A quick trip on the Staten Island Ferry, offering picturesque views of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, will bring visitors to the southernmost borough of New York City. Staten Island is an area full of exciting culture and some fun attractions.
The Staten Island Zoo and the Staten Island Children’s Museum are both bound to keep families entertained, and the New York Harbor offers some spectacular views and history. A trip to New York City just isn’t complete without a stop at Staten Island, where tours, museums, sports, restaurants, and plenty of attractions await you on your weekend getaway.
1. Staten Island Museum
© Staten Island Museum
New York is full of very specialized museums, like the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Natural History, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But for those looking for the whole package, the Staten Island Museum is the only general interest museum in New York City. With exhibitions containing natural and manmade artifacts, works of art, and pieces of history, the Staten Island Museum is a great destination for learning not just about Staten Island, but also the world. A wide variety of traveling and rotating exhibits ensures that every visit to the Staten Island Museum will be a unique one.
1000 Richmond Terrace, Building A, Staten Island, NY 10301, Phone: 718-727-1135
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2. Snug Harbor Cultural Center
© Snug Harbor Cultural Center
Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden, often called Sailors’ Snug Harbor, was once a charitable resting place for sailors during the 19th century. It is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC and consists of 28 historical buildings, and today contains a museum, working farm, performing arts center, artist residences, and several schools. Snug Harbor is an open campus for visitors and, with a small admission fee of $5, they can wander the beautiful grounds, explore the buildings and what they have to offer, and learn about the history of this peaceful, artistic, and historically relevant place.
1000 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island, NY 10301, Phone: 718-425-3504
3. National Lighthouse Museum
© National Lighthouse Museum
At the National Lighthouse Museum, visitors can learn all about lighthouses, those iconic structures that have marked dangerous coastlines and helped sailors navigate for millennia. The museum contains models of almost two hundred real lighthouses located in the United States as well as artifacts and parts from historical lighthouses. Visitors will learn how they were lit over the years, about the purposes they served, and about the people who manned them.
200 Promenade at Lighthouse Point, Staten Island, NY 10301, Phone: 718-390-0040
4. Seaside Wildlife Nature Park
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Set on approximately 20 acres of peaceful nature, Seaside Wildlife Nature Park is the perfect respite from the urban jungle that is New York City. With a massive playground for kids, including a lighthouse, an explorable shipwreck, and a playground that is modeled to look like the Staten Island Ferry, this play space is inventive and fun, perfect for kids with a lot of energy and a big imagination. There are also plenty of nature trails in the park, leading cyclists, joggers, or those on a leisurely walk through trees, salt marshes, and native plants to Staten Island.
Nelson Ave, Staten Island, NY 10308, Phone: 212-639-9675
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5. Alice Austen House
© Alice Austen House
Alice Austen was one of the earliest and most impactful female photographers in America, and during the 19th and 20th centuries she took approximately 8,000 photographs. Alice Austen was a woman who broke ties from the traditional, and lived her life according to her own terms. She never married, was the first woman on all of Staten Island to own her own car, designed landscapes, mastered the game of tennis, and even today, she stands as a role model for women. Her home, Clear Comfort, is where Austen lived from the 1860s until 1945. Now a National Historic Landmark, the Alice Austen House contains a number of exhibits about her life, her work, and history during her lifetime.
2 Hylan Blvd, Staten Island, NY 10305, Phone: 718-816-4506
6. Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve
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The Clay Pit Ponds State Park Reserve is located on the southwest shore of Staten Island, and is home to a number of ecological habitats, including wetlands, sand barrens, and woodlands. A rich history within the 265-acre park includes evidence that it was once the home of the Lenapi Native Americans, early settlers from Europe, and the Free Blacks of Sandy Ground. Visitors to the park can explore its beautiful nature and also spend time at the Interpretive Center at Clay Pit Ponds. In the Interpretive Center, visitors can view educational exhibits about the park’s geology, ecology, and anthropological history.
83 Nielsen Ave, Staten Island, NY 10309, Phone: 718-967-1976
7. Conference House
© Conference House
Conference House was built in 1680, and is named for the famous meeting that took place there in September 11, 1776, a meeting that tried and failed to end the American Revolutionary War. Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Edward Rutledge met with the British commander of forces in the colonies, Lord Howe, and tried to discuss the possibility of peace. The meeting ended with the Founding Fathers politely declining, and the war continued for another 7 years. Today, the Conference House contains exhibits about the founding of America, the immigrant narrative, and the history of the house itself.
7455 Hylan Blvd, Staten Island, NY 10307, Phone: 718-984-6046
8. Fort Wadsworth
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Fort Wadsworth was first built in the 17th century by the Dutch, when New York City was still called New Amsterdam. It has changed significantly in the centuries since, but its prime location has allowed it to defend the New York Harbor for centuries against potential attacks. It was closed in the 1990s, and today Fort Wadsworth is a thriving tourist attraction owned by the National Park Service. Open to the public, there are many knowledgeable rangers at Fort Wadsworth who will lead visitors on an educational tour through the grounds of the old military stronghold.
Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island, NY 10305
9. Garibaldi-Meucci Museum
© Garibaldi-Meucci Museum
Antonio Meucci, an inventor of Italian heritage, once lived in the house that is now the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum. Giuseppe Garibaldi, for whom the museum is also named, was a hero who unified Italy, and once also called the house a home and refuge. The museum strives to maintain and teach about the legacy that these men had, particularly for those of Italian-American heritage, and offers classes about Italian art, culture, and more. Exhibits within the museum teach about the lives of these two men as well as the impact of Italian culture on modern day America.
420 Tompkins Ave, Staten Island, NY 10305, Phone: 718-442-1608
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10. Historic Richmond Town
© Historic Richmond Town
Walking into Historic Richmond Town is like stepping back in time to the 1950s. Once a bustling center for business and government, Richmond Town enjoyed centuries of illustrious history and plenty of thriving business. But when Staten Island became one of the five boroughs of New York in the late 19th century, Richmond Town began to decline. In 1958, Historic Richmond Town was established as a historic preservation site, with over 30 original structures on over 100 acres of land. Visitors can visit the town to see the oldest operating farm in New York City and one of the oldest houses in the entire United States.
441 Clarke Ave, Staten Island, NY 10306, Phone: 718-351-1611
11. Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art
© Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art
A visit to the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art will be not only an educational one, but a peaceful one as well. Here, the art and culture of the Tibetan people are on display with a hope of educating and inspiring those who visit. The museum contains art, ritual artifacts, films, performances, and even a meditation garden. The Museum of Tibetan Art also offers classes for those interested in tai chi or meditation, and hosts many special events, lectures, and even kids’ programs where they can make traditional Tibetan crafts.
338 Lighthouse Ave, Staten Island, NY 10306, Phone: 718-987-3500
12. New York City Farm Colony
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The New York City Farm Colony, sometimes also known as the Staten Island Farm Colony, was a poorhouse established in 1829. For years it provided a place to live for those with nowhere else to go in exchange for labor on the farm. During the 1940s it reached its peak, with over 1,700 residents who lived and worked on the land. Today, the area has been abandoned for over 40 years, and it is a popular urban ruin for people to explore. There are plans to restore some of the old buildings and create a community for people to live on the property, but even with this project underway, it is still very possible to explore the grounds and ruined buildings of the New York City Farm Colony to learn about this little-known part of history.
Brielle Ave, Staten Island, NY 10314, Phone: 718-605-0900
13. New York Harbor
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At the mouth of the Hudson River, where it meets New York Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, is the New York Harbor, one of the biggest natural harbors in the entire world. There are a staggering 23 national parks and nationally recognized historic sites located around the harbor, including Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, the Stonewall National Monument, the childhood home of Theodore Roosevelt, Alexander Hamilton’s family home, and the Gateway National Recreation Area. A tour of the harbor area, either by land or by sea, will grant visitors some spectacular access to historical sites, and if on a boat, they will also get some excellent views of the New York City skyline.
14. Nonnas of the World
© Nonnas of the World
There’s nothing better than a meal that tastes just like Grandma used to make. Our grandparents carry with them – and often pass on – culinary traditions that sometimes date back to their grandparents and can help us keep in touch with the roots of our ancestors. Nonnas of the World, also known as Enoteca Maria, is a unique restaurant that focuses on this concept. Started by a man who lost his mother and wanted to keep the homey feeling of his Nonna’s Italian cooking alive, he staffed his restaurant with bona fide Italian grandmothers. Eventually, he expanded to grandmothers of other cultures, and the rotating menu at Enoteca Maria features guest chefs who make their treasured family dishes to share with the world.
27 Hyatt St, Staten Island, NY 10301, Phone: 718-447-2777
15. Postcards - The Staten Island September 11 Memorial
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This somber yet beautiful memorial consists of two massive fiberglass structures and commemorates the lives of the 275 Staten Island residents who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The sculptures are often thought to resemble wings and also postcards, ostensibly being sent to loved ones. The names of those who died on 9/11 are inscribed upon the memorial. Postcards is located on the Esplanade, on Staten Island’s northern shore, and from the edges of the water, visitors can see some truly postcard-worthy views of Manhattan and the New York City skyline.
