Snug Harbor, Staten Island

While we’re all about adventures, we are also about keeping it affordable. So what to do on a beautiful Saturday after dance and piano? Take a free cruise on the Staten Island Ferry, of course! Well, at least I thought that’s all we’d be doing.

I met Zee and Spence after dance class in Battery Park, lower Manhattan. Yes, dad takes Zee to class on Saturday mornings so that I can do things like a) sleep; and b) get a mani-pedi. Usually it’s option B. But I digress…

Before I met them, I grabbed our summer sit in the grass blanket and some sandwiches, fruit, snacks and beverages from my local Subway. Once I arrived, it was off to the ferry terminal, which is a minimal walk from the park. I hadn’t been in the new terminal since it opened, but believe me, it is so much better than the old rickety one which made you feel like a European immigrant coming into NYC on steerage at Castle Garden, pre-Ellis Island.

On the Ferry

Zee kept asking where we were going and we just told her that we’re going on a boat. Once we finally boarded the ferry she asked: are we going fishing? Although it made sense, being on a boat and all, we told her no. We bust out some of our grub for the 20 minute ride, sat back and watched as New York, then New Jersey, moved to the background. Zee was excited to see the Statue of Liberty, for no other reason than it being a statue, which she decided to imitate.

Once we docked on Staten Island, I immediately noticed how much better that terminal is. It reminded me of all my childhood trips to Niagara Falls and how the Canadian side beats the American side, hands down. We were going to hop back on the ferry when, to my shock and awe, Spence said: Let’s explore! The only places I knew on Staten Island were: a) the Wu-Wear store which I visited over a decade ago at my mom’s (yes, mom’s) behest; b) the Green Belt where I took students hiking once; and c) Snug Harbor.

I knew of Snug Harbor because I have this odd weird intellectual fascination with historical landmarks, preservation and all that jazz. It also happened to be the location of one of the botanical gardens I considered for my wedding. Back to the trip…

Once Spence mentioned Snug Harbor, I looked up, saw a sign that said which bus to catch to get there, the S40, and away we went. Luckily, the bus was waiting (oh serendipity!!) and we hopped on. I asked the driver how far to Snug Harbor and he let me know that he’d announce it. We literally traveled 10 minutes and we were there!

I had no idea how complex Snug Harbor is. Literally, it is a complex of buildings that housed the first US home for “old, sick and decrepit” (their words, not mine) sailors and seamen. Now, its home to the Staten Island Children’s Museum, the Chinese scholar Garden, a maritime museum, and so much more on its 83 acres. Since we arrived around 4 and everything closed b/w 5 and 6, we decided to do the self-guided walking tour. However, we are planning a trip back where we arrive early in the morning in order to take advantage of all the offerings.

So, we walked, and walked, talked, took snack breaks, walked and talked some more. Zee loved it and so did Spence and I. It was really like being out of the city and in an oasis. I’m a big fan of nature and try to get it in as many doses as possible. We stayed for over two hours and when we hopped back on the bus, had the same driver who inquired about our visit, which I thought was nice.

We were back at the ferry terminal within a few minutes and once we were back on the big boat, we finished eating as we watched people mill about like they were on the Lido Deck of The Love Boat. Because of the ridiculousness of the weekend train schedules, we walked from the terminal, up Broadway and to Wall Street in order to get home. While passing the large statue of George Washington I mentioned to Zee that he owned slaves was the first president and she remarked: like Barack Obama? Her making the connection made me feel all warm and parenty.

Here are some pics from the trip:

Former Chaplain's House Houses 9/11 Education Project

Directions

Cottage Row

The Chapel