11 fun things to do in Staten Island that you shouldn’t skip

Discover fun activities in Staten Island, including park picnics, the SI Museum, and views at Fort Wadsworth.

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Victoria

Victoria is a German travel blogger living in Baden-Baden. USA-addicted (as she calls herself), she travels to the US at least every 2 years.

There’s more to do in Staten Island than just taking the ferry to see the Statue of Liberty, though this iconic boat ride is certainly on this list too. As New York City’s least-populated borough, the island feels like a small East Coast town. Packed with history, museums, foodie hotspots, and green spaces, it’s the perfect place to slow down and get a change of scenery.

Compared to the popularity of NYC’s other boroughs, such as Manhattan, the island often gets overlooked, but there’s certainly no shortage of fun activities in Staten Island. Take a short (and free) ferry ride, and you’ll find countless parks, intimate community events, and historic sites dating back to the Revolutionary War. This guide fills you in on the best fun things to do in Staten Island.

Fun things to do in Staten Island as a couple

Ride on the Staten Island Ferry for scenic views, day and night.

1. Take the Staten Island Ferry at sunset

Want to see Lady Liberty and that famous New York skyline at their very best? Take the Staten Island Ferry at sunset for views as the sun sets behind the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan's skyscrapers. Even if you miss the sunset, the ferry ride is still a beautiful way to enjoy the scenery.

Insider tip:

If you’d like a romantic cruise without the cost, the Staten Island Ferry is always free.

Experience the Staten Island Ferry

Discover a living history village and museum in Richmond Town.

2. Go back centuries in Historic Richmond Town

Historic Richmond Town, a 30-minute bus ride from the ferry, is a preserved village dating back to the late 17th century. This open-air museum complex features period homes and working shops with costumed blacksmiths and cobblers. Taking photos next to the centuries-old homes in period garb will add a romantic old-world charm to your photos.

Insider tip:

Time your visit for special events like the June wine festival or the September county fair for a unique experience with your partner.

Address and opening hours:

441 Clarke Ave, Staten Island, NY 10306. Open Wednesday-Sunday, 11:00 AM-4:00 PM.

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach is a hidden gem in New York.

3. Soak up the sun at Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach

Who said a beach day isn’t possible in the Big Apple? Few people flock to NYC for its beaches, which means Staten Island’s swathes of sand are one of the area’s best-kept secrets. The Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk, aka South Beach Boardwalk, is a local favorite, perfect for a bike ride, walk, or relaxing on the sand. This three-mile stretch offers views of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and is close to shops, bars, and restaurants, making it a great spot for a romantic escape.

Insider tip:

Visit in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the midday crowds.

Address and opening hours:

Fr Capodanno Blvd, Staten Island, NY 10306. Open 6:00 AM-1:00 AM every day.

Fun things to do in Staten Island with kids

Discover Staten Island’s abundant green space at one of its many parks.

4. Discover why Staten Island is the Borough of Parks

If you prefer grass to sand, you’re in luck: Staten Island is home to the Greenbelt, one of New York’s largest green spaces. But it doesn’t end there. There are no fewer than 170 Staten Island parks, from the massive Clove Lakes Park to the buzzy beachside Great Kills Park, so it's safe to say there’s a park for everyone.

Highlight:

Take young animal lovers to the William T. Davis Wildlife Refuge, the first designated wildlife preserve in New York.

Address and opening hours:

Park addresses and hours vary, though most parks are open 24/7.

The National Lighthouse Museum celebrates the world of lighthouses through interactive exhibits, events, and cruises.

5. Dive into Staten Island’s Maritime history at the National Lighthouse Museum

Steps away from the ferry terminal, the National Lighthouse Museum is located In the former national headquarters of the U.S. Lighthouse Service. As one of the most unique things to do in Staten Island, the museum provides a fascinating look into the mystery and history of America’s lighthouses through hundreds of archives and artifacts, special exhibits, and seminars.

Insider tip:

This is one of the most affordable things to do in NYC, and children under 12 can enjoy the museum for free.

Address and opening hours:

200 The, Promenade at Lighthouse Point, Staten Island, NY 10301. Open Tuesday-Sunday, 11:00 AM-4:00 PM.

Experience the National Lighthouse Museum

The Staten Island Museum is a great place to learn the island's history.

6. Get to the borough’s roots at the Staten Island Museum

Founded in 1881, the Staten Island Museum contains a vast collection of historical archives, art, books, and prehistoric finds, with over half a million botanical specimens. This is the perfect place to dig deeper into the island's intriguing history, all in one place. Hop on the S40 bus from the ferry terminal, and you’ll be there in minutes.

Best time to go:

Visit on a weekday to avoid the crowds and enjoy a quieter experience.

