As the song says, Manhattan is an “isle of joy.” But it’s not alone. New York City is an archipelago. The Big Apple’s five boroughs contain more than their fair share of land masses—as many as 40—surrounded by water. Some are small, others are substantial. Here’s a concise tour of the most accessible. Our advice? Be adventurous and visit them all.
1 LIBERTY ISLAND AND ELLIS ISLAND
It’s easy to romanticize these two islands in New York Harbor (pictured below, with Manhattan in the background), and impossible to speak of one without reference to the other. For many immigrants to this nation, the Statue of Liberty and the immigration station on Ellis Island were their introduction to the promised land. As witnesses to the past, Liberty and Ellis are beyond symbolic; as destinations, their proximity unites them. The same ferry from Lower Manhattan goes to both. Fascinating museums on each island preserve and explain the history, and there are photo ops galore. But emotions run deeper than any pretty postcard view.
2 CONEY ISLAND
Contrary to its name, Coney Island in Brooklyn is not an island. But, as an oceanfront residential and amusement area, it has all the attributes of one, and is famed for its sandy beach, boardwalk (pictured), Cyclone roller-coaster, the New York Aquarium and Nathan’s Famous hot dogs. The minor league Brooklyn Cyclones baseball team plays here, and the Ford Amphitheater stages concerts, such as Boyz II Men on Aug. 22. From Manhattan, the nearest thing New York City has to a family resort is the last stop on the F, D, N and Q subway trains.
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