Little Island in NYC: Small Yet Spectacular

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Little Island
Little Island in all its glory, atop the Hudson River

Little Island is the Latest Modern Marvel of New York City

By Cameron Gibney

Though arguably an ‘island’, Manhattan’s ambitious, ultra-modern park finally opened its gates to the public on May 21, adjacent to Pier 55 on the Hudson River.

What it has to offer: the artificial Little Island is home to a 2.4-acre park, a nearly 700-seat amphitheater, and most notably, excellent views of the surrounding cityscape. It is open from 6 am to 1 am daily and extends free admission to the public.

Should you visit Little Island after 12 pm, a timed entry reservation is required for all visits within the rest of the day. You are able to secure tickets via Little Island’s official website.

Sporting a visibly peculiar design, Little Island is founded upon a cluster of vertical support beams, 132 to be exact, each resembling the shape of a tulip. These ‘tulips’ range in elevation, rendering the overall structure to look somewhat like a wave (this is of course open to interpretation – others have said it appears like a leaf on water).

Events, Events, Events

Little Island is a no-brainer of a destination if you’re visiting New York City with children and/or family. Kids will get a kick out of any of the youth-friendly programs set to begin around mid-June of this year, if the spacious park area isn’t enough for fun and play.

These events will include activities such as DIY artmaking, reading, and theatre showcases. In compliance with general ticket policy, these events are free, but a timed entry reservation is required after 12 pm.

If you visit Little Island on a Thursday, check out the Art Cart at 3 pm at The Glade. The Art Cart is quite literally a mobile cart stocked with art supplies, featuring colorful activities to partake in – guaranteed fun for the whole family.

Don't hesitate to bring the family to Little Island!
Don’t hesitate to bring the family to Little Island!

Or if you find yourself there on a Friday, don’t hesitate to indulge in some restful reading with the Little Library event, also taking place in The Glade at 3 pm. Here you are welcomed to borrow a book and read some fascinating stories.

Young or old, there is something for everyone on Little Island.

The anticipated Little Island Artist Series, also beginning in mid-June, will be a weekly showcase of music artists local to the greater New York City area. Projected artists set to perform include XinOu Wei, John the Martyr, Koku Gonza, and Glenn Roth.

If you’re a fan of music, this free, all-ages event should also be a no-brainer for a fun time.

All the way until September of 2021, you can catch live music and performance on almost every day of the week (excluding Monday and Tuesday) on Little Island. Other live events taking place on the island include the likes of slam poetry, dance, and even puppetry.

Seemingly every discipline of the arts is represented here.

A significant portion of these happenings will take place in the featured amphitheater – or ‘amph‘ for short (as the official website dubs it).

Little Island boasts an open-submission program named Perform in the Park, which invites local artists of all types to exhibit their creativity on the island stage. Applications for the 2021 season ended September 18, 2020, but creatives are encouraged to check back for future opportunities in this program.

In addition to its flourishing arts and culture scene, Little Island is also a stop for some great food.

In partnership with Manhattan-based hospitality company Savory, Little Island is understood to deliver some wonderful, flavorful eats, should you choose to grab a bite on the island. If you consider yourself a foodie, you will appreciate the locally sourced, made-from-scratch items available from various vendors throughout the island.

Good eating and drinking are to be done on Little Island
Good eating and drinking are to be done on Little Island

Where there’s food there is also drink. Here, any beer aficionado (or casual drinker) will be happy to discover the catalog of brews that are distinctly New York. The wine, too, is also locally sourced. It also comes in a trendy, canned form.

Or perhaps … tea is more your cup of tea. Hailing from nearby Brooklyn is Bushwick Tea, a local brand that has a presence on the island. A great non-alcoholic choice, you now know where to go for a mean cup of tea on Little Island.

The current menu of food and beverages available on Little Island is accessible here. The hours of food and beverage service are as follows:

7 am – 10:30 am: Breakfast & coffee
11:30 am – 4 pm: Lunch
5 pm – 11 pm: Dinner

If you have a deeper passion for food – beyond just consuming it – stick around for Savory Talks & Performances, a free-to-attend series of conversations about the more complex implications of the food industry.

This recurring, socially conscious event takes place on various Mondays at 6 pm for the better part of the summer. The very first seminar, titled Sustainable Meat & Seafood, will take place on June 21. You can check the official Little Island website for more details and official dates.

It’s worth mentioning that the quasi-natural appearance of the island is quite a mind-blowing feat in and of itself. Once you step foot onto its terrain, you may even forget that Little Island is a man-made structure. This makes for quite an astonishing paradox.

Little Island’s enchanting aesthetics make it a destination for those looking to curate terrific social media content. The immense scenes of trees, flowers, and diverse greenery create mesmerizing backdrops to any pictures you take during your visit.

Throughout its perimeter, the island is covered in various species of trees and flowers. Due to the inconsistent attitude of the concrete ‘tulips’, Little Island’s surface is hardly visible from the mainland of Manhattan.

Wherever you look around Little Island, you are more than likely to be met with pleasant scenery. Visitors will notice that the skyline of New Jersey is also prominent from the viewpoint of the island.

Little Island stands near Pier 55 at Hudson River Park
Little Island stands near Pier 55 at Hudson River Park

Though still in its infancy, Little Island should not be ruled out as a bonafide destination in New York City.

From its brilliant architecture to its honorable offering of events, food, and drink, the Island definitely deserves a spot on your travel bucket list.

What You Should Know to Visit Little Island, NYC

Should you visit Little Island after 12 pm, a timed entry reservation is required for all visits within the rest of the day. You are able to secure tickets via Little Island’s official website.

7 am – 10:30 am: Breakfast & coffee
11:30 am – 4 pm: Lunch
5 pm – 11 pm: Dinner