While there might not be palm trees, New York City’s Staten Island offers many possibilities for fun in the sun with a side of history and culture. With its miles of sandy beaches and nature trails, free summer concerts on the beach and beautiful historic homes, the borough is New York City’s hidden secret waiting to be explored.
What To See & Do
The summer fun starts with a ride from Lower Manhattan to St. George on the free Staten Island Ferry. Visitors getting off the ferry can walk to the Richmond County Bank Ballpark, where the Staten Island Yankees will play their home opener on Saturday, June 18. All summer long, fans can enjoy a game of baseball along with post-game fireworks on Friday and Saturday nights. For outdoor family fun, the Staten Island Greenbelt is the borough’s system of connected parkland and nature preserves throughout the middle of the island, complete with bike paths, hiking trails and Nature Center. Known as NYC’s “biggest little zoo,” the Staten Island Zoo features one of the country’s largest collections of venomous snakes and is also home to the City’s most famous groundhog, Staten Island Chuck. Visitors can enjoy the surf and sand at Midland Beach and South Beach on the East Shore, where they can also stroll along the Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk with its picturesque views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
Staten Island’s rich history can be traced at its museums and historic sites. Visitors can discover the borough’s history and contributions to the City’s art and culture at the Staten Island Museum. The museum has two locations: one just outside the St. George Ferry Terminal and a brand-new LEED-certified building at Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden. Snug Harbor was once a sailor’s retirement village and today is the location of the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden, one of two authentic Chinese gardens in the country. Right up the street is one of the neighborhood’s beloved cultural spots, the St. George Theatre, which has seen the likes of Al Jolson, Diana Ross and Jerry Seinfeld perform on its stage.
The former residence of one of America’s earliest groundbreaking female photographers, the Alice Austen House Museum in Rosebank pays homage to Alice Austen with a permanent collection of her documentary work and other photographic exhibitions. Situated not too far away is Fort Wadsworth—one of the oldest military installations in the country—which guarded New York Harbor during the Revolutionary War. After exploring these cultural institutions on the North Shore, visitors can hop on the Staten Island Railway to Tottenville for a tour of The Conference House, site of the Revolutionary Peace Conference of 1776 held between John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and other significant figures in American history. In Historic Richmond Town, visitors can take a walk back in time through restored homes and a museum that depict how Americans lived in the early 1700s.
Where To Eat
The borough is well-known for some of the City’s best cuisine, from Italian fare to Sri Lankan delicacies. After spending a day at Midland Beach and walking the Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk, visitors can enjoy breathtaking views and an exquisite seafood menu at South Fin Grill. What’s visiting Staten Island without grabbing a slice of pizza? From Joe & Pat’s specialty slices in Castleton Corners to historic Denino’s Pizzeria & Tavern in Port Richmond, visitors can find a mouthwatering slice. Conveniently located near the St. George Ferry Terminal, Enoteca Maria in St. George takes homemade cooking to a new level, featuring old-school “nonnas” who create authentic dishes that will make visitors want to sail back for seconds. Not too far away, in Tompkinsville, home to one of the largest Sri Lankan communities in the country, New Asha offers blistered rotis, mutton curry, coconut broth soups and other tempting specialties.
Future Waterfront Attractions
Visitors taking the Staten Island Ferry toward St. George will soon see something new rising along the waterfront. Opening in 2017, the 630-foot-tall New York Wheel will be the world’s largest observation wheel, providing picturesque views of the Manhattan skyline. Also opening in late 2017, Empire Outlets will be New York City’s first and only shopping outlet mall, featuring brand-name stores such as Nike Factory Outlet, Banana Republic Factory Store, Nordstrom Rack, plus a boutique hotel and a vast array of dining options at the Marketplace at Empire Outlets. Destination St. George will be a must-see on any future NYC itinerary.
Where To Stay
Those looking to enjoy more of Staten Island this summer can extend their stay at one of several hotels in the borough, including the Hilton Garden Inn New York/Staten Island, Hampton Inn & Suites Staten Island and the Holiday Inn Express – Staten Island West, all offering shuttle service to and from the Staten Island Ferry in St. George. These affordable hotels are conveniently located on Staten Island’s West Shore, which is less than 15 minutes from Newark Liberty International Airport.
How To Get There
The Staten Island Ferry runs every half hour—and every 15 minutes during rush hour—24/7, 365 days a year. Most attractions and restaurants can be reached by MTA New York City Transit Buses for $2.75 MetroCard fare by local bus or $6.50 for express buses from Manhattan. The Staten Island Railway, which is free to access except at the St. George and Tompkinsville stations, is another option for getting around the borough.