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A Day at Roosevelt Island

Enjoy a relaxing and historical day on this beautiful island.

Of all New York’s islands Long Island, Governors Island, and even Rikers Island Roosevelt Island is the least known and, in our opinion, one of the most underrated. Renamed in 1971 after Franklin D. Roosevelt, this narrow island sits on the East River between Manhattan and Queens. Despite being only two miles long and 800 feet wide, Roosevelt Island offers plenty to see and do. Take a break from the congested tourist hotspots in Manhattan and soak in the city from this relaxing and picturesque destination.

How to Get There

To get to Roosevelt Island, we recommend that you take the aerial tram. The tram offers incredible views of the Manhattan skyline from high above the East River all for the price of one subway ride! It departs from Second Avenue and 59th Street and boasts views of Manhattan’s East Side, the East River, and the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge all in the span of just a 3-minute ride!

What to Do on the Island

There’s a ton to do on this little island, but we recommend starting off at the Roosevelt Island Historical Society Visitor Center, located right by the tram station in a relocated streetcar. Afterwards, you can walk along a path blooming with wildflowers in Southpoint Park. You’ll pass remnants of old historical buildings, including an eery, abandoned smallpox hospital.

When you hit the end of Southpoint Park, venture further into the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, a four-acre park that leads to the southernmost tip of the island. Walk to the end and you’ll find a granite memorial designed by Louis Kahn, engraved with excerpts from FDR’s Four Freedoms speech. You’ll be able to enjoy incredible views of the city’s skyline from the park we recommend waiting till sunset to catch a view of the sun going down behind Manhattan’s skyscrapers.

If you happen to be at Roosevelt Island on a Saturday, stop by the farmer’s market in Motorgate Plaza for local fruits and veggies. Speaking of food, you can find small little restaurants scattered throughout the island, including food trucks like Wafel & Dingle and Neapolitan Pizza. If you’re looking for something a bit fancier, try the Riverwalk Bar & Grill, which is smack dab in the middle of the island.

We also recommend walking along the Promenade, which runs down the west side of the island facing Manhattan if you’re lucky, the cherry blossoms will be in bloom! Another cool landmark to check out is the North Point Lighthouse, a 50-foot lighthouse at the northernmost tip of the island, opposite Four Freedoms Park. One block south of the lighthouse is the Octagon, a mid-19th century building that was once a resort, then became a hospital, and has now been refurbished into waterfront housing. You can go inside to climb the Octagon’s winding staircase or visit its adjoining gallery.

After a day of exploring, you’ll be treated to spectacular views of NYC’s sparkling nighttime skyline on the tram. After spending an entire day at Roosevelt Island, we know you’ll want to extend your stay to explore the rest of NYC. That’s why Affinia is offering a sweet summer deal: stay four nights for the price of three, or three nights for the price of two to maximize your NYC summer!

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