Exploring New York City’s Waterways: The Best Family Boat Rides in NYC

New York City is a city of contrasts – from towering skyscrapers to the calm of Central Park, the city has a lot to offer visitors and locals alike. But what many people don’t know is that the city is surrounded by water, making it an ideal place for a family boat ride. There are a variety of boat tours available in NYC, each offering something different. Here are some of the best family boat rides in NYC that offer stunning views, informative commentary, and unforgettable experiences.


The Best Family Boat Rides in NYC

1. Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises

Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises is a popular choice for families who want to see the city’s most iconic landmarks from the water. The company offers several boat tours, including the Best of NYC Cruise, which takes you around the entire island of Manhattan in 2.5 hours. You’ll see the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State Building, and many other famous landmarks. The tour also includes informative commentary, snacks, and drinks.

If you’re looking for something more specific, Circle Line also offers themed cruises. For example, their Landmarks and Brooklyn Cruise take you past the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the Brooklyn Bridge. Or if your family is interested in history, the Best of NYC Historic Cruise will take you past historical sites like Grant’s Tomb, the Cloisters, and the Yankee Stadium.

2. The Beast Speedboat Ride

For a more thrilling experience, The Beast Speedboat Ride is a great option. This 30-minute ride takes you on a high-speed adventure through the harbor, reaching speeds of up to 45 miles per hour. You’ll feel the wind in your hair as you pass by the Statue of Liberty and other landmarks. It’s a fun and exciting way to see the city from a different perspective. The Beast is open from May to September, so be sure to check their schedule before you go.

3. NY Waterway

NY Waterway offers several boat routes that take you to different parts of the city, including Midtown, Downtown, and Brooklyn. The company’s Hop-On, Hop-Off service allows you to explore different neighborhoods at your own pace, getting on and off the boat as you, please. You’ll see the city’s skyline, historic landmarks, and charming neighborhoods from the water.

In addition to the Hop-On, Hop-Off service, NY Waterway also offers other tours, such as their Statue of Liberty Express. This 60-minute tour takes you past the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, giving you a closer look at these iconic landmarks. The company also offers a New York Pass package, which includes a boat tour, access to various attractions, and more.

4. Classic Harbor Line

For a more upscale experience, Classic Harbor Line offers a range of boats that are elegant and spacious, with comfortable seating and a full bar. They offer several tours, including the Statue and Skyline Cruise, which takes you around the harbor to see the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the city’s skyline. You’ll also learn about the history and architecture of the city. This tour is perfect for families who want a more relaxed and educational experience.

Classic Harbor Line also offers a Sunset Sail, which is a romantic option for couples, and their Around Manhattan Brunch Cruise is a fun way to spend a Sunday morning with your family. They also offer private charters, so you can create your own custom experience.

5. Hornblower Cruises

Hornblower Cruises is another popular boat tour company in NYC, offering several routes and packages for families. Their brunch and dinner cruises are especially popular

for families looking for a unique dining experience. You’ll enjoy a delicious meal while taking in the sights of the city from the water. They also offer a Statue of Liberty Sightseeing Cruise, which takes you past Lady Liberty and other landmarks.

In addition to their standard tours, Hornblower Cruises offers special event cruises, such as their July 4th Fireworks Cruise, which gives you front-row seats to the city’s famous Independence Day fireworks display. They also offer private charters for corporate events, weddings, and other special occasions.

Tips for a Great Family Boat Ride in NYC

Before you head out on your family boat ride in NYC, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure a great experience:

1. Check the Weather

Be sure to check the weather forecast before you go. Rain or high winds can cause cancellations or make the ride uncomfortable.

2. Dress appropriately

Even on a warm day, it can get chilly on the water, so bring a light jacket or sweater. You should also wear comfortable shoes with good grip, as the deck can be slippery.

3. Arrive Early

Arrive at least 30 minutes before your scheduled departure time to ensure you have enough time to board and find a good seat.

4. Bring Snacks and Drinks

Most boat tours offer snacks and drinks for purchase, but you can also bring your own. Just be sure to check with the tour operator about any restrictions.

5. Listen to the Commentary

Many boat tours offer informative commentary about the landmarks and history of the city. Take advantage of this to learn something new and enrich your experience.

A Guide on What to Expect During a Family Boat Ride in New York City

1. Dress for the Weather

New York City’s weather can be unpredictable, so make sure to dress appropriately for the boat ride. Wear comfortable, weather-appropriate clothing and bring along sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses to protect against the sun’s rays.

2. Bring Snacks and Drinks

While some boat rides may offer refreshments, it’s always a good idea to bring your own snacks and drinks. Pack a cooler with your family’s favorite snacks and drinks to enjoy during the ride.

3. Take in the Sights

A boat ride in New York City offers breathtaking views of the city skyline and landmarks. Make sure to take in the sights and snap some memorable photos to cherish for years to come.

4. Prepare for Motion Sickness

If anyone in your family is prone to motion sickness, prepare accordingly. Consider taking medication or using natural remedies like ginger or acupressure wristbands to alleviate symptoms.

5. Follow Safety Instructions

Before the boat ride, listen carefully to the crew’s safety instructions. Familiarize yourself with the location of life jackets and emergency exits, and follow all crew instructions throughout the ride.

A Guide on What Not to Expect During a Family Boat Ride in New York City

1. Privacy

Family boat rides are often shared with other passengers, so don’t expect complete privacy. Be prepared to interact with others and enjoy the shared experience.

2. Wi-Fi Access

While some boats may offer Wi-Fi access, don’t expect it to be reliable or fast. Instead, focus on enjoying the scenery and spending quality time with your family.

3. Smooth Sailing

New York City’s waterways can be choppy at times, so don’t expect a completely smooth ride. Be prepared for some bumps and waves along the way.

4. Personalized Tours

While some boat rides may offer personalized tours, don’t expect your captain to tailor the ride to your specific interests. Instead, enjoy the standard tour and take in the sights as they come.

5. Onboard Bathrooms

While some boats may have onboard bathrooms, don’t expect them to be spacious or luxurious. Be prepared for a tight squeeze and minimal amenities.

Note: By having realistic expectations, you can ensure that your family boat ride in New York City is a fun and enjoyable experience for everyone.

What is The Cost of a Family Boat Ride in New York City?

A family boat ride in NYC can cost between $25 and $50 per person. The price can vary based on factors like the length of the ride and the amenities offered. Popular boat ride companies in NYC include Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises, Hornblower Cruises, and the Staten Island Ferry. Be sure to consider any additional fees or discounts when comparing prices. With a little research, you can find a family boat ride in NYC that fits your budget and preferences.

How Long Does Boat Ride Last in New York City?

Boat rides in New York City typically last between 1-2 hours and take you around popular sights along the Hudson River. Longer boat tours lasting up to 3-4 hours are also available, which offer meals and entertainment on board and provide stunning views of Manhattan’s skyline and bridges.

Private boat rentals are an option for those who want to stay out on the water for longer periods, but they can be expensive and usually reserved for special occasions.

The length of your boat ride in NYC will depend on the type of tour you choose and the operator you book with. Make sure to check the length of the tour when booking, so you can plan accordingly and make the most of your time on the water.


A family boat ride in NYC is a great way to see the city from a different perspective, while also enjoying a fun and educational experience with your loved ones. Whether you choose a high-speed adventure or a relaxing cruise with brunch or dinner, there are plenty of options to choose from. Keep in mind our tips for a great experience, and enjoy your journey through the city’s waterways.

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