Sometime this summer I want to go to Ellis Island, and eventually I’d like to go to the Statue of Liberty. I’ve done both before, on family vacations, but I think it’s been at least fifteen years and I think both would be worth revisiting as an adult. Part of the fun of those visits was the ferry ride, and there’s an easy way to enjoy a similar outing, for free: riding the Staten Island Ferry.

For Staten Island dwellers, I imagine the ferry is just a regular part of the commute, something they sometimes take a minute to enjoy but often experience on auto-pilot, much like my ride over the Manhattan Bridge. But when I rode the ferry with a friend last fall, it was a fun and novel experience. We made our way to the ferry terminal near Battery Park, waited for the next ferry, and boarded. We found seats on the outside, to better enjoy the views. When the ferry landed in Staten Island, we dashed into the terminal and back out again to catch a departing ferry back to Manhattan. We weren’t the only ones to be taking a roundtrip.

It was early in September, and still warm outside, but the sky was clouded over. The light drizzle combined with the wind over the water made the air damp, and the harbor was blanketed in fog. The skyline blended into the clouds, its boxy shapes looking like a faded Stonehenge against the gray. The Statue of Liberty was first hazy, then sharp against the sky as we got closer.

I’d love to take the ferry on a lazy, sunny day, and see the sun sparkle on the water, but this melancholy trip had its own beauty. It’s a great, free, outing to take with friends or family who are visiting the city, or on your own. Next time, I’ll even spend some time checking out Staten Island! Any suggestions on things to do there?