Friday, December 28, 2012

Fly Away: NYC Part 5: Staten Island Ferry & Staten Island Children's Museum

Our Auntie V gets to ride the Staten Island ferry to work everyday, which we think is pretty awesome. What's even more awesome is that she scored us a ride with the captain and Kane got to blow the horn! I was offered the chance too, but I was deep into New Yorker undercover at that point and didn't want to seem too eager or impressed. As it turned out, we happened to miss the first ferry of the morning that Veronica's friend captains, so we had to hang for a while on Staten Island before catching a return deluxe ride.

A quick google showed a children's museum on Staten Island, which is on the grounds of the Snug Harbor cultural center, and just a short cab ride from the ferry terminal. As with most kid-centered museums in NYC, during public school hours, this one didn't open until 12 p.m., which allows schools to use the museums in the morning and make a nicer experience for everyone. We arrived to find a somewhat dilapidated complex of buildings and gardens spread out on a pretty large campus. We started off exploring some of the botanical gardens and spent some time in a manicured garden and then happened upon a castle and secret garden! (mom cannot wait until we are old enough to read that book - it was one of her favorites when she was little). It was warm out, but the ground was damp and we scuttled inside to the museum as soon as it opened.

The children's museum is small, but light-filled and had some unique things, including a field of giant games (we loved the life size chess set), a "great explorations" exhibit (wherein we explored rainforests, tundra, and forded a river), an outdoor "sea of boats" (which would be awesome in the summer), and a giant pirate ship shaped play structure. We only spent about 45 minutes at the museum because we wanted to be sure and catch the right ferry back, but we could see ourselves returning -- the entire complex offered a quiet area to run and play outside the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. And the museum was not crowded at all.

It turns out that Snug Harbor was actually the first home for retired sailors in the U.S. and Captain Thomas Melville (brother of Herman Melville) lived there and was governor for a set of years. Retired sailors still lived on the grounds until the 1960s when the few remaining were moved to North Carolina. So it was quite fitting then that we got to hitch a ride back with some real captains on the Staten Island ferry, who were quite nice and very accommodating. And what a view. Lady Liberty from the pilot house is really something, but the view from the public decks is pretty amazing, too. AND, wait for it, wait for it, FREE. Seriously. Can't beat it.

Click here for the Staten Island Ferry schedule. The terminal is right next to Battery Park, which normally is a pretty cool place to visit in and of itself. But Sandy has done a number on it (as well as Ellis Island, which is currently closed to visitors), so there wasn't much to see when we were visiting.

And that'll do it for our NYC posts for now. Hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year - we'll catch you on the flip side!

we got to meet the bomb doggies, too.

toot toot! 

little windy up top

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