A free 25-minute ferry voyage from the southern tip of Manhattan to Staten Island provides one of the city's best views of the Statue of Liberty and the downtown Manhattan skyline. Upon arrival in the St. George neighborhood, it's hard to miss the waterfront promenade,with its Manhattan skyline views and "Postcards" 9/11 memorial, or the Richmond County Bank Ballpark, the home of the Staten Island Yankees (www.siyanks.com), where minor leaguers in pinstripes affectionately known as "Baby Bombers" dream of one day playing in the major leagues in the Bronx. Also in St. George, come 2017, look out for the debut of two major attractions: the Empire Outlets (www.empireoutletsnyc.com), the city's first outlets mall with more than 100 planned shops, a hotel, and waterfront dining options. The 630-foot-high New York Wheel (newyorkwheel.com), meanwhile, will be the tallest observation wheel in the world, accommodating up to 1,440 people per ride.
When venturing beyond the borough's northernmost tip, you will find that Staten Island is full of surprises. Along with suburban sprawl, there are wonderful small museums, including a premier collection of Tibetan art; walkable woodlands; and a historic village replicating New York's rural past. From the ferry terminal, grab an S40 bus to the Snug Harbor Cultural Center (less than 10 minutes) or take the S74 and combine visits to the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art and Historic Richmond Town.
Legally part of New York City since 1898, Staten Island is in many ways a world apart. The city's most suburban borough (sometimes called the "Forgotten Borough" by locals), is geographically more separate, less populous, politically more conservative, and ethnically more homogeneous than the rest of the city.