Address and opening hours:

1000 Richmond Ter, Staten Island, NY 10301. Open Wednesday-Sunday, 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Experience the Staten Island Museum

Fun things to do in Staten Island on your own

The Conference House Park and Museum is a National Historic Landmark in Staten Island.

7. Discover the city’s connection to the Revolutionary War

The Conference House is one of New York City’s oldest buildings, dating back to 1680. The name of this National Historic Landmark comes from a 1776 conference between the English army and American Founding Fathers in a failed attempt to end the Revolutionary War. The grounds, containing many historic trees, are free to explore every day until dusk.

Best time to go:

Visit between April to mid-December to join a guided tour.

Address and opening hours:

7455 Hylan Blvd, Staten Island, NY 10307. Open Saturday-Sunday, 12:00 PM-4:00 PM.

Find galleries, gardens, and events at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center.

8. Immerse yourself in the local community at Snug Harbor

The Snug Harbor Cultural Center is perfect for soaking in the local community atmosphere. This former home for retired sailors turned contemporary art center is surrounded by a park and beautiful gardens across over 80 acres. The center offers tours, galleries, and many Staten Island community events.

Highlight:

Don’t miss the three fairytale castles and shrub maze in the Connie Gretz Secret Garden.

Address and opening hours:

1000 Richmond Ter, Staten Island, NY 10301. Open Wednesday-Friday, 12:00 PM-7:00 PM; and Saturday-Sunday, 11:00 AM-7:00 PM.

Fort Wandsworth is a former military installation turned viewing point.

9. Take in the views above and below ground at Fort Wadsworth

One of the oldest U.S. 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 promises sweeping views across the New York Harbor and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. History buffs can explore the underground base and learn about its military past.

Insider tip:

Bring a picnic and enjoy the scenic overlooks.

Address and opening hours:

Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island, NY 10305. Open 6:00 AM-9:00 PM every day.

Fun things to do in Staten Island for food and drinks

Savor the flavors of Staten Island by exploring its unique eateries.

10. Discover what Staten Islanders eat

If you’re planning a day trip to Staten Island, exploring the food scene is a must for foodies. Think local favorites like clam pizza at Lee’s Tavern and traditional dishes at Enoteca Maria. You’re bound to find something delicious and uniquely Staten Island, whether you kick your day off with brunch or follow your nose through Bay Street until you find something that tickles your tastebuds.

Insider tip:

Join a guided tasting tour to get led directly to some of Staten Island’s best bites.

Experience Staten Island food

Find your next favorite New York pizza in State Island.

11. Eat a slice of New York’s best pizza

Ask any local where the best pizza in New York is, and each person will have their own opinion, but plenty will agree it’s located somewhere on Staten Island. Whether it’s Goodfella’s on Hylan Boulevard, Denino’s on the north side, or Joe & Pat’s on Victory Boulevard, you’ll never be far from the perfect slice.

Insider tip:

Try a classic Margherita or Sicilian slice for a true taste of Staten Island pizza.

FAQs

What are some fun things to do in Staten Island at night?

At night, you can ride the Staten Island Ferry for sparkling nighttime views without the cost. Snug Harbor Cultural Center often hosts evening events and performances, such as outdoor concerts and movie nights, providing a cultural and entertaining way to connect with residents. Additionally, you can visit local bars and restaurants along Bay Street for a vibrant nightlife scene.

Are there any fun day trips from Staten Island?

Consider taking a day trip to Governors Island, accessible via a short ferry ride from Staten Island. Governors Island offers biking, art installations, and stunning views of Manhattan. Another option is to explore the nearby historic town of Red Hook in Brooklyn, known for its waterfront, views of Lower Manhattan’s skyline, and vintage vibes.

What are some popular festivals or events in Staten Island?

Staten Island hosts several popular festivals and events, such as the Staten Island Film Festival, which showcases local and international films. The Richmond County Fair, held annually at Historic Richmond Town, features carnival rides, games, and live entertainment. The Staten Island St. Patrick’s Day Parade is another lively event with colorful floats and festive celebrations.

What are some family-friendly fun activities to do in Staten Island?

Families can visit the Staten Island Children's Museum, which offers interactive exhibits and educational programs. The Greenbelt Nature Center provides nature trails, educational workshops, and guided hikes suitable for all ages. Additionally, the Carousel for All Children in Willowbrook Park is a delightful spot for kids to enjoy a classic carousel ride.

What are some fun outdoor activities to do in Staten Island?

Staten Island offers numerous outdoor activities, including kayaking or paddleboarding at Great Kills Park for water sports enthusiasts. Explore the trails and scenic views at Mount Loretto Unique Area, a nature preserve with diverse habitats. Additionally, golfers can enjoy a round at the La Tourette Golf Course, a public course set in the rolling hills of Staten Island.