Things to Do Around The Brielle
The Brielle, an assisted living and memory care community located on Staten Island, is nestled on a 10-acre natural wooded oasis, providing a peaceful environment that is still close to city conveniences and local activities. Staten Island’s many beaches, parks, museums and other destinations make it a great place to spend the day (or longer) exploring.
About Staten Island
Staten Island, New York City’s southernmost borough, is a triangular-shaped island that’s 13.9 miles long and 7.3 miles wide. With 60.9 square miles of space, it’s the city’s third largest borough; however, it’s the least populated of the five. Although part of New York City, Staten Island is closer to New Jersey than New York. There are three bridges connecting Staten Island to New Jersey across the Arthur Kill (“Kill” is a Dutch word that means channel or river) and only one to New York itself, the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge. The Island can also be accessed via the Staten Island Ferry which runs across New York Harbor from Lower Manhattan. Todt Hill, with an elevation of 410 feet above sea level, is one of seven hills that span an otherwise flat terrain and is the highest elevation on the Atlantic coast south of Maine.
Until approximately 1630, Staten Island was populated by Native American tribes, the Unamis and Raritans. At that time, the Dutch struggled to establish a settlement on the island but named the location, “Staaten Eylandt.” Following three wars against the Indians between 1641 and 1655, Dutch settlers were able to establish a lasting settlement. Seeing this Dutch name, it’s easy to tell where Staten Island’s name originated.
If you’re interested about the history of Staten Island, check out our blog post, Staten Island: A Look into the Past.
Being an island, Staten Island has no shortages of beaches. Its beautiful beaches provide a great escape for a relaxing day enjoying sunshine, sand and surf. To learn more about the Island’s beaches, check out our Staten Island Beaches blog post.
Parks and Green Spaces
New York City has hundreds of parks covering 28,000 acres of municipal parkland set aside for your enjoyment. Previously, we looked at five of the largest parks in New York City. Because of its natural beauty and the many green spaces that can be found within its borders, Staten Island is often referred to as the “borough of parks,” and with good reason.
Parks provide great places to get a breath of fresh air and enjoy the great outdoors. Whether you want to take a stroll, have a picnic or barbecue, tour an older home, try your luck at fishing or enjoy wildlife and bird watching, the parks on Staten Island provide the space to take part in these activities and so much more. Let’s take a peek at some of the parks on Staten Island itself.
Blue Heron Park
Located along the south shore of Staten Island you’ll find 250-acre Blue Heron Park, named after the gray-feathered predatory bird which can be seen throughout much of the New York area. Blue Heron Park is an outstanding wildlife preserve and sanctuary with meadows, three walking trails, woodlands, streams and ponds. The visitor’s center, just inside the Poillon Avenue entrance, contains classrooms, a library, exhibit areas, restrooms, two observation decks with bird feeders and picnic tables available for anyone to use.
Blue Heron Park contains freshwater wetlands, a valuable ecosystem that slows erosion, prevents flooding, filters and decomposes pollutants and slows global warming. The wetlands house many native birds and animals, plus provides feeding, resting and breeding grounds to hundreds of thousands of migratory birds.
Six ponds can be found in the park, the two largest being Blue Heron and Spring. At 1.4-acres, Blue Heron Pond is a serene wetland, home to a wide diversity of wildlife. The largest pond, at 1.75 acres, is Spring Pond which is a dead tree swamp.
Lemon Creek Park
Also located along the south shore of Staten Island lies 100+ acre Lemon Creek Park. Its namesake, Lemon Creek (one of the few remaining ground-level creeks in New York City), empties into Prince’s Bay. The red clay bluffs located in the park, which reach 85 feet above the bay at Mt. Loretto, are the tallest ocean-facing cliffs in New York State. The parkland is home to black ducks, mallard ducks and swans. The park also serves as a resting spot for migratory birds, is home to one of the only purple martin colonies in New York City and is the arrival point of horseshoe crabs every May and June as they prepare to lay their eggs. In early October, the park is part of the migratory path of the monarch butterfly. A fishing pier is located at the foot of Sharrott Avenue. Lemon Creek Park has dog-friendly areas, kayak/canoe launch sites, a marina and a wheelchair accessible playground with transfer platforms and ground level play features.
Located in the park is Sequine Mansion, a stately Greek Revival structure which reflects the classical architecture of mid-19th century Staten Island. Tours are available by appointment only; however, you can get a glimpse of this beautiful mansion all dressed up for Christmas in this slideshow.
Wolfe’s Pond Park
Also located along the south shore of Staten Island is Wolfe’s Pond Park which is site to one of New York City’s quietest public swimming beaches – The Beach at Wolfe’s Pond Park. The park, one of Staten Island’s largest, is a beautiful beach, a wildlife and plant preserve and an area where the recreation enthusiast can run, jump and climb. It also houses the Battle of the Bulge monument. Horseshoe crabs arrive on its shores every May and June to lay their eggs.
Just like Blue Heron Park, the wetland area located in the park is a valuable ecosystem that slows erosion, prevents flooding, filters and decomposes pollutants and slows global warming. The wetlands house many native birds and animals, plus provides feeding, resting and breeding grounds to hundreds of thousands of migratory birds.
Wolfe’s Park has barbecuing areas, beaches, bicycling trails, dog-friendly areas, public fishing at Wolfe’s Pond (read the regulations here), easy hiking trails, spray showers, outdoor tennis courts and two playgrounds, both wheelchair accessible, one with universally accessible swings and the other with transfer platforms and ground level play features.
