Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island: What you need to know before you go

Statue Cruises, Lady Liberty
Statue Cruises, Lady Liberty

New York has long held a special place in my heart. As a young child from the midwest growing up in a small town, New York was a place of possibilities. Later, as an adult when I finally had a chance to visit Manhattan it did not disappoint. Yes, I know some people hold the opposite opinion, stating that it is a dirty city, packed full of unfriendly people. And while yes in the city trash bags are set on the sidewalks and curbs and sometimes there are resulting odors, the city still has the appeal to me that it did when I was just a kid. And the people–just like everywhere–there may be some unfriendly people but there are even more who are willing to share their favorite dinner spots or give directions.

For almost 20 years my husband has been able to travel off and on, sometimes on a regular basis for work to the big apple. Several times I was able to accompany him on these trips. The first time I assumed that I would spend the day sightseeing and go back to the hotel when it began to get dark and wait for him to get off work fearing that it would be too dangerous for me by myself out at night. And I suppose in some areas it is, but I soon learned that in the ‘city that never sleeps’ if I stayed in well populated areas I would actually be quiet safe. In fact in all of my trips I have only felt unsafe one time and that was after getting on a subway late at night and not realizing that in the night it doesn’t make all of the stops and ending up in a sketchy area. So I guess that would be a word of advice–maybe stay off the subway as the midnight hours roll in–unless you know what you are doing. (I did once see someone try to steal a bike, it didn’t turn out well for the thief as several people around saw what was happening and jumped on him and was able to stop the theft. It was quite impressive.)

Most of the trips have been just my husband and me. Many years ago, we did take our then 4 year old, 2 year old and our several month old baby. Our then 2 year old is now 17 years old and recently expressed a desire to go back so we decided to surprise him with a trip just he and I over the extended school break a couple weeks ago. Despite the frigid–and I mean frigid–I don’t think I have ever been this cold–it’s amazing we didn’t get frostbite weather–we had a great time. Since he didn’t remember much from the previous trip we did some of the more touristy things and what I believe that if you only have a short time in the city are must do’s.

Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island: Over 4 million people flock to this symbol of freedom and democracy. There are a few things you should know as you plan your trip:

  1. If you want to visit the crown or the pedestal tickets are limited and advance reservations are recommended, and really pretty much required. During busy times crown tickets are often booked six months in advance. (Even on the freezing January day of our latest visit the tickets had been sold out for months). If you only desire to visit the island walk up/same day tickets are available.
  2. If you want to visit both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in one day the National Park Service recommends an early ferry departure.
  3. Avoid street sellers! Statue Cruises is the only authorized company to sell tickets and tours. Don’t be tricked by the people in the park wearing official looking jackets selling tickets. Not only might the tickets be fake but the vendors often sell them at twice the actual price of the tickets. (Beware, some of them seem pretty legit, we almost got duped). Either buy online through the official site or purchase at the ticket office in Castle Clinton on site (if departing from New York).
  4. Food is sold on the ferry for those needing snacks. However once you get to the island if you plan on visiting the crown or pedestal no food or backpacks are allowed. Plan on springing for a locker ($2).
  5. Be prepared to spend a few minutes going through a security checkpoint. Don’t wait until the last minute to board the boat. Plan ahead in case lines are long.
  6. You might want to bring a jacket. It is often windy on the ferry especially if you are interested in sitting on the top level to look out.
  7. Departures leave from both New York and New Jersey. Make sure you get on the right return ferry so you don’t end up back in the wrong state.
  8. If interested audio tours to both the Statue and Ellis Island are included in your ticket.

For more information visit

Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island ticket prices