Visit Staten Island: What To Do And What To See?
Staten Island is one of the five boroughs of New York. If this borough is best known for its ferry, the island nevertheless deserves that you devote some time to it during your stay in New York.
Shopping, parks, historical and cultural sites… I invite you to discover in this article all that you can do during a visit to Staten Island
The History Of Staten Island In A Nutshell
Staten Island was discovered in 1524 by Giovanni da Verrazzano, an explorer of Florentine descent, when it was inhabited by Algonquin Indians. It became a trading post at the beginning of the next century, but while the other boroughs of New York developed, Staten Island remained a very rural area for a long time.
At the end of the 19th century, the island officially became a borough of New York. It was not until the construction of the Verrazzano Bridge in 1964 that Staten Island truly began to become a very urban area.
How To Get To Staten Island?
To reach Staten Island, all you have to do is take theStaten Island Ferry. This completely free ferryruns every day of the year, 24 hours a day. It departs from Manhattan and goes to Staten Island.
Before taking the ferry, I have only one piece of advice to give you: don’t rush. Boats depart on a regular basis, and you should have no trouble boarding. Especially since if you are among the last to board (on the way), you can turn around and admire the view as the boat moves away from Manhattan.
As this ferry is free, many people take it just to enjoy a great view of the Manhattan Skyline and the Statue of Liberty during the trip. This privileged point of view is of course a big advantage, but as we will see in the rest of this article, it would be a real shame to go back immediately in the opposite direction and not take advantage of it to discover more in depth this unknown borough of New York.
The Best Things To Do In Staten Island
Staten Island is often confused with Ellis Island and Liberty Island. Far from a small island hosting a tourist site, this island is in fact the third largest borough in New York.
It must be admitted that this district is much less known than the other four: Manhattan , the Bronx , Brooklyn and the Queens. It is also the least populated of all. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find particularly interesting sites to discover during your visit to Staten Island. After taking the ferry to get to the island, you can visit several places that are well worth a visit.
Have you considered a tourist pass?
During your stay in New York, you will certainly want to discover as many sites and places as possible. By adding the prices of each entry, this budget can very quickly become substantial. This is why there are different New York tourist passes , so that you can visit different sites with a controlled budget before your stay
If you book the New York Pass, for example, it will give you access to more than 100 activities to do in the city (including the best known: the Empire State Building , the city’s museums, the Top of the Rock ,…). You can check the list of all the activities included in the pass.
Once you have obtained your pass, you will have access to the different places included in the pass without having to pay on site. For Staten Island, you will have access to the following sites in particular: the zoo, the discovery of the baseball stadium, the museums, the botanical garden,…
As you already know, New York is THE city where fashion lovers and shopaholics absolutely must go. In Manhattan in particular, you can find big brand boutiques, small designer stores and world-famous shopping malls.
But if you want to do good business, it is towards the “ Outlets ”, the factory outlets , that you will have to turn. And for that, Staten Island is the ideal destination!
Empire Outlets is the only major center of its type located inside New York. Although quite new, this center has already become Staten Island’s must-see attraction. It is located right next to the ferry terminal, so you will have no difficulty accessing it during your stay in New York. From Manhattan, the trip will only take you about twenty minutes, and the trip won’t be boring.
In this center located at the water’s edge, you can not only enjoy a very beautiful view of Manhattan, but also find more than a hundred stores. You can find products of all kinds, but a special place is made for clothing and fashion accessories. Empire Outlets is the place to go to find brand name clothing (like H&M , Nike , Old Navy and more) at rock bottom prices.
This large shopping center is spread over four levels, and over more than 100,000 m². This shopper’s paradise does not have a large covered lobby: all its shops are located on the edge of a large open-air space, not far from the ocean.
You will find lots of benches placed around small green spaces, perfect for taking a little break before setting off again in search of good deals
The Verrazzano-narrows Bridge
The Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge is a metal suspension bridge that crosses the Narrow Strait from Staten Island to Brooklyn. At nearly 1,300 meters in length, it is the longest suspension bridge in the United States, and one of the 15 longest bridges in the world.
It is today known in particular for being the starting point of the New York Marathon. This bridge is not accessible on foot or by bike outside the marathon period, but it remains one of the favorite places for photography enthusiasts.
Just under the bridge on the Staten Island side is Fort Wadsworth. It is one of the oldest military installations in the country, which served to control the main entrance to New York Harbor.
This facility was closed in 1994, and today it is a public park where you can visit the underground tunnels that lead to the lighthouse, and discover a unique panoramic view of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, the port of New York, Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Staten Island 9/11 Memorial
In Staten Island, another memorial, much less known than the one in Manhattan, pays tribute to the victims of the September 11 attacks. This sculpture, created in 2014, is dedicated to the many Staten Islanders who lost their lives during these terrorist attacks.
The Staten Island September 11th Memorial takes the form of two large white wings, which face Manhattan and the World Trade Center site.
On each of these wings, marble slabs are carved in the shape of a face in profile, and on each of them is engraved the name of one of the victims.
Staten Island Zoo
This zoo is in the West New Brighton neighborhood , north of Staten Island. It’s not the biggest zoo in the city, but it’s still home to over 1,500 animals from around 350 different species. The Staten Island Zoo will be perfect for spending a pleasant time with the family.
The zoo was originally devoted entirely to reptiles, and is still very famous today for its collections of lizards and snakes. In particular, it has the largest collection of rattlesnakes on the continent
Many events are organized there throughout the year: for example, each new animal is entitled to its own welcome party. The zoo is divided into about twenty zones, each of which accommodates different species of animals. In addition to the reptile wing, you can discover a large aquarium, a pond housing otters, as well as areas devoted to leopards, animals from the Sahara or even Australian animals.
Snug Harbor Cultural Center
The biggest museums in New York are not on Staten Island, but you can still discover a particularly interesting place from a cultural point of view.
Visiting the Snug Harbor Cultural Center is not to be missed if you want your visit to Staten Island to be complete. This center includes gardens as well as historic buildings that house museums. You can stroll for free in most of the gardens, and even take the opportunity to have a picnic away from the noise and the incessant activity of the center of New York. In total, you can visit 17 different gardens, including a botanical garden , a rose garden, a vegetable garden, a butterfly garden and a Chinese garden
You’ll also find some of Staten Island’s most interesting museums here:
- The Staten Island Museum , where you can discover exhibits of art and natural sciences, and consult numerous historical and literary archives;
- The Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art , which is the largest contemporary art gallery in this borough. You will be able to see many modern works there, and more particularly works made by artists from Staten Island.
- The Noble Maritime Collection is a museum that aims to preserve the works, writings, and personal collection of artwork by artist John A. Noble. In particular, you can see an exhibition that traces the history of the port of New York.
- The Children’s Museum is a museum that was specially created to arouse the curiosity of children. It consists of a dozen exhibits, most of which are outdoors. Among other things, you can visit a miniature zoo and discover a large collection of fire trucks, and children can take part in creative workshops.