Tips for Visiting The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

Written By: The Planet D

A person cannot go to New York without seeing the Statue of Liberty. But with limited time, how do you decide when to go, how much to see and what options are available? We have visited Lady Liberty three times on our visits to New York. These tips for visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are our first-hand accounts of what to expect.

Let our experiences be your guide and help you plan your New York City Vacation.

Tips for how to Visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

Tips on How to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

How Long Is it to Visit the Statue of Liberty?

When visiting the Statue of Liberty be prepared for a long day. Queues to the ferry can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours. The Statue of Liberty and museum take approximately 90 minutes to see and Ellis Island is another one hour to 90 minutes. If you follow our advice, you won’t have to wait for long and can make the most of your time visiting the Statue of Liberty.

Ferry wait times for security at Battery Park and ferries to and from Liberty and Ellis Island take time and with lines, you may have to wait for two ferries to go by before getting one. So the entire experience of visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island could easily be 5 – 6 hours.

Many people book months in advance and if you are visiting during high season, we recommend doing so. Especially when making reservations for the crown and pedestal. If you haven’t made an advanced reservation it is still possible to visit the Statue of Liberty free from hassles.

Give yourself 5 – 6 hours to visit both Liberty and Ellis Islands.

Visit Statue of Liberty or Take a Cruise?

Lines to buy tickets to the statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

Depending on your time in New York, you will need to make the decision of visiting Liberty Island itself or simply taking one of the many statue cruises offered to get a view of her from the water. Whatever you decide, you are going to love it. The Statue of Liberty is the most iconic statue in the world and is not to be missed!

You can book this 90 Minute Cruise of New York City – If you don’t have time to visit the Statue of Liberty, take this cruise tos ee the iconic sites of midtown and lower Manhattan on a Semi-Circle Cruise. See Lady Liberty and Ellis Island. Sail down the Hudson, cruising around the Battery, and up the East River. You’ll pass under the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg Bridges to the United Nations – and then head back to Pier 83

How to Get to the Statue of Liberty

The statue of Liberty ferry and ticket office is located at Battery Park in Manhattan. Ferries open at 8:30 am and we suggest getting there as early as possible to be at the front of the line.

how to get to the statue of liberty by subway

Subway

We caught the Number 1 Red Line Subway from our downtown Manhattan hotel to the South Ferry Station near Battery Park. You can buy a MetroPass at machines in entrances to the Subway. Machines take cash or credit and you can load your pass as needed.

  • Lines to take to get to the Statue of Liberty by Subway:
    • Take the 4 or 5 trains to Bowling Green.
    • Take the R train to Whitehall Street.

When you walk out of the subway, there will be several people standing to offer information. Some are selling tours, but others are there to help. If someone tries to sell you a tour, politely decline and go directly to the ticket office. We told them we had a New York Pass already and they left us alone while kindly offering directions.

If you want to relax with a guide, book this Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island Pre-Ferry Tour – This 30 minute guided tour takes you through Battery Park, and offers crowd free access to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Visiting the Pedestal of the Statue of Liberty

statue of liberty ellis island tips reserve your ticket

If you want to go up to the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, you need to book in advance for your time. It is no extra cost, but times are booked on a first-come-first-served basis. So if you arrive at 8:30 with a bunch of other people, they may already have their reserved time and you will have to wait even longer.

When booking directly from the Government Website, you will receive skip the line tickets through security which can save time.

Visiting the Crown of the Statue of Liberty

To visit the crown of the Statue of Liberty tickets cost an extra $3. You should also book ahead of time (we have read up to three months in advance) at the website as times are designated on a first come first serve basis as well. Reservations will also put you ahead of the line to go through security when entering the Statue of Liberty ferry terminal.

Visit the Statue of Liberty Museum

Visit the Museum at the Statue of Liberty

Visiting the Statue of Liberty Museum is included in your ferry service tickets to the islands, and you don’t have to schedule a time to go in.

Get the New York Pass

new york pass

Our New York Pass included our visits to the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and ferry service to each. If you don’t have a New York Pass, we suggest getting your tickets ahead of time at www.statuecruises.com. Or if you are there early in the morning, you can purchase directly from the ticket office inside the Clinton Castle.

Note: The New York Pass does not offer “skip the line tickets.” When you do arrive at Battery Park, you still need to go inside the Castle to get your boarding pass, so you will have to stand in line for tickets regardless.

Take Guided Tours of the Statue of Liberty

Viator offers guided tours of Liberty Island and Ellis Island. Reserve Line Access boarding on the ferry to Liberty Island.

Guided visit to the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island Explore the grounds at Liberty Island and upgrade for pedestal access View exhibits at the Great Hall inside the Immigration Museum on Ellis Island Early Reserve Line boarding on the ferry to Liberty Island and Ellis Island. It includes guided tour of Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island,  exhibits at the Great Hall inside the Immigration Museum on Ellis Island and early boarding.

