Want to discover how to get to Roosevelt Island?

Nestled between Manhattan and Queens, Roosevelt Island is a serene, narrow island in New York City’s East River.

This unique locale offers striking views of the city skyline, coupled with a rich history and tranquil green spaces that make it a charming destination for both residents and visitors.

Knowing how to get to Roosevelt Island is essential for anyone looking to explore this hidden gem efficiently and enjoyably.

Understanding the different transportation options available to reach Roosevelt Island is not only convenient but can significantly enhance your visit.

Whether you’re commuting from within the city or navigating your way as a tourist, the island is accessible through a variety of modes, including the subway, tram, bus, car, ferry, or even by foot and bike.

Each method offers its own unique views and experiences of New York City, making the journey as enjoyable as the destination itself.

This guide will provide you with detailed insights into each transportation option, ensuring that you find the best route suited to your needs and preferences.

As we delve into the specifics of each transportation mode, remember that the journey to Roosevelt Island is an integral part of the experience.

The ease of access and variety of transit choices make Roosevelt Island a must-visit location for those looking to capture a different perspective of the bustling city life.

Let’s explore how to get to Roosevelt Island and uncover the most practical and scenic routes to take you there.

Geographical Overview of Roosevelt Island

roosevelt island

Roosevelt Island is a slender strip of land located in the East River, lying between Manhattan to the west and Queens to the east.

Spanning approximately 2 miles in length and only 800 feet at its widest point, the island is directly opposite Manhattan’s Upper East Side, stretching from around 46th to 85th Streets.

This strategic positioning offers breathtaking views of the city’s iconic skyline, making it a picturesque enclave within the bustling metropolis.

The history of Roosevelt Island is as fascinating as its geography. Initially called Minnehanonck by the Native Americans, and later Blackwell’s Island, it served various purposes over the centuries.

In the 19th century, it was notably used for a range of institutions, including hospitals, asylums, and prisons.

In the 20th century, the island was renamed in honor of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and began its transformation into a residential community with the addition of new developments and public spaces.

Today, Roosevelt Island is significant for its blend of modern living and rich history.

It houses landmarks such as the Blackwell House, one of the city’s oldest structures, and the recently added Four Freedoms Park, which celebrates Roosevelt’s famous speech championing fundamental human rights.

Additionally, the island’s architectural innovation and community-focused design are exemplified by the Roosevelt Island Tramway, which was the first commuter cable car in North America.

This small island, easily overlooked in the vastness of New York City, offers a unique escape with its quieter streets, less commercialized environment, and compelling history.

Understanding the geographic and historical context of Roosevelt Island enriches the experience of visiting and emphasizes the importance of knowing how to get to Roosevelt Island, as it is not only a journey to a location but also a voyage through New York’s diverse history.

Preparing for Your Visit

roosevelt island Bridge

Before setting out on your journey to Roosevelt Island, it’s essential to plan your visit carefully to make the most of your time on this unique New York City island.

Here are some tips on the best times to visit and what to bring along for a day trip.

Best Times to Visit Roosevelt Island

Roosevelt Island is captivating year-round, but each season offers a different experience:

  • Spring (April to June): This is an ideal time to visit Roosevelt Island. The weather is pleasantly warm, and the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, especially around the Roosevelt Island Cherry Blossom Festival, which attracts many visitors with its beautiful floral displays and cultural events.
  • Summer (July to September): Summer is perfect for those looking to enjoy outdoor activities. While it can get quite warm, the breezes from the East River provide some respite from the city heat. Summer events and outdoor movie nights are common, making it a vibrant time to visit.
  • Autumn (October to early November): The fall brings stunning foliage to Roosevelt Island, with the tree-lined promenades and parks dressed in vibrant hues of orange, red, and yellow. The cooler temperatures make it comfortable for walking tours and exploring the island’s rich history.
  • Winter (December to March): Winter on Roosevelt Island is less crowded, offering a more peaceful visit. The views of snow-dusted cityscapes are unmatched. Ensure you’re dressed warmly, as the river winds can be chilly.

