When I was a kid living in Brooklyn, my family considered Staten Island to be One Big Obstacle to visiting family in East Brunswick. But, judging from the signs on the expressway (Exit here for the children’s museum!), it seemed like a fun place. This might explain why, when I moved to the Garden State as an adult, one of the first day trips I took with my toddler was to the Island. Here are three kid-friendly SI destinations that are worth the trip on their own, or, when taken together, add up to one awesome day of fun.

Historic Richmond Town  

Interpreters in period dress demonstrate activities of early Islanders, like butter churning and candle making, and lead tours of original historic structures, furnished as they were in the old days. There’s also a museum with fun stuff like a rowboat for oyster fishing and a carousel horse.

Bonus: April is full of annual events, including the BBQ Cook-off on April 12 and the Chili Cook-off on April 26 (purchase tickets online), plus the Easter Egg Hunt on the 19th. 

Staten Island Children’s Museum 

A children’s museum is never a bad bet for hands-on fun, which is what you’ll find here—40,000 square feet of it. Inside, kids can enter a real fire truck, play life-sized games, board a pirate ship, see live animals, and explore the world—from the rainforest to the frozen tundra. Outside, they can meet Francis the Praying Mantis, a sculpture fashioned from car parts. 

Go on the 5th to meet authors Nicholas Aiello, Nancy and Christopher Benbow, and Marie Severe Barret (and receive a free book!), or on the 14th or 21st for free admission. On the 16th, the Richmond University Medical Center presents its “Teddy Bear Clinic”—bring bears in need of care!

Bonus: The museum is on the grounds of the beautiful Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden.

Staten Island Zoo

It’s only eight acres, but it includes a petting zoo and over 1,400 animals from around the globe. Visit the African Savannah to observe animals like the rarely seen African Crested Porcupines, and take a tour through the “rainforest” to gaze at howler monkeys, sloths, and anteaters.

April events include Breakfast with the Bunny on the 12th ($24 for non-members; reservations required).

Bonus: 90 percent of the exhibits are indoors, making it a great escape from April showers. Even the newly opened Conservation Carousel—a merry-go-round of 24 endangered species—is protected.  f

Renée Sagiv Riebling is always on the lookout for family adventures.