Top 20 Famous Attractions on Staten Island, New York

places to visit in staten island
Top 20 Famous Attractions on Staten Island, New York

If you are planning to visit New York City and looking for things to do in New York for first-timers. Then do visit the "forgotten borough" of New York City. This area is mostly for residential purposes, but it has a rich history and offers some of the best views of the city. It's also known as the greenest borough, with over 9,300 acres of parks.

Staten Island used to have the world's largest landfill, but it has now been turned into a public park called Fresh Kills Park. The Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden is another restored gem worth a visit, with beautiful Ming Dynasty gardens and Greek Revival buildings.

The diverse cultural attractions, rich maritime history, and being home to the iconic Staten Island Ferry, stunning views of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline, are what Staten Island is known for.

Staten Island is not connected to the rest of the city by subway, but the Staten Island Railway (SIR) runs within the island. It's located just 25 minutes away from Manhattan by the Staten Island Ferry, and easily accessible from Brooklyn over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

For ideas on the best places to visit in Staten Island, see our list of the top things to do in Staten Island

Top 20 Famous Attractions on Staten Island

1. Staten Island Ferry

Staten Island Ferry

You might have seen the big orange boat with three levels in pictures of the famous Statue of Liberty in New York City. People who live on Staten Island use this boat to go to work every day for free. If you are curious about how to get to the Staten Island ferry… it's free for tourists who want to see the nice views of New York's harbor and the tall buildings in the city. When you ride the boat, you can see Governors Island on one side and Ellis Island on the other. Make sure to go to the top floor of the boat to get the best views. This ferry ride goes back and forth all day and night, about every 15 to 20 minutes. You can buy drinks and food on the boat if you need something to eat or drink during the ride.

2. Staten Island Zoo

Staten Island Zoo

The Staten Island Zoo is called the "biggest little zoo" because it has a famous Serpentarium where you can see lots of reptiles, including the biggest collection of rattlesnakes. The zoo has more than 800 kinds of animals in a space that's eight acres big. One of the famous is Chuck the Groundhog, who's good at predicting the weather – he's right about 85% of the time. Now, the Staten Island Zoo also has a new aquarium. Inside, there are "walls of water" where you can see different marine habitats, like the forests under the Pacific Ocean, the colorful reefs in tropical areas, and the creatures that live in the Caribbean Sea. It's a cool place to visit if you like seeing animals from the land and sea.

3. Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden

Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden

The Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden is located near the St. George Ferry Terminal. It is an 83-acre site with historical buildings that were once a retirement home for sailors. Now, there are cultural attractions such as the Staten Island Children's Museum, the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, and the Staten Island Museum. The campus also features a chapel and one of the oldest concert halls in the country, making it a great place for families to visit and explore. Additionally, for those interested, there are tours available to learn about the haunted history of some of the buildings on the grounds.

4. Fort Wadsworth

Fort Wadsworth

Fort Wadsworth is an old military fort near the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge by New York Bay. It's one of the oldest forts in the country. Since 1994, it's been a public park managed by the National Parks Service. If you are interested in historic places to visit, then this place will surely be worth a visit. This historic place has great views of Manhattan and Brooklyn. You can join guided tours to see Battery Weed and Fort Tompkins, which are old forts from the 1800s. If you want to camp there, you can pay and make a reservation. In the summer, the National Park Service hires goats to help clean up the area around the fort, so you might see them too.

5. Staten Island Children's Museum

Staten Island Children's Museum

Looking for things to do in nyc with kids  then this Staten Island Children's Museum is a fun place for kids in New York City. It has 12 exhibits both inside and outside where kids can play, learn, and have fun. They can join workshops to dance, do art, and even go to summer camp. The museum's exhibits are made for kids to interact with. They can do things like build a house, put on a show, send video messages, play music, climb rocks, and more. If kids are interested in bugs, the museum has a special exhibit about them. They can see bugs up close, like ants, and there's even a big ant hill they can explore.

