If you are looking for a break from the crowds and high costs of the city, pack up your kids and a picnic lunch and visit the Staten Island Children’s Museum, an excellent day trip that offers hands-on activities, art and programs on a beautiful 40,000 square-foot campus.

This small New York gem is easily-accessible by the Staten Island Ferry, then a short bus ride or taxi ride to the museum. The free ferry ride offers great views of the Statue of Liberty and of Manhattan and is a great way to both start and end the day. The Staten Island Children’s Museum is located on the Snug Harbor Cultural Center campus and has a number of botanical gardens, grassy fields, and a ballpark in the vicinity, making it a great choice for families with children of all who need a break from walking the city streets.

With so much to do that will allow you to interact with your children, you can easily spend the whole day at the museum. The outdoor space features a number of interactive sculpture exhibits and when weather permits, there are countless educational programs in which families can participate. You can even stop off at the Staten Island Yankees stadium to watch some farm-team ball.

Founded by a group of parents in 1974, the museum opened in 1976 in a small rented storefront with one exhibit and program. Today’s museum continues their commitment to “hands-on, minds-on” exhibitions and features a number of exciting activities and themes including wildlife and insects (with a live tarantula); building construction; human-sized versions of chess, dominoes, and connect 4; jungle and arctic exploration; dress-up Fire Department; pirate room; and more.

Other rooms include a rainforest exploration room that contained puzzles consisting of (safe) shards of pottery that you had to put together to form a bowl and a cup to show how archeologists pieces things together, an artic exploration room with a dog sled to sit in or steer, an insect room with tanks filled with live insects, plus an ant hill that kids could climb into to learn what it is like to be an ant.

Kids can also visit Portia’s Playhouse where they can take the stage in an authentic theatre with plenty of costumes, props, and sound effects. Outdoors, kids can play in the boating exhibit that features boats, a lighthouse, and a crow’s nest with activities including radar, Morse Code, fishing, oystering, water play and other nautical knick-knacks.