Staten Island, Beyond the Ferry

Island View

Nothing beats the views of the New York harbor than from the Esplanade walkway along the Northern shore of Staten Island. Better yet are the iconic landmarks seen from the Staten Island Ferry. The 30-minute boat trip is free and runs past a working waterfront, several impressive bridges and Lady Liberty.

While working in this ‘Borough of Parks’ (170 parks in total) today, I only had time for this quick photo. It’s unfortunate too because, despite having worked here many times, I’ve never explored or given the least populated borough much credit. But, there are plenty of rich heritage sites and protected parkland, destinations that are free or charge a nominal entrance fee and often overlooked by visitors. Here’s just a few of many attractions compiled from the Visit Staten Island website.

For example, one of the Oldest Military Sites in the U.S. was built here over 200 years ago. Fort Wadsworth is a formidable structure with a rich past and rangers available for tour.

Or lather on a bottle of SPF and go swimming at South Beach then horseback riding at Clay Pit Ponds State Park or bird watching at Mount Loretto Nature Preserve. Open-air retreats feature pathways, jogging trails and ballfields. Hundreds of acres of preserved forests gives way to meadows, wetlands, ponds, and parks.

Staten Island is home to a number of galleries, featuring the works of local and world renowned artists, both classical and contemporary. Like the Alice Austen house, one of America’s earliest and most prolific female photographers. Review her collection that includes over 8,000 images over the course of her life. Though she is best known for her documentary work, Austen was an artist with a strong aesthetic sensibility. Furthermore, she was a landscape designer, a master tennis player, and the first woman on Staten Island to own a car.