Big cities are expensive and the Big Apple is no different.
But there are free things to do in New York City and one of the best ideas is the Staten Island Ferry. This 24 hour ferry is completely free and offers fantastic views of Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty and lower Manhattan.
There is always something appealing about seeing a city from the water but, as you would expect, cruises are not cheap in this part of the world.
The Staten Island Ferry exists to provide the only non-vehicular mode of transportation between Staten Island and Manhattan so it's really a commuter system but don't let that stop you getting a free ride as the ferry takes over 60,000 passengers a day.
Getting to the Ferry Terminals
From Manhattan, take the J or Z to Broad Street, then 1 or 9 to the Whitehall Ferry Terminal known as South Ferry. On Staten Island, take the Staten Island Railway to St. George Terminal which is looking good these days. Do stop to see the 8ft high tropical fish tanks.
Impressively, the boat is clean and the journey time to Staten Island is about 25 minutes. The ferry cafeteria sells inexpensive drinks and snacks (including beer) so use your ride to have a break. Getting a warm drink is always a good idea as it gets chilly outside when you want to get your photos.
All year round, you'll need a jacket when on deck so pack accordingly.
As the boat is 24 hours, it's best to avoid the rush hours (6-9.30am and 3.30-8pm) as it does get crowded and you'll have to wait longer. But outside of these times you just turn up and get on the next ferry.
At weekends you may wait an hour but remember this is free so don't stress as right next door to the Manhattan ferry terminal is Battery Park. You'll be able to see the Statue of Liberty in the distance and it's where Madonna had a rendezvous in Desperately Seeking Susan.
When you reach Staten Island everyone has to disembark, even if you plan to return to Manhattan immediately. That's a rule and there are no exceptions, so if you want to come straight back you need to have your bag and coat ready to run round to get back on. (You literally may have to run if it's busy!)
Usually you'll be able to come back on the same ferry but again, don't stress as there are plenty of things to do on Staten Island. Next to St. George Terminal is the Richmond County Bank Ballpark which is the home of the Staten Island Yankees and some of the best baseball in town.