The drive from Queens to Newark is only about an hour, but how often do you have the chance to explore New York City? Rather than just packing up your car and hitting the road, we suggest turning the car ride into a mini-road trip with stops in Brooklyn and Staten Island! Keep reading to see our top picks for destinations on the way from Queens to Newark.
Food is an important part of every culture, but how often do you get to learn by eating? The Museum of Food and Drink in Williamsburg takes a revolutionary approach to cultural education by doing just that—introducing visitors to food-centered exhibits that they can touch, smell, and, best of all, taste! In order to narrow down such a broad topic, MOFAD features rotating exhibits that focus on a specific culture or type of food.
While the space hasn’t quite reached the size of the Smithsonian yet, MOFAD is packed with interactive, deeply informative displays, and many visitors consider it to be one of Brooklyn’s hidden gems. With goals to educate, inspire, connect, preserve, and create, MOFAD is an innovative institution that’s probably unlike any museum that you’ve ever visited before.
Originally constructed in 1922, Jane’s Carousel is older than pretty much any modern-day visitor that has the pleasure of riding it. Though it resides in Brooklyn Bridge Park today, the carousel once called Youngstown, Ohio, its home. Jane and David Walentas purchased the carousel in 1984, and Jane undertook the ambitious task of restoring the ride to its former glory. New paint, updated mechanics, and 1200 lights were all part of the transformation that turned the historical relic into a fully functional, spectacular carousel that finally made its debut in 2011.
Seated beside the East River, Jane’s Carousel presents its riders with a breathtaking view of the Manhattan Skyline and, of course, a couple of nostalgia-infused rotations atop an intricately fashioned steed. Plus, tickets to ride the carousel are only $2! (Children under 42 inches can share a ticket with one adult chaperone.)
Mass transportation holds a special place in the heart of any city-dweller—especially if you live in New York. The New York Transit Museum in Downtown Brooklyn tells a story of engineering, labor, advancement, and community, and its fascinating displays are further enhanced by the museum’s location: a 1936 subway station.
A fun, insightful experience for visitors of every age, this museum showcases transportation-related artifacts that range from vintage subway cars to antique buses. Rotating exhibits and special programs keep the museum ever-changing and continually entertaining, and its eclectic gift shop is the perfect place to pick up some unique souvenirs.
With a history that dates back to 1897, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a century-old city institution and has grown from 39 acres to a whopping 52. Though the gardens are indeed in the middle of the city, you won’t have any trouble getting lost in their natural beauty and effortless tranquility. While gorgeous during any season, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden features different plants in bloom depending on the time of year.
Some of the themed gardens include the Water Garden, the Rock Garden, the Fragrance Garden, the Rose Garden, and the Native Flora Garden, and a few of the most popular conservatories are the Bonsai Museum, the Desert Pavilion, and the Aquatic House and Orchard Collection. There are three entrances to the garden, and they can be found on Eastern Parkway, Flatbush Avenue, and Washington Avenue.
Coney Island is among the most well-known attractions in Brooklyn—and for good reason! Three miles of beach and an action-packed boardwalk make Coney Island a must-see when in Brooklyn, no matter what time of year it is. (But keep in mind that lifeguards are only on duty from Memorial Day to Labor Day.) While the beach and boardwalk are open all year long, the individual rides and attractions operate on different schedules, so if you want the full boardwalk experience, the best time to go is probably in the summer. That being said, Nathan’s Famous (a Coney Island staple) and the New York Aquarium are open almost every day of the year.
Sporty beach-goers can enjoy volleyball, handball, basketball, and more while thrill-seekers can sample the boardwalk’s amusement rides. Or, you can eat your way down the boardwalk and take a nice nap on the beach. Whatever you do at Coney Island, you’re sure to have a blast.
Covering over two hundred acres on Staten Island’s northeastern shore, Fort Wadsworth Gateway National Recreation Area as abundant in scenic views as it is in history. Considered a highlight of Staten Island, this historic site on the narrows of the New York Harbor includes everything from biking and walking paths to a variety of learning opportunities. In other words, history buffs and outdoor enthusiasts alike will fall in love with Fort Wadsworth and its many amenities.
After New York City fell so easily to the British during the Revolutionary War, protecting the harbor and the surrounding islands soon became a military priority for the American government after winning its independence. Construction for New York’s coastal defense began in the early 1800s, and Fort Wadsworth was part of a string of military strongholds designed to safeguard New York from foreign interference. Today, some of Fort Wadsworth’s most-visited points of interest include the Fort Wadsworth Museum, the Mont Sec House, and the Fort Wadsworth Visitor Center.
One of the United States’ only two authentic classical Chinese gardens, the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden (NYCSG) is an extraordinary place that’s sure to charm you with its peaceful atmosphere, craftsmanship, and diverse landscaping. Aside from brimming with potential photo ops, the NYCSG features eight pavilions, a bamboo forest path, waterfalls, Koi ponds, Chinese calligraphy, and scholar’s rocks (also known as gongshi).
Part of what makes the NYCSG such a unique and incredible experience is its authenticity: All of its architectural components were created in Suzhou, China. Furthermore, despite its complex and highly detailed designs, no nails or glue were used to build the NYCSG—a traditional Chinese mortise-and-tenon system was used instead. The NYCSG is a segment of the Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, a regional arts center and public park. The NYCSG can be found in the southwest corner of its campus, and admission is $5 for adults.
Nothing rounds out a road trip like going to the zoo! The Staten Island Zoo might not be the size of its counterpart in the Bronx, but it’s definitely still worth a visit if you’re an animal-lover. Self-described as “the biggest ‘little’ zoo in American,” this eight-acre zoo holds over one thousand animals from all over the world. Some of the habitats and enclosures at the Staten Island Zoo include an aquarium, a tropical forest wing, a reptile wing, a horse barn, an otter exhibit, a fox exhibit, and an outdoor aviary.
Because it’s not too big to tackle in a few hours, the Staten Island Zoo is perfect for little ones, and sections like the Kids Korral and Dinosaur Sculptures make the zoo especially kid-friendly. If you’re hungry for a bite to eat, you can either stop by the Zoo Cafe or BYO and have a picnic in the pavilion. Admission is $10 for adults (over 15), $6 for children (ages 3 to 14), and free for children under the age of 2. Throughout the year, the zoo has days with free admission, so make sure you check the website to see if a free-day will line up with your visit!
With 100 acres and 40 structures, Staten Island’s Historic Richmond Town is the largest and most complete historic village in all of New York City. Housing over 60 thousand artifacts, this living history museum is Staten Island’s biggest cultural institution, and having been founded in 1856, it’s also the oldest. Some of the structures on the grounds can be traced as far back as the 1660s, but they still remain carefully preserved, accentuating the property’s scenic landscape.
Historic Richmond Town’s Main Village was actually Staten Island’s government center for nearly two centuries. A few of the structures that you can see at this primary site include the Third County Courthouse, the Historical Museum (once the county clerk’s and surrogate’s office), the Edwards-Baron House, the Guyon Store, the site of the first county jail, the New Dorp Railroad Station, and the Carriage House.
As New Jersey’s most populous city, Newark has plenty to see and do. Whether you catch a show at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center or take a walk through Branch Brook Park, you’ll have your fair share of attractions and points of interest to choose from once you arrive in the Gateway City. But what’s the rush? New York City is one of the best-known cities in the world, and with such a versatile sense of culture and vibrant energy, it’s not hard to see why. So, when you’re heading to Newark, consider taking a few detours in Brooklyn and Staten Island. You never know what you might find when you do a bit of exploring in NYC!