Staten Island is the area east of Brooklyn and southeast of Manhattan. It’s sorely underrated and it’s a part of New York that’s often left off travel itineraries.
With so much to see and do on Staten Island, it’s easy to have the perfect day with everything that this little island has to offer. In fact, there’s almost too much to get through in a single day.
Here, we’re listing out favorite spots on Staten Island so that you can build a day-trip that is jam-packed with fun, history, and New York charm.
Staten Island Ferry
First, drop your extra bags with a luggage storage shop in Manhattan before you pick up the free Staten Island Ferry. The 5.2-mile ride from Manhattan to Staten Island on this huge, bright orange ferry offers unparalleled views of the New York City skyline, the Statue of Liberty, and Robinson Reef Lighthouse.
The 25-minute ride departs from Whitehall Terminal in Manhattan and brings you to the upper northwest tip of Staten Island. Already, your day trip will be off to a great start. Plus, the nighttime views on the way back are to die for.
Once you reach Staten Island, one of the first stops to make is at the Postcards 9/11 Memorial. Located just north of the ferry terminal, you’ll find the stunning memorial dedicated to the 275 Staten Islanders who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.
The memorial was completed in 2004 making it the first 9/11 memorial to be unveiled after the attacks. It’s a special piece of the Island and worth a stop.
National Lighthouse Museum
Another spot that’s close to the ferry terminal is the National Lighthouse Museum. For whatever reason, lighthouses evoke romance, history, and adventure, all in one, and this museum intertwines these connotations wonderfully.
Learn about bulb technology, US Coast Guard stories, and even catch a boat tour to see Staten Islands lighthouses up close.
Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden
A short way from the Lighthouse Museum is Snug Harbor Culture Center and Botanical Garden. The area boasts a lot to do with the Staten Island Children’s Museum, the Staten Island Museum, and the Noble Maritime Collection.
Although Fort Wadsworth isn’t in the middle of the action, a short bus ride brings you to see this incredible former military base with roots in the Revolutionary War. It’s one of the oldest bulwarks in the United States and occupies 226 acres of land.
Throughout this park, you’ll find tunnels and fortresses, but also incredible views of the New York skyline and the famous harbor. Admission to Fort Wadsworth is free.
Staten Island Zoo
From Fort Wadsworth, you can take a bus that drops you off directly at the Staten Island Zoo. Perfect for families and animal lovers, Staten Island Zoo is unique because it houses smaller exhibits but with a wider range of animals than you might expect.
At the Staten Island Zoo, you’ll find poisonous reptiles, animals of the tropical rainforest, with meerkats and leopards from the African Savannah.
Alice Austen House
Alice Austen was a pioneer in her field of photography but she was also a trailblazer for the LGBTQ+ community. This house is where she resided with her partner of more than 30 years, Gertrude Tate. Since 2017, the home has been designated as a national site of LGBTQ+ history.
The well-preserved rooms throughout the house feature Austen’s photographs of life on Staten Island, the lives of immigrants and the working class, and Victorian women pushing the boundaries, taking on masculine roles, and even dressed in drag.
The Alice Austen House a modern gallery of sorts that includes some of her personal belongings as well as some of her contemporaries’ work.
St. George Theatre
Check out what’s playing at the St. George Theatre for a night out. In fact, it’s the perfect spot to end the night in Staten Island because it’s just a few blocks from the ferry terminal.
The theater first opened back in 1929 has a movie and vaudeville house. It’s gone through a series of changes, becoming a roller skating rink, nightclub, and antique showroom throughout its history.
It’s truly a gorgeous place to see a show, with Italian and Baroque architecture, chandeliers, and ornate paintings on the walls. Now, it’s a performing arts theater where you can see today’s latest acts, from comedy shows to concerts.
Check out who’s scheduled to play when you’re in town and book your tickets online.
Where to Eat
For the perfect day in Staten Island, you’ll need to stop for delicious food along the way.
Have lunch near Snug Harbor Cultural Center at Blue for Mediterranean fare. You might also check out Enoteca Maria or Pier 76 which are also nearby.
South Fin Grill on the FDR Boardwalk along South Beach is always a hit too. Especially after a nice walk along the water.
Lee’s Tavern and Denino’s Pizzeria and Tavern in Historic Richmond Town are both quality places to stop for a bite after exploring the Conference House Museum and Sandy Ground Historical Museum which are in that area.
Lakruwana comes highly recommended for dinner serving authentic Sri Lankan food. Did you know that Staten Island is where the highest population of Sri Lankans reside outside of Sri Lanka? You can bet this food is out of this world.
When it comes to dessert (or just an afternoon treat) Ralph’s Famous Italian Ices and Ice Cream certainly won’t disappoint. The only issue will be which flavors to choose.
120 Bay Cafe is the perfect place for a nightcap before heading back to the city. Or you might check out Flagship Brewery for local beers or Staten Island Winery for local wines.
And there you have it! No need to stay in Manhattan to have an incredible day in New York. Staten Island has so much to offer. Multiple fantastic museums, unexpected yet totally delicious food, and plenty to experience. Hop on the ferry and let’s go!