Looking to keep city kids entertained this summer? Skip the sweaty subway and head to one of the city’s New Jersey-bound ferries, now offering free rides for children under 12 for the season.

NY Waterway Ferry
All aboard! The NY Waterferry is offering free travel to children under 12 this summer. Photo: Phil O’Brien

The program, entitled Kids Ride Free, allows up to two children under 12 per adult ticket buyer to board the boat for unlimited free rides through Labor Day (aside from the MetroNorth line routes). Eligible routes run from the Ferry Terminal at W39th Street to scenic spots like Liberty State Park (home to a stunning promenade view of the city skyline as well as a wide variety of picnic areas and historic sites), and the Hoboken and Jersey City waterfronts.

“NY Waterway has always been a family-run business, and this is our way of welcoming more families back aboard,” Armand Pohan, chairman, president and CEO of NY Waterway said in a statement to NBC News. “With Kids Ride Free, we hope more families will enjoy safe and comfortable travel into the city this summer!”

NY Waterway Ferry
There are multiple options with NY Waterway to explore New Jersey and Red Hook. Photo: Phil O’Brien

In a shopping mood? Hop the NY Waterway route from the same Midtown Ferry Terminal running through Wall Street to the IKEA in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Operating every weekend and free for riders of all ages, the IKEA Ferry stops at Wall Street before passing near the Statue of Liberty and landing at the Land of the Allen Wrench. And if you are all stocked up on BILLY bookcases, why not stroll over to the urban beach shack Brooklyn Crab for old bay fries and a seafood boil lunch or window shop on Van Brunt Street? 

While there isn’t a specific deal running, another fun summer West Side Ferry option is to hop on the alternative ferry to Staten Island (not to be confused with the Staten Island Ferry itself!). For $2.75 you can head directly from Pier 79 to Battery Park and St George, SI — home of the Empire Outlets shopping center and the National Lighthouse Museum. For moody teens who aren’t interested in joining your boat cruise, there are free summer memberships for 14-19 year olds at Planet Fitness!

La Barca Cantina
La Barca Cantina and North River Lobster Company offer food and a cruise with a view of Hell’s Kitchen. Photo: Phil O’Brien

And if you like the idea of being on a boat but have money to spend and lobster to eat — don’t forget to check out Hell’s Kitchen’s very own vessels at the North River Lobster Company, La Barca Cantina, The Circle Line, The Beast or the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. All aboard! 

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