As a nationwide massage provider with offices in NYC, San Francisco, Los Angeles and more, the Zeel team has a love for all local haunts (especially in-the-know spots where you can relax and take in the scenery). But one borough in our home city of New York gets a particularly bad rap: Staten Island.
Since the Forgotten Borough is home to some of our very own Zeel staffers, we thought we’d ask them about their favorite must-see attractions on Staten Island. Turns out, the island is full of rich history and peaceful places that give Manhattan a run for its money.
Here are the most relaxing places to go on Staten Island. Some are well-known, some a bit more obscure. But even the more notable ones are sights that SI residents probably visited when they were too young to appreciate the relaxing, historical vibes — or are treasures they haven’t seen yet.
Everyone on SI knows it exists, but you may not realize just how many great attractions are in this location. Snug Harbor is home to a Botanical Garden, multiple art exhibits, theater, music, dance, and more. A personal favorite spot among Zeel’s in-house Staten Islanders is the Secret Garden Castle. This is a beautiful, miniature castle area with benches and a small maze nearby, and it’s one of the most relaxing spots to hang out on Staten Island.
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Alice Austen House
Alice Austen was one of the world’s most famous female photographers (she was also one of the first photographers in general), known for documenting the daily life of New Yorkers. The Alice Austen House, aka Clear Comfort, is an extremely relaxing and inspiring photography haven. The museum has a permanent collection of some of Alice’s photos, and they host exhibits featuring other photographers’ work throughout the year as well.
The first house museum on Staten Island, the Conference House has been famous ever since the American Revolution. It’s a National Historic Landmark and a New York City Landmark, as it’s where the Staten Island Peace Conference took place on September 11, 1776 (easy date to remember). During this meeting, Continental Congress (including Benjamin Franklin) met with British representatives. Americans wanted the British to acknowledge the recently declared independence. Britain said no. This inability to come to terms left them on not-so-great terms obviously, and a few days later the British occupied New York City.
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Ride the Staten Island Ferry
The Ferry between Staten Island and Manhattan is free, and it takes you directly past the Statue of Liberty, with the perfect view of Manhattan’s skyline. On the other side of the boat, you can capture views of the Verrazano Bridge, the Brooklyn waterfront, and Governors Island. The leisurely ride lasts about 25 minutes, has both indoor and outdoor seating, and you can even grab a snack or drink at the bar. Hop on, sit outside on a nice day, and take in the scenery — it’s extremely relaxing. Then when you land, you can go hang out in Battery Park area at the foot of Downtown Manhattan. (Note: avoid taking up a ferry seat during regular commuter hours, unless you want to make enemies.)
This 9/11 Memorial is simply amazing. It’s located right near the Ferry, so could be combined with the above as one day trip. The monument honors the First Responders who were on-the-scene that day, and it has a carved silhouette of each person beside their name, birthday, and title.
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Historic Richmond Town
Almost everyone from SI has gone here on a school trip. But it’s likely that you couldn’t quite appreciate the historic significance at age 7 or 8. Revisit this destination during your adult years, and you’ll find it to be both relaxing and educational — allowing you to explore 350 years of history and culture. It’s NYC’s only restored historic town, and it also includes the oldest working family farm in the five boroughs. Richmond Town offers an inside look at American life from the 17th century on, via self-guided or group tours. They house almost the entirety of Alice Austen’s photographic collection as well (nearly 8,000 images), as she donated the majority of her collection to them before she passed.
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You’ve probably heard of Fort Wadsworth, but many people don’t realize it’s a Staten Island attraction. This former US military defense point is situated on The Narrows which separate New York Bay into Upper and Lower halves, and divide the boroughs of Brooklyn and Staten Island. A historical spot like this is both calming and sobering — just thinking about everything the fort has seen, from the War of 1812 all the way up to its important role in World War I.
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The Garibaldi-Meucci Museum
Museums are always a peaceful place to spend the day, and this one is no exception. Although the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum is especially popular among Staten Islanders, due to the borough’s heavy Italian heritage (some even call the island “Staten Italy”). The museum commemorates Antonio Meucci, the inventor of the first telephone, and Giuseppe Garibaldi, who played a large role in the unification of Italy.
Staten Island Range Lighthouse
Love lighthouses? Then you’re in luck. You don’t have to travel all the way to Maine to catch a glimpse on the horizon. The Staten Island Range Light, also known as the Ambrose Channel Range Light, is 90 feet high and can be seen for 18 miles. The attraction’s former caretaker, “Lighthouse Joe” Esposito, is noted for saying, “Every time I stepped in it, I was going back in time to 1912.”
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Yes, you read that correctly. There is an actual tugboat graveyard on Staten Island, used to store retired (or shipwrecked) vessels like barges, ferries, and of course, tugboats. You may have heard other monikers thrown around for this seafaring cemetery, including the Witte Marine Scrap Yard and the Arthur Kill Boat Yard. Its official name is the Donjon Iron and Metal Scrap Processing Facility (no relation to the Joseph Gordon-Levitt character), but locals just call it “The Tugboat Graveyard.”
When you’re finished sightseeing on Staten Island, wind down with a soothing in-home massage — available 365 days a year in all five boroughs.