Where to Skate: Staten Island
There is a rollerskating rink at the Sports Fest "Family Fun Center" on Mill Road.
Let's assume you're not from Staten Island and have just arrived on the island via the ferry from the southern tip of Manhattan. The question is: Where do you go from here? (Or maybe it's: Did we bring money for the return fare? But the ferry is currently free, so forget about that.) If you're feeling adventurous, you head for Tottenville at the far end of the island. If not, to one of the beaches or parks along the south shore, facing out to the Atlantic Ocean.
Either way, you first need to get to the south shore. To do so, look for Bay St. as soon as you leave the ferry terminal and turn left onto it, skating south. After about three miles, the Verazzano-Narrows Bridge will be looming almost overhead and it's time to look for School Rd., where you turn right. Bay St. dead ends at a guard shack at the entrance of Fort Wadsworth, an ex-Army base. If you get there, back up two blocks and you'll be at School Rd.
School Rd. has a bike lane which you follow as the road curves toward and under the entrance/exit ramps to the Verrazano, at which point it becomes Lily Pond Ave. Next is a long downhill, at the base of which you should be prepared for a sharp right turn. The bike lane continues, but the road is now Father Capodanno Blvd. You can continue skating along FCB for another two to three miles, although the pavement on the bike lane isn't the greatest, or you can say the heck with it, cross to the other side of the road, and enjoy South Beach.
If you're in for the long haul, the tricky part is about to begin. Near the other end of Father Capodanno Blvd., look for Midland Ave. Turn right onto it and head inland about one mile, crossing Hylan Blvd. and going another block or two to Edison St., where you turn left. The basic idea now is to go as far south as you can while remaining close to Hylan Blvd. without actually skating on Hylan. The reason for this is that Hylan Blvd. is the main drag of the south shore and is way too busy for safe skating. Also, suburban drivers may be more unpredictable than Manhattan cabbies and certainly are not as used to dealing with skaters on the streets. But having ventured into the side streets, you may want to bring along a street map or a trusty native guide.
Anyway, follow Edison St. west. It jogs around a bit and becomes 10th St., but stay on it until you get to Oak Ave. Turn left on Oak and then right on Clawson St. Clawson will lead you back to Hylan Blvd. near Brook Ave. Unfortunately, if you want to continue west, you'll now have to take Hylan for a few blocks, using the sidewalk if traffic is bad.
If you've made it this far, you may be in for a treat. Near the intersection of Hylan Blvd. and Spratt Ave. is an entrance to Great Kills Park, part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. The park road runs about two miles out to Crookes Pt. and is very scenic, although the last we heard, construction had made it unskateable past the marina. Nevertheless, it's a nice skate and since there're only two entrance/exits (the other is off of Emmett Ave. closer to the shore), it would be tough to get lost.
Back out to Hylan Blvd. and heading west again, you again have to decide between dealing with traffic on the boulevard or doing some zigging and zagging on the sidestreets. If you opt for the latter, take Buffalo St. inland a couple blocks to Durant Ave. and hang a left. After a dozen blocks, hang a left on Fieldway, then a right on Maybury (aka Cottage), then a right on Hillside Terrace, and then a left onto Durant again! After passing a school, Durant becomes Monticello for a block and then Hillcrest St. When Hillcrest ends at Winchester, hang a left, and then a right onto King St. After another half mile or so, hang a left on Woods of Arden and return to Hylan Blvd. At this point, traffic on Hylan has thinned out enough that you can use it to skate the rest of the way to the end of the island. If you're thirsty, stop at a deli right away as there won't be many more places where you can get a drink between here and Tottenville.
The last seven miles of Hylan Blvd. were repaved around 1993 and there are only about four stoplights between Woods of Arden and Conference House Park. You are thus presented with the choice of some smooth cruising or detouring down to the beach via any of the sidestreets. You may run out of pavement before you hit the beach, but the roads can be pretty. In particular, Arbutus Avenue, Wolfe's Pond Park (the entrance road has a sign) and Seguine Avenue (look for the Tara-like mansion on the shore) are nice detours. Inland, Blue Heron Pond Park may be reached via Poillon Ave.
At the end of Hylan Blvd. in Tottenville is Conference House Park. Time to lay on the lawns to rest, enjoy the view of the 300-year-old house and of Perth Amboy, New Jersey, which lies just across Arthur Kill. Or you might skate a couple blocks down Surf Ave. and congratulate yourself for going as far south as you possibly can without leaving the state of New York. North a bit is Amboy Rd., inland on which you can find any number of skate-friendly delis.
Now the return back to the north end of the island! Follow the above directions in reverse, but note that you may have to use slightly different streets as many are marked for one-way traffic. Just remember that the basic idea is to stay off of Hylan Blvd. as much as possible between Woods of Arden and when you get back to Midland Ave. and can use Father Capodanno Blvd.
Richmond Ave. and the Bayonne Bridge
For the very adventurous, there is an alternative route for the return to Manhattan, namely a skate to the Bayonne Bridge and thence to a PATH station in Jersey City or Hoboken. The really sick might consider skating another ten miles up Jersey streets to the George Washington Bridge.
In any event, between Woods of Arden and Winchester is Richmond Ave., which also ends at Hylan Blvd. This is a major road which leads north across Staten Island. If you're interested in the return route via the Bayonne Bridge, turn inland on Richmond and just keep going for about eight or nine miles. Richmond is a busy road but beautifully paved. If you're skating in a group, it's great. Landmarks to watch for are the Fresh Kills landfill (world's largest garbage dump!) and the Staten Island Mall.
Eventually, Richmond Ave. will pass under the Staten Island Expressway (I-278), and after another mile or so cross Forest Ave. At this point, it becomes Morning Star Rd. After another mile, you should almost be to the Bayonne Bridge; start looking for the bridge walkway entrance, which should be near an entrance to the Bayonne Expressway. Cross your fingers, as the walkway entrance is overgrown and inconspicuous. When you pass the midpoint on the bridge walkway, do not let the long downslope fool you into speeding up. There are stairs ahead.
Once across the Bayonne Bridge, you will be on Avenue A. in Bayonne, New Jersey. Take a right onto 4th St., then a left onto Kennedy Blvd., and cruise north through Bayonne and Jersey City. To get to Manhattan, you have the option of taking a PATH train from Jersey City's Journal Square (look for signs on Kennedy Blvd.) or Hoboken or one of the Hudson River ferries.
Endurance skaters can stay on Kennedy Blvd., keep going as it becomes Hudson Blvd. and then turn right on 37th St. in Union City and then a left on Blvd. East. After that, just reverse the directions given in the discussion of Palisade Ave. and Blvd. East in the New Jersey page to get up to the GW Bridge and back to Manhattan.