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Exploring New York City's waterfront


For hundreds of years, New York City's perimeter was working waterfronts, largely industrial, frequently derelict and seedy, more often places to be shunned than explored.

But in recent decades, the roughly 520 miles of coastline in the city has been transformed in many places, as waterside parks have sprung up and crumbling piers have been restored and converted to veritable playgrounds.

To take advantage of the city's newfound waterfront wealth, here are six suggestions.

City Island

City Island, Eastern shore of the Bronx, off
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier


City Island, Eastern shore of the Bronx, off I-95 North

For a taste of New England in the city, the Bronx's City Island is sort of an open secret. With roughly 1,500 modest homes but little tourism, it has a rich maritime history as a boatbuilding and yachting center that served as home to oystermen, clam diggers and navigational pilots.

Pictured: Dawn Castillo, of Parkchester, Bronx, with son, Austin, on the outdoor terrace at Tony's Pier Restaurant on City Island on Thursday, May 7, 2015.

The City Island Nautical Museum in the Bronx
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

The City Island Nautical Museum in the Bronx is worth a visit; then stroll the relatively tranquil streets with their quirky curio shops, such as Marine Treasures (pictured) and old-fashioned seafood restaurants. Info: cityislandchamber.org, ilovethebronx.com.

Dancing at the Piers

Dancing at the Piers, Pier 84, 43rd Street
Photo Credit: Battery City Parks Conservancy


Dancing at the Piers, Pier 84, 43rd Street and 12th Avenue

Summertime means open-air dancing on the piers of Manhattan, where free lessons are offered for dances from tango to salsa to swing, such as here, at Battery City Park.

Dancing at the Piers events can be found
Photo Credit: Battery City Parks Conservancy

Dancing at the Piers events can be found online at such sites as newyorktango.com. One upcoming series is called Moondance, set for Friday nights in July and August at Pier 84. Info: Free, hudsonriverpark.org.

East River Ferry

East River Ferry, Pier 11, Wall Street at
Photo Credit: Aaron Zebrook


East River Ferry, Pier 11, Wall Street at Gouverneur Lane and FDR Drive, Manhattan

An easy and cheap way to experience the open water surrounding the city is to ride the East River Ferry, which makes stops in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and Governors Island.

On weekends, East River ferries leave from Manhattan
Photo Credit: Aaron Zebrook


On weekends, East River ferries leave from Manhattan every hour on the hour between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. -- and you can even bring your bike ($1 surcharge). Info: $4-$6 one way, 800-533-3779, eastriverferry.com.

The East River Ferry is an easy and cheap way to experience the open water surrounding the city. It makes stops in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn (shown here, at Brooklyn Bridge) and Governor's Island.

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Complex

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Complex, Pier
Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote


Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Complex, Pier 86 at 46th Street and 12th Avenue, Manhattan's West Side

The West Side of Manhattan is the berth of the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, a 900-foot-long vessel that served tours of duty in World War II and the Vietnam War and now functions as a military museum.

A fairly recent acquisition is the space shuttle
Photo Credit: Getty Images/ Bryan Bedder

A fairly recent acquisition is the space shuttle Enterprise, the 122-foot-long prototype for the shuttles that carried astronauts into orbit. It's featured at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum and Complex in Manhattan. Info: General admission $22, 877-957-SHIP (7447), intrepidmuseum.org.

Kayaking the Hudson River

Kayaking the Hudson River, Pier 26, north of
Photo Credit: Julienne Schaer


Kayaking the Hudson River, Pier 26, north of North Moore Street in Lower Manhattan; Pier 96 at 72nd Street on Manhattan's West Side

Navigate the chop and churn of the Hudson River with experienced guides and take in the Manhattan skyline from angles people rarely experience.

Throughout the season (May to October), the Downtown
Photo Credit: Julienne Schaer

Throughout the season (May to October), the Downtown Boathouse offers free kayaking (especially good for beginners) and classes from two locations in Manhattan, along with three-hour trips on the Hudson. Info: Free, downtownboathouse.org.

Sail New York Harbor

Sail New York Harbor, Brooklyn Bridge Sail Club
Photo Credit: Chris Bartlett


Sail New York Harbor, Brooklyn Bridge Sail Club dock at Pier 5 Marina, end of Joralemon Street, Brooklyn Bridge Park

Improve the cut of your jib by taking a sailing lesson with the newly formed Brooklyn Bridge Sail Club. Starting June 13, the club will offer a four-hour Taste-of-Sailing course, and an 18-hour Fundamentals of Sailing course on weekends. For those who want to dip in more than their big toe, the Learn-to-Crew course includes the weekend course plus eight hours of sailing and two months of club membership privileges. Info: Prices vary; bbsailclub.com.

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