What to Bring for a Day Trip

To ensure a comfortable and enjoyable day on Roosevelt Island, here are a few essentials to pack:

  • Comfortable Footwear: Whether you plan to explore the island by foot or bike, comfortable shoes are a must. The island is very walkable, and you’ll want to explore all its nooks and crannies without discomfort.
  • Camera or Smartphone: With its stunning views of the Manhattan skyline and unique sites like the Smallpox Hospital ruins and Four Freedoms Park, you’ll want to capture many memories.
  • Picnic Supplies: Pack a picnic to enjoy in one of the island’s quiet parks. There are few commercial establishments, so bringing your own food and drinks can enhance your visit.
  • Sun Protection: On sunny days, make sure to bring sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen to protect against the sun, especially during the summer months.
  • A Light Jacket or Sweater: Even in summer, the breeze from the East River can be cool, especially in the evenings or early mornings.

Transportation Options to Roosevelt Island

roosevelt island tram

Roosevelt Island is accessible through multiple modes of transportation, each offering a unique perspective of New York City.

Whether you prefer the efficiency of the subway, the scenic route via tram, the convenience of a bus, the flexibility of driving, or the charm of a ferry ride, you can choose the best option that suits your needs.

By Subway

The F train is the primary subway line that serves Roosevelt Island.

It’s a reliable and straightforward way to reach the island from various parts of New York City.

Step-by-Step Guide to Catching the Subway

  1. From Manhattan: Board the F train heading towards Queens at any station along 6th Avenue in Lower Manhattan, through Midtown, up to the Upper East Side.
  2. From Queens: Catch the F train heading towards Manhattan. Stations along Queens Boulevard, such as Forest Hills and Jackson Heights, provide easy access.
  3. From Brooklyn: You can take the F train directly from locations like Downtown Brooklyn or transfer from other lines at major interchange stations such as Jay Street-MetroTech.

Subway Schedules and Tips

  • Trains run approximately every 4-10 minutes during peak hours and every 8-15 minutes during off-peak hours.
  • Always check the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) website for any service changes, especially on weekends.
  • Consider purchasing a MetroCard in advance to avoid queues at vending machines.

By Tram

The Roosevelt Island Tramway offers a scenic aerial view of the East River and the city skyline, making it a popular choice for both commuters and tourists.

Historical and Operational Insights

  • Introduced in 1976, the tram was initially built as a temporary solution during subway construction but has remained a permanent and beloved feature.
  • The tram runs parallel to the Queensboro Bridge, providing a unique vantage point.

Access, Operating Hours, and Pricing

  • Location: The tram station in Manhattan is located at 59th Street and Second Avenue.
  • Operating Hours: The tram operates from 6:00 AM to 2:00 AM, with trams arriving every 7-15 minutes.
  • Pricing: The fare is the same as a single subway ride, and you can use your MetroCard.

By Bus

Several bus routes make stops on Roosevelt Island, adding to the accessibility of the island.

Bus Routes

  • The Q102 bus runs between Queens and Roosevelt Island, providing a direct link to Astoria and connections to other major bus and subway lines.

Tips on Using Bus Services

  • Buses are less frequent than the subway, so check the schedule in advance.
  • The Q102 can be a convenient option if you are traveling from Queens or connecting from another bus line.

By Car

Driving to Roosevelt Island is straightforward, though parking can be limited.

Driving and Parking

  • Access: Roosevelt Island is accessible by car from Queens via the Roosevelt Island Bridge.
  • Parking: Parking is available but can be scarce during peak hours and events. It’s advisable to check for available parking facilities and rates before your visit.

By Ferry

The ferry is an enjoyable way to reach Roosevelt Island, offering stunning views of the Manhattan skyline.

