Los Angeles Times

10 sights the guidebooks often miss

From the far corners of Staten Island to right in the center of Midtown, there are beautiful sights to see that off the beaten path.

Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art
Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art. One of the city's least known oases is this serene outpost of Tibetan art and culture set in gardens in the wilds of Staten Island. (338 Lighthouse Avenue, Staten Island; 718-987-3500)

Richmond Town
Staten Island's living history museum complex takes you back in time, from the 21st century to the early 19th, when this crossroads village was a thriving rural county seat, complete with courthouse, blacksmith, general store, church, and prosperous farms. Located on a 25-acre site, there are some 27 buildings, which have been restored to show off the way local people lived and worked a century ago. (441 Clarke Avenue, Staten Island; 718-351-1611)

Mount Vernon Hotel Museum
Practically in the shadow of the 59th Street bridge, this is a remnant of the city as it was in the early 19th century. Originally a carriage house, it was part of a larger estate whose owners ultimately converted it to a day resort when this part of the city was still open countryside. Today, it has been restored and serves as a museum of American decorative objects. (421 East 61st Street, Manhattan; 212- 838-6878)

Hidden Gardens in Manhattan
The garden at Saint Luke in the Field provides a respite on a warm summer afternoon or a much needed break on a spring weekend (487 Hudson Street, Manhattan). It's prettily planted, leafy and peaceful. Note:this is a privately owned garden, not a public park. Don't bring along radios or picnics.

Queens County Farm Museum
With a farm here since 1697, this is supposed to be the oldest continually farmed site in New York State, and on its 47 acres it continues to produce crops like tomatoes, corn, honey, and fresh farm eggs, which are sold through the museum shops (and at an outdoor stand during the season). There are livestock, a conservatory, orchards, and an herb garden as well as special programs for kids. For adults, there are classes in such country pursuits as line dancing and quilting.(73-50 Little Neck Parkway, Floral Park; 718-347-FARM)

American Museum of the Moving Image
Queens' homage to the movies, TV, and all things digital has an expansive collection of artifacts and displays relating to the making, marketing, and appreciation of the movies and television, not mention video games, digital art, and the like. Screenings, seminars, and interactive displays, too. (35th Avenue at 36th Street, Astoria; 718-784-0072)

Jamaica Bay Refuge
Picture a wide-open expanse of fields and salt marsh, whose silence is broken only by the sounds of songbirds. Is it possible this is New York City? It is, part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, more than 9,000 acres devoted to providing a refuge for wildlife, a prime stop along the Atlantic Flyway where, depending of the season, you can spot migrating shorebirds, raptors, and songbirds or see osprey, herons and egret, all of whom nest within the refuge. ( Floyd Bennett Field, Brooklyn; 718-338-3799)

Minor League Baseball
If you want to see a ballgame live and you don't want to head to Yankee Stadium or Shea Stadium, you have two other choices: You can watch the Yankees' farm team, the Staten Island Yankees, play at Richmond Terrace. Or you can put yourself on the subway bound for Coney Island and Keyspan Park, where the Brooklyn Cyclones, play at the branad-new Keyspan Park. Afterwards, you can take yourself out to the boardwalk, ride the roller coaster -- and stop for a hot dog at Nathan's. (Brooklyn Cyclones: KeySpan Park: 1904 Surf Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-449-8497. Staten Island Yankees: Richmond County Bank Ballpark: 75 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island; 718-720-9265)

Van Cortlandt Park
Hundreds of acres of forest make up this, the city's third-largest park. Nature trails wend their way across the landscape; rocky outcrops -- visible links to the Ice Age -- provide scenic overlooks; a freshwater pond provides a home for ducks; a section of the old Croton Aqueduct, which brought clean water into the city, can be seen here, and the Van Cortlandt house, built in 1748 and the oldest building in the Bronx, is open for tours. To get some idea of the borough's diversity, you need only look at the playing fields laid out within the park: cricket pitches, tennis courts, basketball courts, a riding stable, a golf course, Bocci court, and a Gaelic Football field. (Broadway and Van Cortlandt Park South, the Bronx; 718-548-0912)

Poe Cottage
At the corner of the Grand Concourse and Kingsbridge Road in the Bronx is a snippet of American literary history -- the small cottage where the poet Edgar Allen Poe spent two years caring for his wife, hoping the country air would cure the tuberculosis she suffered from. During his stay here, he wrote both 'The Bells' and 'Annabel Lee.' After her death, he moved to Baltimore, where he himself died two years later. Today, the house, which is the last remnant of what was once the village of Fordham, has been restored and filled with period antiques similar to what the couple might have owned; guided tours and a film explain the significance of the house and of the poet's time here. (http://www.bronxhistoricalsociety.org; 2640 Grand Concourse, the Bronx)

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