Best Things to Do in Staten Island, NY

Staten Island Ferry 

Serving as a lifeline between Staten Island and Manhattan, the Staten Island Ferry stands as one of the city’s most iconic and cost-effective modes of transportation. Each year, it ferries over 22 million passengers across New York Harbor. Beyond its practicality, the 25-minute ride offers panoramic views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the striking Manhattan skyline, making it a perennial favorite among tourists and locals alike.

Snug Harbor Cultural Center 

Occupying 83 picturesque acres, the Snug Harbor Cultural Center is a historical treasure trove. Initially established as a home for retired sailors in the 1800s, it now houses an array of attractions. Visitors can explore botanical gardens teeming with rare flora, the Staten Island Children’s Museum, art galleries displaying diverse collections, and the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, showcasing modern artworks and installations.

Alice Austen House 

Nestled along Staten Island’s North Shore, the Alice Austen House stands as a tribute to the pioneering spirit of Alice Austen, an innovative photographer capturing late 19th and early 20th-century New York. Austen’s Victorian Gothic cottage, originally built in the 17th century, served as her lifelong home and a vital backdrop for her photography.

Her portfolio, comprising over 8,000 images, showcases New York’s diverse landscapes and inhabitants, challenging societal norms through her progressive outlook. The house itself, with its captivating harbor views, featured prominently in her works, offering glimpses into both domestic life and the evolving cityscape.

Designated a National Historic Landmark and now a museum, the Alice Austen House meticulously preserves her legacy. Visitors explore the preserved rooms with period furnishings and personal items, immersing themselves in late 19th-century living.

The museum hosts rotating exhibitions, not only spotlighting Austen’s photography but also celebrating contemporary art and photography. Beyond preserving her artistic contributions, the house serves as a cultural hub, hosting workshops, lectures, and community events, honoring Austen’s vision and providing insight into the life and legacy of this pioneering artist whose work continues to resonate in modern times.

Greenbelt Conservancy 

Encompassing 2,800 acres of lush greenery, the Greenbelt Conservancy offers an expansive natural retreat within an urban landscape. Boasting more than 35 miles of trails, this verdant expanse welcomes outdoor enthusiasts, birdwatchers, and hikers seeking diverse terrain, including woodlands, wetlands, and peaceful streams teeming with wildlife.

Historic Richmond Town 

Historic Richmond Town, sprawling across 100 acres on Staten Island, stands as an immersive portal into America’s past. This living history village meticulously preserves centuries of Staten Island’s cultural heritage. It’s a captivating journey through time, featuring over 30 meticulously restored buildings dating from the 17th to the 19th centuries.

Each structure offers a window into a specific era, showcasing diverse architectural styles and serving as a testament to the island’s evolving history. Visitors step into the past as they stroll along cobbled streets lined with homes, farms, schools, and businesses, guided by costumed interpreters.

Beyond static displays, Historic Richmond Town fosters an interactive experience. Workshops, demonstrations, and engaging exhibits bring history to life, allowing visitors to partake in activities representative of different historical periods. Whether trying hands-on crafts, witnessing traditional cooking methods, or participating in reenactments, the village offers a tangible connection to bygone eras.

The site also hosts numerous seasonal events and festivals, each highlighting unique facets of American heritage. From harvest festivals to holiday celebrations, these events showcase traditions, crafts, and entertainment that have shaped the cultural fabric of the region.

Historic Richmond Town serves as a living testament to Staten Island’s vibrant past, providing an educational and immersive experience for visitors keen on exploring the rich tapestry of American history.

Staten Island Zoo 

Founded in 1933, the Staten Island Zoo is a sanctuary for over 1,500 animals representing 350 species. Beyond its diverse collection, visitors can explore specialized exhibits like the Serpentarium, featuring an array of reptiles, and the African Savannah exhibit, home to African birds and mammals. Educational programs, interactive experiences, and feeding sessions enhance the zoo visit for all ages.

South Beach and Boardwalk 

South Beach beckons with its serene shoreline and an adjacent boardwalk perfect for leisurely activities. The sweeping views of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge complement the beach’s allure, attracting sun-seekers, picnickers, volleyball enthusiasts, and rollerbladers to revel in the refreshing ocean air and scenic vistas.

Staten Island Botanical Garden 

Nestled within the expansive grounds of Snug Harbor, the Staten Island Botanical Garden encompasses various themed gardens. The New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden, a standout attraction, showcases traditional Chinese architecture, serene ponds, intricate pavilions, and meticulously crafted landscapes, offering a serene escape.

Dining

Staten Island’s culinary landscape is a tapestry of diverse flavors and cultures. From the historic Italian neighborhoods with acclaimed pizzerias and family-owned trattorias to lesser-known eateries serving up local delicacies like Sri Lankan dosas or Albanian bureks, a food tour promises a gastronomic adventure through the island’s rich culinary heritage.

Cultural Festivals

Throughout the year, Staten Island hosts an array of vibrant cultural festivals celebrating its diverse communities. The Staten Island Jazz Festival spotlights local jazz talent, while the Richmond County Fair offers agricultural exhibits, live music, carnival rides, and traditional crafts, providing insight into the island’s cultural tapestry.

Fort Wadsworth 

Steeped in history, Fort Wadsworth stands as a testament to the island’s military past. Originally constructed in the early 19th century, this National Park Service site boasts awe-inspiring views of New York Harbor and the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge. Visitors can explore the fort’s structures, tunnels, and Battery Weed, delving into its strategic significance during various periods of American history.

Staten Island Yankees 

Baseball enthusiasts can catch a game at the Richmond County Bank Ballpark, the home stadium of the Staten Island Yankees. Nestled along the waterfront, this stadium offers not only thrilling minor league baseball but also unparalleled views of the Manhattan skyline, creating an unforgettable sports experience.

National Lighthouse Museum 

Housed in a historic waterfront building, the National Lighthouse Museum pays homage to the maritime heritage and importance of lighthouses. Engaging exhibits showcase the evolution of lighthouse technology, stories of keepers, and artifacts, illustrating their critical role in maritime navigation and safety.

Bike Riding 

Staten Island’s diverse landscapes and bike-friendly paths make it an ideal destination for cycling enthusiasts. With rental options available, cyclists can traverse the waterfront, lush parks, and designated trails. The island’s varied terrain ensures a thrilling biking experience suitable for both leisure riders and avid cyclists.

Live Performances at St. George Theatre

The St. George Theatre, a majestic architectural gem dating back to the 1920s, hosts an eclectic array of live performances. Renowned for its opulent interior, exquisite design, and impeccable acoustics, this historic theater presents concerts, Broadway shows, comedy acts, and other cultural events, promising unforgettable entertainment experiences for audiences of all ages.

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