Lifestyle

11 reasons why Staten Island is NYC's most underappreciated borough

Despite the fact that a majority of New Yorkers have never actually set foot on the Isle of Staten (the ferry terminal doesn’t count), it often gets crapped on by residents of the four other boroughs. 

Well, as a native and current resident, I’m here to tell you to 1) shut the hell up, and 2) read this: 11 reasons why Staten Island is actually pretty damn awesome.

1. There's a giant boat that’s just for us, and you get to drink on it

The five-mile, 26-30-minute Staten Island Ferry ride traverses the lower New York Bay, and provides you and your loved ones with wonderful views of blah blah blah. More to the point, they have an onboard cafe that sells beer that you can legally guzzle down in public without a brown paper bag.

If you’re coming from Manhattan, work your way through the line to get to the front of the doors. Once they begin boarding, speed your way over the right landing platform, and walk up the right staircase to the top level. Walk allllll the way to the back of the boat, through the doors, and you now have a front-row seat (literally) to all those astonishing views and landmarks. Once you’ve secured your spot, send someone downstairs for another 24oz can of brew.

2. The Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden

This National Historic Landmark is also an 83-acre park, home to the Sunset Summer Concert Series, a contemporary art exhibit, a maritime collection exhibit, the Staten Island Museum, an art lab, music hall, and, um, a botanical garden. Go Thursday-Saturday, hit up Blue Restaurant (roughly a seven-minute walk from Snug Harbor), and indulge in their three-course clam bake special.

3. The Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach

The boardwalk brings together South Beach (the beach closer to the Verrazano Bridge) and Midland Beach. This was one of the hardest-hit areas by Hurricane Sandy, but it’s since been cleaned up, rebuilt, and even improved upon. There are bike trails, bocce, basketball, tennis courts, baseball fields, playgrounds, food trucks, two restaurants (The Vanderbilt at South Beach and South Fin Grill), a long fishing pier, and public BBQs. It’s technically illegal to drink in the area where the BBQs are, but it’s technically illegal to do a lot of dumb things, so just bring some Solo cups and don’t be an idiot about it.

Suck on all that, Rockaways.

4. We've got a giant military fort

If you ride/walk along the bike lane towards the Verrazano Bridge and follow it straight around all its twists and turns, you’ll end up at one of the oldest military stations in the nation, which was a major defense hub during the Revolutionary War. Bonus: a solid Fort Wadsworth Instagram shot with the bridge in the background is guaranteed at least 35 likes.

5. We've got 35 miles of hiking trails. How many does your borough have, again?

Marked hiking trails are all over the place, along with the largest forest preserve in New York mother-sexing City. You can also scale the 260ft Moses Mountain (40+ likes on that Instagram photo if you take it from the peak).

6. Our historic towns have chili cook-offs

Founded in the 17th century, Richmondtown is spread out over four sites and 30 buildings, and makes for an excellent walking tour. If you didn’t give a crap about history but excelled at things like trading for the good snacks at lunch in middle school, Richmondtown also has a wealth of BBQ and chili cook-offs.

7. Benjamin Franklin and John Adams hung out here

Tottenville is the Southernmost neighborhood in the five boroughs, and at the Southernmost tip of Tottenville stands The Conference House. In 1776, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and a handful of other wig-wearing, soon-to-be Americans met to try and bring an end to the Revolutionary War. But before you follow in Ben Franklin’s footsteps, do yourself -- and your country -- a favor and make a pitstop at nearby Reggiano’s Brick Oven Pizza. Isn’t your right to stuff your face what they fought for, after all?

Staten Island is the best
Christopher DiScipio

8. Pizza

Speaking of pizza, we have a ton of it, and it demands respect.

9. We can play with llamas pretty much whenever we want

On any given day, you can pay $8 to gain access to the Staten Island Zoo and feast your eyes on birds of prey, ostriches, sea otter, et al. And if you were to go on a Wednesday, between 2pm and 4pm, it would be FREE to enter.

10. A Staten Island Yankees game > Any other minor league team's game

They play in the lowest minor league division, but so what? Tickets are cheap, the ferry essentially drops you off at the front door of Richmond County Bank Ballpark, and, most importantly, the food and beer cost half what it does at a major league game. If you manage to get a few buddies/family members to go with, opt for the $30 (which would net you approximately one beer in a souvenir cup at Yankee Stadium) BBQ Pit, which includes picnic-style seating at the game, and an unlimited BBQ feast 30 minutes before first pitch, and an hour after the game starts. 

11. We have four golf courses

Those courses include Silver Lake Golf Course, South Shore Golf Course, Richmond  County Country Club, and La Tourette -- a portion of which is located within the aforementioned Greenbelt, and the clubhouse is on the National Register of Historic Places. NBD.

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Christopher DiScipio is a staff writer for Thrillist Media Group, and if you’d like to drink a few beers with him on the ferry, let him know on Twitter @ChrisDiScipio.