An earlier NYtick highlighted the free Staten Island Ferry and the IKEA Brooklyn Water Taxi as alternatives to expensive Circle Line cruises.
New York magazine has published an excellent guide to NY’s spaghetti jumble of ferries (pdf). It covers everything except the Staten Island Ferry, which in its absence is an indicator of how denizens of the other boroughs regard Staten Island. Fair or not, The Rapid Traveler will not judge. Keep in mind that many of the ferry piers are quite inconvenient to subway stations.
Governors Island has had several incarnations, only within the past decade opening to tourists. Father of Rapid Traveler grew up in Brooklyn and was thrilled when finally able to visit the once forbidden island. The views are beyond compare and you’ll mix it up with a kaleidoscope of NY locals but few tourists. And it is FREE.
This season the island is open Friday-Sunday and Monday holidays from May 27-September 25. Most tourists will use the ferry at South Ferry (next door to the Staten Island Ferry and Battery Park), but there is also a Brooklyn option for the weekends (not Fridays). Study the directions carefully to ensure a smooth trip and if you time it wrong, take a quick spin back and forth to Staten Island or stroll Battery Park. For festive readers, there are numerous cultural events throughout the summer.