Y’a’ll…I don’t care how many times you have been to NYC…if you haven’t ever taken the time to visit The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, you are truly missing out! I have toured both sites a number of times, and most trips without kids in tow….my heart never gets tired of swelling with pride as I stand on Liberty Island, looking up at Lady Liberty herself. And my imagination runs wild with every step I take within the halls of Ellis Island, wondering if I would have been brave enough to sell everything I owned, and cross the sea, to reach America. Today, I will share some tips that will help you plan a perfect day of touring The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
The Statue of Liberty
There’s so much on the internet about the history of Lady Liberty, I won’t spend a lot of time on the subject, because…Google y’all…but briefly: The Statue of Liberty was a gift of friendship from the people of France to the United States and was dedicated on October 28, 1886. It was designated as a National Monument in 1924.
The Statue of Liberty is made of copper 3/32 in. thick, the same as two U.S. pennies put together. The Statue’s copper has naturally oxidized to form its familiar “patina” green coating. The Statue is 305ft. 1in. from the ground to the tip of the flame. It is the equivalent height of a 22-story building. In 1886, it was the tallest structure in New York.
Visitors arrive by ferry service. If you are in Manhattan, take the subway, as I detailed in this post to Battery Park in lower Manhattan. All ferry tickets include access to Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration. To visit both islands in one day, the National Park Service recommends an early ferry departure. Tickets are purchased through Statue Cruises, the official ferry service provider, and I suggest making those purchases the moment you know you want to visit The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, particulalry in busy tourist months.
Ferries provide transportation to both Liberty Island and Ellis Island. One ferry ticket provides access to both islands, so you will not purchase a separate ticket to actually tour….your ferry ticket is both your ride and your entrance fee.
It is possible to go up inside the Pedestal and the Crown (not the torch…it’s been closed since the 1920’s) but those tickets are limited and require advanced reservations, so again, the earlier you can plan, the better. I always encourage visitors to get an audio tour once you arrive at either site! It’s included in the ticket price, and a great way to tour at your own pace!
How far would you travel to find a better life? What if the journey took weeks under difficult conditions? If you heart says “whatever it takes,” you, and 12 million immigrants who passed through the quiet halls of Ellis Island are much alike.
Tours are led by a National Park Service Ranger or dedicated Volunteers-In-Park on a walking tour of the museum, and chronicle island history and explain what many immigrants experienced at the facility during its busiest years of operation.
The museum has three floors of exhibits documenting immigrants’ experiences at Ellis Island, as well as the general history of immigration to the United States, and is worth every minute you are there!
- I would allow a full half-day for this adventure. There’s so much to see at The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and depending on the crowds, you might have to move a little slower through the sites than you might like…but hey….who cares? Soak it all in!!!
- Worth emphasizing the earlier suggestion of going early in the day! Take the first Ferry out if you can….then you will finish up around 1, and be ready for lunch!
- Audio Guides…I’ll say it again. These are FANTASTIC, and you will learn so much more about The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island than simply walking around.
- Park Rangers….y’all these women and men LOVE what they do! Most of them are avid lovers of history, and they know SO MUCH about the sites! Ask them questions..and not just where the nearest bathroom is. They love to share information!
- For the little tourists, I always recommend participating the Junior Ranger program at EVERY National Park site. There’s special activities and games, all free of charge, designed to help children learn on their level, and….there’s PATCHES! How fun for a kid to collect patches from the National Parks they have visited??!!!
If all this site-seeing leaves you hungry, my NYC Restaurant Guide is only $10, and has over 30 restaurant suggestions, organized by part of town, and includes phone numbers, and information about those that participate on Open Table. Worth every penny y’all!!!!
God Bless America, y’all!!! Enjoy your visit!