Staten Island. Yes…Staten Island.

With three weeks left until school starts and five until the official end of summer on September 21st, you’re all probably at the beach or on the cape or cruising the Mediterranean on your yacht. Grrrrr. But if you’re stuck in the city, voluntarily or otherwise, here’s an adventure to an irony-free zone you won’t want to miss. Get a bike, head to the southern tip of Manhattan, get sniffed by a bomb-detecting dog and hop on the Staten Island Ferry. That’s right, you’re headed to the forgotten borough for the day and here’s why it’s worth the trip.staten_island_ferryThe 25 minute trip across the Upper Bay is free and filled with glorious sights along the way, but it’s mostly great just to get out onto the water and breathe the salty air. Once you arrive at the St. George Terminal, head south down Bay Street toward the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. There are signs and a bike lane, so pretty easy going through this slightly-suburban, slightly-urban landscape of true and thriving Mom and Pop shops of every ilk. There’s something oddly bucolic about this stretch that we enjoyed in a kind of Tony-Soprano-roamed -these-streets kind of way. And there were more surprises to come.staten_island_goatYeah, that’s a goat right there. At the end of Bay Street, you run into Fort Wadsworth, which despite its green and lush setting today has been a major contributor to New York NOT being invaded since 1783 when the British relinquished control at the end of the American Revolution. Until it closed as a military installation in 1994, Fort Wadsworth was the oldest continually manned fort in the United States. As a green initiative, the National Park Service employs a herd of goats to chomp and manage invasive plant species including poison ivy and recycle food scraps left behind by less than considerate visitors to the park. Goats’ll eat anything!staten_island_beachFor the next portion of your adventure, head down the hill and out of the park to the south and you’re in for another surprise…a big wide glorious beach with frontage onto New York Harbor’s Lower Bay…or we can just go out on a limb and call it the Atlantic Ocean. Seriously, it’s hard to believe that this beach, 200 yards wide in places, is within the five boroughs. It was hard hit by Hurricane Sandy, but the Army Corps of Engineers has done a fantastic job of replenishing the sand. We think you’ll be hard pressed to find any place to take a dip with this much elbow room this close to midtown Manhattan. Our blood pressure just dropped. Ahhhhh. This is a great place to hang out for a while, grab a burger or dog and an ice cream at the food shack a few hundred yards down the boardwalk and head back to the ferry when you’ve had enough relaxation.staten_island_marina_cafe (2)But if you really want to leave the city behind, we’ve got one more stop for you. This trek is not for the faint of heart…or leg muscles. If you keep on the boardwalk all the way to the end, you’ll hop onto a bike path that will wind you through these amazing waterfront groves until you get to Ebbitts Street. Hang a right on Ebbitts and go about a mile to Hyland Boulevard. A left on Hyland and four miles to Hillside Terrace. We told you it wasn’t for the faint of heart! Another left on Hillside and straight down to the water and The Marina Café. You made it!!! The restaurant was demolished in Sandy, but the Tiki Bar is open and it’s right on a huge marina that’ll make you think you’re hanging out in the Florida Keys. Gentle breezes, reggae, frozen drinks, great food, boats bobbing in the tide…not bad for a day that started in can’t-walk-down-the-street-because-there-are-too-many-tourists Soho.staten_island_dragonflySo, back to the top, this is an irony-free day trip. No hipsters. No attitude. No bullshit. Every single person, from the bartender and manager at the Marina Cafe to the dude who put air in my tires was no fuckin’ around salt-of-the-earth real. We were exhausted at the end of our six hour, 30 mile adventure. But it wouldn’t have been complete without the dragonfly that got smashed into my sunglasses on the long ride home. Sorry, poor guy. Rest in peace. The Island of Staten. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!

We'd love to hear what you think about this one.