6. Postcards: The Staten Island September 11th Memorial

Postcards: The Staten Island September 11th Memorial

"Postcards" is a sculpture in Staten Island that was made in 2004. It's near the water and faces New York Harbor. The sculpture is a tribute to the people who died in the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center. There's also a second memorial next to it that honors the first responders who helped during the attacks. Each person from Staten Island who died is remembered on the memorial. It has their name, a profile, and some information about them. For many families, this memorial is important because it's where they can go to remember their loved ones who are no longer with them.

7. Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach

Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach is a long stretch of land, from Fort Wadsworth to Miller Field's Gateway Recreational Area. It's a great place to visit, especially in the summer. Because many people come here to enjoy the two beautiful beaches called South Beach and Midland Beach. People who live nearby love these beaches because they can see the New York City skyline from there. By the 1930s, they built the boardwalk which is a big part of Staten Island. You can find places to buy snacks, restrooms, and showers there. It's a popular place for walking, riding bikes, or running, especially because you can see the amazing views of Manhattan.

8. Chinese Scholar's Garden

Chinese Scholar's Garden

The Chinese Scholar's Garden is one of the best parts of Snug Harbor. Where, you can relax and enjoy a peaceful walk-through beautiful gardens, winding paths, and ponds full of colorful koi fish. This garden is designed like the ones from the Ming Dynasty in the 15th century. It's one of only two real outdoor Chinese gardens in the whole country. The buildings, with their amazing roofs, tiles, columns, and beams, were made in Suzhou, China, and then put together on Staten Island. When you visit, don't miss the upper pavilion in the middle of the garden. It has a cool mosaic made of pieces of broken rice bowls and beer bottles. This represents both China and America coming together uniquely.

9. Staten Island Museum

Staten Island Museum

The Staten Island Museum is the only museum in the whole city that covers a wide range of topics, like art, nature, and the history of the area. It started in 1881 and everyone of all ages enjoys going there. Inside the museum, there are different exhibits like the "Cabinet of Curiosities" and "Remember the Mastodon." Which shows ancient relatives of elephants that lived on Staten Island and other parts of New York City millions of years ago. You can also learn about the Lenape tribe, the first people to live on the island when you visit.

10. National Lighthouse Museum

National Lighthouse Museum

Near this National Lighthouse Museum, you can see more than 180 models of lighthouses and other exhibits. This museum is all about preserving the history of lighthouses and the people who took care of them. Inside, you can check out exhibits like "Life at the Light: Lighthouse Keepers," "Supplying the Nation's Light Stations: The General Depot," and "Beacons Through Time." Sometimes, for a fee, visitors can also take a boat tour to see other lighthouses and cool places around the harbor.

11. Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art

Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art

On Staten Island, there's a famous museum called the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art where you can see amazing art and learn about Tibet and the Himalayas. The buildings of the museum look like Tibetan monasteries and there were copies of Tibetan monasteries, special items used in rituals, paintings on scrolls, musical instruments, and more that show the culture of Tibet and the Himalayas. The museum also offers classes for Tai Chi and meditation, and they have events, talks, movies, and music shows. It's in the middle of the island near Historic Richmond Town, and there are places to have a picnic and a shop where you can buy gifts.

12. Historic Richmond Town

Historic Richmond Town

Historic Richmond Town is a museum that shows what life was like in the late 1600s when Dutch people settled on the island. You can see 15 old buildings that have been fixed up, like a courthouse and a store. You can also go on a spooky tour to look for ghosts that people say are there. This spooky tour is best for those who like adventurous things to do in nyc. If you like nature, you can go for a walk in the big park around the museum, which is part of the Staten Island Greenbelt.

13. Freshkills Park

Freshkills Park

This amazing park was the biggest garbage dump in the world … yes you heard that right. Fresh Kills used to be the biggest garbage dump in the world until it closed in 2001. After the Twin Towers fell, they briefly opened it again to clean up a lot of the debris. But now, they're turning it into a huge park called Freshkills Park. The park will have lots of things to do like playgrounds, sports fields, places to launch kayaks, art displays, and activities.

