USA Travel

How to Visit Statue of Liberty & Reflecting on Freedom (thanks Lady of Liberty)

How to visit Statue of Liberty

Liberty is something that has been a theme of our USA travels lately. It’s not something I had consciously planned.

But when you let go of the need to plan and control so much of your life, you’ll find the Universe has a way of guiding you to the experiences it most wants you to have in order to become the best version of yourself.

I’m not sure why I’ve been lead to explore liberty through experiences like the Civil Rights Trail, the Boston Freedom Trail and Gettysburg?

But I have, and it has lead me to reflect on freedom – how lucky we are to have it, the choices and privilege that comes with it, and how much we take that privilege for granted.

Statue of Liberty tour - one of the best things to do in NYC

It was no surprise then that this travel theme came together on our visit to Liberty Island in New York Harbor to see the statue that represents truth, equality and liberty.

I had no interest to visit Statue of Liberty before this trip to New York City. Perhaps I was not ready for it.

To be honest, I kind of turn my nose up at it as being crowded kitschy touristy stuff.

But, my parents wanted to visit so I scheduled it into our New York itinerary.

NYC slyline views from Liberty Island

Savannah was particularly excited to see The Lady. It’s a sign to her that she is in New York, her favorite city ever. Finally she was going to see her.

I was concerned that it would be a headache with all the people visiting there each day, but thankfully, the price of the tickets were covered with our Sightseeing Pass, so it wouldn’t be too great a loss if we didn’t like it.

Statue of Liberty Facts

Who designed the Statue of Liberty?

Statue of Liberty facts - learn all about the Lady of Liberty on an Ellis Island tour

A visit to the Statue of Liberty is an iconic US experience and one of the most popular things to do in New York City for good reason.

In 1865, a French political intellectual and anti-slavery activist named Edouard de Laboulaye proposed that a statue representing liberty be built for the United States.

This monument would honor the United States’ centennial of independence and the friendship with France.

It was created by French sculptor, Frederic Auguste Bartholdi who supported Laboulaye’s idea and in 1870 began designing the statue of “Liberty Enlightening the World.”

Statue of Liberty - one of the best things to do in New York

He wanted something to stand out and Bedloes Island (now Liberty Island) in New York Harbor was a clear winner for its position to greet people as they sailed in.

He had the foresight to see that NYC would grab the world’s attention.

His vision was said to be too big and improbable, and no one in the US was interested at first. Never stop a human with a dream to remind the world that liberty, equality, and fraternity are ideals to live by.

How tall is the Statue of Liberty?

Statue of Liberty tour - one of the best things to do in New York City

The statue is 151 ft tall, and the REAL name of Lady Liberty is Liberty Enlightening the World.

It was seen to be a gift of friendship from the people of France to the United States and is recognized as a universal symbol of freedom and democracy.

The Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886 and is now a National Monument.

What is the Statue of Liberty made of?

Statue of Liberty facts

This colossal copper statue is full of symbolism and hope and I loved learning the story and what this lady represents on the State of Liberty tour.

She’s there to enlighten the world with truth and justice.

She was the most wished for vision of the 12 million immigrants arriving in the 1880’s – 1894. It was proof they made it after weeks at sea, and the ship would erupt in huge cheers.

They had arrived screaming, crying and kissing each other. Their hopes and dreams realized as they seek a new life.

Statue of Liberty ferry - take the ferry to Liberty Island and do an audio tour, one of the best things to do in NYC

During World War I and II, Liberty began to symbolize what the soldiers were fighting for, and it replaced Uncle Sam after WWII as the symbol for the USA.

It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and over 4 million people visit a year to acknowledge the special and unique value it represents to people around the world.

Although she’s meant to represent equality, she was created in a time where this equality was not represented.

Is it still?

African Americans and women were excluded from the public celebrations of the unveiling of her, (despite her being a lady representing liberty!)

It’s good to see how far humanity has come since then, but I’m sure we can agree, the equality and liberty for all  that she represents has not yet been realized, and lately feels like its sliding backwards.

May we look to the broken shackle and chain on the Statue of Liberty’s feet to remind us to break the chains of bondage (as seen mostly through our attitudes and behaviors) and the end of oppression.