Security at The Statue of Liberty Ferry

statue of liberty ellis island tips ferry

Going through security to board the ferry is similar to going on a plane. Open bottles of water are not allowed. We had to drink our water before going through security. Either, keep your bottle sealed until after you go through security or bring a reusable bottle that has no liquid in it and fill it up afterward. If you are unsure about what to bring leave it in the hotel room. If it is confiscated at security, you will not get it back!

  • No large bags are allowed on the ferry.
  • No sharp objects are allowed through security.
  • No drones are allowed on the ferry.

Best View from the Ferry to the Statue of Liberty

ellis island tips deb

If you want the best view on the way out to Liberty Island, stand on the right-hand side facing the dock. Most people go to the left looking out at the water, but once the boat moves, the best views are from the right.

Outside, upstairs or at the back is best for views of the New York skyline on the way out to the Statue of Liberty. Read more: 30 Best New York Views – Where to See the Manhattan Skyline

There is a snack bar on the ferry where you can buy snacks and drinks. The toilets on the ferry are clean and in good working condition.

At the Statue of Liberty

statue of liberty and new york skyline

When you arrive at Liberty Island, be sure to check the ferry times as you walk out for your trip onward. We planned for 90 minutes at the statue so we kept an eye out for the ferry that was scheduled 2 hours after our visit. That way we could have a 30-minute cushion should the line be too long (which it always is).

The views of Manhattan from The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

It was a pleasant stroll walking around Liberty Island seeing the views of Lady Liberty from every possible angle. She really is an impressive sight. The views of the Manhattan skyline are outstanding from here so be sure to take it in from every angle.

You may also like: Things to do in Lake Placid, New York

The Statue of Liberty Museum

statue of liberty museum

The Statue of Liberty Museum opened in May 2019 and your ticket does include access to this museum for free. Inside there are interactive displays, a 10-minute multimedia display, and a gallery showcasing the history of how it was made and what Lady Liberty represents. The inspiration gallery where the original torch is on display was our favorite.

The face of Lady Liberty in the Statue of Liberty Museum

Before leaving the museum, we went outside to the rooftop deck for outstanding views of the statue and the skyline. When visiting Liberty Island, don’t miss going into the museum.

Ellis Island Immigration Museum

The next stop on the tour is Ellis Island. The ferry to Ellis Island is free when you leave from Liberty Island, and you can either get off the boat to explore or take it directly back to Battery Park. A lot of people skip this, but we loved our visit to Ellis Island.

The Great Hall – Ellis Island

ellis island tips

The Great Hall is the first thing you will see on Ellis Island. Just like the 12 million immigrants who saw it for the first time when arriving in America between 1892 – 1924. This Ellis Island Museum is dedicated to the people who waited for access to the United States searching for a better way of life.

ellis island entrance in New York City

Today, many people come to Ellis Island to trace their ancestry. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) no Bouskills or Corbeils were on the list of immigrants who came through here.

Great hopes were placed on life in the new world, but the new immigrants faced many hardships from child labor, low wages and cramped quarters.But it was here that many began their American Dream.

ellis island tips photograph

Make your way up to the second floor for an excellent collection of photos displaying the history of Ellis Island. The images are haunting and inspiring all at once.

On the third floor, you will see a recreation of the sleeping quarters for new immigrants awaiting entrance to New York City. Beds were stacked 3 berths high on canvas cots that could be raised during the day. The third floor also offers an overhead view of the Grand Hall where people awaited their hearings regarding citizenship.

We spent quite a while perusing the photos and history of Ellis Island. While many people skip it, if you have the time, we say don’t miss it.

Tip for visiting Statue of Liberty Visit early in the morning

By visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island first thing in the morning, we had the rest of the day to explore more sights in Manhattan. From the Statue of Liberty, we recommend visiting Wall Street including the Charging Wall Street Bull, and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

These are all walking distance from Battery Park and are must-see attractions when visiting New York.

Statue of Liberty Tips

  1. Stand on the port side (right side) at the back of the ferry going out to the Statue of Liberty.  It will give you the best views of the city and of the statue as you approach.
  2. Book ahead of time on the Government Website, for reserved tickets and skip the security lines.
  3. If you want to go up to the crown of the Statue of Liberty, book your tour at least a week in advance a
  4. Make sure to go to the Ellis Island Museum and visit all of the floors for the full experience.
  5. If you are planning on seeing a few New York Sites like the Statue of Liberty, the Top of the Rock, The Empire State Building and the Museums – Metropolitan, Natural History, MOMA and more, get the New York Pass to expedite your experience and save a lot of money.
  6. If you have a New York Pass or City Pass, you must go into the ticket office at the castle to receive a boarding pass.

