Staten Island has fewer residents, less commercial activity, and admittedly less going on than Brooklyn or Manhattan. But the suburban-feeling borough has its merits, and they are not few and far between. Here is a sampling of the good stuff you can experience on this underrated island community, which is connected to Brooklyn and New Jersey by bridge and Manhattan.
Staten Island’s history as an important naval center is palpable to even the least observant visitor. The site of several Revolutionary War battles, Staten Island was also the site of a 1776 peace conference between British admirals and Continental Congress representatives. On a day trip to Staten Island, you can explore the history of explorer Giovanni de Verrazzano, the Revolutionary War, the Abolitionist movement, and more. If you’re visiting Staten Island for the history, a stop at Historic Richmond Town, an authentic town and farm museum in the borough’s Richmondtown neighborhood, is a must.
There’s good food all over New York. But if you’re after “old school” Italian, Sri Lankan cuisine, or seafood, Staten Island is at least as good a borough to be in as any. More than a third of Staten Island’s current residents have Italian blood coursing through their veins, and eateries like Boccelli and Brioso are time-honored borough traditions. Staten Island’s sizeable Sri Lankan community has made contributions to the restaurant scene that draw diners from Brooklyn, Manhattan, and elsewhere. Lakruwana, New Asha, and San Rasa are three of New York’s highest-rated Sri Lankan restaurants.
The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which connects Staten Island to Long Island, is one of New York’s most impressive engineering projects. And it’s not even the only impressive bridge with a Staten Island foothold. The steel-arch Bayonne Bridge, which connects Staten Island to New Jersey, is another engineering marvel and landmark worth looking at.
Staten Island’s architectural appeal lies in the diversity of styles represented. In a single neighborhood, you can see examples of Beaux Arts, Greek Revival, Italianate, and Victorian architecture. Crimson Beech, located in the Lighthouse Hill neighborhood, is the only private Frank Lloyd Wright house in New York. You can’t explore the grounds, but you can get a feel for the inside reading this New York Post feature and admire the home’s exterior when you visit Staten Island.
New York has a reputation for being a city of concrete and steel. But when you’re in Staten Island, nature is never far away. The borough has 9,300 acres of federal, state, and city parkland. Willowbrook Park, a 215-acre refuge of fields and hiking trail, and Great Kills Park, known for its miles of beaches and shorefront recreational opportunities, are two of the borough’s largest and most popular green spaces. Staten Island is also home to NYC’s highest natural point, the 401-foot-tall Todt Hill. The mount is surrounded by a network of interconnected green spaces, including Todt Hill Woodlands, High Rock Park, and LaTourette Park and Golf Course.
Most of Staten Island feels suburban, but the neighborhood of St. George buzzes with activity like neighborhoods in NYC’s more densely populated boroughs. If you arrive via the Staten Island Ferry from Whitehall, you’ll get off in St. George. In addition to great restaurants and museums, St. George has some green space gems in its North Shore Esplanade, Bay Street Landing Esplanade Extension, and Fort Hill Park. The views from Fort Hill, home to one of Staten Island’s seven famed hills are tremendous on a clear day. Fort George is 45 minutes by train and ferry from the NU Hotel. On the ferry ride, you’ll have excellent views of the Statue of Liberty.