Anyone who has ever been to Staten Island, must have been when they took the ferry to see the Statue of Liberty free and return to Battery Park (south of Manhattan). Staten Island seems to be a forgotten district, a place unknown to tourists who little more dare to walk from the ferry station and, since it is not part of the subway line network, it practically goes unnoticed.
But, all this ignorance has an appeal and that is why in this post we will tell you the best plans to do in Staten Island, the places to enter the New York suburban culture and historic sites, being a go-to recommendation for those “extra” days in the city (if any).
Where is Staten Island?
First things first, and the most important thing to do when arriving anywhere in New York: locate yourself on the map. Finding the neighborhoods of New York is not a difficult task, everything is quite “square” and numerical, so the importance lies in following logic. Staten Island is different from New York in every way and part of its “difference” is also based on the fact that there are no subway lines that go there.
Staten Island is located right on the border that separates the state of New York from New Jersey, but within the dividing lines of the State of New York, forming part of its districts and, after Byooklyn and Queens, being one of the largest.
The best and most recommended alternative to get to Staten Island is through the free ferry that we told you before, the same one that tourists use to see the Statue of Liberty (free) and the of suburban office workers who work in the Big Apple.
- Travel information: the MetroCard (the New York subway card) is not used to get to Staten Island (since the ferry is free), but it is advisable to take it for a walk around Staten Island since buses and the train from the region, they work with the same card, facilitating the transfer between the entire area.
What to do in Staten Island?
Now, we are going to see what to do in Staten Island which, of course, when compared to its mega neighboring island, Manhattan, it seems that there is nothing to see.
However, visiting Staten Island is a great way to learn more about the life of those who live in New York, away from the acceleration of the super-busy streets, the horns, the skyscrapers or the taxis, but closer to the typical suburban streets of American movies, the parks, the neatly decorated gardens, the neighbor waving next door and the quietest thing in all of New York State Although it may seem incredible, a few minutes from the whirlwind of the city. But is that the only thing to do on Staten Island? Of course not! Let’s find out:
Did you know that Staten Island is the New York borough with the fewest people living? There are only almost 500 thousand people residing on its streets, when in Manhattan there are more than 1.5 million.
1. Richmond Town: the colonial city
Until 1975, what is now known as Staten Island, was called Richmond, like the county it occupies, although in that year, it was decided to return to the name of the Dutch colonizers.
The colonial city of Richmond Town is a kind of museum / open-air village, one of the best things to do in Staten Island, where it is possible to admire 28 buildings of the colonial era, built between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, with its facades preserved in perfect condition and its interior, in some of them, still preserving objects and furniture of yesteryear.
Visiting Richmond Town is a great way to “travel back in time” and learn about their true lifestyle from more than 200 years ago.
- Traveler Advice: It is important to note that Richmond Town is about 50 minutes by bus from the ferry terminal.
2. Snug Harbor
Almost 20 minutes by bus from the ferry terminal is Snug Harbor the open-air cultural center, made up of green spaces, gardens and places to have a picnic. (Be careful, the cafeteria is not always open). It is a great place to enjoy nature and rest, especially on a pleasant afternoon of spring in New York, away from the cement of the Big Apple.
- Not to be missed: the Chinese Scholars Garden, an authentic Chinese oasis in the middle of Staten Island.
Did you know that it is sometimes possible to see deer in Snug Harbor?
3. Postcards, the memorial to the victims of 9/11
September 11, 2001 was the day that changed the world: the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York. Among the fatal victims, 274 were residents of Staten Island and it is for even though its residents, decided to pay homage to them at the monument called Postcards.
The two white marble wings represent postcards ( postcards ) to loved ones, where they are also written the name, date of birth and the place where they worked before the event.
- Fun fact : looking towards the center of the monument, it is possible to see exactly the site where the Twin Towers, the World Trade Center and the memorial were located in southern Manhattan.
4. Empire Outlets, the best stores to buy cheap in New York
Traveling to New York is almost like traveling with an almost empty suitcase and returning it complete, there are so many stores and places to shop that it is definitely impossible not to return with something from the Big Apple (souvenirs, clothes, decorative objects … of everything!). However, the variety of New York is also transmitted in its prices and, depending on the area, the brands and the availability of offers (or not) the values can change (and a lot).
A great place to buy cheap in New York is on Staten Island, specifically at Empire Outlets, located right next to the ferry terminal and in addition to visiting its stores, with the possibility of having lunch with the best views of southern Manhattan.
5. Traveling to New York with children: Staten Island Children’s Museum
A great plan to attend as a family and one of the best alternatives what to do in New York with children is to use the hilarious means of water transport that goes to Staten Island, walk without worrying about traffic and finish visit the Staten Island Children’s Museum (also known as the Museum of the Kids). In this museum, the protagonists are the youngest, since they will be able to enjoy acting as firefighters, policemen and teachers, interacting with the exhibits and games.
6. Fort Wadsworth: Staten Island’s defensive fort
The Wadsworth Military Fort is one of the most curious things to see and do in Staten Island since, in addition to being a great green place to rest, it was part of a great chapter in the history of New York : to defense to the city of New York from attacks from the sea, during the wars of the United States.
The fort is located on the same site where, previously, more forts were built for the same purpose, now destroyed, but specifically in the strait between Staten Island and Brooklyn, known as The Narrows.
- Travel fact: the bridge that connects Staten Island with Brooklyn is the Verrazano – Narrows, inaugurated in 1964, the longest bridge in the United States.
7. Garibaldi-Meucci Museum
Are there descendants of Italians in the room? Well, in Staten Island there are, and many, and part of the person who knew he belonged to the population of Staten Island was Antonio Meucci, the Florentine inventor.
In that same house, Giusseppe Garibaldi, the Italian hero who participated in the struggles for the unification of Italy, also spent a season as a refugee and it is for the same reason that it was decided to combine both stories and create this landmark of Italian importance on Staten Island, a house museum.
8. Alice Austen’s home
Passing through historical houses to visit and a great alternative to do in Staten island, it is also worth enjoying (at least the facade) the house of photographer Alice Austen, one of the feminists most progressive in all of Staten Island, born in 1866 and “rebelling” against every mandate during her life.
Visiting this little house is not only to know the life of the photographer who managed to portray, in more than 8 thousand photos, the life of New York as never before, but to be able to understand the life of the women of the time, the culture of the outskirts of the big city and the laborious life of Alice Austen.
9. South Beach
It is not one of the most famous beaches in Miami but it is still a great place to spend hot afternoons from summer in New York. South Beach comes to life when the sun begins to gain strength, being one of the most visited places and one of the best plans to do in Staten Island, with access to the Atlantic Ocean where you can cool off.
Its wooden boardwalk (or boardwalk ) is one of the longest in the world and, between concerts, fireworks and food stalls, makes that Staten Island convert from “unknown” to “more than required.”
10. A beer at Flagship Brewing Company
What better way to end the day on Staten Island than with a craft beer? Like the Brooklyn Brewery was for the neighborhood, Flagship Brewing Company was the first craft beer factory to be founded on the island.
It is a great opportunity to taste another of the flavors of Staten Island, enjoying the different varieties and, why not, buy some to taste later.
Visiting and knowing what to do in Staten Island is nothing more than an opportunity to see something more of New York, continue with the same “attitude” of the Big Apple and look for these contrasts how much they do to the appearance of the city. In this case, from the skyscrapers of Manhattan to the suburbs of Staten Island.