I recently shared a post, 8 things to do in NYC in a week with kids, and one of the things we did do was visit the Statue of Liberty. Today I’m sharing my tips on what you should know before visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
A few weeks ago I took to the streets of New York City with my kids Madison and Kyle. Kyle is a New York native who was born in Manhattan, so this was nothing new to him. However, to Madison, who LOVES and enjoys visiting NY, it was a treat. The Statue of Liberty is an NYC landmark and one that is recognized worldwide. While visitors tend to navigate towards it, the locals stay away. There’s a standing joke among us New Yorkers. We can spot a tourist from a mile away. On this trip, I was the tourist.
So what tips can I share before you visit the Statue of Liberty and/or Ellis Island?
Plan Your Visit
Visiting both islands can take anywhere from 2-3hours, and even more if you decide to make your way to the pedestal or crown of the Statue of Liberty. (Reserve tickets are needed for visiting the pedestal and crown, and I suggest getting these ahead of time as they may not be available if you decide to purchase your tickets the day of. You will also have to go through a separate security check for both). Be sure you have enough time for your visit so that you’re not rushing.
Purchase Your Tickets in Advance
Statue Cruises is the only authorized venue online to purchase tickets for both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, so be very wary of any other website that states that they have tickets for sale. The reason behind purchasing your tickets in advance, whether you print them online or pick them up at the will-call window, is that the lines for purchasing tickets are and can be extremely long. I had a friend who was meeting me there, and she waited in line for almost 2hrs before getting her ticket.
Be Prepared to be Searched
Ok, I don’t mean your person (unless you have something on you that you shouldn’t have, such as a weapon), but you will be going through security, just as you do at the airport, the only difference being that you can keep your shoes on. Your bags will be searched, and you will go through a body scanner, so be sure to empty your pockets.
While ferries depart approximately every 20 minutes, arriving early may enable you to get a good seat at the top of the ship if you’re trying to get photos of the Statue of Liberty or even Ellis Island while on board. The boats can get pretty crowded, so finding a seat or even somewhere comfortable to stand can be tricky.
Take the Tour
Tours are free on Ellis Island and are available inside the main building. Be sure to grab a headset so that you can hear the immigrant stories of those who came through Ellis Island hoping for a better life for themselves and their families.
Dress for the Weather
During the summer the humidity can be hell in NYC. Since I’m a New Yorker “vacationing” in Colorado, I thought I was used to it, but it turns out I wasn’t. I actually ended up with a sunburn, so also be sure to use sunscreen. Shorts and tees during the summer are OK, but bundle up during the winter because you’ll be on the water and it gets colder there.
Walk With Snacks and Water
Sure there’s a cafe, but the price of food, in my opinion, is completely overpriced. If you’re taking the kids, I would suggest taking a few snacks with you since it’s allowed. There are picnic areas around both places so just find a place to sit. I would recommend also bringing along a bottle of water to keep you hydrated, especially during the summer since it’s sweltering and humid in NYC during the summer, but don’t forget winter as well. We tend to drink less during winter, but it’s equally important.
Skip the Souvenirs
Most of the souvenirs that are available at the gift shops, are souvenirs you can find at most stores along 42nd street dedicated to tourists. And while I did splurge on a book for Madison, just so that she could have “something to commemorate her trip”, the book was also readily available on Amazon for much less.
Visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island is a treat on its own, and something I recommend doing if you’re visiting New York City, and hopefully with my tips you’ll make it a fun one.