My spouse and I visited the US Lighthouse Tender LILAC on a Saturday afternoon in mid-October 2017. The ship is open seasonally on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons from the end of May through the end of October. Admission is free, and the ship is staffed by volunteers who can answer questions and provide direction.
The LILAC is moored on the Hudson River at Pier 25 near North Moore and West Streets. Pier 25 is adjacent to Hudson River Park (where you can play miniature golf, sand volleyball, soccer or tennis (mostly for children), ride your skateboard, or just relax and enjoy the views of the harbor and across the river to Jersey City and Hoboken. The popular Grand Banks oyster bar/sailboat is moored on the opposite side of the pier, and City Vineyard is also nearby.
The LILAC, America’s last steam-powered lighthouse tender, is a docked museum ship that promotes maritime education. A “lighthouse tender” is a ship that supports lighthouses by transporting supplies, fuel, and mail, and by providing transportation. (Today, such ships are part of the Coast Guard.)
The ship is currently under restoration, so dress appropriately and expect to see some dust. You will need to use a gangplank to access the ship from the pier, you will need to climb up and down steep ladders/stairs to travel between levels, and you will need to step over door thresholds to enter various parts of the ship. (For this reason, the LILAC is not handicap-accessible.) You can visit various parts of the ship including the engine room, captain’s quarters, mess hall, kitchen, and compact “heads” (bathrooms). The ship’s interior and exterior walls sometime provide a backdrop for rotating art and history exhibits.
We enjoyed our short visit to the LILAC on a balmy October afternoon.