12 Fun Things To Do in Staten Island in 2023
Why visit Staten Island
There’s more to do in Staten Island than just take the ferry, although this iconic boat trip is one of the things it’s most famous for.
New York City’s least populated borough, Staten Island feels like a smaller East Coast town. Packed with history, museums, foodie hotspots, and beautiful nature, it’s the perfect place to enjoy some calm and explore — especially in the face of Manhattan’s sensory overload.
In comparison to the excitement of New York, the area often gets overlooked. But Staten Island offers an attraction all its own: breathing space, a slower pace and a raft of activities and things to do. And, of course, the ferry.
How to get to Staten Island
Staten Island is only a short, free (and very scenic) ferry ride away from Manhattan. The Staten Island Ferry runs 24/7 and departs from the Whitehall Ferry Terminal on Manhattan’s southern tip, around every 30 minutes during the day.
On the 25-minute crossing, you’ll get spectacular views of Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty as you make your way to St George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island. Fancy a guided ride? You can also book this guided tour to Staten Island and Statue of Liberty
From Brooklyn, a cab or bus across the Verrazano-Narrows bridge to Staten Island bypasses Manhattan completely, but you’ll miss out on the views. So taking a quick subway ride to Lower Manhattan to catch the ferry really is worth it.
When you arrive, you’ll be able to catch a bus, train, or cab to any of the island’s destinations. Ready for your day trip? Here’s your essential guide to the best things to do in Staten Island.
Staten Island’s best activities
Go back centuries in Historic Richmond Town
What: A living history village and museum
Where: 441 Clarke Avenue, Staten Island, New York, 10306
Price: From $10 for adults
A 30-minute bus ride (S74) from the ferry takes you directly to Staten Island’s Historic Richmond Town, a preserved village dating from the late 17th century.
This quaint, open-air museum complex, operated by the Staten Island Historical Society, is a cultural institution dedicated to preserving and marking the American experience from the 17th century to now.
Step into the park and be transported into the past with sprawling hills, family farms, working shops — some with costumed blacksmiths and cobblers demonstrating period skills and trades — and centuries-old homes.
If you’re in town during June, don’t miss Uncorked!, a one-day food and wine festival on the grounds. In September, Historic Richmond Town’s annual county fair is one of the most unique things to do in Staten Island.
Soak up the sun at Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach
What: Staten Island’s secret attraction: a beach
Where: Father Capodanno Boulevard, Staten Island, New York, 10306
Hardly anyone goes to NYC for its beaches, which means Staten Island’s swathes of sand are one of the area’s best-kept secrets.
Locals love South Beach Boardwalk, the ideal place to take a bike ride or walk — or hit the sand, of course. From the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge that connects the island to Brooklyn, the boardwalk is a scenic three-mile stretch. It’s one of the best things to do in Staten Island (not to mention New York City) and paints the urban sprawl in a whole new light.
It isn’t far from shops, bars, and restaurants, making it perfect for a mid-afternoon breath of sea air as you walk off lunch.
Discover why Staten Island is the Borough of Parks
What: Staten Island’s abundant green space
Where: Various locations
If you prefer grass to sand, you’ll be delighted to learn that New York City’s lushest and largest park can be found in Staten Island. Central Park what?
There’s no fewer than 170 parks to choose from — impressive for an island of only 57 square miles. From the massive Clove Lakes Park to the misleadingly-named Big Park, the buzzy beachside Great Kills Park to the tranquil High Rock Park and marshy, wooded William T Davis Wildlife Refuge. There really is a park for everyone.
Take a ferry back at sunset
What: A ride on the famous Staten Island Ferry
Where: St George Ferry Terminal, 1 Bay St, Staten Island, New York, 10301
Want to see Lady Liberty and that famous New York skyline at their very best? Head back to St George ahead of sunset and perfectly time your ferry trip back to Manhattan for a spectacular sunset but in case you miss it, or boats aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other opportunities to get a breathtaking view of New York.
Take in the views above and below ground at Fort Wadsworth
What: A former military installation turned viewing point
Where: 210 New York Avenue, Staten Island, New York, 10305
One of the US’s oldest fortifications, Fort Wandsworth was built in 1663 on The Narrows, the water between New York’s Upper and Lower Bay and separating Brooklyn and Staten Island.
