Get Off Here: The Coolest Things to Do on Roosevelt Island

Roosevelt Island is a two-mile long sliver of land between Manhattan and Queens. This East River isle is a self-contained community that over 12,000 people call home. The vibe is metro-retro in all the right ways. Though urban, there are plenty of open spaces. Best of all, getting to Roosevelt Island via the three-minute aerial tram ride is hold-your-breathe amazing, all for the cost of one MetroCard swipe.

Get Outdoors

Yoga Four Freedoms ParkCyclists are in luck, as you can cram your bike on the tram. The island’s waterfront promenade wraps around its perimeter, perfect for a relaxed ride. You’ll be treated to vistas of the United Nations, the Manhattan skyline and seaworthy vessels in the river as you share the path with joggers and strollers.
The Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park is the first memorial dedicated to the former President in his home state. This four-acre park is open every day except Tuesday and is a popular spot to fly a kite when the breeze kicks up.

Tote your mat and try a drop-in yoga class on the lawn. You’ll get a great stretch and a view of Manhattan’s East Side.

Music at Sunset is a free outdoor concert series held here during warmer months, so bring a blanket. Walk or pedal over to sculptor Tom Otterness’ installation The Marriage of Real Estate and MoneyOtterness is the artist behind those whimsical figures in the 14th Street and Eighth Avenue subway station. Here on Roosevelt Island, he has placed his signature cartoonish bronze creatures coyly peeking out of the East River.

Eats + Drinks

Katchkie Fram

Dining opportunities are notoriously slim, but food trucks are increasing the edible options. Mobile eateries spotted include Wafels & Dinges, Kimchi Taco and Comme Ci Comme Ca.

At Four Freedoms Park on weekends, The Katchkie Farm bright green food truck is open from 12-4pm, serving nourishing noshes. The Farmers’ Market, held each Saturday, will satiate those in search of farm fresh bites.
For a tempting treat, Main Street Sweets & Eats is an old-fashioned candy store and ice cream parlor that will satisfy your sweet tooth.

Insider Tip

gigi-nycThe island is rumored to be haunted. Decide for yourself at the abandoned former Smallpox Hospital. Built in 1854 by James Renwick of St. Patrick’s Cathedral fame, you can’t actually enter the spooky structure, but just a peek should help you decide if anyone is home.

How to get here: The tram ride is part of the fun. The wheelchair-accessible Roosevelt Island Tramway departs from Second Avenue and 59th Street and takes passengers high above the East River, peaking at 250 feet. The views of Manhattan’s East Side, the East River and the Queensboro Bridge are spectacular.

Photo credits: m012229, Four Freedoms Park, Katchkie Farm, gigi-nyc