Staten Island families seeking an outdoor oasis this summer don’t have to look far when it comes to enjoying one of the island’s many parks.
Parents said they are fortunate to live in a borough that boasts over 12,000 acres of green space thanks to Staten Island’s Greenbelt and Gateway National Recreation, and where finding a neighborhood park is easy, close by, and allows them to enjoy a day outdoors in nature with their families.
For parents who want their kids to unplug and unwind, there is no shortage of open spaces to fit the bill for spending a day of fun and frolicking in Mother Nature — from the North to the South shores.
Large or small, playful or picturesque, there are many Staten Island parks that families can visit to get a combination of recreational facilities, public amenities, and natural beauty.
An informal survey of Staten Island parents who frequent local parks said their top criteria for park selection includes: safety, cleanliness, ample playground and open space, proximity to their home or school, public restrooms, and a variety of other sports and recreational features, such as bike, walking and hiking paths, basketball courts, and sprinklers in the warm weather to name a few.
Here are Staten Island Parent’s top picks for parks where parents can enjoy their next outdoor adventure.
Parents said this park, located at Drumgoole Road West and Lenevar Avenue, is a prime spot for expansive walking trails and sports facilities, including baseball and soccer fields. The 130-acre park and natural space also has two areas for kid play, a sprinkler, and a public restroom facility. Kids even go sledding there in the winter.
“There’s something for whatever we want to do — a jungle gym, sports field, trails for walking, and the surrounding block is smooth for bike riding and roller skating,” said mom Kristin Shtrahman, who noted that the sprinklers add additional fun in the hot summer months.
Although she lives in Mariners Harbor, she frequents the South Shore oasis because it is her 5-year-old daughter Cadence’s favorite park.
Dad Gennaro Lattanzi agrees about its amenities, and said the park is always teeming with children for his son to play with. The fenced-in play area only has two entry and exit points, which is a plus for safety conscious parents.
His family also enjoys the bike trails inside and on the perimeter of the park, as well as watching the “old timers” play bocce ball. “It’s nice to see people of all ages using the park every day,” he said. “It’s a neighborhood treasure if you ask me.”
Bloomingdale Park scores high with moms, like Nicole Biancanielo of Woodrow, who rank it as the cleanest park, with a multitude of playground options for kids of all ages, as well as a huge field for open play.
In addition, the park hosts free holiday events throughout the year, with bounce houses, games, and face painting, which is one of her 6-year-old daughter’s favorite perks.
This Nelson Avenue and Tennyson Drive park offers a creative twist on local play with the high seas nearby. The pirate-themed park is a favorite among parents with little buccaneers who want to navigate a day of imaginative exploring and adventure with other shipmates.
With the the marina at Great Kills Harbor as a backdrop, this nautical setting is complete with a shipwrecked boat and a shark to climb on, Staten Island Ferry boat and lighthouse structures for exploring, as well as wide play areas. Parents love the park for its options for both young and older children, beautiful scenery, and safe ample area to ride bikes and skateboards. It has two sections — one fenced-in area with toddler-friendly swings, jungle gym for climbing, a sandbox, and sprinklers in the warm weather, as well as an area for older kids.
“It is right on the water by the boatyard, so you see and hear the ocean and there are always ducks you can feed,” Ms. Biancanielo explained. “It’s a great time for the kids.”
“The views are great and you can see some sea life, wildlife, and boats at the marina,” said another mom.
Part of the Staten Island Greenbelt, this gem is located on Eton Place off Victory Boulevard, with an alternate entrance on Victory at Morani Street, and houses the “Carousel for All Children,” which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
Families can enjoy a stroll around the park and stop at its three main attractions — including the beautifully painted, colorful merry-go-round operated by the nonprofit Greenbelt Conservancy in partnership with the New York Parks Department, and the small, but equally fun, playground for toddlers with a jungle gym for climbing, monkey bars, and slides. Afterward, families can venture over to the duck pond and feed some feathered friends, and do some catch and release fishing.
The park also has a picnic area with tables, a tennis court, baseball fields, hiking trails, as well as seasonal activities, including canoeing, archery, a Huckleberry Finn fishing contest, pumpkin festival, and other family days.
The Carousel operates early May through early October from 11 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. and costs $2 per ride.
Toddlers of all ages flock to this park favorite which boasts a completely fenced-in facility with a soft padded covering on most of the ground for added safety and protection, which moms really love.
Located on Wild Avenue off Victory Boulevard near Melvin Avenue in Travis, the park is “spacious and super safe for little ones to run around and go wild,” in one mom’s words.
“I love that the floor is all foam so the kids don’t get hurt so bad if they fall,” said another mom.
“It’s small enough where you can see your kids no matter where they are,” added another mom. “They also have sprinklers and a fun slide and climbing areas for the kids.”
Older kids who enjoy skateboarding and rollerblading have their space as well, she said, adding, “kids of every age seem to enjoy it.”
While its cleanliness and public restrooms are a win for moms, and its size and layout are perfect for little park-goers, one mom noted its relatively small size can be challenging for older kids who may get bored faster than younger ones.
Clove Lakes Park
Set in one of the most tranquil and picturesque settings in Staten Island, the Clove Lakes gem is filled with activities for families to spend the day.
From a traditional playground with swings and a slide for both toddlers and older children — complete with a sprinkler — to picnicking on the lawn to renting pedal or row boating along the lake, there is no shortage of attractions for kids and adults alike.
Whether parents want to relax on a blanket in the large grassy areas for a picnic or utilize one of the many barbeques and picnic tables for an outdoor feast, the park offers many different options for families of all sizes and interests.
