View of the Brooklyn Bridge and southern tip of Manhattan

Take great pictures of Brooklyn Bridge and southern Manhattan during the majestic blue hour (©John Cunniff/Flickr, Creative Commons)

Top 24 Instagram-Worthy Spots Near NYC’s Urban Coasts

By Katie Labovitz on 05/18/17
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NYC locals and visitors alike have a whole new way to explore the city! NYC Ferry Operated by Hornblower connects passengers—via waterways—to areas of Manhattan and the outer boroughs that are hard to get to via other forms of public transportation like the subway.

A one-way fare for a ride on the NYC Ferry is just $2.75—the same as one swipe for the subway. NYC Ferry tickets can be purchased via NYC Ferry’s free smartphone app from Google Play and the Apple Store, through a ticket agent at any landing, ticket vending machines—also at landings along each route—and directly from NYC Ferry. Bikes are welcome on the ferry for an additional $1 surcharge and up to two children under 44 inches in height can ride for free when they are accompanied by an adult with a ticket.

While the sights you’ll see from the NYC Ferry are epic—Manhattan skyline, Williamsburg Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge and more—there are plenty of Instagram-worthy restaurants and attractions to see on shore at the stops along each ferry’s route.

These routes are where you can snap the best eats before digging in and some eye-catching views from restaurants, parks and other NYC places less-traveled that are now even more accessible thanks to NYC Ferry Operated by Hornblower.

rendering of NYC Ferry

East River Route

Greenpoint Stop

Where to Eat: Paulie Gee’s is a dine-in only pizza place that offers some cheekily-named pizza pies (“Ricotta Be Kiddin’ Me” and “A Whiter Shade of Kale,” to name a few) with unusual toppings such as Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Frankel’s pastrami or dried Bing cherries and orange blossom honey with prosciutto di Parma. Vegan pizzas and desserts are available as well. Greenpoint, Brooklyn, 60 Greenpoint Ave., 347.987.3747

Things to Do: Take in the amazing views of the Manhattan skyline from WNYC Transmitter Park as you walk along the waterfront promenade or restored pedestrian bridge out into the East River. Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Kent St., at the East River

DUMBO Stop

Where to Eat: Housed in a former fireboat house, the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory’s exterior is as charming and delightful as the fresh, house-made ice cream that is served in huge portions as colorful cones, shakes, sundaes or splits. Snap a pic of your dessert by itself, against the backdrop of the ice cream shop or the stunning view of Manhattan from just outside its front door! DUMBO, Brooklyn, at Old Fulton & Water sts., 718.246.3963

Things to Do: Built in 1922, Jane’s Carousel was originally located in Isadora Park in Youngstown, Ohio. It was purchased in an auction in 1984 in less-than-stellar condition and fully restored over a number of years to be installed a pavilion designed by award-winning architect, Jean Nouvel.

The carousel, with its 48 horses and beautiful lights, has been up and running since September 2011 and is a must-visit attraction along the East River for its lasting sense of nostalgia and views of the city. The pavilion is see-through and climate-controlled, so riders can enjoy Jane’s Carousel year-round. The ride is closed Monday-Wednesday, but you can always see the carousel from outside of the pavilion. DUMBO, Brooklyn, Brooklyn Bridge Park, at Dock St., 718.222.2502

Owl's Head Park (©Charlie/Flickr, Creative Commons)

Rockaway Route

Rockaway Stop

Where to Eat: Casual dining with panoramic views of the beach and Jamaica Bay are on the menu at Bungalow Bar & Restaurant. Post a pic of your colorful signature cocktail or savory seafood appetizers (tequila shrimp, crab cakes or fish tacos anyone?). Rockaway Beach, Queens, 377 Beach 92nd St., 718.945.2100

Things to Do: The Rockaway peninsula of Queens offers NYC’s only legal surfing beach and oceanfront views from Rockaway Beach and Boardwalk. Have a picnic! Stretch out in the sand. Make your social media followers with they were with you on your epic trip to the beach this year. Rockaway Beach, Queens

Sunset Park Stop

Where to Eat: Anopoli Family Restaurant has been around for 120 years, serving hot and cold diner favorites—salads, sandwiches, seafood, steaks, sides and more—in addition to homemade rice pudding, fresh baked fruit pies and old fashioned ice cream favorites, among other sweet treats. Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, 6920 Third Ave., 718.748.3863

Things to Do: Home to the only skate park in Brooklyn—Millennium Skate Park—Owl’s Head Park is a great place to see talented people and pups do tricks (as there is also a dog run…). This riverfront park has great views of Staten Island and New Jersey across the water. Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, at Colonial Rd. & 68th St. & Shore Rd., 212.639.9675

Lobster roll from Red Hook Lobster Pound

South Brooklyn Route 

Red Hook

Where to Eat: For the freshest Maine lobster in NYC, head to Red Hook Lobster Pound, opened by a Brooklyn husband and wife team in April 2009. Though they now have several locations, this one is the original. Besides drool-worthy eats, there are amazing views of Governors Island and the southern tip of Manhattan from Red Hook Lobster Pound. Red Hook, Brooklyn, 284 Van Burnt St., 718.858.7650

Things to Do: Though the IKEA is literally right there, the pics you’ll want to snap are of Erie Basin Park. Formerly Todd Shipyards, this park juxtaposes the historical significance of the shipyard with the modern diversity of its present community. In addition to the structures and their interpretation, there are waterfront views of industrial areas of Brooklyn, Staten Island and New Jersey. Red Hook, Brooklyn, 50-94 Beard St.

Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 6/Atlantic Avenue

Where to Eat: Dine on Brooklyn chef Michael Ayoub’s wood-fired pizzas and artisanal sodas at Fornino at Pier 6. Take the perfect Instagram photo as you watch the sunset and take in the views of lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty from the rooftop seating. Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn, Pier 6, Brooklyn Bridge Park, 718.422.1107

Things to Do: With slips for over 100 vessels, ONE°15 Brooklyn Marina is a great spot to scope out your dreamboat. Besides sailboats and yachts, you can also snap pics of the southern tip of Manhattan and sights along the East River. Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn, 12 Joralemon St., 718.490.7136

Roosevelt Island Lighthouse

Astoria Route

Roosevelt Island Stop

Where to Eat: Open seven days a week, Fuji East Japanese Bistro offers dozens of sushi rolls and hand rolls, in addition to special rolls specific to the restaurant, and other Japanese dishes. Show off your beautifully plated meal to your social media followers and the great views of the Queensboro Bridge. Roosevelt Island, 455 Main St., Store #3A, 212.583.1688

Things to Do: On the northernmost tip of Roosevelt Island stands a 50-foot stone lighthouse, which is part of Lighthouse Park. This lighthouse was built in 1872 from gray gneiss that was quarried by convicts from the island’s penitentiary.

Today, the Roosevelt Island Lighthouse—formerly known as the Blackwell Island Lighthouse and Welfare Island Lighthouse— stands tall on a spot that is enjoyed by fishermen and people hosting picnics and barbecues. There are also great views of Manhattan and Queens. Roosevelt Island, 212.832.4540

Astoria Route – Long Island City Stop

Where to Eat: Enjoy authentic, contemporary Italian dishes at Maiella while indulging in breathtaking waterfront views of the Manhattan skyline. Dine in amid a rustic space or al fresco on the terrace. Long Island City, Queens, 4610 Center Blvd., 718.606.1770

Things to Do: A designated NYC landmark since April 12, 2016, the giant Pepsi-Cola sign along the East River is the perfect spot for a special NYC photo op. Long Island City, Queens, Gantry Plaza State Park, 30-99 48th Ave.

Chori burger at Jeepney

Lower East Side Route

Stuyvesant Town Stop

Where to Eat: Head to the Filipino gastropub Jeepney for authentic Filipino food and cocktails. Groups of at least four people looking for a kayaman experience (a hands-on large feast with no plates or silverware) should request reservations for Wednesday or Thursday nights. East Village, 201 First Ave., 212.533.4121

Things to Do: Charming gardens, statues, ample benches and a large dog park help make Stuyvesant Square a fun place to visit. The land for this park was sold to the city for five dollars in 1836 by Peter Gerard Stuyvesant and his wife, hence the name. Gramercy, Second Ave. & E. 15th St.

Corlears Hook Stop

Where to Eat: Instead of grabbing drinks and dessert, get drinks in your dessert at Prohibition Bakery. While virgin options are available, the booze-infused flavors are the highlight of this shop’s carefully curated menu of adorable mini cupcakes. Lower East Side, 9 Clinton St., 646.596.8294

Things to Do: Millennials with late 20th century nostalgia should head to Two-Bit’s Retro Arcade. For a quarter or two per machine, guests have access to arcade games and pinball featuring familiar characters and titles from their youths like Mario and “Mortal Kombat.” As this is also a dive bar, guests can order wine or beer while they play. Lower East Side, 153 Essex St., 212.477.8161

Carl Schurz Park (©Edgardo Avilés-López/Flickr, Creative Commons)

Soundview Route

East 90th Street Stop

Where to Eat: In an homage to Elaine’s, the legendary Upper East Side restaurant and bar that was a hangout for artists and writers from the 1960s until it closed in 2011, The Writing Room features photography that evokes a similar literary theme. There’s even a private room called “The Study” that has a chic fireplace and bookshelves filled with loads of books. Upper East Side, 1703 Second Ave., 212.335.0075

Things to Do: From the picturesque promenade to stroll along the East River to the spacious dog parks and beautifully groomed gardens, Carl Schurz Park is an inviting space for people of all ages. This park also houses Gracie Mansion, a building only to be used for city business. Presently, NYC’s mayor Bill de Blasio lives there with his family. Upper East Side, E. 86th St. & East End Ave., 212.459.4455

East 62nd Street

Where to Eat: Contemporary Italian cuisine from Chef Pino Loungo is served at Morso amid colorfully decorated walls (featuring eye-catching pop art) and great views of the Queensboro Bridge. Midtown East, 420 E. 59th St., 212.759.2706

Things to Do: Catch a unique glimpse of the Big Apple from an NYC-specific mode of transportation—the Roosevelt Island Tramway. Ride in a suspended gondola from the east side of Manhattan to Roosevelt Island and get great views of the East River, Manhattan skyline and Queens. Midtown East, E. 59th St. & Second Ave., 212.832.4555

Rendering of NYC Ferry on East River

NYC Ferry Operated by Hornblower will take you closer to these hidden gems—and more—in Manhattan and its outer boroughs so that you can fully experience the more off-the-beaten path aspects of the city. The ferries are ADA compliant and service animals are allowed onboard. Concessions are available for purchase on the ferries, free WiFi will be available and the ferries are temperature controlled so they’ll be comfortable for passengers year-round.

Whether you are commuting for work or connecting to the boroughs for pleasure, NYC Ferry Operated by Hornblower, provides an alternative way to make NYC more accessible to everyone.

The Where® Travel Guide to New York City