Things to Do What to do and eat in Stapleton, Staten Island By Steven Casale Special to amNY.com Updated March 22, 2017 12:28 PM Print Share fbShare Tweet Email The forgotten borough is finally having a moment. Only a short ferry ride from lower Manhattan, Staten Island has long maintained a strange air of exoticism. But the time is now to explore. Stapleton is a small neighborhood on Staten Island’s North Shore, just a five-minute train ride from the St. George Ferry Terminal. Once the economic center of the borough (until the opening of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in 1964), Stapleton is packed with history. Victorian mansions line the streets, and sights like Edgewater Village Hall recall days past. The neighborhood has played home to Cornelius Vanderbilt and the Wu-Tang Clan, among others. Today, a renaissance is underway thanks to an influx of artists and young professionals. Start your day early and explore waterfront views, vibrant immigrant communities and lots of street art. Here’s how. Have coffee and breakfast at Duzer’s Local Photo Credit: Christa Lopez Owners Veronica Silvestro and Annette Bruno opened Duzer's Local, 387 Van Duzer St., in 2016 to great neighborhood reception. It's part café, part market, and all charm. (Think: reclaimed wood.) Stop in for freshly brewed coffee, an array of pastries and organic artisan goods. Don't miss the candy jars on the way out, either. (Pictured: chai latte.) Take in the sights of Tappen Park Photo Credit: Christa Lopez Stapleton's main hub is the small but bustling Tappen Park. Like any city park, a few minutes on a bench will give you great insight into the local character. But there's history here, too: Edgewater Village Hall, a former village hall built in 1889, lies within the park. It's a prime example of Romanesque Revival architecture. Have a Sri Lankan lunch Photo Credit: Christa Lopez Staten Island is home to one of the world's largest expat Sri Lankan communities. So what better place to delve into the cuisine but here? New Lakruwana, at 668 Bay St., has traditional Sri Lankan decor (ornately carved wooden walls, Buddhist art) and was even given a nod by The New York Times. The darling of the menu is the clay pot, in which a host of dishes are cooked. Be sure to try a hopper (Sri Lanka's answer to a crepe), which comes with a variety of fillings. Take a walk back in time Photo Credit: Christa Lopez The heyday of the Vanderbilts, who once called Stapleton home, may have passed, but the Victorian mystique remains. Stroll through the St. Paul's Avenue-Stapleton Heights Historic District for a look back in time. Catch glimpses of colorful mansions that will make you forget you're still in New York City. Order a beer at Craft House Photo Credit: Christa Lopez Refuel at Craft House, where beer is the name of the game. The extensive drinks list has options from far and wide (and in any size pour). Come summer, the backyard provides a perfect respite. (Pictured: the maple-sriracha-glazed chicken and waffles.) Sit down to dinner on the bay Photo Credit: Gatsby's on the Bay With an homage to the good life of the 1920s, Gatsby's on the Bay, 695 Bay St., is a restaurant the fuses both the modern and the past. Brick walls and thoughtfully kitschy decorations set the mood. The New American menu has everything from fresh pastas to daily fish specials. (Pictured: homemade burette with cherry tomatoes, roasted pumpkin, beets, and aged balsamic vinegar.) Walk off the day along the water Photo Credit: Vincent Barone It is an island, after all. Head to Waterfront Park, six acres along the North Shore that opened in May 2016, for a glimpse of New York Bay -- particularly at night. With views of both the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and downtown Manhattan, there's no shortage of sights to take in. Enjoy nightlife (and a beverage) at The Hop Shoppe Photo Credit: Christa Lopez Grab a cocktail at The Hop Shoppe, a no-frills gastropub that keeps locals returning. At 372 Van Duzer St., The Hop Shoppe has classics, like a negroni, and more inventive libations, like the Fig Smoke (mezcal, Chartreuse, and jalapeño). Should you get hungry, try the arancini (it's Staten Island, after all) or the chorizo-stuffed empanadas. And if you're up for a game of skeeball, they've got you covered. By Steven Casale Special to amNY.com Share on Facebook Share on Twitter More on this topic Explore 34 new-to-you neighborhoodsCheck out Bushwick, Morningside Heights, LIC & more neighborhoods. How to spend a day in St. GeorgeSt. George is the gateway to Staten Island -- with plenty to see and eat. Try Sri Lankan food on Staten IslandThis South Asian cuisine has found a firm foothold in North Shore neighborhoods. Comments We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.