Day Trips: Roosevelt Island in Manhattan

Find the top things to do this month with kids in the NYC area in our Calendar of Events

Whether by car, the F train, or a sky ride on the tram across the East River, families can visit Roosevelt Island for a day of barbequing, outdoor movies and concerts, bike riding, and playing in the island’s 147 acres of outdoor parks and promenades.

   With direct views of the city and East River, Roosevelt Island feels like an extension of the Upper East Side. It offers two miles of riverfront vistas, a four-mile bike path, and an esplanade that circles the island. The centerpiece is Riverwalk Commons, an area of open green space, shops, restaurants, and gardens — just steps from the F train and minutes from midtown.

   If you want to explore, hop on The Red Bus, which stops on Main Street, or take the Q102 around the island. You can visit the Octagon Art Gallery; discover The Blackwell House, which is one of the remaining farmhouses in New York City; or view the 50-foot tall lighthouse on the northern end of the island.

Parks and Playgrounds
   For barbequing, a few of the parks already have grills (arrive early, grills are first-come, first-served). These are: Lighthouse Park, which is also a popular spot for fishing; Octagon Soccer Field; West Seawall, near the Octagon on the north side; or East Seawall, south of the Queensboro Bridge.

   There are numerous playgrounds for the kids, including Capobianco Field’s Grandpa Al Lewis Playground, which offers plenty of shade; and Blackwell House Park and Playground, which features basketball courts and a children’s sprinkler. Fireman’s Field and Octagon Park also have fields for sports like baseball and soccer, but they are available by permit only. Roosevelt Island Racquet Club features air-conditioned indoor courts, but reservations are suggested in advance.

   If you want to beat the summer heat, enjoy the pool at Manhattan Park, or dive into an Olympic-size indoor swimming pool at Sportspark, which also has squash courts and basketball courts.

What’s New This Year
   Roosevelt Live! is a new series of free musical performances held every Saturday through September 5 from 4-6pm on the central green lawn at Riverwalk Commons.

Other Special Events
   On June 13, Roosevelt Island Day at Good Shepherd Plaza allows families to plant flowers and enjoy concerts, carnival rides, and games, from 9am-8pm.

   Firefighter’s Field showcases outdoor movies on a two-story screen, showing on June 20, July 19, July 27, and August 17.

   Chapel of the Good Shepherd presents a concert series on July 26 and September 20 at 2:30pm.

If You Go
Where: Roosevelt Island, on the East River, between East 46th Street and East 85th Street.

When: All year round. The tram runs Sunday-Thursday 6am-2am; Friday and Saturday 6am-3:30am. During rush hour (Monday-Friday 7-9:30am and 3:30-8pm), the tram runs every 7 1/2 minutes; otherwise it runs every 15 minutes. Renovations are currently scheduled. Check website.

How much: Tram: $2 each way, MetroCards only. The Red Bus: 25 cents for adults, FREE for kids under 5. Check for parking, permits, and rates for activities and events on the island.

How to get there: Roosevelt Island Tramway, 2nd Avenue between 59th and 60th Streets; the F train; or by car via the 36th Avenue Bridge. Parking available at the Motorgate Garage (to the right upon exiting the 36th Avenue Bridge).

For more information: 212-832-4540 or or