Ferry Services

  • The NYC Ferry serves Roosevelt Island, with a stop at the island as part of the Astoria Route.
  • Schedules: Ferries run every 25-35 minutes during peak times, with less frequent service during off-peak hours.
  • Docking Stations and Ticket Prices: The main docking station is conveniently located near the tram and bus stops. Tickets are competitively priced with other public transport options, and can be purchased at terminals or via the NYC Ferry app.

Biking and Walking to Roosevelt Island

roosevelt island biking

Roosevelt Island is not only accessible by motorized transportation; it also offers scenic and peaceful routes for biking and walking.

These options not only provide a healthy way to travel but also allow you to enjoy the natural beauty and quiet atmosphere of the island at your own pace.

Bike-Friendly Routes and Pedestrian Paths


  • From Manhattan: One popular route is the East River Greenway, which offers a bike-friendly path along the East River. Cyclists can ride from southern Manhattan northward, enjoying views of the river until they reach the Queensboro Bridge. From here, a connection to Roosevelt Island via the bridge’s pedestrian and bike lane is available.
  • From Queens: The Roosevelt Island Bridge in Long Island City provides direct access for cyclists coming from Queens. This short bridge is easily navigable by bike and drops you directly onto the island.


  • Pedestrian Paths: For those who prefer to walk, the same routes available for cyclists are also pedestrian-friendly. The walk across the Queensboro Bridge offers spectacular views of the city and the East River, making for a memorable entry to Roosevelt Island.
  • Around the Island: Once on the island, there are numerous walking paths that wind through its parks and along the waterfront, providing a serene environment away from the urban bustle.

Bike Rental Options

Roosevelt Island is accommodating for cyclists, whether you bring your own bike or need to rent one:

  • On-Island Rentals: While direct rental options on Roosevelt Island itself are limited, you can easily rent a bike from one of the many bike shops in Manhattan or Queens before making your way to the island.
  • Bike Share Programs: The city’s bike share program, Citi Bike, has several docking stations on Roosevelt Island. These stations allow for easy pickup and drop-off, providing a convenient option for visitors who do not have their own bike. You can use the Citi Bike app to locate bikes and plan your rental.

Accessibility Options

Roosevelt Island is committed to ensuring accessibility for all visitors, including those with disabilities.

The island’s transportation systems and public facilities are designed to accommodate individuals requiring additional support, ensuring a welcoming and inclusive experience for everyone.

Accessible Transportation Options

By Subway

  • Subway Accessibility: The Roosevelt Island station on the F line is equipped with elevators, making it accessible for wheelchair users and those with mobility impairments. Clear signage helps guide visitors to the elevators.

By Tram

  • Tram Accessibility: The Roosevelt Island Tramway is also accessible. Each tram car is designed to accommodate wheelchairs, and there are priority seats for those who need them. The tram stations in Manhattan and on Roosevelt Island have elevators and ramps.

By Bus

  • Bus Accessibility: The Q102 bus that serves Roosevelt Island is equipped with low-entry steps and wheelchair ramps. These features ensure that boarding and alighting are as smooth as possible for passengers with mobility devices.

By Car

  • Parking: There are designated accessible parking spaces available throughout the island, particularly near major attractions and residential areas. These spots are marked and located close to elevator access points where applicable.

By Ferry

  • Ferry Accessibility: The NYC Ferry serving Roosevelt Island includes vessels that are accessible. They are equipped with ramps for easy boarding and disembarkation. The ferry terminals also feature ramps and are designed with accessibility in mind.

Accessible Facilities on the Island

  • Public Buildings and Attractions: Major buildings, attractions, and facilities on Roosevelt Island, including the visitor center, public restrooms, and restaurants, are ADA compliant. These venues are equipped with accessible entrances, restrooms, and seating areas.
  • Paths and Walkways: The island’s paths and walkways are well-maintained and generally flat, making them easy to navigate with wheelchairs or other mobility aids. Areas that offer recreational activities are designed to be inclusive, with accessible equipment and facilities.
  • Signage and Assistance: Informational signage around the island includes high-contrast visuals and Braille where possible. The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) provides additional assistance upon request to help with navigating the island and accessing services.

