by Adam Guy
Of course, the Statue of Liberty is on your “MUST” list when visiting New York City. She’s the symbol of America, a beacon of hope, bastion of history, and fashion icon! (That mint green frock makes a statement, don’t you think?)
Some people come with the intent of going to the Statue and seeing her up close, or even going up inside the crown. Some just want to get close enough to grab a photo. In my experience, it comes down to how much time you have, interest, attention span, and what else you have planned.
This is not a step-by-step guide for visiting the statue. There are loads of videos and blogs about that. This blog will help you figure out the best way for YOU to experience the Statue of Liberty on your visit. So, let’s get into it.
1. Go to the Statue!
This is the obvious one. Take a ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and enjoy exploring both for many wonderful hours. Here’s a few things you should know about this experience.
I highly recommend buying tickets in advance. When you do, be sure to purchase them from the official site linked here. You know you are on the official site when you see the brown arrowhead logo for the National Park Service. No other ticketing service or website (aside from a few guided tour companies, who resell them with a tour) sells rides to the Statue or Ellis Island. While you can walk up to the ticketing office for the Statue at the Battery in lower Manhattan on the day you’d like to visit, I wouldn’t chance it. Especially during spring, summer and fall when it gets busy.
Go early in the morning. When buying tickets, get the earliest one available. The timed ticket allows you to get in line to go through security at that time. You still will have to wait in line to get on the ferry that takes you to the Statue. Once the boat reaches capacity, you have to wait until the next one leaves, no matter your ticket time. (You should factor in the time it takes for you to get to the Battery at the very bottom of Manhattan, from where the Statue ferries depart.)
Visiting Ellis Island is included in your Statue tickets. After you’ve explored the Statue grounds, get back on the same ferry that brought you. Ellis Island is where the ferry stops next. You can explore Ellis Island or stay on board and head back to Manhattan.
If you do both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, expect to spend at least a half day there. On a crowded day, it may be even longer based on ferry capacity. If you skip Ellis Island, it will be less, of course. But don’t do that. Ellis Island is well worth visiting. This is an important note to consider in planning your itinerary.
Ferries go to the Statue from both New York and New Jersey. Unless you are staying in New Jersey, make sure you buy tickets on the site from New York. And be sure to get on the right ferries once at the Statue and Ellis. They are labeled!
It can be about 10 degrees F chiller and a bit windier out there, so dress accordingly.
If you decide to go this route, enjoy it! It’s a special experience, for sure. Lady Liberty loves visitors! There’s also a good chance you’ll only be there once in your life.
2. Take a cruise AROUND the Statue of Liberty
Several tour companies offer boat rides around the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, giving you a close-up view for some great photos. They typically last an hour. Most companies offer longer cruises which includes other sites around the city. Boat rides occur throughout the day and into the evening. Here a few recommendations:
A few notes about these tours.
Different tours leave from lower Manhattan, South Street Seaport, Chelsea Piers, or Pier 83 in Midtown.
Be sure to check the customer reviews; schedule options; cancellation, refund, and date change policies, for whichever cruise you decide.
Be on time, if not early.
3. Ride the Staten Island Ferry!
You read that right. S-T-A-T-E-N Island Ferry. The Staten Island Ferry is a commuter ferry that shuttles residents of Staten Island to and from Manhattan. But anyone can ride it. It runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. And IT’S FREE!
The Staten Island Ferry leaves from the Ferry Terminal at the southern tip of Manhattan. You just need to walk into the terminal and get on whichever ferry is slated to leave next. Ferries leave every 20-30 minutes, more frequently during prime commuting times. Each vessel can carry about 5,000 people so don’t worry if you will fit or not.
Once on the Ferry, head up one level to the outer deck on the right side of the boat. The Ferry will go by the Statue on this side of the ship. (Opposite instructions for the way back). I also like to stand on the outer deck at the stern of the Ferry, where you get an amazing view of the skyline, while pulling away from the dock.
You won’t get as up close a view as you would from the circling cruise tours, but you will be plenty close to get beautiful photos and be able to say to your friends and family that you saw the Statue of Liberty in person.
The ride to Staten Island takes about 25 minutes. Once docked, everyone is required to disembark from the ferry. Make your way back into the terminal (follow the crowds) and get right back on the ferry scheduled to depart next. Then take the ride again back to Manhattan. The Statue will be on the left side this time. In all, the experience can take an hour to 90 very restful minutes.
The upside of seeing the Lady Liberty this way, besides being no cost, is that you can do this any time you’d like – great for some flexibility in planning.
NOTE: There are people hanging outside the Ferry terminal hawking cruises to the Statue of Liberty. Some might even try to sell you a ticket to the Staten Island Ferry. Ignore all these individuals. For one, the Staten Island Ferry is FREE. Two, I have no idea which Statue cruises these folks are selling. The authorities have done several crackdowns on these “vendors” over the years, many of whom they determined were trying to scam people.
4. See the Statue from afar
Maybe you don’t have time to commit to one of the other three ways but feel the pressure to “see” the Statue while here. You can get a distant view of the Statue from the Battery Park, Brooklyn Bridge, One World Trade Center Observatory, and even the Empire State Building and EDGE skyscraper observatories.
There you have it! Lady Liberty is there to welcome you as she did for the millions of immigrants who passed by her in the Harbor. Whichever way you choose to experience her beauty, be sure to enjoy the moment. And don’t be surprised if you get the goosebumps when you first see her. She’s a breathtaking sight to behold.
The Statue of Liberty is a gem to see for sure. There are loads also loads of wonderful, more off-the-beaten places that are worth seeing as well. I’d love to show you some of them. I (Adam Guy) run I Know A Guy NYC Tours, which provide private full and half day walking tours for families and small groups in amazing neighborhoods across the city. We explore, laugh, stop for treats, learn about the sights, and take loads of photos.
Interested but want to see what others have said about me? Check out some of my tours guests have said about their experience on Google reviews. You can connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404-915-9901 to chat about tour ideas for your family or group.
Thanks for reading this blog! If you would like to chat about your upcoming trip and possible tour ideas, please contact me at email@example.com. I'm quite friendly!
© All photos by Adam Guy