It’s time to work together to create a world where no one has to experience this.

Statue of Liberty

We came to the US seeking a life we dreamed about. I won’t say better, as I’m fortunate enough to be born in Australia, a country that offers me plenty of opportunity, protection, joy and of course freedom!

However, like those immigrants on the boat, we went through a long time of dreaming, planning and taking risks to make it happen.

I understand how they must have felt when they first laid eyes on the Statue of Liberty as they turned into the harbor.

Statue of Liberty cruise - one of the best things to do in New York City

Relief, sadness, joy.

It’s a mixture of feelings as you trade one life into another you believe will bring you greater hope, joy, security and peace.

I don’t think the new life in America so many immigrants were given has never been taken for granted. And they have helped to build a country that is exciting, innovative, diverse, fascinating with strong ideals in the pursuit for happiness.

Let’s not forget that.

Statue of Liberty - don't miss doing an audio tour of Liberty Island and Ellis Island

I’m so grateful for the privilege I have to be from a country where I can have these choices to apply for a visa and be granted it.

I’m so thankful for the privilege of being from a country, I don’t need to run from in fear.

There are so many people in our world, who don’t have the same privileges, yet are seeking a better life. May we work together to honor their journey, their humanity, and their right to be protected and free from oppression.

I don’t have the answers, as the situation is so complex, but I know that, in trying to find a good solution, we can treat those will less privilege than us with love and compassion.

It’s the good in humanity that is working hard to be seen.

May each of us work to bring it out of the collective consciousness and do better.

That’s what the Statue of Liberty reminds me of.

It’s a worthy attraction to visit when in New York, regardless of crowds and how touristy it is.

How to Visit Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty ferry

The Statue of Liberty National Monument is part of the National Parks Service.

You can do a Statue of Liberty Cruise and see the Statue without going onto the island.

You can even see it for free on the Staten Island Ferry.

I think the sunset cruise would be a great idea too – if you can plan the weather right!

You can do a Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island guided tour which allows you to disembark on Liberty Island and explore the grounds on a guided tour.

Or, you can do what we did and take the Statue of Liberty ferry over to Liberty Island and then it will pick you up and drop you off at Ellis Island if you wish to do that also.

We used our New York Sightseeing attractions pass which includes the Statue of Liberty monument and Ellis Island and it will save you money if you plan on seeing multiple New York attractions.

Statue of Liberty tour - one of the best things to do in NYC

Unfortunately, our time was too limited to fit in an Ellis Island tour, but I’ve heard from many people that it’s one of the best things to do in NYC.

Ellis Island tour, one of the best things to do in NYC
Ellis Island
Ellis Island
Ellis Island

Self guided audio tours (which are fantastic and what we did) and a guided tour is also available once you arrive at Liberty island.

The self-guided audio tour is included in the price of your ticket and helps visitors learn about the story of Statue of Liberty while exploring the grounds of Liberty Island as well as the Statue’s museum.

An audio tour is available for both Liberty Island and Ellis Island.

Statue of Liberty audio tour

In the audio tour, you’ll learn about the history of Liberty Island and the Native American inhabitants of Manhattan which frequently visited the island for its large oyster population, how it was used in the Revolutionary War and as a military fort before becoming Liberty Island and the place for this symbolic piece of art.

You’ll also learn how and why the Statue of Liberty was built and the fascinating symbolism of each part.

Statue of Liberty tour - one of the top things to do in New York City

Park Rangers provide English-language guided tours throughout the day. Programs start at the Flagpole and visitors should expect to be walking or standing for 35 minutes.

Tours are free to join and all are welcome!

I cannot leave off this Statue of Liberty review, without saying how magnificent the views of Manhattan and the World Trade Center (Freedom Tower) are from Liberty Island and the ferry.

It is a unique perspective and one not to be missed! I loved how it made it seem like the most famous high rises were all in a line!

Statue of Liberty and Freedom Tower in New York City. See this on a Statue of Liberty tour

Liberty Island views of Manhattan

Manhattan views from Statue of Liberty ferry

NYV skyline view from Statue of Liberty ferry

Time Your Statue of Liberty Tour Right

We attempted to visit Statue of Liberty after we explored the Freedom Tower.

