or shine. The 25-minute trip connects Staten Island’s St. George Terminal with Whitehall in Manhattan, located at 4 South Street. It’s a great way to see the bridges of Lower Manhattan and Lady Liberty.
- Buy a drink and get a boat ride. The North River Lobster Co. operates the Destiny, a 450-passenger boat, docked on the west side of Manhattan. There is no fee to board this floating restaurant, featuring drink specials and seafood items, like lobster rolls. If you go expecting a frat party, you won’t be disappointed. There are 6 scheduled daily cruises (7 on Fridays and Saturdays). The trip lasts 45 minutes and heads north on the Hudson towards the George Washington Bridge.
- Want to feel like a very small fish? Take an hourlong kayak or SUP lesson with the Manhattan Kayak Company. It’s intimidating but also awe-inspiring to paddle around in the shadow of the grand aircraft carrier, the USS Intrepid. I’ve always wanted to learn to kayak and I guess if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere, right? Classes start at $35.
- Sixty million people can’t be wrong. That’s the number of passengers who’ve cruised on the Circle Line since 1945. The Best of NYC excursion lasts 2.5 hours, features narration, and takes you all around the island, passing famous landmarks including the Brooklyn Bridge, Yankee Stadium, and Gracie Mansion. Adult fares are $41. They also offer a variety of specialty cruises and rides aboard the Beast, a high-speed, hour-long trip to the Statue of Liberty and back.
- Sail in style. Manhattan by Sail offers excursions aboard two classic schooners, the 130-passenger Clipper City and the smaller Shearwater. A variety of cruises are available, including a Sunday brunch, craft beer and wine tastings, and sunset sails. A 1.5 hour trip aboard the Shearwater is $45. Any Bachelor or Bachelorette would be thrilled to see this on their date card.
Before you hit the high seas, keep these tips in mind:
- Make sure you’ve fully charged your camera or phone so you can snap tons of pictures.
- Don’t forget sunscreen.
- Pack a light, waterproof jacket. It may get breezy and rain squalls can blow in at any time.
- Leave the fancy shoes at home. Rubber soles will provide traction on rolling, slippery decks.