Staten Islanders of all ages adore the rich community arts center of Snug Harbor. The grounds were originally a home for retired sailors. It has been re-purposed to house museums, a community theater, classrooms for the arts, elegant event venues, and beautiful botanical gardens. The grounds are free to enter and explore, but some areas such as the museums and New York Chinese Scholars Garden do charge entry.
I love Snug Harbor’s extensive and varied botanical gardens. From Tuscany to China, the gardens find inspiration around the world. I love the mysterious secret garden, which can only be found if you make your way through the hedge labyrinth. In the summer, the peony garden is a riot of color, blooming in every shade of pink and purple. The white garden often lends the perfect background to wedding photos as every flower blooms white in the spring.
Snug Harbor is also home to many museums: the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Arts, the Staten Island Museum, Noble Maritime Collection, and the Staten Island Children’s Museum. If you are visiting with kids, I highly recommend the Children’s museum. The entire building is full of interactive exhibits, allowing kids to learn through play. The Newhouse Center for Contemporary art is located within one of the Greek revival buildings at the front. The building alone is worth a visit, as it displays unique custom-made Tiffany stained glass, an elegant light-filled rotunda, and glass etchings depicting the constellations.