No trip to New York City would be complete without a visit to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty!
The first time I visited New York City was in the year 2000. The twin trade towers were still standing at the time, and I was able to get this amazing photo of both Liberty and Ellis Islands from the top of the towers.
That trip was over the 4th of July, and New York City was busy! We stood in line for hours to get on the Ferry at Battery Park. Our second trip was in the month of May, and the wait was also extremely long at Battery Park. On our most recent trip, in late July of 2017, we used the Liberty State Park Ferry from New Jersey, and we didn’t wait at all!
Hint: Make sure to use the authorized National Park Service ticket seller, which is Statue Cruises. You will get the cheapest prices, and won’t have to worry about a fake ticket.
The ferry makes two different stops, one for Ellis Island, and one for Liberty Island. You can choose to visit one or both, and can stay as long as you like.
Ellis Island Immigration Museum is an amazing museum that tells the story of the people of our nation. It is housed in what was the Main Immigration building for people entering New York. The building gradually became less used, and fell into disrepair during the 1950’s. In 1965, it was incorporated into the Statue of Liberty National Monument, and restored to the way it looked during 1918-1924.
The Main Entrance to the Museum takes you into the original baggage room, where immigrants fresh off the ferries had the option to check their bags. Each display in the museum is carefully crafted to transport you back in time to feel what it must have been like for the immigrants.
Moving further into the building on the first floor, there are dozens of displays that explain different aspects of the immigration process, as well as the people who came through Ellis Island. Some of the displays have a Kids’ Zone, with questions to keep kids involved. There is also a kids play area, in case the little ones finish before the adults.
On the second floor you will find the registry room. It is a great open space where immigrants were inspected and registered. Both the east and west wings of this floor have interesting exhibits telling about what the immigrants had to go through to be cleared to enter the United States.
The third floor has exhibits focusing on Ellis Island itself, as well as the historic immigration building. The kids were bored by that time, so we didn’t get to explore that area as long as we would have liked to. We did take a few minutes to grab a snack at the cafe on the first floor.
When you are finished exploring the Ellis Island museum, you will catch the ferry that takes you to Liberty Island.
Hint: The ferry from Battery Park stops at Liberty Island first, while the ferry from New Jersey stops at Ellis Island first.
We like to sit on the top of the ferry to get great views!
And there she is – Lady Liberty!
There are several different ways to experience the Statue of Liberty. One way is to walk up 162 narrow steps from the top of the pedestal to the crown. This costs an extra $3, but is totally worth it for the experience. There is a height requirement of 48″, and each person has to be able to climb the stairs on their own.
If you have small kids (or just don’t want to walk up the steps), you can buy a regular ticket for the pedestal. You can get some great views of the NYC skyline from the pedestal. The pedestal tickets are $19.25 for adults, $14 for seniors 62+, $9 for kids 4-12, and free for kids 0-3.
Hint: The pedestal tickets are the same price as the tickets to just the grounds. Make sure you specify the pedestal tickets when ordering.
The pedestal has several different levels. In these photos, we are on the level that is shaped like a star, which is the original Fort Wood.
From the top of the pedestal, you can get up close and personal with Lady Liberty!
In May of 2019, the new Statue of Liberty Museum was opened. It houses the exhibits that used to be in the pedestal, such as Lady Liberty’s face and the original crown. Additional exhibits have been added in the three new interactive galleries. I am excited to go back and visit the new museum, as it was not yet open when we were there.
There are lots of photo opportunities on the grounds around the Statue.
At some point, it will be time to leave the Island. Make sure to get in line for the ferry that is heading to where you want to go!
Have you visited the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island? Which did you like best?