Suburban character, lush greenery, beaches and great views of New York Harbor. That’s what you hear about Staten Island. A big misconception is that the island is “boring.” New York’s third largest but least populated borough, feels a bit secluded from the rest of New York City. For tourists, Staten Island is known only for its Staten Island ferry. The ferry passes the Statue of Liberty of New York, the landmark of New York Harbor, and does not cost a penny. For daily commuters, the Staten Island Ferry is the only link to Manhattan and thus irreplaceable. In this guide, we’ll go over the best things to do in Staten Island.
Getting to Staten Island
There aren’t many options when it comes to commuting to and from Staten Island. You can always take a taxi, bus or car over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, OR you can take the glorious Staten Island Ferry. We suggest the ferry, especially if you’re a tourist. For one it’s free, and two, you get amazing views of the Manhattan skyline.
Walking Through Staten Island
Like we mentioned, make sure to take the Staten Island Ferry. It’s actually one of the best things to do in Staten Island especially if you want great views. The ferry will also pass by the Statue of Liberty, so you can take a quick picture of it. The island itself has a lot of history but seems to get neglected because the island is so secluded from the rest of NYC. There are historical houses dating back all the way since the civil war. Also, theres a September 11 Memorial right on the island. On a hot summer day, make sure to visit South Beach as well so you can soak up some sun and enjoy the water. Four of the top five things recommended to you are located in the area of Staten Island where JUMP Bikes just launched an electric bike-share program. JUMP Bikes are now all over the North Shore of Staten Island and can be reserved directly from the Uber app, which makes them an inexpensive way for visitors to explore Staten Island.
Our Top 5 Things to Do in Staten Island
- Staten Island Ferry – It’s the most popular choice by everyone. Amazing views and it’s just quicker. The ferry leaves from Terminal 4 at White Hall Ferry.
- Staten Island Museum – The museum includes a huge amount of scientific and historical collections and exhibits. (Address: 1000 Richmond Terrace).
- Jacques Marchais Museum of Art – Check out this museum if you want to learn about the culture of Tibet. (Address: 338 Lighthouse Ave.).
- South Beach – No, not South Beach in Miami, but this beautiful beach in Staten Island invites you to relax and take a stroll. (Address: South Beach, Staten Island).
- Staten Island Children’s Museum – There are over two million exhibits waiting to be discovered here. (Address: 1000 Richmond Terrace).
Other Things To Do in Staten Island
The Staten Island September 11th Memorial
Staten Island lost about 274 people on September 11, 2001. Many commuters who worked in the original World Trade Center lived on the Island. To commemorate them, the September 11th Memorial was built. It is located close to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, behind Richmond County Bank Ball Park, which is the Staten Island Yankees baseball stadium. It was designed in the form of angel wings and is precisely aligned to the skyline in Lower Manhattan.
Historic houses on Staten Island
Who has seen the movie, The Godfather? In the Hamilton Park Neighborhood, there are many Victorian terraced houses from the Civil War. There are two large Tudor-style houses. These were featured in the classic film The Godfather (1971). These houses are known as Casa Corleone (110 + 120 Longfellow Road).
One of the most famous remnants of the past is the Conference House, also known as Billop House. It is located on the southernmost point of New York State in Staten Island and was built around 1680. In 1776 English Lord Howe, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin met here to hold a peace conference. There are tours of the historic house offered and run through Friday to Sunday from 1Pm to 4PM in April–December. (Address: 7455 Hylan Blvd).
Also worth seeing is the home of Alice Austen, who is one of the first prolific female photographers in the United States. Built in 1690, the Victorian house is now a National Monument and displays Alice Austen’s best photographs. The Alice Austen House is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11AM to 5PM (address: 2 Hylan Boulevard at Edgewater Street).
A stroll through St. George and through St. Pauls Avenue/Stapleton Heights Historic District will take you to many other old historic homes of Staten Island. In order to explore the area, I recommend you to continue from the Ferry Terminal by bus. Click here for timetable and route network on Staten Island.
