Tourists On SI: Seeking Culture, Hiking Trails, Pizza, and Street Art
Where on Staten Island have you ever encountered tourists, aside from the Staten Island ferry terminal?
The answer: Very. Few. Places.
But there are some. I’ve encountered more tourists in the woods than any place else. Believe it or not, they usually took the bus from the ferry terminal directly to the Greenbelt.
I’ve met tourists from Thailand, Europe, and even Manhattan. I’ve met people who have been to forests worldwide and told me that the Greenbelt is among the most beautiful, with its varied topography and numerous swamps, ponds, and lakes. The hilly vistas and deep valleys provide an interesting hike.
After talking for a few minutes, I’ve often offered to show various groups around the woodlands. A quick hike up Moses Mountain. The ruins of Heyerdahl Hill. The green ponds at High Rock Park.
Some of my unofficial tours have lasted hours. Afterwards, I was exhausted, but it was worth it.
I was just in the woodlands hiking with friends, and having a few out-of-towners tagging along was a lot of fun.
These same tourists said they had either already visited, or planned to visit, the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art, Snug Harbor, and Richmondtown Restoration. Some were also interested in the street art that can be seen on a walking trip on the walls along the Bay Street corridor.
Many visitors to the island were also enthusiastically planning on sampling a slice of Staten Island’s famous pizza, reputed to be among the best in the world. If we’re going to be famous for something, it might as well be pizza!
It’s true; while the numerous “Ray’s Pizza” joints in Manhattan deliver some decent (so-so) dollar slices, and Brooklyn pizza from spots like the legendary Spumoni Gardens is an unforgettable experience, our island’s pizza pies are top notch.
From the South Shore’s offerings of wood-burning brick oven pies with fresh mozzarella, to some of our North Shore’s stalwart pizza parlors with faithful neighborhood followings, our pizza is unforgettable. Which ones are the best? That’s for another article, friends! And, really, it’s subjective, and we all have our favorites. There are so many amazing pizzerias, no one can realistically choose just one. Or two.
A couple of tourists had already tried a few pizza places, and were delighted at the quality of the pizza, and were planning on trying a few more slices from other pizzerias before they were to take the ferryboat back to the city.
It’s alright that the wheel wasn’t ever built in St. George. Our island already has a plethora of interesting sites, places worth drawing travelers from other countries away from Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Staying in NYC is quite costly, and there are tons of places to see and things to do, right in Manhattan. Not to mention the dining opportunities, which are incomparable.
Still, Staten Island does draw tourists to our shores. Truthfully, I;’m not even sure a Ferris wheel would have kept many tourists on Staten Island; the sort of sights sites like Richmondtown and Snug Harbor and our vast woodlands offer are far more interesting than an amusement park ride could ever provide.
Visitors to Staten Island are usually well-traveled and well-read. They’re looking for culture, nature, and pizza. They’re rushing around during their stay in NYC, not wanting to waste a minute, trying to see it all.
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