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What to See and Do This Summer on Staten Island

By Nicholas Rizzi | August 12, 2013 6:44am
 DNAinfo New York has complied a list of the best places and attractions in Staten Island
What to Do on Staten Island
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STATEN ISLAND — There may be no better place than The Forgotten Borough for creating offbeat summertime memories.

The borough that's best known for its namesake ferry that shuttles upwards of 70,000 passengers a day also offers an abundance of quirky, off-the-beaten-path charm.

There's more parkland here than in any other New York City borough. Ethnic food abounds. Staten Island's museums can provide an escape from Gotham's crowds.

“It's much more than the ferry,” said Amanda Straniere, tourism and cultural affairs liaison for the borough president’s office.  “If you only have an hour to spend on Staten Island, there's still plenty to do within walking distance from the ferry.”

DNAinfo New York is here to help jog your memory about some of Richmond County's must-see attractions:

Parks: Staten Island is known as the greenest borough and has the most parkland. From Silver Lake Park and High Rock Park to Wolfes Pond Park, Straniere said if there’s something outdoors you want to do, you can probably find it on Staten Island.

There are also plenty of hiking trails — like the Greenbelt in High Rock Park — to help you escape city life for a while.

“If you want to go hiking and not be able to see the city, you can do it on Staten Island,” Straniere said.

And if you’re curious about the transformation of a world-renowned dump into a massive park, Freshkills offers guided tours during the warmer months.

Museums and Galleries: While the borough might not have the Met or the Guggenheim, there are still plenty of galleries and places to see art.

Snug Harbor Cultural Center has art on display at the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art and also features a botanical garden, statues and more on its grounds.

Over in Rosebank, the Alice Austen House has photography exhibits on display, as well as a history of the photographer displayed in her old home.

The Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art showcases the art and culture of Tibet and the Himalayas in a peaceful setting.

Mandolin Brothers: If you’ve ever wanted to buy a guitar from the guys who could finally get Paul McCartney’s Hofner bass to stay in tune, visit Mandolin Brothers at 639 Forest Ave.

The shop, which has been open for 41 years, has acoustic and electric guitars, mandolins, resonators, slide guitars, basses and banjos for all experience levels.

For serious players, the shop has a large section of vintage and used gear, with classic Gibsons, Fenders and Martins, including some instruments that date back to pre-1920.

“If anybody from anywhere does come to New York and plays guitar, banjo, mandolin, ukulele, they’d be thrilled. They’d be out of their mind if they visited our shop,” said Stan Jay, president of Mandolin Brothers.

Currently, the shop’s oldest instrument is a Martin acoustic guitar from 1896, in an original coffin-style case.

The shop's vintage gear doesn't come cheap — some guitars are priced at more than $10,000 — but you’ll be in good company. Musicians and actors including Bob Dylan, Conan O’Brian, John Lennon and Patti Smith have shopped here.

Beach: Hurricane Sandy damaged many borough beaches, but most are still open daily for swimming. One of the more popular choices is South Beach, off Father Capodanno Boulevard, with views of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in the background and the long Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk behind it. Sections are still closed for repairs after the storm.

For a less-crowded beach outing, head to Cedar Grove Beach at the end of Ebbitts Street.

Food: Some people call the borough "Staten Italy," but there’s more to it than Italian food. Even so, you can grab a delicious Italian meal at Trattoria Romana at 1476 Hylan Blvd., or get meal home-cooked by real Italian grandmas at Enoteca Maria, which is a short walk from the ferry on 27 Hyatt St.

The borough, however, has plenty of other culinary choices.

There are several restaurants and stores along a stretch of Victory Boulevard near Cebra Avenue that's known as Little Sri Lanka, including New Asha at 322 Victory Blvd. and Lak Bojun, right next door. There are several other Sri Lankan restaurants in neighborhoods nearby, including San Rasa on 226 Bay St. and Lakruwana at 668 Bay St.

For visitors in the mood for authentic tacos, there are several neighborhood options, including Taqueria El Gallo Azteca at 75 Victory Blvd. and Panaderia Mixteca Poblana at 104 Victory Blvd. If you’re near South Beach, take a walk down to La Canasta Deli at 272 Sand Lane.

Boat Graveyard: For the adventurous, New York City’s only boat graveyard, off Arthur Kill Road, should be at the top of your destination list. It's a long ride from the ferry terminal — you need to take a 13-mile bus ride from the port — and involves a walk through a makeshift path of street signs and wood planks from the Sleight Family Graveyard into a muddy, wet marsh.

The city recently promoted the spot for British tourists. But Tony Conssean, 55, whose backyard leads directly to parts of the graveyard, said he meets hardy visitors from all over the country who come to look at and photograph the rusty ships.

"I've had people from California, from Michigan, a guy from Wisconsin comes back repeatedly," Conssean told DNAinfo New York.

"This isn't necessarily No. 1 on the itinerary, but it's on the itinerary."