Arts and Culture in Staten Island

Arts & Culture in Staten Island: A Day Trip

A Day Trip to Snug Harbor: What to See and Do

Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden serves as the primary cultural center for Staten Island, offering a diverse array of experiences for visitors. This Smithsonian Affiliate organization provides the opportunity to explore art galleries, wander through meticulously maintained gardens, gain insights into Italian and Chinese cultures, and discover the area’s rich maritime history, all within a single day.

Attractions

Staten Island Museum: (11a.m. — 5p.m.) Open Wednesday – Sunday
Noble Maritime Collection: (12p.m. — 5p.m.) Open Thursday – Sunday
Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art: Open Thursday – Friday, 12:00 PM – 7:00 PM, and
Saturday – Sunday, 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM
New York Chinese Scholars Garden: (12 p.m. — 5 p.m.) Open Tuesday –Sunday from April – November. This garden is open year-round but has limited hours in winter. See hours on their website
Botanical Gardens: Open dawn to dusk all year round
Heritage Farm: View on your way to the RCSF Tuscan Garden
Staten Island Children’s Museum: (10 a.m. — 5 p.m.) Tuesday – Sunday
This museum includes programs and events for kids (great for ages 1-12).

Weekend Add-ons

Art on the Terrace (12 p.m.-6 p.m.) Open Saturday & Sunday
Creative Photographers’ Guild Gallery (1 p.m.-5 p.m.) Open Saturday & Sunday
The gallery is located within walking distance of Snug Harbor. Art on the Terrace features artists of works from all mediums. 

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Full Day Option

For a full day of exploration at Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden, begin by taking an early ferry from Manhattan to the St. George Ferry Terminal. The 8:30 or 9:00 a.m. ferry is recommended. Upon arrival, take the S40 bus to the stop just past Tysen Street. After crossing Richmond Terrace, enter through the North Gate, where you’ll find the Randall Memorial and five historic buildings housing two museums and an art gallery.

Art enthusiasts will appreciate the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art in Buildings C & G, which presents rotating exhibitions across various media. Families with children will enjoy the Staten Island Children’s Museum in Building M, offering interactive exhibits that allow kids to explore different roles, such as firefighters and veterinarians. The Staten Island Museum in Building A caters to diverse interests, with exhibits on science, art, and history. Those interested in maritime history can visit the Noble Maritime Collection in Building D, which showcases the people and traditions of New York Harbor’s working waterfront and the history of the Sailors of Snug Harbor.

After visiting the museums, enjoy lunch at the Harbor Eats Café on Cottage Row. Spend the afternoon exploring Snug Harbor’s fourteen botanical gardens, including the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden, White Garden, and RCSF Tuscan Garden. While strolling through the Tuscan Garden, take the opportunity to visit the 2.5-acre organic Heritage Farm, which offers tours and sells produce at the St. George Greenmarket and numerous high-end restaurants throughout the city.

Conclude your trip with dinner at Blue, a restaurant located a short walk from Snug Harbor, before taking the bus back to the Staten Island Ferry terminal for your return to Manhattan.

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Half-day Option

For those with limited time, a half-day visit to Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden is still highly rewarding. Start by taking the 8:30 or 9:00 a.m. ferry from Manhattan to the St. George Ferry Terminal. From there, take the S40 bus to the stop just past Tysen Street, cross Richmond Terrace, and enter through the North Gate. You’ll be greeted by the Randall Memorial and five historic buildings, two of which house the Noble Maritime Collection (Building D) and the Staten Island Museum (Building A). These museums offer exhibitions on history, art, and science.

Don’t miss the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, Staten Island’s oldest art gallery, which is located in Buildings C & G and features a variety of art exhibits. If the weather is pleasant, take the opportunity to explore some of Snug Harbor’s botanical gardens. The New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden is a popular choice, with its architectural and natural elements that create the impression of being transported to Ming Dynasty-era China. The other thirteen gardens provide excellent opportunities for photography and scenic enjoyment. Be sure to visit the “Allee,” a tunnel formed by arched hornbeam trees, which makes for a great photo spot.

Before heading back to the ferry terminal, enjoy a satisfying lunch at the Harbor Eats Cafe on Cottage Row, then catch the next bus back to the St. George Ferry Terminal for your return trip to Manhattan.

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