DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF STATEN ISLAND
—– Take the World Famous Ferry to Staten Island and Explore Many Cultural Treasures, Parks and Gardens –—
New York, NY (August 1, 2006) – One of New York City’s most popular visitor attractions, the Staten Island Ferry is a gateway to all of the wonderful attractions in this unique island borough. Marvel at the breathtaking views of the lower Manhattan skyline from the ferry, then get off to explore the hidden gems of Staten Island.
Things to Do
Island hopping on a budget is easy and free aboard the Staten Island Ferry (718-815-BOAT, www.siferry.com). To get to the terminal, take the #1 train to the South Ferry stop. On a 5.2-mile route from Whitehall Street in Lower Manhattan to St. George on Staten Island, the ferry offers inspiring view of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline, and takes you to an island filled with music, dancing, art, and events for the whole family.
The Talking Street Audio Tour shows visitors the best of Staten Island. Narrated by actor Paul Sorvino, this tour works just like a museum audio guide, except travelers use their own cell phones. The tour features 16 items including highlights of the New York Harbor as seen from the Staten Island Ferry, and cultural and historical attractions on Staten Island.
The Staten Island Museum (718-727-1135, www.siiasmuseum.org) is just two blocks west of the Staten Island Ferry Terminal and is New York City's only general interest museum. It explores the arts, natural sciences, and local history through permanent and changing exhibitions.
While the New York Yankees may be in the Bronx, Staten Island has its own Yankees baseball team, the Staten Island Yankees (718-720-9265, www.siyanks.com). This Single-A Minor League affiliate of the New York Yankees play each summer at the Richmond County Bank Ballpark at St. George
The Snug Harbor Cultural Center (718-448-2500, www.snug-harbor.org), which has one of the finest collections of Greek Revival buildings in the country, is in the middle of an 83-acre National Historic Landmark district. Once a refuge for retired merchant seamen, Snug Harbor is now home to art galleries, performance spaces, and museums set amongst natural wetlands, woods, and botanical gardens. Included in the complex are: the Noble Maritime Collection, a museum focusing on the history of Snug Harbor and Staten Island maritime artist John A. Noble; the Staten Island Botanical Garden (718-273-8200, www.sibg.org), with numerous formal gardens including the internationally renowned NY Chinese Scholars Garden and the Connie Gretz Secret Garden, modeled after the one in children's classic book; and the Staten Island Children's Museum (718-273-2060), with interactive hands-on fun for the whole family.
Historic Richmond Town (718-351-1611, www.historicrichmondtown.org) is New York City’s own Colonial Williamsburg. This 25-acre historic restoration includes a museum, homes, a general store, and America's oldest elementary school. Activities at include traditional dinners, where guests observe the preparation of their meal over open fires, and the annual Richmond County Fair in September.
Escape from the bustle of the city to Staten Island’s green spaces. In the 2,800 acres known as the Greenbelt (718-667-2165, www.sigreenbelt.org), you can enjoy golf, archery, baseball, hiking, and bird-watching. There’s an enchanting carousel with 51 hand-carved animals and 40 hand-painted murals depicting Staten Island landmarks. The Greenbelt recently opened a new nature center, which will be the hub for recreational activities and educational programs. Gateway National Recreation Area (www.nps.gov/gate/index.htm), part of the National Park Service, covers 26,000 acres in three NYC boroughs (and New Jersey). Activities here include swimming, sailing, surfing, fishing, soccer, football, baseball, tennis, cricket, bird watching, camping, and cycling. Great Kills Park & Beach (718-987-6790) has a beautiful swimming beach, nature trails, fishing, and a marina. Miller Field (718-351-6970), once an active airfield in the early days of aviation, is now a park that includes two post-World War I military aircraft hangers, 64 acres of athletic fields, picnic areas, a community garden, and a white oak forest. Fort Wadsworth (718-354-4500), one of the oldest military installations in the United States, was a linchpin to the defense of New York Harbor for nearly two centuries. Keep your eyes peeled for the eponymous bird at Blue Heron Park (718-390-8000), which has a new visitor center, hiking trails, and picnic areas. Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve (718-967-1976) has a mix of swamps, bogs, ponds, sand barrens, mature woodlands, and spring-fed streams.
If you’re fascinated by reptiles, the Staten Island Zoo (718-442-3100, www.statenislandzoo.org) has a celebrated collection, as well as an aquarium, a tropical forest, an African Savannah, and popular children's farmyard. Special programs include Breakfast with the Beasts in which visitors can make food for the animals, enjoy a wildlife art exhibition, and learn about the different kinds of armor that animals have.
The Alice Austen House Museum (718-856-4106, www.aliceausten.org) celebrates the life of native Staten Island photographer Alice Austen. The museum, in what used to be her Victorian cottage, is filled with examples of her superb work documenting life on the island at the turn of the 20th century. On July 17, come for Family Fun Nautical Day, a day filled with fun activities that capitalize on the cottage’s proximity to the harbor. The harbor views have long been a magnet for photographers looking to follow in Austen’s footsteps.
Sandy Ground Historical Society (718-317-5796) was the first community established by freed slaves in North America. The museum and library examine the life and history of the people who settled here before the Civil War. Staten Island has the biggest collection of Tibetan art outside Tibet at the cliff-hanging Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art (718-987-3500, www.tibetanmuseum.com), housed in two Himalayan-style monastery buildings.
Places to Stay
Lodging options in Staten Island include the Hilton Garden Inn Staten Island (718-477-2400, www.hiltongardeninn.com), which has 148 rooms, indoor pool, and complimentary parking; the Staten Island Hotel (718-698-5000, www.statenislandhotel.com), with close to 200 rooms and suites; and the Harbor House Bed & Breakfast (718-876-0056, www.nyharborhouse.com), which has panoramic city and harbor views.
For more information on Staten Island log onto nycvisit.com, or contact the Office of the Staten Island Borough President: 718-816-2000, www.statenislandusa.com or the Council on the Arts and Humanities for Staten Island: 718-447-3329, www.statenislandarts.org.