Sports lovers will enjoy the baseball and soccer fields as well as the basketball courts, while there are also walking paths and hiking trails for other families. The WWII Veterans Memorial Ice Skating Rink also operates November through March and costs $10 for admission and $5 for skate rental. Boat rentals are available in front of The Stone House restaurant on the grounds of Clove Lakes, and are $15 per hour on Saturdays and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
In addition, the park hosts several free public events throughout the year, including summer concert series and Movies Under the Stars events sponsored by the Parks Department and the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.
The park has a public restroom facility, as well as an on-site parking lot, which is a big plus for parents — especially those who drive from further distances, like Courtney Repoli of Bay Terrace and Meredith Gaskins of New Springville, who were strolling through the park on recent spring day.
They frequently meet up with Linda Torchi, who lives near Clove Lakes, so their children can ride their scooters, feed the ducks, and enjoy the playground.
The moms met at their kids’ gymnastics playgroups and enjoy the park for its extensive green space, scenery, and the parking and restroom facilities are an added bonus.
Plus, the moms enjoy getting in their own exercise at the same time, they said.
Silver Lake Park
With rolling hills and plush greenery, open space, a playground, scenic walking paths, and sports facilities, Silver Lake Park is another favorite among Staten Island parents.
Located off Victory Boulevard between Clove and Forest, and off Forest between
Victory and Hart Boulevard, the park is likened to Manhattan’s Central Park for its size and picturesque scenery, trails, lake, and sports facilities.
Families flock to its playground — though small it is nestled among walking paths and trails and over 200-acres of wide green space for open play, picnics, and after-school playdates.
Sisters Amelia, 2, and Adrienne, 4, were smiling from ear to ear as their mom pushed them on the swings for a recent late afternoon playdate, as many nearby children enjoyed the jungle gym facility or rode their bikes and scooters.
The park features an 18-hole golf course, as well as tennis and basketball courts, baseball field, and spray showers, and is also dog-friendly so even the four-legged family members can join in the park fun.
South Beach and Park
With a spectacular backdrop of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, South Beach and South Beach Dolphin Park can be an all-day adventure for families who want to sunbathe, splash in the ocean, or make use of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk and its adjacent park and recreational facilities.
The park is located off Father Capodanno Boulevard at Sand Lane with its notable Dolphins fountain greeting park and beach-goers before they enter the free parking lot.
A playground and sprinkler for little ones are just two of the amenities for parents who split the day between beach-going and other activities, like bike riding or walking on the boardwalk, or fishing at Ocean Breeze Fishing Pier.
There is even a vendor with hourly bike and surrey rentals for families, and a park for grandparents to play chess and bocce at the playground area near Doty Avenue and Father Capodanno.
Other sports facilities include basketball courts, baseball fields, and kayaking and canoeing launches with required permits, as well as volleyball courts near Doty Avenue.
Public bathroom facilities, as well as a snack bar, and picnic tables on the boardwalk offer families the amenities they seek when out for a long day of fun and adventure.
Two restaurants — the indoor/outdoor eatery South Finn Grill and upscale catering hall The Vanderbilt — are located directly on the boardwalk.
Midland Beach and Turtle Playground
Located just a few short miles from South Beach and Dolphin Park, this equally enjoyable park and beach setting is a favorite among parents and children for its sun-kissed shores and fun-filled facilities.
When families are not catching sun rays or building sand castles, two playgrounds offer ample room for families on seasonable days, and kids can run and cool off in the beach-themed water fountains.
The park also offers older kids and teens a skate park for use with bikes, inline skates, and scooters adjacent to the playground.
Unlike some of the city’s other skate parks, the Midland Beach site is unsupervised, and skaters are not required to have a liability waiver.
Two handball courts are also found near the Midland Beach playgrounds, as well as a soccer field, and other open space to play, picnic, and propose a game of frisbee, wiffle ball, catch, or kite-flying.
Public parking and restrooms are also available at this section of the 3-mile boardwalk, as well as barbecuing facilities and ample open space.
Great Kills Park
Nestled off Hylan Boulevard at Buffalo Street, this combination park, beach, marina, and playground area is an attraction for families
who love all-things outdoors.
Part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, the park offers fishing and seasonal crabbing, boating, hiking, bird watching, and a marina and beach areas that border nearby New Dorp, Cedar Grove, Oakwood, and Fox beaches. It even has a model airplane flying field.
Families can leave all the hustle and bustle of a busy day and spend hours doing everything from sliding and scootering to kayaking and canoeing to bike riding and building sandcastles at the ocean.
Wolfe’s Pond Park
A popular South Shore recreational spot and former summer beach resort with cottages and bungalows, the park was acquired by the city’s Parks Department in 1929.
Located off Hylan Boulevard and bordered between Holten and Cornelia avenues, the site now features a mecca for nature and beach loving families alike.
Its host of amenities includes barbecuing, bathrooms, beaches, bicycling, dog-friendly area, fishing and hiking trails, two playgrounds, roller hockey rink at the end of Cornelia Avenue, spray showers, tennis courts and of course a pond.
A boathouse, bathhouse, stairs to the beach, a parking lot, and picnic area are also featured attractions for Staten Island parents who want to give their kids a suburban experience just outside of the city.
It has a free parking lot, and the beach area opened for the season in May. During beach season, lifeguards are on duty daily, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Swimming is prohibited when lifeguards are not on duty and in closed sections. Closed sections are marked with signs and/or red flags.
Among its modern-day amenities, many plants and animals call this natural habitat their home along the Raritan and Prince’s bays.
Its history dates back to 6,000 years ago when archaeological evidence suggests that Native Americans ancestors of the Algonquian Lenape settled in the area.