Sometimes it’s easy to forget that, when you’re looking for something to do in the backyard of your Union County, NJ, apartment, your backyard actually extends beyond the border of New Jersey. To the east, just across the bridge, is the 59-square-mile Staten Island, and it’s replete with activities to while away an afternoon. Specifically — and it may come as a surprise to some — the island that sits just due south of Manhattan is chock full of gorgeous parks. Here are three of our favorites.
Alice Austen Park – This park sits on the northeastern side of the island and from it, you can enjoy sweeping views of the New York City skyline — both of Manhattan and Brooklyn, including the Verrazano Bridge. The park was named after a legendary photographer, whose house (parts of which date back to the late 1600s) still sits on the grounds. Visitors can tour the house and see a collection of photographs on display.
Freshkills Park – A little closer to home, this one is on the western side of the island, smack dab in the center. There are 2,200 acres to explore — making it nearly three times the size of Manhattan’s Central Park — and it’s full of playgrounds, sports fields, picnic spaces, and even horseback riding trails. Kayakers delight! You can enjoy the plethora of waterways (and kayak launches) that allow you to spend the afternoon paddling to your heart’s delight.
Silver Lake Park – Back up to the northeast, but inland from the waterfront, is the park that was originally touted as Staten Island’s response to Central Park. With a history that includes casinos, saloons, and ice harvesting, today the 209-acre park is a dream come true for any sports aficionado. There’s a baseball field, tennis courts, and even an 18-hole golf course. Oh, and if you want to take Fido along for the ride, go right ahead; the eastern side of the park is home to Silver Lake Dog Run.
With the weather as nice as it is, it’s time to get out and explore. So, expand your horizons and head to Staten Island. These three parks are only the beginning; there are dozens more to explore around New York City’s fifth borough, all within a short drive from your Union County, NJ, apartment.