This post is a guide to taking the Staten Island Ferry. A great option for both day and night. It’s also a great option for any budget, as the Staten Island costs nothing to ride. Many people take advantage of the free Staten Island Ferry during their visit to New York. The best way to admire the Manhattan skyline is from the harbor, so this is a really excellent option. Most people, however, take the ferry over and then get right back on to return to Manhattan. This is great, of course, but if you want a little more out of your excursion why not stick around for a bit and see what Staten Island has to offer? (en español)
The Staten Island Ferry leaves from Whitehall Terminal in Manhattan. Please use this Google map for directions to the terminal.
The best trains to get there are the 1 train (South Ferry Station), which is at the ferry terminal, the R train (Whitehall Station) or the 4 and 5 trains (Bowling Green Station). You can also reach the terminal after a short walk from the J and Z trains (Broad St Station) or the 2 and 3 trains (Wall St. Station).
On the way, you will have beautiful views of the Statue of liberty and Ellis Island as well as New Jersey and Staten Island itself. The ferry also passes by Governor’s Island. If you are in New York around summertime, Govenor’s Island is another free, or close to free, activity in New York City. If you do not want to remain on Staten Island, you can turn around and come right back! The Lower Manhattan skyline view on the return trip can’t be beat. You will also get excellent views of Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Bridge.
Be sure to schedule you ride on the Staten Island Ferry so that you return to take our guided Lower Manhattan Tour. If it’s not scheduled when your are there, be sure to take a look at our Things to Do in Lower Manhattan, a self-guided tour of the area. Here is a short list of nearby attractions.
You can explore Staten Island! The Staten Island Ferry docks at 1 Bay Street in Staten Island (map). This borough is often overlooked by tourists, but has a lot to offer! There are several attractions near the ferry terminal, so you won’t need to go very far. The area around the terminal is called St. George, and it is the beautiful downtown of Staten Island. Some must-sees on your visit are listed below the map image.
Staten Island Borough Hall
(10 Richmond Terrace, Admission: FREE)
Staten Island’s Borough Hall is 100 years old and serves as the seat of the Borough government. The building is in the French Renaissance style and has a beautiful clock tower. The lobby is decorated with 13 murals, measuring 6.5’ by 13’. These murals depict Staten Island history and were part of a Depression-Era WPA project. They are the largest collection of WPA artwork anywhere in New York City.
Esplanade and Postcards September 11th Memorial
The Esplanade, located on the Northern Shore of Staten Island, has unparalleled views of Manhattan’s skyline. If you walk along it from the Ferry Terminal you will come to the Postcards Memorial, completed in 2004. This memorial was the first 9/11 memorial completed in New York City, and is dedicated to the 275 Staten Islanders who lost their lives in the 9/11 attack. Each victim has a plaques with their name, date of birth, and where they worked at the time of the attack. The two fiberglass structures frame the location of the former towers across the river.
St. George Theatre
(35 Hyatt Street)
This magnificent 1800 seat theatre opened in 1929 as a vaudeville and movie house. During the day the lobby is open to the public so that visitors can admire the ornate interior, with its large chandeliers and grand staircases. The theatre presents a full schedule of performances at night, so check out www.stgeorgetheatre.com to see the full lineup!
The Staten Island Museum
(75 Stuyvesant Place)
Hours: Monday-Friday from 11am to 5pm, Saturday from 10 am to 5pm and Sunday from 12pm to 5pm,
Admission: $3 for adults, $2 for students and seniors and FREE for children 12 and under)
This museum, opened in 1881, is home to over two million artifacts. They have an extensive art collection, ranging from Ancient Egyptian to Modern art. There is a Natural Sciences collection which includes a “Cabinet of Curiosities” and exhibits of native animals. The collection of Native American artifacts is considered to be the most comprehensive exhibit about the Native Americans of the New York area. There are artifacts in the collection that date back 12,000 years. You can also learn about the history of the Staten Island Ferry before you get back on for your return trip!
Staten Island Yankees
(75 Richmond Terrace)
Summer months only! The “Baby Bombers” are a single A, minor league baseball team affiliated with the major league New York Yankees. They play in a 7,000 seat stadium that overlooks New York harbor, so every seat close to the action! If you want to enjoy a baseball game at a fraction of major league prices, this is for you!! The minor league season is pretty short, so check out www.siyanks.com to see if there is a game while you are in town!
Sailor’s Snug Harbor or Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden
(1000 Richmond Terrace)
This is not walking distance from the ferry, but Snug Harbor is not to be missed!! Just take a short 10 minute ride on the S40 bus along Richmond Terrace to see this historic gem. Opened in 1883 as a home for retired sailors, this was the first of its kind in this country. Snug Harbor is 83 acres and has 20 different gardens. There is also a collection of five Greek Revival buildings, the largest group of this kind in the United States. Today these buildings are museums and art galleries, and one is the second oldest concert hall in New York City. The beautiful gardens include the Victorian style White Garden and the Secret Garden, which has a hedge maze! There is also the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden, which is the only one of its kind in the country. It is designed to reflect a Ming Dynasty Garden of the 18th and 19th century.
Admission to the grounds: FREE
Admission for the Scholar’s Garden: $5 for adults, $4 for students and seniors and FREE for children 12 and under
Admission to the Newhouse Gallery: $5 for adults, $4 for students and seniors and FREE for children 12 and under
Staten Island is the least populous of the five boroughs, but the third largest in terms of land size.
Staten Island used to claim having the world’s largest landfill, called the Fresh Kills Landfill. It closed in 2001, reopened briefly to receive the debris cleared from the World Trade Center site, and is now being converted into NYC’s second largest park.
Staten Island is the only borough not connected to the New York City Subway system
First humans passed through Staten Island about 15,000 years ago. The first permanent settlers were a Lenape tribe, about 5,000 years ago.
First recorded European contact with the island was by Giovanni Verrazano in 1520. He was sailing on the French ship La Dauphine and they anchored for one night. The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which spans the waterway between Brooklyn and Staten Island, is named for him.
The next European on the island was Henry Hudson, sailing for the Dutch. The island was named Staaten Eylandt (translation: States Island) in honor of the Dutch Parliament.
Staten Island was occupied by British troops throughout the American Revolution.
Staten Island became a part of New York City in 1898, when the five boroughs consolidated. However, it was called the Borough of Richmond at the time (Staten Island is in Richmond County). It did not begin to be commonly called Staten Island until 1975
Staten Island is the only borough without a NYC Department of Corrections major detention center.
Sailor’s Snug Harbor opened in 1833, as the country’s first home for retired seamen. Today it is a public park.
There was a movement in the 1980’s in Staten Island that favored secession from New York City.
Don’t miss this Borough! Explore Staten Island!!