It’s arguably one of the most popular tourist attractions in the United States, and it’s a place most visitors to New York City want to visit. However, a combination of its popularity as well as its island location make the Statue of Liberty a frustrating place to visit. Statue of Liberty visitors plan months in advance – it’s not as easy as waking up and walking over. Many guests to NYC wonder how to visit the Statue of Liberty, because it really isn’t straightforward.
You really do have to plan in advance to have the most seamless, cost effective trip to the Statue of Liberty. It’s one of the most popular things to do in NYC. If you want to visit Lady Liberty yourself, you’ll definitely want to read your guide to visiting the Statue of Liberty well in advance of your trip.
I remember the first time I saw the statue up close. I was on an 8th grade field trip, and remember how big the statue looks up close. It looks rather small across the water at Battery Park. Getting to the statue was much easier then than it is now, in the post 9/11 world. If I could offer one very important piece of advice, it would be to pack your patience with you.
It’s an incredibly frustrating time to get over to the Statue of Liberty, especially if you have tickets for the pedestal or crown. Being patient will definitely improve your experience.
Plan Your Visit: Statue of Liberty
Purchasing Your Statue of Liberty Tickets
Once you arrive at Battery Park, you’ll find numerous vendors offering tickets and tours to the Statue Of Liberty and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. You are going to walk right past those vendors, because you are going to purchase your tickets in advance. Many of these vendors are offering scam and/or overpriced tickets, so you’ll want to avoid them.
Statue Cruises is the only authorized ferry service to Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty, and you can pre-purchase these tickets. They are actually very reasonable (at the time of publication, they were $18.50 for adults and $9 for kids aged 4-12 years old) and ferry tickets include access to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
If you want to access the pedestal of the statue or the crown, those tickets need to be reserved in advance. There are only a limited number available, and crown tickets are especially limited. Note that there is no additional fee to access the pedestal (it’s $3 extra for crown access), but it can be very difficult to get last minute tickets to these. Book in advance.
Taking the Statue of Liberty Ferry
There are two departure points for the Statue of Liberty ferry – one in NYC at Battery Park, and one in New Jersey at Liberty State Park. While you can purchase your tickets at the Castle Clinton ticket office, we definitely recommend getting a reserve ticket online in advance. As mentioned above, there’s no additional fee for pedestal or crown access, but you will want to make an advanced reservation.
With a reserve ticket, you can go through the reserve line at the ferry terminal, which is shorter than the regular line. You’ll have to go through airline-style security at the terminal before entering the boat. Just like the airport, you’ll have to put small items like wallets, cell phone, or belts in a bin or in one of your bags. Drinks, however, are allowed.
Once you go through the security, you’ll be led into a waiting area for the boat. Ferries depart every 20 minutes, so there’s almost always a boat loading or unloading. Entering the boat does feel a bit like a cattle call – everyone just pushes to the front to board the boat. If you have young kids, you’ll definitely want to hold hands as you enter the boat.
The ferry boats that we were on were all a bit different, but they were pretty much the same. Boats had three levels, and guests could sit on any of them. There were plenty of seats, as well as restrooms and a snack bar. The ride isn’t very long at all, so before long, you’ll be at the Statue of Liberty National Monument National Park.
The ferries stop at both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, so you’ll want to get off at the first stop for the statue. After disembarking the boat, you’ll be right at the Statue of Liberty National Monument.
The Statue of Liberty National Monument and Liberty Island
Most people generally get grounds only tickets, so they are able to access almost everything on the grounds except for the actual statue. There’s also the Fort Wood area of the grounds, which is only accessible to those who have crown or pedestal tickets.
You can spend as much time as you’d like on the grounds. After getting off the boat, you can pick up an audio tour at the tent to the right. These audio tours are included in your ticket and come in multiple languages. I’d definitely recommend getting one, because it’s included and will provide you with additional context about the monument.
There’s also the new Statue of Liberty Museum, which is located on the grounds. There, you’ll find the original torch of the Statue of Liberty, which came down in 1984, as well as a theater and other exhibits. This new museum is accessible to anyone with grounds tickets, where the old museum was only open to those with pedestal or crown tickets.
At the grounds, you’ll also find areas where you can get stunning views of Manhattan. We enjoyed spending time just taking pictures of the city.
There’s also a gift shop, restrooms, a cafe, and more. During our visit, the outdoor cafe was open with outdoor seating. It was a beautiful day, so we enjoyed getting our lunch and sitting outside. Food is what you’d expect at a tourist attraction, although they do have a delicious-looking lobster roll. Guests can bring their own food, but you won’t be able to bring a cooler on the ferry. If you do bring food, pack it in a small bag.
If you want to combine your visit to the Statue of Liberty with a trip to Ellis Island, you’ll want to start your journey early in the day. We got in line for the ferry at about noon, and ended up spending most of our day at the Statue.
Visiting the Pedestal
We had pedestal tickets during our visit, so we headed there right after we got off the ferry. When visiting the crown or pedestal, you’ll have to go through additional security. There are some things allowed on the grounds that are not permitted in the statue. Locker rentals are offered (they are 25¢), so you can store any items if necessary. Lockers accept change only, and there’s a change machine right at the lockers.
Once you pass by the lockers, you can enter the queue for the statue. Tickets are checked to make sure you have pedestal or crown access. Then, you can walk to the security screening area.
There are some items that are not allowed inside the Statue of Liberty. These include (but are not limited to): strollers, laptop, food and drinks (water in clear containers is permitted), and backpacks (including drawstring bags). See the full list here. Note that some of these things, like strollers are allowed on the island, just not in the Statue.
The name “pedestal” may be a bit misleading, as you do get a great view from this point. It’s about 10 stories high. There are stairs to climb, although an elevator that goes most of the way up to the pedestal is available.
After you reach the top of the pedestal, you can go outside and see the city. You can also continue up to the crown if you have those tickets. There are security personnel checking out tickets, and only those with actual crown tickets can enter.
As you walk down from the pedestal, you’ll be able to go outside to Fort Hood. There, you’ll have great views of both the city and the statue. Only those with pedestal or crown tickets can enter this area, so it typically isn’t overly crowded.
We were thrilled to be able to go to the pedestal and get that close to the statue. We didn’t spend too much time there, but did spend enough time to explore and take lots of photos.
Tours at the Statue of Liberty
In addition to the audio tours, there are also guided tours at the Statue of Liberty. These are included with your tickets and are ranger-guided. They can’t be booked in advance, and the schedule varies daily. If you are looking for additional information, this would be a great option, especially since they are free!
Once you are done at the island, you’ll need to get the ferry back to Manhattan or New Jersey. Once again, you’ll line up, waiting for the ferry to arrive. Make sure you on in the right line for the correct ferry.
While we were there, the line for the ferry back to Battery Park was significantly longer than the line for the New Jersey ferry. It was a very busy day on a holiday weekend, so we had to wait for one ferry to completely fill up and leave before we got to the front of the line to board the ferry.
The ferry will make a quick stop at Ellis Island to drop off/pick up passengers before returning to Battery Park.
The Statue of Liberty is open most days, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
Have you visited the Statue of Liberty?