Many New York City residents may consider Staten Island the “Forgotten Borough,” but it holds many more treasures than one might expect. Located at one of the southernmost points in the state, the borough is home to a variety of cultures, history and activities that make it one of the most underrated places to visit in the city. Whether you come by the bridge, train or ferry, you’re bound to find fun for the whole family when you explore everything Staten Island offers.
The Best of Staten Island in New York
Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden
One of the most popular attractions that Staten Island is known for is Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden. The buildings that make up Snug Harbor have been around since the 1800s, but they were restored recently to welcome visitors to learn something new. The center is best known for the number of gardens on the grounds, open daily and year-round. Each one is filled with beautiful plants from around the world, such as the Rose Garden, the famous Chinese Scholar’s Garden and even a Butterfly Garden. You can also visit several museums and arts programs for all ages on the property, or you can check out its weekend events like live performances and farm stands.
Staten Island Zoo
Nothing says fun and adventure for the family quite like the zoo, and there’s one you can visit when you want to escape the crowds of more prominent city zoos. The Staten Island Zoo packs in as many animals and exhibits as comfortable in such a small space, allowing visitors to travel the world in a day. Every animal you can think of can be found inside with a devoted wing, such as leopards, honey bees, otters, horses and much more. If you want a break from the animals, you can enjoy an outdoor meal at the picnic pavilion or ride on the carousel. Be sure to visit during one of its events showcasing a different animal, as it might just feature your favorite furry, feathered or scaly friend.
St. George Theatre
Another famous name on Staten Island is the St. George Theatre, located near the Staten Island Ferry. The theater opened in the 1920s as a vaudeville theater and was restored in 2004 as the popular venue it is today. You may have seen it in some of your favorite movies and TV shows, like “School of Rock” and “Smash.” Famous singers and comedians continue to perform there each week, and a classic musical or two have also taken center stage. You can watch your favorite movie playing on screen through its “Classic Movies” series or experience Christmas magic during its annual Christmas Show.
You may not think of roller rinks when you think of New York City, but RollerJam USA is sure to change that. One of the only roller rinks that can be found in all five boroughs, this rink has been called Staten Island home since its opening in 2006. It’s become popular with kids and adults thanks to its colorful disco lights, great music and skates you can strap on to roll across the floor. Every age can find their own way to have fun inside, whether during their adults-only skating on Saturday nights or at a skating birthday party complete with bounce houses and an arcade for kids.
Suppose you’re looking for some outdoor weekend fun in the warmer weather, head over to South Beach. This famous beach offers a great view of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge along the sand, and it’s packed with fun throughout the season. It’s best known for the free concerts and fireworks hosted along the shore, but it’s also home to a fishing pier, an area designed for seniors and the Fountain of Dolphins that lights up with beautiful colors. You can also complete your beach day by exploring more of the beaches throughout the area, thanks to the boardwalk connecting South Beach to the nearby Midland Beach.
Nonnas of the World
No day in the city is complete without enjoying the cuisine, and Enoteca Maria combines the comforts of home with tastes from around the world. Step inside this restaurant for their weekly program, Nonnas of the World, to add a new family recipe to your meals. Each week, they bring in a different grandmother to cook and share their recipes from across the globe with customers. You won’t just find the classic cooking of an Italian grandmother inside, as they also host grandmothers from Sri Lanka, Trinidad & Tobago, Argentina and more. Aspiring chefs or those looking to cook something new will feel a grandmother’s love while they learn to make a new family-favorite dish.