The Statue of Liberty is most likely at the top of your list if you are planning a visit to New York City. It’s such a classic icon of NYC, with a history of greeting passengers and immigrants as they came into the New York Harbor.
Sitting out in the misty harbor, the statue beckons you from its island, the torch continuously lighting the way for enlightenment and freedom.
These are our best tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your Statue Of Liberty visit, including how to secure the best seat on the ferry for sweeping views…
SAILS & SPICES TIPS FOR
THE STATUE OF LIBERTY
- Buying your ticket | There is only one way to set foot on Liberty Island, and that is with Statue Cruises. They are contracted by the US National Park Service as the sole operator allowed to moor at the island. Any other cruise operator can offer an island “drive-by” only. The smartest thing you can do is purchase your ticket online in advance. Your ticket will give you a specific time slot to arrive to line up for the ferry, saving you major headaches by skipping the onsite ticket sales line-up. Walk-ups are further discouraged since you may not be offered an immediate boarding ticket, depending on the volume of online pre-sales. We recommend purchasing the Pedestal Access tickets (some stairs involved) as it includes access to one of our trip highlights, the Liberty Museum. Crown Access tickets are very limited, and must be booked months in advance.
- Getting there | Getting to the ferry terminal in Battery Park is easy, and there are several subway lines you can take. Catching the 1 train, head south until the last stop “South Ferry”. The 1 train leaves from landmark sights like Times Square and Penn Station. The 4 and 5 train will take you to “Bowling Green”. Click here for a Subway map. At the South Ferry stop, beware of pushy touts as you exit the station who may demand to see or check your tickets, or otherwise offer to assist you with ticket purchases. They are not with the National Park Service nor Statue Cruises! If you have pre-purchased and pre-printed your ticket, just continue past them to the wharf and security check-in. It’s well marked.
- Security | In order to get onto the ferry there is an airport style security checkpoint, through which no weapons of any kind are allowed. They seem to collect a large number of pocketknives from people who forget to leave them at home. Once on the island, those with crown or pedestal & museum access tickets will go through another checkpoint through which no backpacks are allowed, nor food of any kind (including candies or gum), drinks, or strollers. Lockers can be rented for $2 (single dollar bills only) at the gift shop prior to pedestal entry.
- Seat with a view | For awesome views you are going to want to secure a spot on the top deck next to the railing, and get a seat on the right side of the ferry. This will give you a clear view of the Statue of Liberty with the Manhattan skyline behind it as you approach Liberty Island. On the way back reverse this and stay on the left side.
- Eating | Food options on the island are minimal, so consider packing a picnic. One option is The Gogo Grill food Truck, Mon-Fri 11:30-3:30pm, opposite Battery Park, which offers vegetarian falafels and sandwiches. Remember to enjoy your picnic before entering the Pedestal, as food is not allowed.
- Timing | Plan for the trip to take 3-5 hours, depending on if you also stop on Ellis Island. The Ellis Island stop is included in your Statue Cruise ticket, as the boat route runs from Battery Park to Liberty Island to Ellis Island back to Battery Park. Note that not everyone gets off the boat onto Ellis Island, with many opting to go straight back to Manhattan. Due to boat capacity, you may miss one or two departures from Ellis Island as they allow one passenger on for every one off, if the boat is arriving full. Boats depart every 20 minutes.
- Alternative access | There is nothing quite like the experience of getting up close to the Statue of Liberty and being able to climb into the pedestal, however there are a couple of other ways to see the Statue of Liberty. There is a free Staten Island Ferry that takes you on a 30 minute trip past Liberty Island, letting you off on Staten Island, where you can catch the next ferry back to Manhattan. Allocate 2 hours and expect relatively distant views. There are also paid cruises such as Circle Line Cruise or Gold Star which do not provide access to the island but offer a closer view than the Staten ferry. Of course, if you really want to go all out and feel like a movie star, just go ahead and book the helicopter tour!
The whole trip has beautiful views that can be enjoyed rain or shine. We also loved the museum in the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, telling tales from immigrants who arrived many years ago, and showing a giant bronze replica of the statue’s foot.
Let us know if you’ve had a chance to visit the Statue of Liberty, we would love to hear what you thought!