The 101: exploring the Statue of Liberty (+ climb to her Crown!)
Imagine the scene: you’ve been living in Western Europe or beyond, and have always heard of a place called New York City, that in your mind, represented the path to freedom, opportunity, land and wealth. You’re one of the lucky ones that made it onto a ship headed to New York City, and have spent a difficult few weeks at sea. One day you make it to the top deck of the ship, and see the Statue of Liberty in the distance. You made it. The Statue of Liberty, dedicated in 1886, represented the ideals of the USA to many immigrants.
Exploring the Statue of Liberty, and neighboring Ellis Island, are sights I think all Americans should visit to be reminded of just how fortunate we are to have the freedom and opportunities we do today. If you’re planning a visit to see the Statue of Liberty, take note of the following tips and tricks to get the most out of the experience:
The Statue of Liberty is on an island not far from New York City called Liberty Island. To visit you need to get an admission ticket (which includes the ferry ticket.) You can buy tickets online at Statue Cruises. NOTE: this is the only authorized ticket retailer. Many other (and aggressive) companies will try to sell you tickets, but you should buy direct from the authorized retailer.
The ticket you buy, and ferry you ride, will leave New York City from an area called Battery Park. After departing from Battery Park, it goes to Liberty Island, then onto Ellis Island, and then returns to Battery Park. So if you’d like to visit Liberty Island AND Ellis Island, plan to visit Liberty Island first (and in the morning) and then go to Ellis Island. There is no extra fee to visit Ellis Island. The ticket you buy gives access to both the Statue of Liberty (on Liberty Island) and Ellis Island. Note: you can also depart from New Jersey, but because most tourists are staying in New York City, this post focuses on departures starting from New York City (Battery Park.)
You’ll want to buy your tickets online in advance. Adults are limited to purchasing four tickets each. When you go to check-in at the Statue Cruise office in Battery Park, you’ll need to show photo ID. The entry time on your ticket is the time you enter the security area at Battery Park, not the time you need to get on the ferry.
At multiple times in your journey you’ll go through airport-grade security, including x-ray machines.
All tickets include the ferry ride. But there are a few different types of tickets that grant varying levels of access to the Statue of Liberty:
Reserve: These tickets give you access to Liberty Island and Ellis Island, but you’re not allowed to enter the Statue of Liberty Pedestal, museums and exhibits in the Pedestal or the Crown.
Pedestal: this is the area that the Statue of Liberty sits upon; it’s full of educational exhibits and a small museum from the ground level, and then you have an opportunity to walk up 215 steps (or take an elevator) to the top of the pedestal for amazing views of the city and Statue of Liberty. You’ll need to store all your belongings in lockers*
Crown: if you’d like to access the Crown, keep the following in mind:
Tickets are limited and in high demand, so you should start looking for tickets up to 4-6 months in advance
When you buy Crown tickets you need to enter the full legal name of each person participating, and changes are not permitted. Make sure you bring the credit card you used to purchase tickets; you’ll be asked to show this card when you pick-up your tickets.
You must be over 48” tall to access the Crown, and children must be accompanied by an adult.
You’ll be walking up 354 steps total (215 of these are to the Pedestal) which is the equivalent of 20 stories, with minimal head clearance, narrow twisting stairs, and often warm temperatures.
You’ll need to store all your belongings in lockers*
Hard Hat Tour: this is a guided tour of Ellis Island that explores unrestored areas of the island.
*Limited items are allowed in the Pedestal, and even more limited are the items that can go with you up to the Crown. Lockers are available ($2 each) and they only accept quarters. Prohibited items include backpacks, umbrellas, food/drink, strollers, etc.
When you’re at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, you can visit the Tourist Information desk to check-out audio guides, see the schedule of Ranger-led tours or informational movies.
Cheers to using travel as a vehicle for education, appreciation and exploration!
PS: Living Big will be hosting a second trip to New York City in the fall of 2018. While the trip doesn’t include a visit to Liberty Island/Ellis Island, you could consider extending your trip by one day to check these sights off your travel wish list! Click here to sign-up to receive a notification when registration opens on the 2018 trip to New York City!
Living Big Founder + Chief Adventurer and Travel Designer