Ferry tale of Bay Ridge: Cruise to a green and pleasant landing • Brooklyn Paper

Ferry tale of Bay Ridge: Cruise to a green and pleasant landing

Welcome to the jungle: You’ll everything you want, and honey, they know the names of plants at the Narrows Botanical Gardens.
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

Read all a-boat it!

The new South Brooklyn route of the New York City Ferry, which opened earlier this month, has given Brooklynites a new option for visiting their neighbors-by-water. For those planning a mini-cruise on the East River, we sent ace reporter Carlo Bosticco to explore each stop on the ferry, uncovering the best things to do within an easy walk of the water. First up: Bay Ridge!

Sunny day: A local catches some sun in the Garden’s Great Lawn.
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

At the southern-most stop on the South Brooklyn ferry line you’ll find the bucolic land of Bay Ridge. Its charming suburb-by-the-river feel makes it an ideal spot for a quiet afternoon in the sun.

You’ll alight at the American Veterans Memorial Pier (Shore Parkway at Bay Ridge Avenue). The pier itself has a rough charm, and you should pause here to enjoy the stunning view of Lower Manhattan without a boat moving under your feet. Grab a dairy treat from one of the ever-present ice cream trucks and set out on a stroll down the concrete pier. Those who want to try their hand at fishing can stop right here — just bring a pole and reel in some fun. Bait tables are set up all along the perimeter, although the New York Health Department mostly advises against eating anything you catch.

Water works: The Gardens feature lily ponds, Zen gardens, and more.
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

At the base of the pier, you have two options for urban greenery. Turn left, and just a stone’s throw away you will find the gentle slopes of Owl’s Head Park (68th Street and Shore Road), with its signature fence of iron owl figures. The park offers vast areas of open green space ideal for an impromptu ball game, an elevated square that makes an impressive observatory of the river shore, and two large playgrounds where the littlest ones can slide, swing, and climb. Barbecuing is not allowed, but the park makes an ideal picnic spot. You can choose a picnic table in a dedicated eating spot, or spread a blanket in one of the many private grassy corners.

A right turn from the pier will bring you to another green oasis: Narrows Botanical Gardens (Shore Road, between Bay Ridge Ave and 72nd street). Known as “The Jewel of Bay Ridge,” it is a veritable haven of lily ponds, Zen gardens, and rose lawns. And the summer calendar at the Gardens is packed with activities — on June 23, you can catch a free screening of Disney’s “Fantasia” at sundown, and later this summer will be a Shakespeare in the Park production, and screenings of “The Birds” and “Planet of the Apes.”

Water landing: The New York Ferry drops visitors off at this platform, just off American Veterans Memorial Pier.
Photo by Jordan Rathkopf

New York City Ferry at Bay Ridge (Shore Parkway at Bay Ridge Avenue in Bay Ridge, www.ferry.nyc). $2.75 per trip.

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