How To Spend 24 Hours on Staten Island

The Staten Island Ferry carries 22 million people a year
The Staten Island Ferry carries 22 million people a year | © Chris Bull / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Parrish Turner
Us Books Editor28 June 2019

Staten Island may be considered New York City’s “forgotten borough,” but it’s actually filled with interesting things to do. Take the free ferry for a great view of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty, then stay and enjoy all that the area has to offer.

So you’ve taken the Staten Island Ferry to get a free boat tour of New York Harbor. But what to do once you reach the island? Despite being known as the “forgotten borough,” Staten Island has plenty to offer, including first-class restaurants, intriguing museums and high-quality theater productions – all within walking distance of the St George Ferry Terminal. The ferry runs every 30 minutes and even more frequently during rush hour (plus it runs throughout the night), so there’s no need to worry that you’ve missed it.

Start at Beso for brunch

Restaurant, Spanish, Tapas
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Right around the corner from the St George Ferry Terminal, Beso offers reasonably priced small plates. For brunch, the tapas joint serves up a mix of Spanish breakfast items like huevo y frijoles, as well as classic fare, such as buttermilk pancakes with bacon. Brunch will set customers back only $25 for three courses.

Check out the National Lighthouse Museum

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The National Lighthouse Museum runs boat tours
The National Lighthouse Museum runs boat tours | © National Lighthouse Museum

The National Lighthouse Museum is just a few minutes away from the ferry terminal. In the warmer months, the self-guided museum, which explores the history and cultural significance of lighthouses, also offers themed boat tours, taking advantage of its proximity to the harbor. The sunset tour of Ambrose Channel and special excursion for Fleet Week are particular highlights.

Take a bus to visit Snug Harbor Cultural Center

Botanical Garden, Building
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The Snug Harbor Cultural Center was originally built as a home for retired sailors
The Snug Harbor Cultural Center was originally built as a home for retired sailors | © Stefan K / Alamy Stock Photo
The Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden is worth the 15-minute bus ride from St George’s Ferry Terminal. Originally built as a home for retired sailors, the institution has grown into a cultural center, with peaceful gardens and rotating gallery exhibits. Entrance to the main campus is free, but visitors who wish to see the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art and the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden – one of only two authentic classical outdoor Chinese gardens built in the United States – will have to pay $5.

Grab a drink at The Flagship Brewing Company

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The Flagship Brewing Company offers tours
The Flagship Brewing Company offers tours | © Flagship
If you’re visiting on a Saturday, consider a tour of the local Flagship Brewing Company. Tours are offered only at certain times, so plan ahead, but don’t fret if you can’t make one: the taproom is open late most nights of the week and until midnight on weekends. Take up one of the large picnic tables with your crew and indulge in an IPA, a kölsch or seasonal selections such as summer ale. The draft beers cost about $6 a pop, but they also offer samplers if you can’t make up your mind.

Eat dinner cooked by a nonna at Enoteca Maria

Restaurant, Italian, Venezuelan
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Joe Scaravella seen behind the counter of his restaurant 'Enoteca Maria' where grandmothers (Nonnas) make food on Staten Island, New York, USA, 27 October 2017. Photo: Johannes Schmitt-Tegge/dpa
Nonnas of the world, unite! At Enoteca Maria, they do | © dpa picture alliance / Alamy Stock Photo

As part of a program called Nonnas of the World, Enoteca Maria brings in local grandmothers to cook their traditional recipes for hungry guests looking for a dinner made with love. The menu changes weekly to focus on each grandmother’s heritage and culture. Most of the nonnas live in Staten Island, but their recipes have traveled much farther, from Japan, Poland, Peru, Greece and other far-flung countries. Seating ends at 8.30pm, so be sure to arrive early to get a table. You can also call ahead and make a reservation.

See a show at St George Theatre

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Opened in 1929, St George Theatre still retains the glamour of the decadent Roaring ’20s. The theater hosts comedy shows, murder mystery dinners, concerts and more. Those interested in learning more about the theater itself can book a tour and get behind the scenes for just $7. You will learn about the building’s architecture, theater etiquette and the technology that goes into producing a show.

These recommendations were updated on June 28, 2019 to keep your travel plans fresh.