It’s free to visit and has a brilliant view across the New York Harbor and the relatively modern Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, while history buffs have the opportunity to explore the underground base and learn more about its military past.
Staten Island’s best attractions
Look out from the National Lighthouse Museum
What: A quirky museum celebrating lighthouses and their keepers
Where: 200 The Promenade at Lighthouse Point, Staten Island, New York, 10301
Price: From $5
Perched on Staten Island’s North Shore, the National Lighthouse Museum is located In the former national headquarters of the US Lighthouse Service. It’s a fun thing to do and a fascinating look into the mystery and maritime history of these coastline features, of which 700 still stand along the country’s coasts.
Delving into the history and technology of America’s lighthouses, the museum’s collection contains hundreds of archives and artifacts, and it hosts special exhibits, seminars, and seasonal trips and events throughout the year.
Go south to Conference House Park and Museum
What: Beautiful historical building-turned-museum
Where: 7455 Hylan Boulevard, Staten Island, New York, 10307
Price: $4 for adults
One of New York City’s oldest buildings, Conference House dates back to 1680 and is rightly a National Historic Landmark.
Its name comes from a 1776 conference between the English army and American Founding Fathers at the house in a failed attempt to end the Revolutionary War.
From April through mid-December, the house — now carefully restored as a museum — is open for guided tours on weekends, while the picturesque grounds containing many historic trees are free to explore every day until dusk.
Meet Chuck the groundhog at Staten Island Zoo
What: An urban zoo with a focus on reptiles
Where: 705 Clove Rd, Staten Island, New York, 10310
Price: Children from $6, adults from $10
You’re unlikely to be running out of things to do in Staten Island, but if you’re still looking for something more, Staten Island Zoo is a sure-fire bet, especially for kids. When it opened in 1936, had a focus on reptiles. While it still is one of the best places in the country to see snakes, especially rattlesnakes, they are now joined by around 350 other species of animal.
The most famous? The zoo is home to Staten Island Chuck, a groundhog who officially forecasts Groundhog Day (or the start of spring) for New York City.
If you happen to be there on February 2, you’ll get to see him forecast the arrival of spring with New York City’s mayor in attendance.
Get to the borough’s roots at the Staten Island Museum
What: Staten Island’s oldest museum (complete with woolly mammoth), founded by environmental activists
Where: 1000 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island, New York, 10301
Founded in 1881, Staten Island Museum contains a curated yet vast collection, from historical archives, art, and books to prehistoric finds and over half a million botanical specimens.
It’s little wonder it’s the borough’s most-visited and most famous museum. It’s open from Wednesday through Sunday, and is the perfect place to dig deeper into the area’s history.
Hop on the S40 bus from the ferry terminal and you’ll be there in minutes.
Find some art and calm at Snug Harbor Cultural Center
What: A collection of galleries and gardens
Where: 1000 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island, New York, 10301
Price: The grounds are free to visit, but some attractions have their own entry fee
You came to SI for some peace and tranquility? Right next to the Staten Island Museum, Snug Harbor Cultural Center is the perfect place.
A former home for retired sailors turned contemporary art center, the building is surrounded by a park and beautiful gardens — botanical gardens, NY Chinese Scholar’s Garden, and the Connie Gretz Secret Garden — across more than 80 acres.
The grounds and park are free to visit and from until dusk, while tours, galleries, and gardens charge a small entry fee.
Where to eat in Staten Island
Begin with brunch
If you’re planning a day trip to Staten Island, brunch is a great way to kick things off. Only minutes on foot from the St George Ferry Terminal, Staten Island’s downtown area near its North Shore has a host of great food options before you start exploring.
Check out Cargo Cafe, Wynwood, or The Richmond, or follow your nose down Bay Street till you find something that tickles your tastebuds.
There are also bars and an outlet mall beside the ferry stop — Empire Outlets has over 100 stores of cut-price brands like Nike, Guess, and Gap — for a shop and sip before the return ferry later.
Eat some of New York’s best pizza
Ask any local where the best pizza in New York is and each person will have their own answer. But most will agree it’s located somewhere on Staten Island. No matter where hunger strikes, you’ll never be far from the perfect slice.
From the original Goodfella’s location on Hylan Boulevard near the Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk, to the legendary Denino’s on the north side, to Joe & Pat’s Pizzeria among a host of others on the central Victory Boulevard. If you feel overwhelmed by choice, fear not — it’s all good!