Perhaps New York City’s most famous resident, the Statue of Liberty stands in New York Harbor, greeting people as they sail in. Many of those people she has greeted have been immigrants, who passed through Ellis Island before coming into the United States. Both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are part of Statue of Liberty National Monument, and visitors are able to visit both with a single ticket.
Tickets to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island can fill up fast, and buying tickets at the counter at the boat docks can take a long time. We recommend buying tickets online and far in advance, enabling you to skip lines and make sure you get to visit. Buying tickets in advance also allows you to visit certain areas of the Statue of Liberty that you might otherwise have been unable to visit, such as the pedestal or the crown.
Once you have your tickets, you go through security and take a boat ride to the Statue of Liberty. The boat ride itself is fun, because it affords great views of Manhattan and the surrounding areas. Once on Liberty Island, visitors can stroll around the statue, checking out the views from different angles. You can also visit a small museum on the making of the statue in the pedestal of Lady Liberty. If you were able to get a pedestal or crown ticket, you can also visit the pedestal or crown, respectively, both of which we recommend. Visiting the island and getting to see the statue up close is quite an experience, given its status as a symbol of the United States and American freedom.
After visiting the statue, you can get back on the boat and take a short ride to Ellis Island, the center of immigration through New York City from 1892 to 1954. Much of the island is closed to the public, but the main building is open and has several different exhibits, all of which are worth seeing. You could easily spend all day at Ellis Island, so you might have to be selective as to what you see if you’re on a time budget. There is a detailed and informative exhibit on immigration to the United States in general that includes the history of immigration, where people have come from and how, and where they have gone once in the United States. There is an exhibit on immigrants’ journeys to the United States, with pictures of boats they took, for example. There is also an exhibit on the detailed examination that each immigrant would undergo once he or she arrived at Ellis Island. A highlight of the visit is the large room where immigration officers would first ask questions of the immigrants–you can close your eyes and almost imagine what it would have been like. There is so much information in the museum, but it is presented in a very interesting way that captivates your attention.
On a more personal note, Ellis Island also offers visitors services in order to find relatives who may have arrived in the United States via Ellis Island. If you think you might have relatives who came through Ellis Island, this is another great way to experience the park.
We have been to many of New York’s attractions, but agree that the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island is one of, if not the, best attraction in the city. We think no visit to New York is complete without a visit to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, so we encourage you to take a trip here if you haven’t already (or even go a second, third, or fourth time!).