Waterfront museums, parks and attractions are the places to fish for maritime history, soak up art while outdoors or just relax near the shoreline.

To learn how water access has shaped the city, ride the Staten Island Ferry to the Noble Maritime Museum or visit the South Street Seaport Museum on the East River or the Waterfront Museum in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Former military bases Castle Clinton and Governors Island peer at each other across the New York Harbor in Lower Manhattan and today are part of parks that host concerts and arts events.

Every summer the River to River Festival celebrates some of New York’s best musicians and artists with waterside performances in Lower Manhattan. In Brooklyn, Bargemusic is a year-round floating music hall on the Fulton Ferry Landing (where ferries serve Governors Island).

A peaceful water view can be had any of the coastal parks and gardens in the five boroughs:  Hudson River and Riverside Parks in Manhattan; Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, Queens; and Wave Hill, overlooking the Hudson from a bluff in the Bronx, to name a few. New Yorkers can even sink their toes in the sand without leaving city limits. Coney Island, Brooklyn, has long been a playground for children of all ages—and houses the New York Aquarium—but Rockaway Beach, Queens, boasts one of only two surfing spots within the five boroughs.

With approximately 600 miles of shoreline in New York, city residents are never far from water. This list helps tourists and locals alike get a little closer.