It was an easy walk down to the departure point at Battery Park pier. But, it was completely the wrong time of day as there were hundreds of people all wanting to to the same thing.

Statue of Liberty ferry

We lined up for about 15 minutes to trade our sightseeing pass voucher for our ferry tickets. The lady told me the wait time for the boat was around 15 minutes and moved fast.

We decided to give it a go.

It became clear to us after 15 minutes, that getting through security to the Statue of Liberty was going to take a long time.

I got antsy straight away.

I’m just not a crowd person. It has to be something special for me to line up for a long time. I find most things aren’t worth using my time in that way.

I did a few calculations in my head, evaluated our New York itinerary for the next couple of days, and decided to quit wasting time on this line and come early on the Sunday morning instead to do the Statue of Liberty tour – right on opening at 8am.

Statue of Liberty ferry

One thing I learned about travel in America, and I have mentioned in many posts pervious to this one, Americans are not early risers.

If you want to beat the crowds get to attractions early at opening time, especially in New York City.

It does require careful planning so you know the busiest New York attractions and which ones to visit when. (we’ll be publishing an itinerary for New York soon which will help you with this planning).

After checking out the views at the Empire State Building at 8am – great move as we had no line up – we headed straight down to the Battery Park pier to get on the boat.

We didn’t have to wait for our tickets this time as we already had them.

We were through security and able to board the ferry in 15 minutes – YES!

Statue of Liberty ferry

Security is tight for the ferry ride to Liberty and Ellis Island to see the Statue of Liberty. Just like the airports, you’ll be taking off your belts and shoes.

So be sure to limit what you take over there to reduce this headache.

Statue of Liberty Tickets (and Ellis Island)

Statue of Liberty tickets

There are many unauthorized ticket sellers who will try to sell you Statue of Liberty tickets and Statue of Liberty tours near Battery Park in NYC.

These individuals will often try to scam people through misrepresentation and over-charging.

It’s best to purchase tickets in advance.

The only on-site location to purchase authorized tickets is the Statue Cruises official ticket office inside Castle Clinton in Battery Park.

Tickets cost $18.50 for adults, $9 kids (4-12).

All Statue of Liberty ferry tickets include access to Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration.

Want to visit the Pedestal or Crown?

Statue of Liberty of pedestal

The Pedestal ticket is free but an advanced reservation is recommended. They’re subject to availability on a first come first served basis at the ticket window.

You must purchase Crown tickets in advance if you want to visit the crown of Liberty. They have limited number of tickets each day and it is super popular.

Reservations can be made 4-6 months in advance. The extra fee is $3 Ferries start at 8:30am.

It is included as part of the NYC Sightseeing Pass, which will save you money if you are seeing multiple NYC attractions.

HOT TOP:

You can buy your tickets in advance and skip the security queues with this guided tour from Viator. This tour grants access to the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty (which you normally have to reserve in advance).

The Pedestal features several observation levels and a museum with exhibits on the iconic landmark’s construction and architecture.

You’ll then visit Ellis Island grounds and spend time at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.

Top Attractions in NYC

Pre-book your tickets online to New York’s most popular attractions:

Tours of NYC

  • 5 hour Sightseeing tour of NYC – Short on time? Make the most of your stay with this comprehensive 5 hr tour exploring the main attractions with comfortable bus transportation and guide!
  • THE RIDE – a unique tour that is part theatrical show and immersive tour. See classic New York City sights from the comfort of a technologically-advanced moving theater motor coach.
  • Best of New York Circle Line Cruise – 2.5 hour narrated cruise, and the only sightseeing cruise to circumnavigate the island of Manhattan to see the 7 major bridges, 5 boroughs and 101 unforgettable New York sights.
  • Helicopter Tour – Enjoy stunning views of Manhattan Island on a deluxe sightseeing helicopter flight offering 180 degree views from the sky.
  • Harlem Gospel Tour – 4-hour tour of a historic Harlem to experience the thrills of gospel singing, Columbia University and the Apollo Theater before joining a gospel choir for Mass.

See all tours and activities in NYC here. 

Planning a Trip to New York City

Accommodation in NYC

Flights to NYC

  • Skyscanner is a comparison website that searches millions of flights. Once you find your best deal, book directly through the airline (no extra fees).

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