Tips and Tricks for a Smooth Trip

roosevelt island NYC

Visiting Roosevelt Island can be a delightful experience, especially if you come prepared with some insider tips and best practices.

Whether you are a first-time visitor or a returning guest looking to make the most out of your trip, here are some recommendations to ensure a smooth and enjoyable visit.

Best Practices for Visiting Roosevelt Island

  1. Plan Your Transportation: Decide in advance how you will get to Roosevelt Island. Consider factors such as time of day, the specific attractions you want to visit, and your starting location. If you’re planning to use public transportation, check the latest schedules and any service advisories.
  2. Wear Comfortable Clothing: Given that Roosevelt Island offers a variety of outdoor activities and scenic walking paths, wearing comfortable clothing and shoes is a must. This is particularly important if you plan to explore the island on foot or by bike.
  3. Check Weather Conditions: Before your visit, check the weather forecast. Roosevelt Island’s experiences can differ vastly between a sunny day and a rainy one, especially if you’re planning outdoor activities.
  4. Bring Snacks and Water: While there are some cafes and restaurants on Roosevelt Island, options can be limited. Carrying your own water, snacks, or even a picnic lunch can enhance your visit, allowing you to relax and dine at some of the island’s picturesque spots without having to search for food.
  5. Charge Your Camera or Phone: With stunning views of the Manhattan skyline and numerous architectural and historical sites, Roosevelt Island is a photographer’s paradise. Make sure your camera or phone is charged so you can capture these moments.
  6. Explore Beyond the Main Paths: Roosevelt Island is filled with hidden gems, from small gardens to art installations. Don’t hesitate to venture off the main paths and explore the island’s quieter corners.

Recommendations for First-Time Visitors

  1. Visit the Four Freedoms Park: This park is a highlight for many visitors. It not only offers incredible views and a peaceful environment but also serves as a monument to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his vision of four essential human freedoms.
  2. Ride the Tram at Least Once: For first-time visitors, taking the Roosevelt Island Tram provides not just transportation but also panoramic views of the East River and Manhattan. It’s a unique experience that shouldn’t be missed.
  3. Check Out Local Events: Depending on when you visit, Roosevelt Island hosts various community events and activities, from outdoor movie nights to seasonal festivals. Checking the local calendar can add a special touch to your visit.
  4. Allocate Enough Time to Explore: Don’t rush your visit to Roosevelt Island. While it’s small, the island has plenty to offer in terms of history, architecture, and natural beauty. Allocating enough time to take it all in can make your trip more fulfilling.
  5. Consult Local Guides or Information Centers: Upon arrival, consider stopping by an information center or consulting with local guides. They can offer valuable insights and up-to-date information that might enhance your visit.


Roosevelt Island, a serene oasis in the bustling metropolis of New York City, offers a unique blend of history, architecture, and breathtaking landscapes.

Accessing the island is convenient, thanks to a variety of transportation options designed to suit every preference and need.

Whether you choose the efficient subway, the scenic tram, the reliable bus services, the flexible car travel, or the charming ferry ride, each mode of transport provides a different experience of the city and the island.

For those who prefer a more active approach, biking and walking paths are well-maintained and offer a refreshing way to reach and explore the island’s attractions.

We encourage every visitor to Roosevelt Island to take full advantage of these diverse transportation options.

Each provides not just a way to get to Roosevelt Island but also an integral part of the overall experience.

The journey itself can be as enjoyable as the destination, filled with stunning views of the New York City skyline and the tranquil waters of the East River.

Roosevelt Island is a place of discovery and relaxation, ideal for those looking to escape the typical city noise.

With its rich history, peaceful parks, and vibrant community events, the island has something to offer everyone.

Whether it’s your first visit or you’re returning to uncover more hidden gems, Roosevelt Island awaits with open arms and endless possibilities.