14. Richmond County Bank Ballpark

Richmond County Bank Ballpark

If you're looking for a fun family activity, consider going to the Richmond County Bank Ballpark in St. George. It's where the Staten Island Yankees, a Class A Short Season Yankees Affiliate and known as the Baby Bombers, play baseball. There are different types of tickets to choose from and you can also purchase delicious snacks at the stadium. They also have special events such as Free Shirt Friday, visits from celebrities, and fireworks after the game, making it a memorable experience. It is considered to be the best thing to do in Staten Island.

15. Staten Island Boat Graveyard

Staten Island Boat Graveyard

The Staten Island Boat Graveyard is an interesting place for history lovers and photographers who enjoy taking cool pictures for social media. You can see old boats that are rusting in the water, but remember to stay far away. The boat graveyard is in Arthur Kill, near where the Fresh Kills Landfill used to be on the western side of the island. The Witte Marine Equipment Company began to dismantle old ships in this location after World War II.

16. St. George Theatre

St. George Theatre

The St. George Theatre, which was built in 1929 as a vaudeville theater, has been restored and is now open for visitors to enjoy its beautiful interior and family-friendly shows. This theatre is beautifully designed with grand staircases, paintings in a Spanish/Italian Baroque style, colorful stained-glass windows, and a big dome. They host all sorts of performances like musicals, shows for kids, and concerts by famous musicians and comedians.

17. RollerJam USA

RollerJam USA

If you are looking for some crazy fun things to do on Staten Island, then get your roller skates ready and visit RollerJam USA. It is the coolest place on the island and a fun spot for people of all ages. You can have a blast celebrating special occasions, enjoy time with friends and family, go on a fun date, play games in the arcade, or simply skate around to old-school music and colorful lights. On Saturday nights, it's just for adults. You can easily walk there from the Richmond Valley stop on the Staten Island Railway.

18. Seaside Wildlife Nature Park

Seaside Wildlife Nature Park

Seaside Wildlife Nature Park is a beautiful and unique natural area located on Staten Island in New York City. The park has a sea-themed decoration throughout that takes you through marshy areas and gives you a glimpse of what Staten Island looked like long ago. Families can enjoy these staten island activities. The pirate-themed playground, a shark-shaped jungle gym, a small lighthouse, and a brass horseshoe crab add to the seaside decorations in the park. Moreover, there is a small beach area in the park that adds to its seaside feel.

19. Conference House

Conference House

In Staten Island, there's a place called Conference House that's rich in history and located in the Tottenville neighborhood. The house is famous for a meeting that happened there during the American Revolutionary War. The Staten Island Peace Conference was a meeting held between a loyalist Colonel Christopher Billopp, Lord Howe from the British forces, and members of the Continental Congress such as Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Edward Rutledge. The purpose of the meeting was to make peace, but unfortunately, they were unsuccessful. The war continued for another seven years. Today, the house where the meeting was held has been restored and is a National Historic Landmark.

20. New York Harbor

New York Harbor

New York Harbor is one of the most important and well-known harbors globally. It was the first thing people from Europe saw when they arrived in New York City. This historic harbor has 23 national parks and recognized historic sites. Some famous ones are Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, Alexander Hamilton's family home, Theodore Roosevelt's childhood home, and the Stonewall National Monument. Staten Island offers one of the best views of New York Harbor. When you get off the ferry, make sure to look back and admire the harbor. It played a big role in making the United States a diverse and great nation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the must-visit attractions in Staten Island?

There are several amazing places in Staten Island. Some of them are must-visit attractions like Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden, Staten Island Ferry, and St. George Theatre.

What are some family-friendly attractions on Staten Island?

You can enjoy your time out with families by visiting these amazing attractions. Such as Staten Island Children's Museum, Historic Richmond Town, Staten Island Zoo, and Garibaldi - Meucci Memorial Museum

What are some of the best staten island tourist attractions?

Some of the best staten island tourist attractions are Postcards Staten Island September 11 Memorial, Richmond County Bank Ballpark, New York Chinese Scholar's Garden, Noble Maritime Collection, and Staten Island Historical Cruise. Plan your visit to these places and enjoy the time to the fullest.

Are there any art and culture attractions at staten island?

The Alice Austen House and Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art are both famous for art and culture. So, if you are an art enthusiast, must visit both of the places.
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