It’s certainly not a tropical island, but if your goal is to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, Staten Island’s Snug Harbor is the perfect retreat. Located on the north shore, it was built in 1801 as a haven for retired sailors and dubbed Sailors Snug Harbor.
Today, the 83-acre Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden campus (1000 Richmond Terr., snug-harbor.org) sees more than 250,000 visitors a year.
It’s home to a music hall, gardens and much more. There’s something for everyone at Snug Harbor.
The Botanical Garden is perhaps the biggest draw of Snug Harbor, and a key part of its history. Founded in 1977, the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden — where visitors can peruse eight pavilions, a bamboo forest path, waterfalls, a koi-filled pond, Chinese calligraphy and a variety of Gongshi scholar’s rocks — was added in 1999, followed by the Richmond County Savings Foundation Tuscan Garden in 2011. Several other gardens dot the grounds.
Get lost in the Connie Gretz Secret Garden, a maze of paths and greenery inspired by Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic “The Secret Garden,” or stop and reflect at the Healing Garden, a living memorial to the 267 people from Staten Island who died on Sept. 11, 2001. Free, except for Chinese Scholar’s Garden, Tues.-Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m., closed Mondays, 718-425-3504
The two-acre Heritage Farm provides fresh fruits and vegetables for the surrounding community, educates about gardening and growing food and also reclaims a bit of Snug Harbor history: There was a working farm there between 1880 and 1910.
Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art
This museum focuses on contemporary art and is also home to SHARP, the Snug Harbor Artist Residency Program, which offers emerging artists studio space in a two-story 19th-century cottage for two months. Wed.-Sun., noon-5 p.m., $5 adults, $4 students/seniors, kids under 12 free, 718-448-2500
Staten Island Children’s Museum
Current exhibits include: “The Big Game,” where kids can play chess with life-size pieces, giant dominoes or checkers, “Bugs and Other Insects,” where kids crawl through a human-size ant hill and observe insects at work and “Ladder 11,” where kids can live out the fantasy of being a firefighter. Schools open: Tues.-Sun., noon-5 p.m., schools closed: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 718-273-2060, statenislandkids.org
WHERE TO EAT
For a quick bite without leaving the grounds, stop by the Garden Grill. Or, venture into the nearby Randall Manor nabe. Grab a beer at the Nurnberger Bierhaus (817 Castleton Ave., 718-816-7461, nurnbergerbierhaus.com) or some German grub, like bratwurst, Wiener schnitzel and German pretzels. For American fare, indulge at Randall Manor Tavern (735 Castleton Ave., 347-855-2724, randallmanortavern.com), where you can sample buttermilk fried chicken, pulled pork sandwiches, burgers and ribs.