Explore at your own pace, soak in the panoramic vistas, and create memories that will last a lifetime on this charming strip of land in the heart of one of the world’s greatest cities.

roosevelt island Bridge

FAQ’s About Roosevelt Island:

What is Special About Roosevelt Island?

Roosevelt Island is special for its quiet, park-like atmosphere amidst the bustling city of New York.

It offers stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, unique architectural sites like the Smallpox Hospital ruins, and the modern Four Freedoms Park dedicated to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The island also boasts the Roosevelt Island Tramway, providing aerial views of the city during the commute.

Does Anyone Live on Roosevelt Island?

Yes, Roosevelt Island is home to a residential community.

The population is diverse, consisting of approximately 11,000 residents who live in apartment complexes spread across the island.

The community is known for its friendly atmosphere and close-knit environment.

Is it Worth Visiting Roosevelt Island?

Absolutely. Roosevelt Island is worth visiting for its rich history, beautiful parks, and less crowded environment compared to Manhattan.

It’s a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city while still enjoying spectacular views and unique attractions.

How Do You Spend a Day on Roosevelt Island?

A day on Roosevelt Island can be spent exploring its various landmarks and parks.

Start with a ride on the Roosevelt Island Tramway for panoramic city views. Visit the Four Freedoms Park and the Blackwell House for some historical insight.

Enjoy a picnic at Southpoint Park, and if time allows, walk along the waterfront promenade for relaxing views of the East River.

Is it Expensive to Live on Roosevelt Island?

Living on Roosevelt Island is generally less expensive compared to Manhattan but can be costlier than some parts of Queens and Brooklyn.

The island offers a range of housing options, including rental apartments that are relatively affordable by New York City standards.

Can You Walk Onto Roosevelt Island?

Yes, you can walk onto Roosevelt Island.

One of the most popular ways is via the pedestrian pathway on the Roosevelt Island Bridge from Queens.

Additionally, many people enjoy walking around the island itself, which features numerous pedestrian-friendly paths.

Are There Cars on Roosevelt Island?

Yes, there are cars on Roosevelt Island, but their presence is minimal compared to other parts of New York City.

The island is designed to be pedestrian-friendly, with limited road access and parking availability, encouraging public transport and walking.

What is the Most Expensive House on Roosevelt Island?

The real estate on Roosevelt Island mainly consists of apartment complexes and condos; there are no traditional single-family houses.

The most expensive properties are likely high-end apartments or penthouses with views of the Manhattan skyline.

Prices vary depending on the building’s amenities and the specific views offered.

What is it Like Living in Roosevelt Island?

Living on Roosevelt Island is often described as peaceful and community-oriented.

It offers a slower pace of life compared to Manhattan, with the convenience of still being very close to the city center.

Residents enjoy ample green space, safety, and a tight-knit community feel.

Who Owns Roosevelt Island?

Roosevelt Island is owned by the city of New York.

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC), a state agency, manages the island’s development and daily operations.

How Do People Get to Roosevelt Island?

People can get to Roosevelt Island via the F subway line, the Roosevelt Island Tramway, buses like the Q102, car via the Roosevelt Island Bridge, and the NYC Ferry service.

There are also pedestrian and biking paths available for those who prefer to walk or cycle.

Why Go to Roosevelt Island?

Visitors go to Roosevelt Island for many reasons: to enjoy quiet walks along the river, partake in unique local events, explore historical sites, and experience the unique tram ride.

It offers a mix of natural beauty, history, and modernity, making it a diverse and interesting place to visit within New York City.

roosevelt island Bridge

(Island Expert)

Christian is a dynamic serial entrepreneur and a licensed real estate agent with a relentless passion for unlocking the potential of island real estate. Christian's expertise extends beyond entrepreneurship and property transactions. He possesses a profound expertise in crafting captivating content and persuasive copywriting tailored exclusively to the enchanting realm of island real estate.

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