Bank Street, Staten Island, NY 10301
16. Seguine Mansion
© Seguine Mansion
The Seguine Mansion was built in the mid-19th century, around 1840. The massive house is a perfect example of the Greek revival style, with tall pillars holding up a triangular pediment on the front facade. It is also one of the best remaining examples of life on Staten Island during the 19th century, and today, visitors can tour the 18-room mansion for a taste of what life was like back then. The extensive grounds and gardens, which were designed by famous landscaper Frederick Law Olmsted (the mastermind behind Central Park), are home to over 80 acres of trees, fields, and exotic birds like peacocks. Also on the property is the Seguine Equestrian Center, where visitors can take riding lessons from world-renowned trainers.
441 Seguine Ave, Staten Island, NY 10309, Phone: 718-667-6042
17. Staten Island Children's Museum
© Staten Island Children's Museum
At the Staten Island Children’s Museum, located on the grounds of Snug Harbor, kids can take part in a wide variety of interactive exhibits and learn a lot about nature, science, culture, and history, oftentimes without even realizing it. While playing with miniature versions of construction tools and vehicles in House About It, kids will learn about geometry and building, and in Great Explorations, they will learn all about extreme environments through interactive experiences about Arctic dogsleds, ocean diving, rainforest exploration, and building an igloo. Other exhibits on insects, green living, chemistry, and more will ensure that kids have a fun and educational time.
1000 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island, NY 10301, Phone: 718-273-2060
18. Staten Island Zoo
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This small suburban zoo is open all year round for visitors, and contains a wide variety of exhibits and animals for guests to see and learn about. Pleasant walkways and paths will lead visitors through the reptile wing, the tropical forest wing, and the amur leopard habitat. Guests will also see animals from Africa and Australia, birds of prey, foxes, otters, horses, and animals native to the Sahara Desert. The Staten Island Zoo also has a cafe and gift shops, where visitors can enjoy a meal and pick out a souvenir to remember their trip.
614 Broadway, Staten Island, NY 10310, Phone: 718-442-3100
19. The Noble Maritime Collection
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The Noble Maritime Collection is located at Sailors’ Snug Harbor and commemorates the life and work of John A. Noble, a marine artist. Many of Noble’s drawings and lithographs are on display in the collection, as is the restored houseboat where he once lived and worked. Visitors can explore his houseboat studio, which has been meticulously restored to what it once looked like in 1954, when Noble’s home and workspace were featured in an issue of National Geographic. The collection at the museum also features exhibitions on other artists from Sailors’ Snug Harbor, which was once a resting place for sailors who had nowhere else to go and is now an artistic community.
1000 Richmond Terrace # 8, Staten Island, NY 10301, Phone: 718-447-6490
20. The Staten Island Ferry
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The Staten Island Ferry runs 5.2 miles across the New York Harbor, transporting an average of over 70,000 people each day between Staten Island and Manhattan. From the private individuals who ferried people across the harbor in the 1700s, the Staten Island Ferry has since grown to include nine vessels that are free for passengers and make over 100 scheduled trips each day. This practical transportation service is not just a means of travel; it’s also a tourist attraction in its own right. During the 25-minute ride to and from Staten Island, the ferry offers its passengers some amazing views of the New York Harbor, Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, and the New York City skyline.
Whitehall Terminal: 4 Whitehall St, New York, NY 10004, St. George Terminal: 1 Bay St, Staten Island, NY 10301
21. Willowbrook State School
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The Willowbrook State School is a sad example of the ways that antiquated mental health care failed so many people. Originally built to be a school for mentally disabled children, Willowbrook was commandeered as a military hospital in the 1940s, before finally being used for its intended purpose in 1947. It was designed for 4,000 students to live and learn there, but by the mid-1960s there were over 6,000 students at the school, none of whom were being cared for properly. The school was shut down in 1987, and today visitors can explore the abandoned property to find artifacts and evidence left by the people who once lived there.
Staten Island, New York, 10314,
22. Carreta Tours
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Carreta Tours offers walking tours of Staten Island to the public. Tours last about 2 to 3 hours and involve a lot of walking, so guests should be prepared to get quite a leg workout. After meeting at the Subway Sandwich Shop by the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, tour guides will show groups around Staten Island, imparting tidbits of facts and history along the way. Guests will have the opportunity to see and learn about several historic houses and buildings on Staten Island, as well as learn about some of the people who once lived there and hear stories of specific moments in history, such as Prohibition.
23. Cititrek Tours
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Cititrek offers tours all over New York City. Each tour is customized to the group’s wishes and needs, so tours on Staten Island can be themed accordingly. Guests can choose, for example, to hear about the history of the island, or they can opt to take a tour of Staten Island’s parks and beaches. Experienced locals lead the tours, and are ready and able to offer information, advice, and suggestions on places to eat, things to do, and much more. Cititrek Tours can be booked for any of Staten Island’s four shores, and each can be customized to include specific attractions, food, drinks, natural areas, and more.
169 East Flagler Street, Miami, Florida 33131, Phone: 855-868-7692
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