Now that we all collectively are over sitting alone in our room for six months, maybe it’s time to go outside. Staten Island, New York has plenty to offer, even during quarantine. Not only is it a beautiful borough of NYC, but it offers sites and events to engage with our community and let everyone know #WeAreNewYork! Knowing there are things to do now, we can create an exciting (and safe) way to get through this pandemic.
Time to get out of your room and safely reenter the world in this vibrant NYC borough.
1. Staten Island Zoo
Time to get WILD! The Staten Island Zoo is open, requiring masks and ticket reservations to keep you safe. Plan a trip and see both their indoor and outdoor exhibits—leopards, reptiles, otters and more. The variety doesn’t stop. There are wings dedicated to African animals and reptiles, and even an aquarium! Dining is available too, and with Eggers, an old-fashioned ice cream parlor nearby, you can make a whole enjoyable day out of your trip. Also, you should know that beautiful peacocks just walk around. It’s a sight to see.
2. Staten Island Mall
Get in, losers— we’re going shopping! With safety regulations in place, you can go back to your favorite stores and get all you need for fall and the ever-approaching winter. Not only does it offer all the stores you love, but the Barnes and Noble moved right next door for all you book nerds. “Going to Barnes and Noble with my English major squad was a super fun (and COVID-friendly) activity to do during the pandemic! Masks are required in the store, but once you purchase a new book to read (and a fresh cup of iced coffee from Starbucks) you’re free to sit outside at the picnic tables and have a great afternoon with friends,” said Jackie Lepore, a senior at St. John’s University. We know the experience is more than just what you buy—it’s who you’re with, and the mall provides the perfect hangout spot with all its options.
3. Wolf’s Pond Park
No matter the season, it’s always a beautiful walk around Wolf’s Pond Park. It leads you to the beach, the woods, trails and basketball courts and more! “Taking a nice walk in Wolfe’s Pond Park is something that’s fun and rewarding; getting to see wildlife and nature especially as the weather turns is a great and safe activity to engage in during this time,” said Emily Hunt, a junior at Binghamton University. Take you and your social-distance-abiding group through this park to get a nice look at the great outdoors.
4. Bloomingdale Park
What can I say? Staten Island is known for its parks! A great place for all ages— there’s a playground area available, and beautiful nature trails around the area. You could take a bicycle ride through the bike trails, or even use some of the various, newly-updated fields dedicated to sports in the SI community. It’s spacious, accessible and gorgeous. You want out of your house? You won’t regret this walk.
Yep, this counts! Board the Staten Island Ferry to get to Manhattan— with Staten Island making up one of the five boroughs in New York City, there’s so much more to explore. The ferry itself is an experience. In just a half-hour ride, you get a great view of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Governors Island and psst… all for free. Not going to lie, it makes a great spot for group pictures, especially with the New York City skyline in the background. Shops, museums and even more parks make themselves available in Manhattan just a boat ride away.
6. Applebee’s and Charleston Center
Hungry? Looking to FINALLY go out to eat again? Well, the Applebee’s at the Charleston Shopping Center is open for some good eatin’ in your neighborhood! “Applebee’s is doing everything possible to keep both guests and workers safe. Everyone is wearing masks and gloves and we have a rigorous sanitizing system to make dining out safe for Staten Island during these trying times,” said Sam Haynia, a junior St. John’s student and worker at Applebee’s. Stay safe, dine out and shop at all the stores the shopping center offers! Target, Christmas Tree Shop and Michaels all in one area—I smell holiday decorating coming up.
7. National Lighthouse Museum
Yes. This exists. And it’s beautiful. If you like history, you’ll definitely want to check this out. The exhibits cover broad historical topics from the New York Harbor’s timeline, to how the lights function and operate. Each month also offers special events that you can reserve and attend, like October’s Lighthouse Hunt to explore the island. A wonderful place with intricate and interesting details, it’ll be hard to find something like this anywhere else. They’re open now, with mask mandates and safety regulations, and ready for you to explore the history of lighthouses.
8. Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Gardens
Snug Harbor truly is dedicated to the Staten Island community! With buildings dating back to the 1800s, they offer museums, family activities and more for their visitors. Not only that, but they have a collection of botanical gardens like the Healing Garden, Rose Garden and New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden. This latter option is especially impressive, with eight pavilions, and more bridges and paths for you to walk through. Their events calendar is packed with things you can do—like the Ghost Tours coming up, and Wellness Wednesdays dedicated to your health! With safety regulations in place, Snug Harbor is ready for you.
9. Conference House
1680… Yep, it’s been standing for that long. The Conference House sits on a hill overlooking the south shore of Staten Island, and is known for being a meeting ground for an attempted peace treaty during the Revolutionary War. You could see the same shore that Benjamin Franklin once saw, among other historical figures! And, hint, hint for October, this area is allegedly haunted! Even though the house itself has been closed due to COVID, there’s still plenty to do there! With nature trails, a pavilion and a beach for fishing—the Conference House is a beautiful walking spot for autumn.
10. Historic Richmond Town
For all you history majors and nerds out there, Staten Island provides something for everyone! Houses and shops that remained for centuries are still available for viewing and exploring in this wide-open area. Colonial homes, cemeteries, barns and more congregate here as Richmond Town keeps working to engage with the public. Yes, it even offers pumpkin picking just in time for October! Historically relevant, they still give (regulated and reserved) tours of the town! The outdoor Eggers ice cream parlor is a delicious place to stop for some desserts and drinks too. And psst… I’ve been there a few times for Pokémon Go excursions.