Traveling to the United States, see our United States Travel Guide

YOU MAY ALSO WANT TO CHECK OUT THESE OTHER CITY GUIDES

If you enjoyed our Statue of Liberty tips, save it to Pinterest for future travel planning.

how to visit the statue of liberty in new york city

Note:  We received our first New York City Pass through a conference we attended in New York City in 2011. New York is not paying us or expecting us to endorse the pass. It came with our purchase of tickets to the conference. However, we always find it to be an amazing deal and asset during our travels around New York so we wanted to share it with you all.

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Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

Leave a Comment

17 thoughts on “Tips for Visiting The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island”

  1. Really informative article! I feel if you have a bit of money to spare, taking a helicopter ride can be a great idea. It gives you a great view of the statue of liberty. Plus, you do not have to wait for hours in lines!

    Reply
  2. Hey, thank you for this article, it is really one of the most comprehensive on the topic. You can not go to New York and not visit the Statue of Liberty or Elis island, so we are planning to see both places, but we were a little worried bout the logistic aspect. You covered that, so now we are relaxed and ready to start our summer vacation. Thanks again and i love your travel blog!

    Reply
  3. Hello Dave and Deb
    Thank you for sharing your Great post, Love to read your post, you are using so normal words which is easy for everybody.

    Reply
  4. You are justa amazing.Your advice,your trips,your tips ara awasome..Thank you planetD..Greetings from Greece.I will visit toronto for 5 days and New York for 7 days at octomber.Do you think its fair enough??

    Reply
  5. Wow, things have really changed since I visited the Statue of Liberty! There were no special passes or several month waits to visit the crown. Now that I think of it, I visited in February of 2001, so it was cold and that was before 9/11. It’s sad to see the skyline without the Twin Towers.
    .-= Jennifer Barry´s last blog ..Trains- Cars and Funiculars- Getting Around Santiago =-.

    Reply
  6. Two years ago, with New York City Pass tickets, we had been to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, but we too couldn’t go upto the crown.
    But still being near the famous Statue and strolling there was a great feeling. Visiting Ellis Island Museum was also a memorable experience.

    Reply
  7. Living uptown in NYC, I hardly ever even get a glimpse of the beautiful Statue of Liberty. It’s a shame because she’s so beautiful. Glad you got a chance to visit her.

    My grandfather came through Ellis Island (from Poland at age 11) — I find it so exciting that he was part of such a momentous time in US history. His story could have been lifted out of a textbook. He really embodied the American Dream of that era.
    .-= Travelogged´s last blog ..Celebrating July 4th in Cold Spring- NY =-.

    Reply
    • Wow, that is amazing Liz. It was quite a monumental time in history. A whole country was being built on immigrants and what an amazing country it turned out to be.

      Reply
  8. Correction: if you want to go up to the crown you have to book MONTHS in advance (in the summer)! We booked about 5 weeks ahead and could only get into the base.
    .-= Carlo Alcos´s last blog ..New York City Rules- Signs of Civilization =-.

    Reply
    • Wow! Thanks for the tip. 5 Weeks is a long time in advance. Sorry you didn’t make it to the crown, but the base seemed like it was worth it too. The crowds seemed very light up there.

      Reply
      • One more tip: If you’re going up the statue, do NOT bring a backpack. They will make you check it…they’ll let you in with a small bag like a purse. But the security is stricter than at an airport (they even have body scanning devices).

      • Carlo! Thanks for the great information. We didn’t bring a backpack so we didn’t even think of this advice. But you are absolutely right, I remember hearing announcements that you will have to check large bags and backpacks. Security is very strict at the Statue of Liberty. It is much better to go with less. Thanks again for the great tips!

  9. Oh, this is a really nice post! I just love your photos! I’ll keep this post in mind for future trip there 🙂
    .-= Lifecruiser Travel Blog´s last blog ..The Farms Wild Cats =-.

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  10. I really wish that I’d had time to use the CityPass – it really is an amazing deal but I didn’t allow enough time – next time I’m in NYC I’ll know better.

    Seeing Lady Liberty was also a highlight for me, although I only got to see her from the Ferry, it was still a moving sight. Good to know that you have to plan ahead if you want to visit the platform or crown – I also have distant memories of peeking out from the crown when I was a young child on a field trip in grade school that included Liberty & Ellis islands, the Empire State Building, and the UN.
    .-= Trisha Miller´s last blog ..Know How To Do Something Enter This Contest- =-.

    Reply
    • The good news is your CityPass doesn’t expire. You have 9 days from the first use to get it all in. It seems that we all have the distant memory of peaking out the crown. That sounds like an amazing school trip.

      Reply