The borough of Staten Island is just a ferry ride away from the bustle of Manhattan, but this part of the city is often missed by visitors to New York City. That’s a shame because Staten Island might be New York’s most family friendly borough, thanks to a healthy mix of protected green spaces and big city cultural resources.
When bad weather strikes, lets the kids burn off that extra energy at one of Staten Island’s indoor play spaces. At Chelsea Playground (chelseaplaygroundny), kids can climb, crawl and slide through a three-level play structure or dress up and play pretend in the kids’ village area. Call ahead to schedule playtime at the Party Jungle (thepartyjungle.com). This indoor playground specializes in birthday parties, but you might be able to luck into an open playtime. Kids can practice their bowling skills at Showplace Entertainment Center (showplacebowling.net), where you can battle the mid-game blahs with a visit to the in-house arcade or snack bar. The chaos of Fun Station USA (funstationsi.net) might be a bit much for parents, but kids will be thrilled to zoom around on bumper cars, battle it out in the laser tag arena and find their way through the three-story maze at this action-packed amusement park.
Make Learning Fun
Younger kids will relish the imaginative play options at the Staten Island Children’s Museum (statenislandkids.org). Ringing the bell and sliding down the fireman’s pole to get into uniform and prepare the fire truck is a favorite. Kids can take classes on topics such as kitchen chemistry, learn about local ecology and join science-themed celebrations at the Staten Island Museum (statenislandmuseum.org). Some of the museum’s exhibitions have more kid appeal than others, but it’s worth doing a walk-through to see whether anything catches your child’s eye. The Staten Island Zoo (statenislandzoo.org) is an enjoyable destination in its own right, but the weekend programs are especially fun when they focus on animals your child is interested in, so check the calendar for upcoming events. Kids can take cool classes such as Chinese calligraphy or public speaking, at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center (snug-harbor.org), but sometimes it’s just as fun to explore the grounds, which include a Tuscan garden, a Chinese scholar’s garden and a healing garden.
See a Show
Take the kids to see the Staten Island Yankees (milb.com) play on a Friday or Saturday night during the regular season, and you can stick around after the game ends to watch the fireworks show. For a different kind of show, see what’s playing at the St. George Theatre (stgeorgetheatre.com), which features shows with cross-generational appeal such as a “Grease” sing-along and “A Christmas Carol,” and just-for-kids musicals such as “Dora the Explorer Live.” Kids who love the theater experience might want to sign up for singing, acting or musical theater classes at the St. George’s SGT Performing Arts Academy.
Take a Walk
Stroll down the South Beach boardwalk (statenislandusa.com), past the iconic dolphin fountain and down to the sandy Midland Beach. Bring a fishing rod so your child can try her luck fishing off the pier or just build a sandcastle on the beach. Staten Island residents love their 2,8000-acre protected Greenbelt (sigreenbelt.org) -- the largest forest in New York City -- for good reason. Choose a route from the 35 miles of trails, and you and your child can explore tidal wetlands, beech and oak forests, and rolling meadows.