From the Empire State Building to the Freedom Tower and all that glitters in between, Manhattan's skyline is one of the most iconic in the world. Visitors and locals with an urge to experience those epic views from a new perspective should venture out on the mighty Hudson and East rivers aboard a boat tour. Whether high-speed adventure boats, kayak rentals or deluxe dining cruises suit your fancy, you'll find all manner of boat tours to accommodate every budget and interest. Below, we've highlighted our 5 favorite ways to see New York City by boat.
Go glam on a Bateaux New York dinner cruise which sails along the Hudson River past iconic sights such as the USS Intrepid, the Freedom Tower, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty. The 3-hour tour aboard this intimate, high-end boat with a glass-enclosed dining room includes a 3-course meal with options like rib-eye steak and sweet berry galette, live music and dancing, an open bar featuring fine wines and of course, 2 outdoor decks with unbeatable skyline views. Brunch, lunch and even full moon cruises are also available. The romance factor is high on the Bateaux; woo your partner by booking an anniversary jaunt.
Not afraid to get soaked? Feel a need for speed? Spice up your Manhattan boat tour by embarking on The Beast, a neon-green, 70-foot offshore racing powerboat. You'll hit breathtaking speeds up to 45 mph while zipping down the Hudson River en route to the Statue of Liberty on this 30-minute tour. Your captain will keep you laughing with his informative commentary as you pass the Manhattan and New Jersey shores -- but beware -- he also comes armed with a Super Soaker water gun, and he's not afraid to use it!
Any tourist (and local, for that matter) will tell you that a few days exploring Manhattan can empty your wallet. Save money and still enjoy views of the Manhattan skyline, Statue of Liberty, Governor's Island and more by hopping aboard the very inexpensive -- read: FREE -- Staten Island Ferry. This commuter boat departs daily, around the clock on its 25-minute, 5-mile trip from Lower Manhattan's Whitehall Terminal to St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island. Sure, you miss a guide's commentary and a proper tour's frills, but you can enjoy the same spectacular city views from the water, at zero cost.
If you've only associated kayaking trips and tours with mountain lakes and streams or wilderness settings, think again. The all-volunteer Downtown Boathouse offers free seasonal kayaking lessons and free walk-up kayak rentals from locations around New York City, including Pier 26 and Governors Island. Additionally, free, guided 3-hour kayak trips are also available. All kayak rentals are on a first-come, first-served basis. The sit-on-top kayaks are unsinkable and self-bailing, and when you sign up to take one out you'll receive brief instructions, safety equipment and access to changing rooms, lockers and locks, and even sunblock and first aid equipment.
5. Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
For a variety of sightseeing-only cruises, book a tour with Circle Line, which has operated boat tours around Manhattan for more than 60 years. All tours include informative and, at times, pretty darn entertaining commentary, on boats with outdoor viewing decks as well as indoor seating surrounded by oversized windows. The Best of NYC Cruise takes visitors past 101 city sights, including the Intrepid, Yankee Stadium and the Cloisters, while the Landmark Cruise sails past the iconic sights of Midtown and Lower Manhattan. Food, snacks and drinks are all available to purchase onboard.