Staten Island usually gets the short end of the stick, being 5th of 5 NYC boroughs and just on the edge of being Jersey without quite making it. But there’s one thing that should put Staten Island on every Baristaville family’s day trip short-list: The Staten Island Children’s Museum.

The museum is less than an hour away from Essex County, just a quick drive over the Bayonne Bridge and along Richmond Terrace to Snug Harbor (which itself is right near the Staten Island Ferry and Staten Island Yankees’ baseball stadium). The museum is inside the Snug Harbor complex, which also features parks, botanical gardens, art galleries, and more entertainment.

Admission is just $6 a head (free for SICM members or ACM reciprocal members), and offers up four floors of polished, hands-on fun for a wide age-range of kids.

You get the flavor of the place as soon as you walk past the admissions desk: a climb-on Seagrave fire truck (circa 1941), followed by a sun-lit hall of Big Games. My son immediately went for the giant chess pieces, got a kick out of the multi-colored bowling pins, and lent a hand while my wife and I dropped rings into the big Connect Four board.

Each room at the Staten Island Children’s Museum had a clear theme and activities that ranged from simple play and dress-up to more complex and high-tech exploration. And at many points, brief labels helped parents understand what lessons were on offer: i.e., next to a cave in the rain forest, there was a note about overcoming fear of the dark; and the insect room taught how bugs help “recycle” elements in nature.

But kids don’t have to get hung up on any of that—there are a ton of blocks to build with (and knock down) in Block Harbor, real tools at the House About It construction site, and the outdoor Sea of Boats has nautical climbers, cool splash tables, and even plastic rods to let little anglers hook colorful toy fish.

Our whole experience at the SICM was fun, top to bottom (even the bathrooms were great, with kid-height facilities and sinks!). And after a short walk through Snug Harbor and a quick stop for a slice of real Staten Island pizza, we made it back to Baristaville before naptime. For more info on visiting the museum, go to