South Beach in Staten Island
It might not be Miami, but there’s a South Beach and it’s one of the best things to do in Staten Island. The 1.5 mile long wooden beach promenade is the fourth longest in the world. Here, you’ll have a beautiful view of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. On the beach promenade, picnic areas and other sports facilities are available for use. The beach section is really beautiful and absolutely worth it. At the north end of the boardwalk is the most popular meeting place for the locals: a dolphin fountain. The beach hosts annual events, free concerts and one or two spectacular fireworks. At the southernmost point, called Ocean Breeze, you’ll see some fishermen trying their luck fishing in the most popular fishing village in New York City.
The Future: New York Wheel
New York is a city filled with the next big thing and another is now in the planning. The “New York Wheel” will be one of the tallest ferris wheels in the world. With the potential 630-foot-high New York Wheel, New York City wants to add another landmark to its large portfolio. From there, it provides a great view of the Statue of Liberty and the southern tip of Manhattan with the New York skyline.
Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden
Like many parts of Staten Island, Snug Harbor also has a number of historic houses. The neighborhood was built in 1883 for retired ship captains.
After Snug Harbor, check out the Botanical Garden which is home to around 20 differently designed gardens. It’s full of plant diversity and stunning greenery. Their “Healing Garden”, is a memorial for the 267 Staten Island victims that lost their lives on September 11, 2001. For holders of the New York Pass, admission to the Botanical Garden on Staten Island is free. (Address: 1000 Richmond Terrace).
Military History – Fort Wadsworth
One of the things to do in Staten Island is visiting Fort Wadsworth. The fort played an important role in defending the port of New York nearly 200 years ago. The military base in the northeast of the island is one of the oldest in the US and offers a great view of New York Harbor. Today Fort Wadsworth is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. The Park Rangers offer guided tours that take you into hidden catacombs and provide background information on the National Monument. All information about the tours can be found here (address: 210 New York Avenue).
Top Restaurants / Bars on Staten Island
Staten Island offers many culinary options and visiting great places to eat is one of the best things to do in Staten Island. Here are some restaurants and bars that we recommend.
A Restaurant Ran By Grandmas From All Over The World
If you’re into really cool concepts when it comes to restaurants then one of things to do in Staten Island is visiting this Italian restaurant called Enoteca Maria. The restaurant is literally ran by grandmother’s and serves dishes from different Italian region’s backgrounds. If you want to learn more about the restaurant, visit their website here.
- 1. Beso – Check out this restaurant which features dishes from Cuba, Mexico and Spain. It’s located near the Ferry Terminal. (Address: 11 Schuyler Street)
- 2nd Trattoria Romana – a classic Italian restaurant. (Address: 1476 Hylan Boulevard).
- 3. Killmeyer’s Old Bavaria Inn – They serve 200 different beers and sausages and goulash. (Address: 4254 Arthur Kill Road).
- 4. Hokkaido Sushi Bar – Some of the best sushi in Staten Island. (Address: 3295 Amboy Road).
- 5. South Fin Grill – If you’re into grilled food, check this restaurant out. (Address: 300 Father Capodanno Boulevard).
Museums on Staten Island
With works by Andy Warhol and Marc Chagall, the Staten Island Museum is the oldest interdisciplinary museum on Staten Island. It is just two blocks from the Ferry Terminal and features a large natural history collection and a fancy art collection (Address: 75 Stuyvesant Place).
In the Staten Island Children’s Museum, children will have an amazing time and go on an expedition. More than 2 million exhibits from fossils to art and an exhibition of national animals are on display. Let your children have fun and learn at the same time. (Address: 1000 Richmond Terrace). With the New York Pass, the Staten Island Children’s Museum is already included.
The island has a unique museum as well and it’s one of the things to do in Staten Island. At the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art, you can immerse yourself in the culture and atmosphere of Tibet. There’s a mediation garden, as well as lessons in Tai Chi which are all part of the museum program. It’s a magical place and will bring peace in an often very stressful city (address: 338 Lighthouse Avenue).
Make sure to check out Historic Richmond Town. With 28 historic houses and an old farm in a small village, visitors can see how old Staten Island really is. There are guided tours offered by the huge open-air museum. It’s especially in nice weather. With the New York Pass, admission is already included.
Staying Near Staten Island
We recommend staying in Manhattan or Brooklyn since Staten Island can be experienced in one day. Here are articles about different hotels in NYC.
Staten Island is an amazing place, but you really shouldn’t be there for more than one day. It’s definitely an area that tourists should check out. Other neighborhoods nearby are Lower Manhattan and DUMBO in Brooklyn.