Karen Moline takes her nine-year-old son to Water Taxi Beach and finds Madonna’s ex, free hot dogs and real sand…

When my son was a tiny toddler, there was nothing he loved more than to travel around Manhattan by boat. On many warm evenings, we took the M15 bus down Second Avenue to the (free) Staten Island Ferry, rode across the bay, got off, turned around, and cruised back. Sometimes he wore his squeaky shoes, and drove the other passengers bonkers as he toddled up and down the length of the ship; they couldn’t figure out where the horrifying sound was coming from. I soon spared them the aggro when the bright yellow Water Taxi started its runs around the island and we jumped aboard, and as long as I paid for my ticket, my son was allowed to ride for free until he turned two.

Now that he’s nine, we’re still fans of the Water Taxi, especially it’s Hop On/Hop Off passes in the summer that let you ride from its pier on W.44th St., to the Fulton Ferry Landing downtown (a few minutes away from the South Street Seaport mall), past the Statue of Liberty, and then the Brooklyn Bridge, and back again. The loop takes about 90 minutes if you stay on the boat, or you can get on and off/start and stop at any of their pickup/drop-off places, visit the sites at your leisure, then climb back on when you’re ready (Adults, $25, Children $15, and it’s a lot cheaper than taking a taxi!).  Get in line early and you’re guaranteed a space up on top, where the salt water spray will cool you and the views are incredible even on a cloudy day. (Don’t forget the sunscreen!)

In the summer, it’s a hoot to let kids romp around at the Water Taxi beaches—fun for the little ones by day, dance venues for mom and dad and older siblings (as long as they’re 21+) by night.

The Water Taxi Beach at South Street Seaport has tons of sand for castle-building, a 9-hole miniature golf course, and the Fish Shack for fish & chips. If the kids get overheated, all you have to do is take them inside the mall and they will instantly cool off while you shop or rest up at the food court on the third floor. At night, you can often find the NY club legend DJ, Jellybean Benitez (one of Madonna’s beaus back in her yet-to-be-discovered Danceteria phase), spinning the tunes.

The Water Taxi Beach Long Island City is on the other side of the East River at the Hunter’s Point/Long Island City Water Taxi Stop. This is far less crowded and the views of shimmering Manhattan are glorious, especially at sunset. Foodies will not want to miss the free hot dog event on June 25, 2010, where you can mingle with the throngs of locals who never pass up an opportunity to stuff their faces.

And the Water Taxi Beach on Governor’s Island—one of the best hangouts on summer weekends (free ferries, lovely walks, stupendous vistas, and no cars)—has piled up 300 tons of sand so the kids can play volleyball or dig for treasure during the day, and at night it’s transformed into an incredible venue for hearing live music.

Karen Moline

About Karen Moline

Karen Moline is a NYC-based novelist, journalist, and ghost-writer who has travelled the world in search of all things divinely, delectably, and deliriously Goddess.