The Best Neighborhoods in Staten Island

Welcome to Staten Island!

You might have noticed by now that you are standing in New York’s most laid back borough. Staten Island is a water-ringed suburbia full of shopping plazas, sleepy streets, and quiet beaches. But take a closer look and you’ll discover an island jam-packed with cultural, architectural, and culinary gems.

There’s a reason it’s known as “The Borough of Parks.” And it even has its own Subway line. It’s the perfect borough for young families and anyone else seeking New York excitement without having to part with their automobile or the idea of living in a standalone house with a yard and driveway. Here’s a list of some of the best neighborhoods “Shaolin” (a nickname given by its most famous native sons, the Wu-Tang Clan) has to offer:

St. George & Tompkinsville

Perfect for: Professionals, Millenials, Commuters, Former Manhattanites

Because it is home to the Ferry terminal, New Yorkers often consider St. George to be the gateway to Staten Island. But it’s more than just a transit hub; St. George is the borough’s most energized neighborhood.

In a county that prides itself on going to bed on time, Bay Street hosts a row of nightlife spots and restaurants. Neighboring Tompkinsville touts the largest Sri Lankan community outside of Sri Lanka, so check out the steam table at spots like New Asha Restaurant on Victory Boulevard a block shy of the palatial mansions in Stapleton Heights. St. George is also proud home to the Yankees—the Staten Island Yankees.

While it’s not up yet (and is currently facing some obstacles), the St. George waterfront will soon by home to The New York Wheel, a 60-story-tall ferris wheel. In the meantime, make a reservation at Enoteca Maria for world-class Italian food— famously, dinners are prepared by a different Italian grandmother every night.

Then catch a show at the historic St. George Theater, which hosts everything from big name music acts to SNL star (and SI native) Colin Jost. And now is the perfect time to move— new luxury developments along the waterfront are attracting scores of commuters looking to catch the morning ferry.

Highlights:

  • The Staten Island Ferry
  • The Staten Island Yankees (at Richmond County Bank Ballpark)
  • The St. George Theater
  • Sri Lankan Food on Victory Boulevard

New Brighton & West Brighton

Perfect for: Young Families, Millenials

Reasonably priced housing, low crime rates, and avenue after avenue of thriving small businesses put the collective neighborhoods of New Brighton and West Brighton, known as the North Shore, among the most appealing zip codes on the island. Neighborhood staples along Forest Avenue like Italian specialty store Pastosa Ravioli and Bruno’s Bakery are always packed with customers, and nearby Denino’s serves up the best thin-crust pizza in the state.

Clove Lakes Park to the south offers a leafy refuge from this lively suburb. Silver Lake is criss-crossed with scenic jogging paths and a full golf course. But the real gem is along the northern coast, at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center. This expertly maintained green space is the location of the Staten Island Museum, the Newhouse Center of Contemporary Art, the New York Chinese Scholars Garden, and much more. It’s the best place on Staten Island to spend a day with your family that you’ll never forget.

Highlights:

  • Snug Harbor Cultural Center
  • The New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden
  • Clove Lakes Park
  • Silver Lake Park

Todt Hill & Lighthouse Hill

Perfect for: Nature lovers, families

These two exclusive enclaves have long been the neighborhoods of choice for Staten Island’s most well-to-do residents. And it’s clear why: far above the rest of the borough, these woodsy hills comprise the highest elevations on the Eastern seaboard south of Maine. Aside from a gorgeous mix of new and historic homes, these two neighborhoods are comprise the majority of the Staten Island Greenbelt— an interconnected system of parks that include High Rock Park, Todt Hill Woodlands, and Latourette Park and Golf Course.  Cruising along Lighthouse Hills’ tree-lined snaking roads feels like driving through a forest. Todt Hill’s mansion and villa-style houses offer stunning views of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

For a surprising and transcendent cultural experience, head to the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art; since 1947, this hillside compound owns one of the largest collection of Tibetan artifacts in the United States and offers weekly film screening and guided meditations. At the base of the neighborhoods sit Historic Richmondtown and its preserved buildings that date back to the 1600s. And when you get hungry, head to the eclectically decorated DOUGH by Licastri for a classic pie.

Highlights:

  • The Staten Island Greenbelt
  • The Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art
  • Historic Richmondtown
  • Wagner College Overlook

New Dorp & Midland Beach

Perfect for: Families, Sunbathers, Fishing Fanatics

The mid-island neighborhoods of New Dorp and Midland Beach are not unlike the other middle-class parts of Staten Island. Cookie-cutter developments comingle with opulent, Romanesque estates. Hyland Boulevard and New Dorp Lane offer only a little more than the average amount of food and shopping available in the rest of the borough. But what makes these adjoining localities special is their beaches.

Like in the rest of Staten Island, you will find Italian food galore. But Hylan Boulevard’s seafood offerings, namely the relatively inexpensive crustaceans at Lobster House Joe’s, are a thrilling experience. Midland Beach is the perfect place to take a dip in the ocean; fishing abounds on the rock barriers scattered from Miller Field to Ocean Breeze Park. And the homes along Father Capodanno Boulevard are practically like living in the Rockaways.

Slightly west of the neighborhood is Great Kills Park. Despite its devious-sound name (“kill” is the Dutch word for a tidal inlet), Great Kills is rarely crowded and always offers gorgeous— and at times hauntingly beautiful—beachfront access. A walk along the sand will lead you to Great Kills Harbor, where you can charter a boat to take you on a fishing excursion out on the open ocean.

Highlights:

  • Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach
  • Midland Beach
  • Great Kills Park


Benjamin Korman