Wolfe’s Pond, for which the park was named, is unique in that it’s a freshwater pond located only yards from the ocean’s saltwater. It flows into Acme Pond, a freshwater kettle pond also located in the park, via a ravine. Acme Pond is surrounded by some of the most impressive woodlands in New York City. The ponds are home to many species of birds and animals including brightly colored painted turtles, large snapping turtles and red-backed salamanders. In the spring, the woods are filled with many vernal ponds which evaporate and disappear in the summer heat.
Silver Lake Park
Although created to compete with Manhattan’s Central Park and Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, with more than 200 acres, Silver Lake Park stands on its own with a multitude of recreational activities including Silver Lake Golf Course and plenty of open spaces to wander. The park also has baseball fields, a basketball court, a football field, soccer fields, outdoor tennis courts, a dog-friendly area, a spray shower and a wheelchair-accessible playground with ramped play equipment and universally accessible swings. Bathrooms are available. In the spring, be sure to enjoy the enchanting beauty of the crabapple trees along the north end of the lake.
Clove Lake Park
Clove Lake Park obtained its name from the Dutch word “kloven” which means cleft. It has a rich natural history with remnants from the past that continue to thrill visitors today including great trees, one of which is a 300-year-old, 107-foot tall tulip tree, outcroppings of serpentine rocks, lakes and ponds. But the park offers modern conveniences as well including an outdoor ice skating rink, baseball diamonds, a basketball court, a football field, soccer fields and two wheelchair-accessible playgrounds with universally accessible swings. It also has barbecuing areas, two off-leash dog-friendly areas, rowboat and paddleboat rentals, spray showers, fishing and a three mile long easy hiking trail. The park has three lakes, the main lake being Clove Lake for which the park is named with runoffs into Martling Lake and Brooks Lake.
Pictures of Clove Lake Park can be viewed here.
Alice Austen Park
Make a picturesque detour from the 21st century and journey to Alice Austen Park. There you’ll enjoy the scenic grounds of the home of Alice Austen, a groundbreaking photographer in the late 19th and early 20th century. Inside her home, an old mansion dating back to the 17th century, is displayed a vast range of photographs documenting Victorian New York. Read an interesting but brief history of her life here.
Conference House Park
With more than 286 acres, Conference House Park is a great place to enjoy both nature and history. At the southernmost tip of the borough, Conference House Park offers a serene escape with breathtaking views of Raritan Bay along with many other services and amenities. The park has four historic buildings on-site tracing more than three centuries of Staten Island’s history: the Conference House, the Rutan-Beckett House, the Ward House and the Biddle House. The Conference house, so named for the unsuccessful Revolutionary War peace conference that took place within its walls, was built in 1680 and became Staten Island’s first museum in 1926.
You’re sure to enjoy its hiking trails which run alongside these and other older homes, some of the oldest in the area. Horseshoe crabs arrive in the park every May and June to lay their eggs along the 2.5 miles of beach. In the spring, monarch butterflies can be seen fluttering around the park after their winter-long hibernation.
Conference House Park also has a hiking trail, bathrooms, a kayak/canoe launching site, a dog-friendly area and a wheelchair-accessible playground with transfer platforms and ground level play features. The park features a full events calendar.
Ocean Breeze Park
Spanning more than 110 acres, Ocean Breeze Park was originally part of a vast tidal meadow and is situated close to the Ocean Breeze Pier and Midland Beach. It’s also the site of the Ocean Breeze Track and Field Athletic Complex which has a cardio room, a multipurpose room, a fitness room and an indoor track. The 135,000 square-foot state-of-the-art complex is a premier track and field facility hosting a variety of meets, from small local events to national championships. For a minimal yearly fee, you too can train like an athlete at this complex and other recreation centers in the New York City area.
When the weather warms, usually in March, monarch butterflies can be seen flitting here and there as they come out of hibernation. Pictures of Ocean Breeze Park can be viewed here and their events page, here.
With 2,200 acres, Freshkills Park is nearly three times as large as Central Park. What was once the largest landfill which closed in 2001, Freshkills is slowly being converted to facilities and public spaces including horseback riding trails, athletic fields and playgrounds. Opening up in phases, construction is expected to be complete in 2036. Freshkills Park will host many recreational, cultural and social activities including large-scale public art, mountain biking and horseback riding. The park will continue to support richly diverse habitats for birds and wildlife as well as plant communities.
Several parts of the park are now open. Schmul Park is a perimeter park with a baseball field, basketball courts, handball courts, bathrooms and a colorful wheelchair-accessible playground with transfer platforms and ground level play features. Freshkills is open on select days for tours and events – their calendar can be seen here.
New Springville Greenway, a 3.3-mile off-street multi-use path, runs along the eastern edge of the park providing a safe route for pedestrians and bikes between the north and south shores of Staten Island.
For more information about Freshkills Park and its future development, visit Freshkills Park Alliance website. View a virtual tour of the park, here. Their landfill-to-park timeline can be viewed here and their FAQs, here.
Additional Activities Close to The Brielle
We have written several other posts that go into detail of additional activities you can enjoy on Staten Island: Things to Do with your Grandkids on Staten Island (many you’ll enjoy with or without the grandkids), Explore These Museums Around Staten Island and History of Lighthouses and Lighthouse Boat Tours on Staten Island. These posts provide more information on activities and venues such as the Staten Island Zoo, the Staten Island Children’s Museum and the Snug Harbor Cultural Center, Botanical Garden and Museum.
The Brielle Offers a Tranquil Setting
Just as we’ve featured many natural areas in this post, our campus is situated among one of the few natural spaces left on Staten Island, a greenbelt that’s almost 3,000 acres in size. This space provides an additional place to enjoy many outdoor activities right outside your own back door. Come check us out and see what The Brielle has to offer. Don’t forget to get your copy of The Brielle’s Guide to Navigating Assisted Living Options or contact us with questions or to schedule a tour!