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America's Coolest City Parks

Governor's Island, New York

A. Frieden

Governors Island, New York City

Instead of lazing in Central Park’s Sheep Meadow or Great Lawn, you now have the option to head south for eclectic art, food events, and even a sandy beach at this former military base off the tip of lower Manhattan. For circus geeks, there are flying trapeze lessons on the weekends; others rock out to awesome waterfront concerts from the likes of M.I.A. and Passion Pit. Getting to Governors Island has its own appeal: the free ferry ride from Manhattan’s Battery Maritime Building or Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6 offers panoramic views of the skyline and the Statue of Liberty.

Coolest Time to Visit: Fridays from late May through early October, when hour-long bike rentals are free (normally $15 for adults). The island has a car-free policy, so cyclists rule the roads.

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