If there’s a borough of NYC that most travelers just don’t get around to visiting, it’s Staten Island. This southernmost and westernmost borough is reachable by ferry or car, and its NYC’s least populated borough, which means that people often overlook it when they’re planning an NYC trip. However, Staten Island is actually a beautiful place that has lots of fun attractions and delicious dining options, and if you want to have the full, five-borough authentic NYC experience, it’s definitely worth a visit. Here are the things you must check out when visiting Staten Island.
The Staten Island Ferry
Okay, so this isn’t technically on the island — it’s the way you get there, but the Staten Island Ferry is an excellent way to see the skyline of NYC and the Statue of Liberty, and it’s totally free. Hop aboard the ferry and go outside to see the incredible views during the 25-minute ride, or purchase a snack and drink from one of the boat’s snack bars to make your ride even more fun. The Staten Island Ferry is one NYC’s gems, and it’s a can’t miss if you’re planning to visit Staten Island.
Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden
One of the most beautiful natural and historical sites in all of NYC is Snug Harbor, a botanical garden and cultural mecca located deep in Staten Island. Snug Harbor used to be a retirement community for sailors. Today, the historic homes of the community still stand, but they’ve been turned into museums, galleries, performance halls and more. The grounds of Snug Harbor are gorgeous and feature natural attractions like a hedge maze, Tuscan Garden, and a Chinese Scholar’s Garden (the only authentic one in the United States). Escape from the concrete streets of the city and to Snug Harbor if you’re looking for gorgeous greenery and interesting attractions.
Little Sri Lanka
Have you ever had Sri Lankan food? If not (or even if you have!), Staten Island is home to some of the best, most authentic Sri Lankan restaurants in the country. The restaurants are located in the neighborhood dubbed Little Sri Lanka (part of the larger area called Tompkinsville) and there are several outstanding options, including Lakruwana and New Asha. Pick one and ask your server for the best recommendations, or check out multiple to see which place is your favorite.
Historic Richmond Town
Do you want to learn more about how Staten Island got to be the way it is today? Check out Historic Richmond Town. This is a 100-acre living history museum, where you can experience what it was like to live in New York City in different eras of its past (all the way back to the 17th century). Take a guided tour to learn more about architecture, culture, traditions, daily habits, and other interesting information about NYC’s past. You can look through thousands and thousands of authentic artifacts, wander through a gorgeous park, and speak to local residents from Staten Island who work at the site. Historic Richmond Town is also home to Bennett Cafe, a delicious restaurant that serves lunch daily.
If you visit NYC, don’t just focus on visiting Manhattan and Brooklyn. The city’s other boroughs are full of hidden gems that are worth checking out — Visit Staten Island, it is the city’s most often-overlooked area.